Self-Advocacy for School Counselors

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Self-Advocacy for School Counselors- savvyschoolcounselor.comI have thought a lot this summer about self-advocacy for school counselors.  I started outlining this post, and a few days later I received an email from a new school counselor who is really in a difficult situation with her new position.  She is assigned to SIX schools and isn’t feeling the love so far.  Unfortunately, my email response to her came back to me undelivered. So, I’m hoping she will see this post and contact me again.

I want to preface this post by saying, administrative support is key!  Regardless of the level of support, it is important for you to advocate for your program.  In the end, your administrator has the final say.  Even if you don’t feel supported, know that you’ve done all you can by advocating for yourself.  If you don’t, who will?

Avoid Discipline Issues

As school counselors, we pride ourselves in creating positive relationships with our students.  We work hard to build a good rapport and establish trust with the students we come in contact with each day.  This can be hindered if we are asked to handle disciplinary situations at our schools.  Assisting with disciplinary issues will confuse children about your role.  Instead of seeing you as their adult friend, they will not look forward to coming to your office.  Let your administrators and teachers know where you stand to help avoid being involved with discipline.  Also, be sure to let your students know they are never “in trouble” when they come to see you.  Let them know from the beginning during your introductory classroom counseling lessons.

Avoid the Therapy Trap

Although school counselors have degrees in counseling, we are unable to provide regular therapy to students.  If there is a student needing to be seen once a week for the whole school year, they need more than you can effectively give them.  This doesn’t mean you won’t have some students who come to see you for consecutive sessions.   Be sure to state up front how many sessions the student will have with you.  Last year, I purchased the loyalty cards sold on Vistaprint. I got the idea from THIS BLOG. They have five boxes along the bottom that can be punched or stamped.  This is a great visual for your students to know how many times they will get to visit with you.  Of course, all students won’t need to use the cards, but they are great to have for the ones needing more extensive counseling.

If an IEP or Behavior Plan has included you as an “intervention,”  be sure to speak up.  Yes, you want to work with the student, but being bound in writing by plans like these can be detrimental to your program.  Sometimes the writers of these plans need to be reminded that the student they are creating the plan for isn’t the only student you are working with.  They won’t always see your “big picture.”  Self-advocacy will help make the picture more clear.

Implementing Your Program

I don’t know about you, but running my school counseling program is very important to me.  When I get caught up for days or weeks where I am unable to run my program because of other “school related assignments,” it bothers me to no end.  We can’t always avoid these, but we can still speak up.  The ASCA National Model was created to help with this, so be sure to create yours and make sure your administration has a copy.  We are accountable for following through with the closing the gap action plans we create each school year.

Along with your National Model, you’ll want to be sure to “market” your program.  You can read more about school counselor public relations HERE.  Showing pride in your school counseling program is also a great way to advocate for it.

Management Agreement

As I said before, support from your administration is key.  The management agreement is a part of your ASCA National Model plan.  This agreement is a great way to gain support from your principal.  It outlines all of your programs and services.  It details the percentage of time you will spend delivering your curriculum, planning for individual students, providing responsive services and lending system support.  All of this is done with hopes that you won’t end up doing all of the non-counseling duties we are so often stuck with.  It assists you with advocating for your program.

There are some school counselors who are able to truly do their jobs each day, and that is wonderful!  If you find yourself in a situation that goes against the grain of your school counseling program, speak up.  Doing so may help you get what’s needed to make your program effective.  If it doesn’t, you can feel good knowing you spoke up and advocated for yourself and your program.

To the school counselor who reached out:  I hope to hear back from you again so I can re-send my email to you. :)

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TpT “School Counselor” Blog Hop

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TPT School Counselor Blog HopI’m excited to join Heather today for the Teachers pay Teachers School Counselor Blog Hop.  Heather, author of The Helpful Counselor blog, came up with the idea for participants to create posts highlighting their favorite paid and free TpT resources.

