Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What's Behind the Anger?

Oftentimes school counselors get "angry" kids referred to them and instead of trying to figure out what is behind that anger, we put them in a group to teach them how to manage it.  Anger management groups can be a great way to teach students that anger is a normal emotion. Talking about anger can teach students that they have power over their anger and how they handle it. However, if you want to move beyond anger management, it is important to figure out what is behind the anger.

Anger management concerns are often masking a bigger and/or different issue. While facilitating anger management groups last year I realized that the majority of students in my groups had or were currently experiencing the incarceration of a loved one. I was interviewed by Counseling Today and mentioned this in the article. This realization made me much more purposeful about the activities we did in our group.  It also helped me to recruit students for future groups focusing on specific topics and issues.

This year I have facilitated a large variety of groups. I have found that my topic based groups, such as grief/loss and children experiencing incarceration of loved ones, have so much more energy on the students' end than any of the other groups I facilitate. There is more energy from the students because they are working through things that have deep meaning for them. These groups have been extremely powerful not just for the students, but for me as the facilitator.

So, if you are thinking about running an anger management group, you may want to see if you can find out what issues and circumstances are affecting the "angry" students before you even put them in a group. You can do this by administering needs assessments and screening for groups. You may find out that instead of running an anger management group, your time could be better spent running a group where the energy is coming from students' end. 

If you have questions about resources for other types of groups comment below, email metweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page! I have so many ideas and lessons I haven't written about yet because their never seems to be enough time in the day.  However, if I know there is a particular interest I will try my best to get it out as fast as possible.

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.

Anger Resources

There are many resources you can use that gives power back into the students' hands and helps them recognize that anger is a normal feeling. At the request of a School Counselor Blog Facebook fan, I have compiled some resources you can utilize in individual sessions, group sessions, and even classroom lessons with students.

Seeing Red: An Anger Management and Peacemaking Curriculum for KidsSeeing Red
I have written about Seeing Red: An Anger Management and Peacemaking Curriculum for Kids a number of times and I can't express enough how much I love this book. I use Seeing Red with fourth through sixth graders. My colleague uses Seeing Red, with first through fourth grade.  Each session has activities for younger elementary grades and older elementary grades. Seeing Red really focuses on what is behind the anger, how you have power over your reaction to angry feelings, and ways that you can cope with that anger.  I really love the Seeing Red curriculum and I use some of the icebreaker activities in the book for other groups that I facilitate.  Check out my previous post about Seeing Red

Public Broadcast Service (PBS)
PBS has some really cool websites for children and teens with lots of great relatable information.  On the
PBS Kids website, there is a section with videos of a variety of different topics including Dealing with Anger: The Fire Inside. The section includes lots of information for kids/teens for dealing with anger as well as some offline activities they can do to explore their anger.  In the anger management video middle school aged students are asked about what makes them angry and how they deal with it.  The video is slightly under 3 minutes.

PBS also has an In The Mix lesson about anger management and conflict resolution. It includes a videos and discussion. The clips include conflict resolution and peer mediation.  To access these clips and more, visit the PBS In The Mix YouTube Page.

How to Take the Grrrr Out of Anger (Laugh And Learn)How to Take the Grrrr Out of Anger
Free Spirit Publishing has great books on a myriad of different topics. They have two great books about anger.  How to take the Grrrr Out of Anger is one that I use with students in fifth and sixth grade. It is very kid friendly and relatable. You can download two free excerpts from of How to Take the Grrrr Out of Anger from Free Spirit Publishing.  The first excerpt contains the table of contents, self talk, breathing, and relaxation tips. The second excerpt contains "how it feels to be angry," a "rage gauge," two cartoons about anger, and how your thoughts impact your anger.

Mad: How to Deal with Your Anger and Get RespectMAD
The other Free Spirit Publishing book, MAD: How to Deal with Your Anger and Get Respect, is about anger is geared toward older middle school and high school students. MAD is about how anger can control you. MAD contains input and insights from real teens. There are two free excerpts from Free Spirit Publishing available for MAD.  The first excerpt is a listing of the table of contents. The second excerpt is a Rage Gauge Quiz, which would be a great screening tool for a group.

