Look Who’s Been “Spotted!”- The Corner on Character

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If you ever want to find some awesome ideas about character, head on over to The Corner on Character authored by Barbara Gruener.  Barbara shares something new each day from great literature selections to special heartfelt moments she’s had during her school day.  I always enjoy visiting her blog and reading her posts.  Barbara seeks to “positively influence and inspire you to seek out similar elevating experiences that you can share with others,” and she does just that!  I want to take this time to highlight what I love about The Corner on Character.

  • I love to find great literature to tie into my school counseling lessons.  The Corner on Character has highlighted so many great books that tie in character education.  I’m always excited when I discover new children’s literature, and Barbara’s blog has introduced me to several titles I was not familiar with.  She gives excellent book reviews which help you to decide if the book is a good fit for your program.  Along with the books, she has shared songs she sings with her students to support good character.  If you check out her post Something to Squawk About, you will find one there that is sung to the Mickey Mouse Club theme song.
  • More songs!! Barbara is a school counselor after my own heart.  I LOVE music, and I’ve  written about how I sing songs with my Kindergarten friends.  Well, Barbara sings with her students as well and often shares “a little ditty” she’s created with her readers.  Check out her signature song called Kids With Character sung to the tune of the Adams Family theme song.  I’ll have to adapt that one for my school. (Too cute!) She’s also recently started Saturday Songs where she will showcase songs that inspire every Saturday during the summer.  The posts include a video clip of the song and in her post she tells why it is uplifting or motivating.
  • Barbara inspires me as she shares her own special moments and experiences with her readers.  When two third grade classes created special books called “Somebody Loves You, Mrs. Gruener,” she shared how  those affirmations and appreciations made her day.  I thought of her as I cleaned my office at the end of the school year and came across some of my own student created cards and books.  The mission of Barbara’s blog resonated with me in that moment.  She encourages us to look at those things that lift us and to share them with others so they too can be inspired!  I’m going to make an effort to do more of that, thanks to Barbara.

There’s no question as to why she would be a finalist for the 2012 Really Good Education Blog Award. If you haven’t been to The Corner On Character, check it out!  Thank you, Barbara, for sharing all of those nuggets of inspiration on your blog!

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!

Third Time’s The Charm

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What puzzle are school counselors always trying to solve?Check out Savvy School Counselor to print a copy of the schedule form!

Trying to create a schedule for your school counseling program can be like playing musical chairs. You keep going around and around and can sometimes be left standing without an effective method.  I’ve been there, but this past school year I decided to try something new.  You know what?  It finally worked for me!  Could it work for you too?

I have attempted to solve the “scheduling puzzle” for a long time now.  Here’s how it began:

The Sign up Calendar

During the first three years in my school counseling program, I used this method to schedule guidance.  It was what I heard most counselors did, so I did it too.  I created a schedule for the week with rows and columns and the times of the day from 8:30 to 4:30 down the left side.  I would fill in the spaces where I had a duty or time set aside for groups or individual counseling.  I would then post it outside my office, email the teachers to let them know it was there, and wait for everyone to make their way to my office to sign up for guidance.

Pros:  Hang it up and wait!  Look at the schedule each day and see who’s signed up for the day and go teach guidance!

Cons Hmmm… Mrs. Second and Mr. Fifth haven’t signed up yet.

Me– ”Mrs. Second, when would you like for me to visit your classroom for guidance?”

Mrs. Second– “Oh, I’ve been meaning to come by your office to sign up before I leave in the afternoons, but I keep forgetting.”

Bottom line:  I’m waiting and busy teachers are trying to take care of everything else on their plates.

Additionally, sometimes four or five teachers would sign up for the same day!  It just didn’t work for me and made me feel overwhelmed.  After a couple of years, I decided I needed to create a different method for scheduling guidance.

Grade level Specific Form With Assigned Week

For the next few years, I decided to use a form I created for the grade levels to complete during their planning.  This idea stemmed from me missing one or two teachers from the schedule because they didn’t sign up.  Now, the grade level would hopefully sit together, fill out the form and return it to me.  The fact that I used the method for a few years is evidence that it worked pretty well.

Pros:  I assigned the days I was available for guidance and listed the options for the teachers.  If there were five teachers, I would list five options.  The teachers could pick the date that worked for them and give a time when I could visit for guidance.  I had more control over my schedule and rarely had a large number of classes signed up for one day.

