National Boards: Connecting Entries to Standards

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There are 11 school counseling standards.  Each entry you complete will list the standards which should be represented in your writing.  I mentioned in my post National Boards: Start Planning Now that I printed all of the standards so I could manipulate them in order to highlight and jot notes.  Once I copied them, I stapled them separately so I could pull the ones I needed at any given time.  Entry 1 uses all but one of the standards while Entry 4 only uses four of them.  Additionally, stapling separately  helped me to break down all of the information into small chunks which is how I learn best.

You’ll need to know what each entry is about in order to understand how the standards connect to them.  Therefore, I have given a brief explanation of each.

Entry 1- Addressing Personal/Social Needs: This entry involves a small group session that focuses on a critical need at your school.  You’ll need to collect data to support the need for this group and use your analysis of the data to create the lesson.  You will also be required to submit student work samples.

Entry 2-  Exploring Career Development:  This entry involves a whole class career lesson.  You will be required to submit a video segment that is 15 minutes or less and that proves your ability to help students gain more knowledge about the development of careers.

Entry 3-  Maximizing Academic Learning:  This entry involves an individual academic counseling session.  You will also submit a video segment for this entry.  Again, it should be 15 minutes or less.  You will need to demonstrate your ability to assist a student with a plan for academic progress.  The academic intervention plan documents will be required for review as well.

Entry 4- Documented Accomplishments: Contributions to Student Learning:  This entry highlights your involvement with the families of students as well as the community.  You will need to show how you are a learner as well as a leader/collaborator.  With this entry, you can showcase things you do that go beyond what’s expected.  You will be allowed to submit a maximum of 16 pages of documentation to support your accomplishments.

The National Boards for Professional Teaching Standards includes the following standards for school counseling candidates:

I.  School Counseling Program (Entries 1, 2, 3, 4)

II. School Counseling and Student Competencies (Entries 1, 2, 3)

III.  Human Growth and Development (Entries 1, 2, 3)

IV. Counseling Theories and Techniques (Entries 1, 2, 3)

V.  Equity, Fairness, and Diversity (Entries 1, 2, 3)

VI.  School Climate (Entry 1)

VII.  Collaboration with Family and Community (Entries 1, 2, 3, 4)

VIII.  Informational Resources and Technology (Entry 2)

IX.  Student Assessment (Entries 1, 2, 3)

X. Leadership, Advocacy, and Professional Identity (Entries 1, 4)

XI.  Reflective Practice (Entries 1, 2, 3, 4)

It’s good to know ahead of time which entries and standards match up.  This will make your highlighting and note writing more meaningful and exact.

Although you will receive a CD with all of the forms and information you need in “The Box” after applying for candidacy, you can always go to the NBPTS website to download and print everything you need to get started and to begin planning out your school year.  I say, why wait? Also, remember to look into any sessions being offered by your school district.

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  I will continue to add more posts to the National Boards page.  As always, I’d love to hear from you.  Connect with me!

Look Who’s Been Spotted!- ESC .org

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When it comes to finding exciting and creative ideas for my school counseling program, I always check out Marissa Rex at  I truly want to try new things after viewing her videos and reading about the creative ways she presents different topics to the students at her school.  I could name several things from her site that I love, but I will try to limit myself to three! 🙂

  • When I saw her series of videos for “Adventures with Tim,” I just had to find my own puppet, or “Whatnot,” for my school.  Tim catches students being good and makes video clips highlighting positive behaviors.  I went to the website she mentioned and played around a little with the whatnot maker.  My whatnot wasn’t anywhere as cute as Tim, and I was dismayed. Then I remembered… I already have a great puppet in my office that would work.  All I need to do is name her and maybe get a new outfit for her. Okay… DEFINITELY get a new outfit for her since she looks like she could guest star on Little House on the Prairie.  Anyway, this is a great idea to add to my school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) initiative.
  • Marissa also has a video podcast on her YouTube channel.  She showcases ideas she uses in her school counseling program like using food to show feelings and using the game Whoonu in small groups. Additionally, she has several playlists categorized by topic and ready to use. Some of the playlist topics include bullying, self-esteem, and feelings.  With this new inspiration, I hope to one day get over being camera shy so I can add a few videos to my YouTube channel. (Fingers crossed!)
  • gives several lesson ideas for a long list of topics from individual counseling all the way to school-wide programs.  Marissa graciously provides her powerpoints and PDF documents for your use. Awesome!
As the author of a new blog, the first thing I noticed about Marissa when I launched was her immediate support.  I’m sure she’s just being her usual self, but for me it really meant a lot when she tweeted me and congratulated me on launching my blog.  She also added my blog to her list of resources that same day which has added several new visitors here at Savvy School Counselor. Thank you, Marissa!
I decided to create Look Who’s Been Spotted to highlight blogs and websites I follow and enjoy.  These sites will gradually create a list on the My Favorites page.
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2 Great Books About Manners

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I have discovered several great books while cruising the boards on Pinterest for school counseling ideas. I ordered several late in the school year and decided to “test drive” a couple of lessons with my first and second grade friends.

