Friday, April 30, 2010

Fabulous Find Friday: Bubbles

There are so many great resources and items that I use as a school counselor. I wanted to create a way to share the items that get the most use in my office. I have decided to call this way of sharing great items "Fabulous Find Friday!"

Each week I will be selecting an item for Fabulous Find Friday. If you have a suggestion for a Fabulous Find, email me and I will try it out! Your Fabulous Find may be Featured on a Future Friday! ;)

Today is the first Fabulous Find Friday!

Since the weather is getting warmer and summer is just around the corner, I chose bubble solution as the first Fabulous Find! It may sound simplistic, but bubbles are a great resource! Bubbles do not have to be used only in the spring or only outdoors! Bubbles can be used indoors – any time of the year – in your classroom guidance lessons, group sessions, and individual sessions!

I have worked in many different settings and found that students of all ages enjoy blowing bubbles.  Younger students think it is funny or even risqué to blow bubbles in school. Older students may find that blowing bubbles brings them back to a simpler time in their lives. I have bubbles available as one of the many things students explore in my office.

One of the main things I use bubbles for is to teach students techniques to calm down using deep breathing. I instruct students to hold the bubble wand in front of their lips and blow really hard. I ask the students to share with the class, group, or me, what they observed. When blowing hard, there is usually a really tiny bubble that pops very fast or a bubble does not form, bubble solution just sprays everywhere. 

I then instruct the student to take a deep breath and blow out slowly and steadily into the bubble wand.  A big bubble forms or many little bubbles flow out of the wand.  I ask the student or students to describe to me what was different about blowing into the wand after taking the deep breath.  Students are able to notice that more bubbles came out or that the bubble got bigger.

I explain that whenever we are breathing fast it makes our whole body frustrated and difficult to do things.  When we are breathing deep and relaxed, our whole body begins to feel relaxed and calm.

You can find super cheap bubbles. Right now you can get bubbles in pretty much any store you go in because they are in season. I purchase bubbles in small containers and then purchase a jug of bubbles to refill them.

How do you use bubbles in classroom guidance, groups, or individual counseling? Comment below, email metweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Navigating Graduate School for School Counseling

A reader asked me about navigating the process for applying to graduate schools, which can definitely be a bewildering process.

Q: Is there any advice or pointers you could give me regarding graduate school and what I should start doing at this point? I have started looking into schools but it's an overwhelming process. I would like to stay in the DC are if possible. I guess it's time to start thinking about taking the GRE's...  I actually looked at the professors and heads of the School Counseling program at GWU and contacted one of them to learn more about the program.  If you have any other tips on anything, feel free to let me know :)

A: The first thing I would recommend is checking out CACREP's website. CACREP Stands for Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. There are many reasons to choose a CACREP accredited program, but the main reason I recommend choosing a CACREP accredited program is because CACREP programs must meet standards set by the profession. When applying for state licenses for school counseling many states require you to meet additional criteria if your program was not CACREP accredited. If you are interested in becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor (this is a whole other topic for another day ;) ) a CACREP accredited program is the way to go. If your program is not CACREP accredited you will have to meet additional requirements just like your state license for school counseling. There is a searchable directory on CACREP's website where you can find schools that are CACREP Accredited by state and type of program.

As far as the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) is concerned, I would recommend checking first to see if the schools you want to apply for require them. I took the GRE (it was brutal), but the school I ended up going to did not require them. You may find a program that you love that doesn't require it... so check it out first! If you do end up taking the GRE, I recommend visiting the ETS site for study suggestions.

You are definitely on the right track with calling schools and inquiring about their programs. I would also recommend checking out schools websites and looking at faculty profiles. It is great if you can find a school where professors have research interests or theoretical orientations that interest you. For example, if you are aspiring to be an Adlerian oriented school counselor, it would benefit you to find a school where professors either conduct research about Adlerian counseling methods or use an Adlerian orientation in their own counseling.

Do you have questions or advice about graduate school for school counseling? Comment below, email metweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Three Tips for a Smooth Transition

The following is a guest blog post I wrote for the Really Good Stuff Teacher's Lounge Blog.

Three Tips for a Smooth Transition

The school year is winding down. State testing is in full swing and summer is right around the corner. As educational professionals we get used to the routine of the school year. It important to remember, however, that although we may be in our groove, students are moving on and transitioning.