Cons:  If I wanted to schedule two grade levels, I couldn’t give them the forms at the same time because the teachers chose times that worked for them.  The issue of overlapping came into play.  So, I’d have to wait for “this” grade level to return the form before I could give a form to “that” grade level for the same week.

I prefer to have my schedule in place about a week prior to the beginning of a new month.  This method turned into a week-to-week task for me.  I am a planner by default, and this method slowly began to frustrate me.  So, a year ago, I decided I needed to create yet another method for scheduling guidance.

Assigned Time and Day of the Week (Yay!)

Something I began to notice the last year I used the grade level specific form was this:  Grade levels were being required to adhere to more structured schedules with literacy blocks, math blocks, and writing blocks.  Of course they were doing this before, but now grade levels had to be teaching the same thing at the same time.  Because of this, many of the members of a team would select the same time of day for guidance.  Due to this new trend, I created a new form.

Click here to open and print a copy of my guidance scheduling form minus the web address.

Last year, I gave this form to grade levels during the workdays prior to school officially starting.  Teachers chose a day of the week and a time for guidance, and I stored the forms in my planner. Most grade levels all chose the same time of day.  So I would know, for example, I have second grade everyday at 2:00 this week and fourth grade at 11:30.  I send out a guidance schedule to teachers a week ahead of time via email, and they plan accordingly.

Pros: Teachers fill out the form one time, and they’re done.  Teachers know they have guidance on whatever day of the week they have chosen one time each month.  I’m not missing Mrs. Second or Mr. Fifth on my schedule.  I can schedule two grade levels without worry of overlapping.  I see two classes each day (three on occasion) and have time in the day for small groups, individual sessions, and those unexpected “fires” that need to be put out.

Cons: Sometimes I have to change a teachers “day selection” due to a meeting off campus or an appointment.  Nothing’s perfect! ;)

I am fortunate that the teachers at my school are very receptive to classroom guidance.  I’ve heard some colleagues say they can’t see all of their grade levels.  This would be a tough pill for me to swallow, as spending time with and being visible to all the students in my school is important to me. This method worked very well for me last year, and I will continue to use it.  No plans on changing yet, but I’ll let you know if I do!

How do you schedule classroom guidance?

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!


School Counselor PR

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It’s amazing how much I look forward to having a summer break, but I spend all of my time thinking about the next new school year!  My first item of business is looking for ways to make my school counseling program even more visible for 2012-13!

As I packed away some of the books in my office for the summer, I came across a book I purchased eight years ago when I first found out I was hired as the counselor at my school.  It’s called Public Relations Toolbox and it is edited by Barbara Muller-Ackerman.  The information and reproducible items in this book come from the archives of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and is “A practical, hands-on approach to promoting K-12 school counseling programs.”

At the top of the first page in section one is the definition of “public relations” which was taken from the Grolier International Dictionary.  Public Relations are:  1. The methods and activities employed by an individual, organization, corporation, or government to promote a favorable relationship with the public.  2. The degree of success obtained in achieving such a relationship.  3.  The staff employed to promote such a relationship.  4.  The art or science of establishing such a relationship.  After reflecting on my school counseling PR over the years, I decided I could stand to increase my efforts to build this area of my program even higher.

This section goes on to share several things we as school counselors need to remember such as why our programs are an excellent investment, the role of school counselors, what a professional school counselor is, and advocating for the profession.  It also spoke about “quiet efficiency” which is a category I fall under.  I do what I’m supposed to do.  I follow up with parents, teachers, and students.  I conduct my guidance lessons and groups regularly.  However, as stated in the book, sometimes quiet efficiency is not enough.

Public relations also involves recognizing our co-workers and making them feel valued for what they are doing. It gives several examples of positive recognition tools to use to build up the teacher’s sense of being appreciated.   It goes on to share ideas similar to those I pin on Pinterest like the Milky Way Bar with the note “You’re out of this world” or  candy corn with the message “It may sound corny, but I think you’re great!”  Every time I see cute teacher appreciation ideas like these, I pin them on my Teacher Appreciation board. I’m looking forward to finding little ways to encourage the teachers I work with next year.