One book I discovered and ordered is If Everybody Did by Jo Ann Stover.  I used this book during a second grade lesson and followed it with a drawing activity. This story illustrates what would happen if everybody did certain things like plucked flowers, slammed doors, and squeezed the cat.  The consequences brought laughter throughout the classroom. As we flipped through each page, we discussed why it is important to think about the choices we make.  Would there be flowers to look at and smell if everybody plucked them? Even though the over-the-top illustrations elicited laughter, our discussion helped my friends to really think about what would happen if they made poor choices and what a catastrophe the choices could lead too.  This lesson tied in very well with our discussion about our character trait of the month- good judgment.

After listening to the story, I gave each child a piece of drawing paper and asked them to illustrate some “If Everybody Did” statements. Some questions were- What would happened if everybody ran in the hallway?  What would happen if everybody threw garbage on the ground?  What would happen if everybody left their trays on the table in the cafeteria. The ideas they came up with were really cute.  Here is one student’s interpretation of what would happen if everybody was late to school:

Another great book about manners is the cute and funny Do Unto Otters, by Laurie Keller. This book is about a rabbit who discovers that otters are his new neighbors.  Unsure if they will get along, he talks with owl about it.  Owl tells him to treat otters the way he wants otters to treat him.  Mr. Rabbit then goes on to name several characteristics he would want the otters to have including being kind and considerate.  They should also know when to say please, thank you, and when to apologize.  This book reminded me of Simon’s Hook because of the extra dialogue and commentary throughout the book which were created to give examples and to evoke a few giggles!

I printed and copied writing paper from and asked the students to write a sentence or two about how they show good manners.  After writing, they illustrated the sentence(s).  I gave them a list with several options to choose from just in case they couldn’t come up with an idea.  Here are a few samples of their work:





Those students who finished before the lesson concluded flipped the paper over to a Do Unto Otters coloring page on the back.  I found the picture online at the author’s website.  You can find a Do Unto Otters  multiple choice, word search, and quiz there as well.

I plan to use these books at the beginning of the next school year and would love to hear of other ideas to try! Connect with me!

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Pass the Mic: Singing About Good Character

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One of the first purchases I made before starting my school counseling job was two sets of books and CDs.  I remember going to my neighborhood teacher supply store to find resources for my new job, only to find out the terrible truth.  You won’t find any school counseling resources at your regular teacher supply stores.  You can, however, find a few things supporting character education.  So after grabbing some character ed. resources, I stumbled upon these character education readers published by Creative Teaching Press.  Each set contains six books and one CD.  I can tell you, I haven’t skipped a year without using them!I really enjoy singing songs with my Kindergarten friends.  They have come to expect a new song each time I visit.

Our school system focuses on eight specific character traits, and I have a song to go with each one.

  • Responsibility- You Can Count on Me!
  • Respect- Following the Rules
  • Courage- Dare to Have Courage
  • Kindness- Everyone is Special and Unique or Show You Understand
  • Self-Discipline- Think Before You Act
  • Integrity- Telling the Truth
  • Perseverance- Never Give Up!
  • Good Judgment- Would It Be Right?

It doesn’t hurt that I enjoy singing. The words in the books are the lyrics to the songs.  The chorus is usually easy enough for the kids to pick up.  By the second play, they are singing right along with me.  I love it!  It is a great way to help the smaller ones understand what those BIG character  words really mean.  Once they are in first grade, I’ll sing a line or two to remind them of the meaning of the character trait we are discussing.  Many of them will still remember the choruses.

There is a resource book that goes along with the character readers.  You can make individual student readers for small groups and use the additional activities to go along with each of the books.  Most companies sell these books individually or as a complete set.  You can still find them in six packs as well.  You can also purchase the CD separately.  There are four additional books about various topics including sharing, friendship, compassion, and cooperation.  These books are great for lower elementary age groups.

Stick around! You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  As always, I’d love to hear from you. Connect with me!

Who’s Made a Difference in Your Life?

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Kathryn Otoshi wrote a wonderful book simply titled One.  I first heard about it from one of my colleagues during a regional counselor’s meeting.  After joining Pinterest, I came across this book again, and I decided I would add it to my growing list of books to buy for my school counseling program. Though there were dozens of “pins” about this book, I was fortunate to find a link to the blog Entirely Elementary School Counseling  which had a wonderful lesson to use with the book.  Although this is a picture book, the counselor used this book with her 5th graders to close out the school year.  This was a perfect idea for me to use with my students.  I have used the Steps to Respect curriculum with my 5th graders throughout the school year which addresses bullying in several of the lessons.  Our last Steps to Respect lesson was about bystanders and what they should do when they find themselves in that position.  We talked about reporting versus tattling too.  We discussed why it is important to let an adult know when they witness bullying along with when it is safe to stand up for someone.