As a school counselor, I work with students and teachers through various transitions. Transitions can be challenging, whether the transition is from Pre-school to Kindergarten, elementary school to middle school, middle school to high school, or even from one grade to the next. I have found that there are three things that can create a smooth transition for students: involving stakeholders, addressing questions and concerns, and having fun!

1. Involve Stakeholders
Involving stakeholders is a great first step to a smooth transition. Stakeholders can be anyone who is directly or indirectly involved with the population of students transitioning. If students are transitioning from Pre-school to Kindergarten, stakeholders would be the parents of the students, Pre-school teachers, Kindergarten teachers, principals, counselors, and other professional and support staff who have regular contact with the population. Creating open communication with all stakeholders allows everyone who works with the students to feel heard and connected. It is essential to involve parents from the beginning. Parents play a valuable role in students’ education and can offer great insight into their students’ needs.

2. Address Questions and Concerns
Even when students appear to be perfectly ok with transitions, chances are they still have questions or concerns.  As part of the transition program from fifth to sixth grade at my school, I gave all of the fifth grade students a blank index card. I asked them to write their name, one thing they would like me to know about them, and one question or concern they have about attending sixth grade.  Almost every student had a question and/or concern. When students were finished I asked for volunteers to share what they wrote on their card. This activity was great because students concerns were normalized and heard.  I was able to answer their questions and address their concerns and it helped me to get to know students.  When addressing questions and concerns it is also a good idea to debunk any myths students may have heard about the next grade or a new school.

3. Have Fun!
Transitions do not have to be scary; they can be exciting and fun! At my school, in order to make the transition from fifth to sixth grade fun and nonthreatening, we are creating a transition program that includes more than just a tour. Students will participate in fun activities that promote interaction with the other fifth grade students, including creating a wall of tolerance, making a healthy snack, learning Zumba, and other interactive activities.  Show students that change is a normal and necessary part of life, and they have fun doing it!

The end of the year can be a difficult time for students and education professionals alike, especially if students do not know what to expect in the next chapter of their educational journey. No matter where students are transitioning to or from, teachers and other educational professionals play a valuable role in creating a smooth transition for students.

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

Comment below, email metweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Celebrating and Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Life's most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others? - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

April marks the 42nd anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Death. I was recently informed about efforts to create a National Memorial honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy.

For more information about the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial visit http://mlkmemorialnews.org/. The site has banners available and a search engine toolbar available for download.

There is a great companion website available for kids called Kids for King. The site has information, activities, and contests for kids.


Comment below, email metweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

Friday, April 9, 2010

7 Hours of Sanity

I wanted to share a poem that our district's Homelessness Coalition shared with the counselors and social workers. I have it hanging on the wall in my office.  For more information about homelessness and resources visit the Pennsylvania Homeless Children's Initiative website.



7 Hours of Sanity
by Russell Valentini

7 hours of sanity,
That’s what the school day means to me,
A place with heat, water and light,
And somewhere to rest after a sleepless night.

7 hours of sanity,
That’s what the school day means to me,
A place I can get two meals to eat,
And every day I attend, I have the same seat.

7 hours of sanity,
That’s what the school day means to me,
A place to get a band-aid from the nurse,
And maybe antiseptic so it doesn’t get worse.

7 hours of sanity,
That’s what the school day means to me,
A place I can jump rope and play basketball,
And see the gym teacher who is six foot tall.

7 hours of sanity,
That’s what the school day means to me,
A place I can go to learn,
The only place where I’ll get a turn.

What resources do you share with homeless students? Comment below, email metweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Too bogged to blog...

I have been so busy lately... I have been too bogged down with everything to blog.

There is a lot going on at school right now. In addition to my normal roles and responsibilities, I am assisting in coordinating state testing, proctoring testing, and planning big events in May (5th grade transition and career week). On top of that I am planning my wedding, which is June 26th!

I was also training for a half-marathon. I decided that to postpone my half-marathon training to sometime in the summer or later in the year. My longest run was 7 miles and the half marathon is less than a month away.  Needless to say, training was the first to go. I am still running, because it helps my sanity. I was feeling pressured by the training schedule and my work schedule. Running was not as enjoyable for me as it had once been. The last thing I need right now is to feel unnecessary pressure.

I have come to the conclusion, as much as I hate to admit it, I can't do it all.  I need to learn to be okay with that! ;)

Comment below, email metweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!


Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.
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