If I were to share every great thing about this book, this post would be a tad bit lengthy.  I’ll just say, everything in this book is just as relevant today in 2012 as it was when the book was published in 2002.  There are so many ways to increase your school counselor PR.  Here are just a few I plan to implement:

  • Brochure (update)
  • Contact Cards (Vista Print)
  • Phone Tree Messages (to promote different program initiatives)
  • Incentive Cards (Vista Print- for students with behavior concerns)
  • Guidance Blog  (to keep parents informed)
  • Bookmarks, Bulletin Boards, and Recognition
This list includes some things I’ve done in the past as well as some things I’ve thought about doing but haven’t.

Finally, I will begin using National School Counseling Week as a time to crank up the public relations for the school counseling program. I’ve never done that.  There is a section in the book dedicated to this.  It even includes a countdown calendar to help counselors prepare starting one month in advance!

After reading a great post, Mirror Mirror: The Importance of Reflectionon Darrell Sampson’s blog- From the Counselor’s Office, I took some time to reflect on my school year, and this area stood out for me.  I have demonstrated quiet efficiency, but now I am ready to increase my School Counselor PR by including more ways to make my program shine! What are your plans for public relations?

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!


National Boards: Part 2- Documented Accomplishments

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My last NBPTS post discussed Documented Accomplishments.  This post continues the discussion of Entry 4.

As mentioned previously, you are allowed 10 pages maximum for your description and analysis of your accomplishments.  This applies whether you choose to share three accomplishments or the maximum of eight accomplishments.  NBPTS instructions state that your description of each accomplishment must “clearly and specifically describe why they are significant in your counseling context and what impact they have on student learning and the improvement of your school counseling program.”  Therefore, it is not enough to just write what you do and and how you do it.  You must also describe the significance and impact.

You are given four specific questions to use for actually writing the accomplishment:

  • What is the nature of this accomplishment?– Describe the accomplishment in detail.  Don’t assume your assessor knows anything about what you’re describing.  If it’s PBIS, for example, tell what the letters PBIS stand for and what it entails. BE SPECIFIC.
  • Why is this accomplishment significant?–  How does it make you better?  How did the accomplishment affect students?  Did it fill a need at your school?  This is where you will need to demonstrate partnering with students’ families, being a learner, or being a leader and/or collaborator.
  • How has what you have described had an impact on students’ learning?–  Did it improve something?  Was there a shift or positive change because of it? For example- Before hosting a career fair……But now,……  Was student learning improved because of the accomplishment?
  • How does what you have described contribute to the improvement of your school counseling program?–  What positive changes have resulted because of this accomplishment?
In addition to the ten pages of description and analysis, you may submit up to sixteen pages of documentation to support your accomplishments.  This documentation may include artifacts or verification forms.

Artifacts can be newsletters, flyers about specific events, parts of a handout from a presentation, letters from parents, or a copy of a certificate of completion for a workshop you attended.

Verification forms are used for those accomplishments that have no artifacts to include.  In this instance, you would ask someone who knows about your accomplishment to complete a verification form confirming or verifying your description.  A person who verifies can be anyone from an adult to a child.

Be sure to read every bit of the portfolio instructions!  It gives cautions as well as suggestions on how to choose your accomplishments.

Reflective Summary
You are required to reflect on every entry.  For the documented accomplishments, you will write a two-page reflection.  This will include your thoughts on the significance of all of your accomplishments together and your plans for the future in regards to impacting student learning and making improvements to your school counseling program.

The reflective summary questions ask what was most effective in impacting student learning and improving your school counseling program, what your plan is to further impact student learning in the future, and what your plan is to further improve your school counseling program.

One thing I want to say here (and I will probably repeat later) is this:  Be sure to answer each question completely.  Even if you feel you’ve already said something in a previous answer, write it again if the question calls for that information.  Never say to yourself, “I said that on the other page.  I don’t need to say it again here.”

PLEASE read the format specifications and how to assemble your entry very carefully!  Instructions are very specific and failing to follow them could result in your entry not being read.  I will write more about this in my next National Boards post.

If there is anything here you still do not understand, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me.

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!


12 Ways to Manage Anger

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A common issue I deal with in my school counseling program is assisting students with anger management difficulties.  I discuss this issue with all students, Kindergarten through fifth grade.  I know you have all heard different anger management tips and have shared them with your students.  As I prepare for my anger management groups for next year, I wanted to also think about an activity I can do with individuals who are referred to me out of the blue.