As our final classroom guidance lesson, I shared this wonderful book with my 5th grade friends and adapted the lesson plan format I found on the blog.  My fifth grade friends are so cool and “grown up,” but even they enjoy sitting on the floor around a storyteller to hear and look at pictures in a picture book. I shared this lesson five times, and you could hear a pin drop at least 98% of the time.  It really got them thinking, and they made appropriate connections to the story during our discussion after I finished reading.  In the first class, the students shared about the one person who has made a difference in their lives.  Additionally, I showed this great video from YouTube in order to give a visual of the story for the students.  It features the author, Kathryn Otoshi.  When the video ended, I gave each student a 3 1/2 x5 index card.  I asked them to write about how they would be the one to make a difference. Not surprisingly, the discussions about the one person who has made a difference in their lives resonated with me.  So, when I visited the rest of the fifth graders, I asked those classes to write about that one person on their cards instead.  As I walked around and silently read each of their cards, I was thrilled to see how much thought they were putting into what they were writing.  Many wrote about a parent and  a few mentioned current or former teachers. My name showed up as well.  I was really touched by many of the students’ words about the things their parents and teachers have done for them. While they worked, I took pictures of them in groups of three so I could crop the face of each student and add it to the index card for the hallway display. Once I cropped all of the their faces to make individual pictures, I printed thumbnails of each photo.  This was the perfect size for the index cards.  I did a brief description of the display and printed a copy of the cover of the book to display with it.

I decided to make copies of the cards where students wrote about former teachers in order to present them to those teachers.  As much as their words moved me, I knew those teachers would appreciate knowing they made a difference in the life of a student.  Needless to say, happy tears were shed by a couple of them. It was wonderful to see their reactions.

Is it just me, or do you feel a little misty when sharing this book?  I mean… I kept it together, but I had to really focus to do it. What are your thoughts on this wonderful book?  I’d love to hear about any lessons you’ve done with it.  Connect with me!

ETA- April 14, 2013:  I created this sheet to use this year with my students and wanted to share it with you all as well.  It’s simple, but gives the students a chance to reflect on who’s made a difference in their lives as well as how they can make a difference in the lives of others.  Click on the picture to print a copy. (Font by: An Apple A Day in First Grade)

National Boards: Begin With the End in Mind

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So, you’re reading your standards, noting where you can add to your school counseling program, and highlighting key points.  In order to move forward, you’re going to need a plan!

Begin with the end in mind.  Stephen Covey said it best in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  As you prepare to take on what I’m sure feels like a mammoth task before you, you must think about the final outcome.  Of course, you want to have your portfolio completed and ready to turn in on or before the due date at the end of March.  Maybe your goal is to have it completed two weeks before the deadline.  Either way, mapping out your monthly goals for completing your NBPTS portfolio is key to staying on track and getting to your final destination.  What will you have to do in order to meet this goal?  Only you know how you work best.  Maybe you are great at multi-tasking and can work on all four entries simultaneously.  Or, if you’re like me, you like to put all of your energy on one entry at a time.  Outline your plan, and determine what you want to accomplish each month.  

Permission Forms

Two of the entries involve videotaping.  As soon as you can, determine which class you will use for Entry 2.  This entry focuses on career development.  I chose one 5th grade class and teacher to work with.  Some candidates will teach the same lesson to several classes and record each one in order to have several videos to choose from. The choice is yours.  However you decide, you will need to send the parents permission forms before any video taping.  Students with permission can be featured in your video.  Those without can still participate and speak during your video but may not be shown. Get those permission forms out as early as possible so you are not scrambling for the forms when it’s time to make the video.  You will also videotape an individual academic counseling session for Entry 3.  You may have several students in mind.  Send parents the permission forms early so when the time comes, you have several students to choose from.  I chose a student from the class I did the career lesson with.  Once I received all of the permission forms for the career video, I talked with the teacher about students in her class who could benefit from academic advisement. Although Entry 1 does not require video taping, you will still need permission forms signed in order to share the work samples generated during your small group.  I will speak more about video taping in future posts.

Give Your Plan Some Wiggle Room

Inevitably, some event or even an awful headache can pop up out of nowhere and disrupt your wonderful plan.  Always pad your plan to leave room for life’s unexpected events so that when you have to skip a day, it all works out.  If you are planning well in advance, this will be no problem at all.  I always created calendars by the month, because I’m visual and need to “see” it. I use Microsoft Publisher’s understated template.  You can see an example of one here.  I would start by including personal events on my calendar that would interfere with my writing time ie. PTA meetings, trips out of town, or choir rehearsals. Don’t wear yourself out. Sanity breaks are a must! Don’t forget to include “days off” in your plan to avoid burnout. You’ll be doing a lot of reflecting and analyzing and will need to give yourself a little respite on occasion.

State and School District Support

Be sure to find out exactly what your state or school district offers NBPTS candidates.  One great “extra” our state offered was three paid workdays to use anytime during the process.  This especially came in handy the closer it got to March when I began doing lots of revising and editing.  If this is an option for you, decide when you will take those days and incorporate them in your long range plan.  If you feel the need to work along side other NBPTS candidates, find out about existing cohorts in your district that you can join. Again, do what works best for you.  You may be like me and decide you’d rather work on your own with a mentor.  If you do plan to seek advice or assistance from a current NBCT, ask him or her early so he or she will know in advance that you will be soliciting mentoring during this process.

Stick around! You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  I’ll be posting again soon about the NBPTS process.  Do not hesitate to ask questions. I will always do my best to answer them. Connect with me!