The first resource I am highlighting is one of my FREE products.  Tattling Vs. Reporting is my most popular freebie.  I created it for school counselors and teachers to help their students understand the differences between the two words.  Doing this activity helps students learn that tattling is used to get a person into trouble, but reporting is used to get a person out of trouble.  To complete the activity, students cut out ten statements children could make to their teacher or another adult.  They decide which five are necessary to “report” to the teacher.  We report situations to an adult when someone is being hurt mentally or physically or if property is being damaged on purpose.  The remaining five statements are examples of tattling.  Tattling occurs when children tell an adult what another child is doing in hopes of getting him or her into trouble.  The statements are usually problems that could be ignored.  With kids being kids, I don’t see the need for the this type of lesson ever going away. :)

Tattling Blog Photo

The paid resource I chose to highlight is Good Character is Popping Up Everywhere.  This product has a popcorn theme and sells for $3.75.  It includes 8 character trait display cards and  a character trait paper folding activity similar to the one I wrote about in THIS POST. Each trait and a picture is printed on the outside of each flap.  Under the character flap, students write about what the trait means and give an example of how one would demonstrate the trait.  My Favorite Character Trait is another activity for students to write about their favorite trait, tell how they show the trait and draw a self-portrait. A word search and answer key is also included. There is a Brainstorm and Write sheet which can be used when teaching character traits or many other subjects.  Be sure to check out the preview link for this product on TpT to see what’s included.

My bulletin board display ties in well too!  Eight pieces of the popcorn have a character trait on them.  This board is located in the main hallway of my school.  Pictures of students showing good character can be added throughout the school year.

Popcorn CoverCharacter Board

 

 

 

 

 

You can check out some other favorites on the right side of this page. ———–>

Be sure to check out posts from the other School Counselor Blog Hop Participants:

Heather – The Helpful Counselor

Tabitha – Scrapbook of a School Counselor

Melanie – The Stylish School Counselor

Colleen - One Stop Counseling Shop

Thanks, Heather, for inviting me to participate!

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Character Trait Superpower Poster Freebie

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I am in the process of creating my “Superpower” character trait theme to use in my school counseling program for the coming school year.  I’ve decided to retire my ice cream cones and scoops for now.  In preparation, I started by making a set of eight posters to go along with the character traits adopted by my school district.  Each trait will have it’s own “Super Hero.”  I will use these super heroes to introduce the traits during my classroom counseling lessons each month.

Throughout the school year, students will meet Responsibility Reggie, Respect Renee, Courage Carlos, and Kindness Keisha.  They will also meet Self-Discipline Steve, Integrity Isabel, Perseverance Pam, and Good Judgment George.

Each poster has a picture of the super hero.  The hero introduces himself or herself and says what his or her superpower is.  That hero will then be the face of that trait for the month.  Students will earn a small image of the super hero of the month each time I visit.  I will make super hero shields for each classroom to display their super heroes on throughout the school year.  This will be done similarly to the ice cream scoops I’ve used for so many years.

I am giving Respect Renee to my readers as a freebie.  You can download it by clicking HERE or by clicking the picture above.  Visit my TpT store to purchase the entire set of eight posters for only $3.00.  You can also find activity sheets to go along with each trait and hero in my store as well.  Additionally, both are sold together in a COMBO pack. Click the pictures below to check them out!

Superpower Character Trait Posters- TpT

Superpower Activity Sheets

Superpower COMBO Pack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Savvy Guest Blogger: School Counselors Rock

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Hi fellow counselors!  I am the author of School Counselors Rock.  I have been a counselor for 14 years and was recently honored by being selected as Elementary School Counselor of the Year for my county.  Even after 14 years, I still love my job and I still get excited about new ideas and resources.  My passion is helping out new, beginning counselors!

I also love FREE resources (who doesn’t right?), and I love resources that my students get excited about.  This past year I used several free, fun resources in classroom guidance that every counselor should know about.  Happy Teaching!!
howardThe first absolutely fabulous site that every counselor should know about is wedolisten.org.  This site has TONS of free resources to go with the Howard B. Wigglebottom books.  You actually don’t even need the books because you can read them online.  The songs to go along with the books are really cute—the kids LOVE them.

simons hook

Another great free resource is the Grandma Rose’s Neighborhood videos on YouTube (1, 2 and 3).   These videos are really cute for 1st and 2nd grade and go along with the book “Simon’s Hook.”  While I love the message in the book, it can get a little wordy for our younger students.  These videos are a great, FREE way to teach the kids the strategies from the book.

pete

If you haven’t come across “Pete the Cat and his White Shoes,” you are missing out.  It is a great resource for teaching about the importance of a good attitude and positive self-talk.  Again you can find FREE resources on the Harper Collins site.  I always use the video on this site for reading the story.  It is much more fun than if I was reading!  Also, you should search for Pete the cat on YouTube.  There are some great videos on there—I love to use THIS video as a fun way to end my lesson.