I made a puzzle using our schools VariQuest cutout maker which can cut just about any shape you can imagine.  As I was looking through some of the cutout options one afternoon, I came across a puzzle template and cut it out. Since there were twelve puzzle pieces, I decided to put an anger management strategy on each piece.  I didn’t want the puzzle to be difficult, so it is not hard to figure out by any means.  I only want it to be a tool to share with individuals or small groups to spark discussion.


 After we discuss the strategies on each puzzle piece while putting the puzzle together, I will have the student(s) make this anger management flip book foldable.  Once completed, the student(s) will have strategies to refer to that work for them.  The flip book only requires five strategies.  Every tip doesn’t work for everybody, so the students will be able to choose the five strategies they feel will work best for them.

To make this flip book, I took two sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 paper and cut them in half.  I used three of the four halves.  I layered the three sheets.  I picked the sheets up and folded the top half over until I had six flaps. This foldable can be stapled at the top once or twice to keep it together.





I will have the students write a strategy at the bottom of each flap (except for the top flap where they will write the title).  Above each strategy (but under the flap) they will describe and/or illustrate the strategy.  This will depend on what the strategy is.  The “I-Message” strategy would need to have a sample I-message written, while walking away can be illustrated.

I used the book How to Take the Grrrr Out of Anger to assist me with most of the tips. However, many of these tips are universal from one anger management book to another.

The 12 anger management strategies are:

  • Count backwards from 10.
  • Take 3 deep breaths.
  • Exercise or play to let off some steam/energy.
  • Find a quiet place.
  • Vent!  Talk to someone!
  • Tell yourself calming statements. (It’s okay.  Keep calm.  Relax.)
  • Lie down and relax.
  • Tense your body- then relax it. (Repeat)
  • Use an I-Message. (I feel angry when you ___.  I want you to ___.)
  • Think peaceful thoughts. (relaxing by the pool, holding your pet, hugging a parent)
  • Walk away.
  • Avoid anger triggers.

What activities do you have on stand-by for that student who comes to you before having time to calm down?

Be sure to check out my Teachers pay Teachers store for an Anger Management Activity Pack which includes a foldable, 8 anger management strategy posters in two styles (total of 16), and an I-Messages Activity for $3.50.  You can also find The Anger Games which includes a BINGO game and cootie catcher for $3.00 and my Calm Down Pack with task cards, activity sheets and a booklet for $4.00.  The Anger Control Files are the newest edition to my anger management activities.


AngerGamesCover  Calm Down Pack - Task cards and activity sheets

The Anger Files

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates. Also, be sure to enter the Character Readers and CD Giveaway which ends at 11:59 P.M. EST on Friday, June 15.  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!

A Very Respectful Foldable

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I have continued to spend time thinking about how to use foldables in my school counseling program.  I teach students about a different character trait each month during classroom guidance at my school.  My latest idea is this four flapped foldable where students can list or illustrate the different ways they show respect.

Whenever I discuss the character trait respect with my students, I always make sure they understand that it can be shown in many different ways.  Many times, the focus is on how to show respect to others by saying that respect is “treating others the way you want them to treat you.”  To extend this, we discuss how to show respect at school and at home.  We also include showing respect to the Earth.  So when I came across this foldable style, I thought it would work well to teach respect.  It can be adapted to fit the needs of lower or upper elementary students.

First, I folded the paper the long way leaving a small section for writing on the side.





Next, I folded the paper in half.





Afterwards, you can fold it in half again to make the four sections.  Because I used card stock for my sample foldable, I folded each side to the center.





Once it is opened, you can cut across the folds on the shorter side to make the four flaps.





Across the bottom, I will have the students write “This is how I show respect!”  On the flaps, they will write “To Others,” “At School,” “At Home,” and “To the Earth.”  The students will also be able to draw a simple illustration on the front side of the flap.

Under each flap, younger students can draw a picture showing how they will show respect.  Older students can list a variety of ways to show the trait in each area.  You could also have students write an idea under the flap and then illustrate the idea at the top (behind the flap).





You could use this foldable for other traits too.

  • Responsibility- How I show it at school, home, with my things,  and with other’s property
  • Courage- Illustrate or write about four examples of times you showed courage.
If you can think of other ideas, please leave a comment.  I’d love to hear more suggestions!

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates. Also, be sure to enter the Character Readers and CD Giveaway which ends at 11:59 P.M. EST on Friday, June 15.  As always, I’d love to hear from you.  Connect with me!