This is the time of year when teachers and school counselors around the United States begin to consider pursuing candidacy for the National Boards for Professional Teaching Standards. I was in this boat back in 2008. In the spring, my school district offered a special information session. This session explained the process and the amount of time and dedication needed. Like most, I was in a fog as I took in all of the information shared that afternoon. Having now completed it, I believe- at least for me- going through the entire process helped me to better understand it. Like many of you, I heard varying opinions about what it took to do it, how “hard” it was, and where I needed to start. I believe you have to approach the NBPTS process in a way that works best for YOU! What worked well for others may not be the way you should go. I will be sharing posts on this subject on my blog to give my perspective and approach which helped me to achieve certification my first year. Keep in mind, however, that it can take up to three years to certify. Although I really wanted to finish the first year, I knew in the back of my mind it could take longer.
I began my summer break that year planning to read and get to know the school counseling standards. This was a suggestion offered to me by a NBCT co-worker. I said okay, packed up my office, and left for summer break. She was right! Why not use the summer to get a head start so I would be ready to begin my entries after settling into the next new school year? I had good intentions…
Do as I Say, Not as I Did!
So… I didn’t read my standards over the summer. I still wasn’t sure if I was going to go for it. Knowing what I know now, I would have been reading and highlighting throughout the entire summer. What I didn’t “get” until the fall when I finally did start reading was this: The standards are telling you what an accomplished school counselor’s program should look like, and as you read through those standards, you will hopefully find your program meets many of them. You will also discover the areas in which you can improve and where your program may be lacking. If you are reading these things over the summer, you have time to plan how you can implement those missing links into your program.
You can find the standards for school counseling here. When you get there, just follow the link that says “download standards.” Unless you enjoy reading lots and lots of information on a computer screen, I would suggest printing them all. For me, it helped to have them in my hands so I could jot notes and highlight key points.
Stick around, I will be posting again soon about the NBPTS process. Will you be taking the big leap into your National Boards this year? I’d love to hear from you. Connect with me!
Simon’s Hook is a wonderful book about how Grandma Rose teaches Simon to deal with teases and put downs. It is one of my favorites to use with my second graders. However, I keep it on stand-by for individual counseling sessions across grade levels as well. The author, Karen Gedig Burnett, takes an all too real problem for children and gives them a very clever approach to dealing with it. Simply put… Don’t bite the hook! You see, this book uses fish to illustrate how to handle the problem of being teased by others- the fishermen. Burnett, or Grandma Rose I should say, gives five important rules to help encourage the fish to stop biting the hooks:
- Don’t React to the Hook
- Agree With the Hook
- Laugh or Joke About the Hook
- Distract the Fisherman
- Swim in Another Part of the Sea
There are lots of laughs as I read the responses the fish give the hooks as they learn each of these strategies. The goal for students is to remain a “free fish” although the “fisherman” are always throwing hooks to catch them. I always ask students who have been fishing before to explain what they do if the fish aren’t “biting.” More often than not, the fisherman will find another spot to fish. See the connection?
One key message in this book is to NOT throw hooks at the fishermen. I always make sure to remind students that saying mean things back to others doesn’t make them “free fish.” Instead, they also become fishermen. When we finish reading the story, I “throw some hooks” using examples given at the end of the book and give students a chance to respond using one of the strategies discussed. If you don’t have this book, I promise you will not be disappointed.
Karen Gedig Burnett also has a wonderful website called GrandmaRose.com which has extra activities to use with this wonderful book.
This is just one of the lessons I have incorporated in my school counseling program regarding bullying in addition to using the Steps to Respect curriculum.
Stick around! You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates. You may leave any comments here or visit my contact page to email me directly. As always, I’d love to hear from you. Connect with me!
In addition to regular small groups, I began incorporating Lunch Bunch groups into my school counseling program during the 2010-11 school year. My goal was to connect with more students in a smaller group setting. Additionally, I wanted to address behavioral and emotional needs of students who needed more support outside of my regular classroom guidance lessons. I also wanted each grade level at my school to have several opportunities to participate. To do this, I created a schedule which would allow me to see two grade levels each week thus seeing each grade level every three weeks. This adds up to approximately 54 lunch bunches and LOTS of small group counseling opportunities nestled throughout the school year! Because I’ve worked at my school for eight years, I am aware of the most common needs teachers would like addressed during these sessions. I plan topics ahead of time and give the Lunch Bunch form to the grade level chairs to share with their teams during planning. Each teacher can send one student. If a teacher doesn’t have a student needing the topic, he or she will give the spot to another teacher to use. Additionally, there is a place on the form for the team to “override” my topic choice and submit their own in order to address a grade level issue or concern.
As state-wide testing time approaches, I have used Lunch Bunch Time to focus on test taking tips and strategies for grades 3-5. Some other Lunch Bunch topics include: anger management, telling the truth (integrity), good manners, self-confidence, staying on-task, and completing assignments to name a few. Reward Lunch Bunches are also held so teachers can acknowledge students who have been caught being good. I always share those names with the office and have them announced on Fridays with our weekly school-wide bucket fillers.
Stick around! I’ll be discussing Lunch Bunch in future blog posts. You are welcome to use this Lunch Bunch Form to schedule your lunch bunch groups. I punch holes in them and store them in a binder to document the groups I’ve held and the students who have attended.
I would love to hear how you facilitate lunch bunch. Connect with me!
Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my new blog, Savvy School Counselor. I’m Vanessa, and I am very excited to be able to use this platform to share with others some of the ideas and tools I use in my school counseling program as well as connect with other school counselors. I have to say, joining and creating my boards on Pinterest really got my juices flowing. I felt a new excitement about what I have been doing from day to day since 2004. Don’t get me wrong, I have always enjoyed what I do. However, when I became aware of the ABUNDANCE of school counseling lessons, activities, and ideas on Pinterest, I found a new kind of excitement. I saw some things I had done and some books I had read, but mostly I saw lots of new ideas to try as well as literature I had yet to know about. It didn’t take long before I decided I would try my hand at this thing called blogging. Why not?! As much as I found new ideas, I also realized I had some things to share that could be new to others as well. So here it is. My first step into the blogging world. I hope you will join me for the ride!
And so it begins…