Please drop by my blog and spend a few minutes getting some new ideas.  And feel free to share some ideas of your own.  Hope to see you soon!

BlogDaisies

Thanks so much, Lisbeth, for sharing these great free online resources.  I look forward to incorporating these into my school counseling program!

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Look Who’s Been “Spotted!”: Scrapbook of a School Counselor

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Look Who's Been Spotted! - Scrapbook of a School CounselorI’m excited to add another blog to My Favorites today!  Scrapbook of a School Counselor is a wonderful school counseling blog authored by Tabitha Panariso.  Tabitha shares a fresh perspective of school counseling with unique ideas for new and veteran counselors alike.   I’d like to take this time to share why her blog is one of my favorites.

  • Tabitha shares her use of surveys and data to help drive her school counseling program.  I was impressed last year by her post Needs Assessments and Thick Skin.  In this post Tabitha fully disclosed her feelings of discouragement and sadness after surveying the staff at her school and receiving commentary on one of the anonymous surveys which “crushed” her.  I admired her first for sharing this with her readers, but mostly for picking herself up, dusting herself off and recognizing her first year was a success and one point of view could not define her entire school year.  The last section of her post is very encouraging.  Check it out!

This year she surveyed grades 3-5 and acquired feedback from her students to assist her with program planning for the coming school year.  She created the survey using Google Drive.  You can read more by viewing her post Surveying Your Student Population.

  • Tabitha has great small group ideas.  One very popular post tells how to make a Worry Box.  She uses this with small groups and individual students.  This activity allows students to share their worries anonymously and helps the school counselor facilitate a discussion with the group regarding how they can relate to those worries.  I like that it can be used to facilitate discussion about any topic of concern for students. More recently, she shared a great girl’s group post.  Her group is called S.A.S.S. which stands for “Stong And Smart Sisterhood.”  In her post, she gives the pros and cons about her experience with the group this year.  She lists several resources school counselors can use when planning a girl’s group. She also shares a photo of a felt quilt the students made at the conclusion of the group.  Love it!!

If you have not had the opportunity to check out this great blog, you can visit by clicking the button below.  It’s great to have bloggers like Tabitha who continue to verify why school counseling  is such an awesome profession.  Thanks, Tabitha!

Scrapbook of a School Counselor Link

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My School Counselor- Freebie Download

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FREE TpT Download- My School Counselor ActivityIf you are already thinking about your Meet the School Counselor lessons, let this FREEBIE be one activity on your list.  It’s a simple activity sheet for school counselors to use with students as they discuss their role within the school.  It can be used like a note taking sheet or a review activity to be completed after meeting the counselor.

The sheet offers a space for students to list reasons to see the counselor.  You may have them brainstorm and share, or you may give them reasons to list on their sheets for future reference.

There are two sentences to complete also.  One says “The counselor is my adult friend because…”  It’s important that students realize how your relationships with them differ from those with administrators and teachers.  The other says “My counselor keeps my secrets unless…”  Your first meeting with students should always include this discussion.  School counselors keeps secrets unless someone is being hurt.

The cloud at the top is a space for students to write what they want to talk to the counselor about.  You can give the students an opportunity to share their clouds privately with you during the lesson as you circulate the room.

You can download this FREE sheet at my TpT Store.

Meet the Counselor GameI’ve also created a product to go along with my Meet the Counselor game shared in my post Meet the School Counselor Ideas from last year.  In this post I shared about a game I play with my 5th graders which incorporates a Nerf basketball  and goal set.  This product sells for $3.00 on TpT.  However, it is discounted to $2.50 today through Tuesday, July 16th.

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  You can also follow my TpT Store to keep up with my latest products and freebies.