Don’t Bite the Hook!

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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 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!

Lunch Bunch Anyone?

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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!

And So It Begins…

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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…