When Sophie Gets Angry
If you are looking for resources for younger elementary students. I highly recommend When Sophie Gets Angry--Really, Really Angry.... This book would be a great addition to a group for younger students utilizing the Seeing Red curriculum.  I created a tree activity to use with When Sophie Gets Angry--Really, Really Angry.... Each time students thought of a positive way to deal with their anger, they got to put a leaf on the tree. It could be used in an individual, group or classroom setting. You can read more about the tree activity here.

Children's Health Fund 
The Children's Health Fund has a brochure called "What to do When I'm Angry." The brochure outlines what anger is, and ideas for dealing with anger. There is a free lesson plan available from the Children's Health Fund that utilizes the brochure.
Activities Previously Mentioned on School Counselor Blog
I have written a variety of different posts about anger management. There many things you can use in your sessions to teach about anger including balloons, play doh, and bubbles. I also made a display of students suggestions of how to "chill out" when they are feeling upset.

For all of my previous posts about anger management, click here.

What resources do you use to talk to students about anger? 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.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Power of the Relationship

I am currently receiving supervision hours toward licensure as a Licenced Professional Counselor (LPC). My supervisor has been instrumental in helping me acknowledge the impact my relationship has with students. I have a few examples of interactions with students that demonstrate the power a relationship can have. 

A Fresh Start
At the beginning of the school year, our district had a massive realignment. Schools were shut down and others were consolidated. Our school received an influx of students from other schools in the city. One student was referred to me right at the beginning of the year. At her old school she was "disruptive, got into fights all the time, and bullied other students." I wanted to try to reach this student before she could demonstrate her previous behavior. I picked her up from her class and introduced myself to her. I made sure to iterate to her from the beginning that seeing me did not mean that she was in trouble. I told her that I wanted to get to know her since she was a new student at our school.

I took her to my office and discussed my role as a school counselor. I told her that if she ever had a problem she could ask to come and see me. I went over confidentiality and showed her my poster about confidentiality. I showed her around my office and told her that when she came to see me, she could do many different things, not just talk. I showed her the many different things she could use, including art supplies, puppets, sand tray, books or whatever else she wanted. I expressed that my office is for students; It has my desk in it, but everything else is for students to explore. She decided that she wanted to draw. I got out the drawing supplies and she began to draw a picture. She began talking about how she was nervous to be at a new school. She was felt a lot of pressure to prove herself because she moved around so much and did not have many friends. She told me she used to get in trouble a lot at her old school. I told her I was surprised by that because the way I experienced her did not seem the same as the way she was describing herself. I offered her a variety of things including groups. She was excited to be part of something like a group.

So far this year, she has not been a discipline problem at all. No fights. No bullying. Nothing. She knows she can come and see me if she needs anything and she stops in from time to time.

Not Just About Basketball
There is a student who comes into my office from time to time to shoot hoops with my Nerf basketball hoop. The first few times he came in there was minimal conversation. He would come in, shoot the basketball a few times, say "see ya Mrs. Schultz," and then leave.  This became a pattern for a while, each time he would share a little bit or ask me a question.

The one day he came in I asked him if he needed an application for the technical school. We had just gone on a tour that week and I saw that he was very interested in a few of the shops. He stopped shooting. Turned and looked at me and said "You really think I could do that?" I was shocked. (Writing about it is even making me teary.) I said of course I thought he could do it! I told him if he needed help with the application he could come and work on it with me. I gave him an application and he took it with him.

The next few times he came down I asked him when he wanted to work on his application. Each time he asked me "You really think I could go there?" Each time I reaffirmed that I did in fact think that he could go there and that I thought he would do really well there. I really do not think he knew what to think.

One day he finally brought me his application. I was so excited and I let him know it! He had everything completed except for the career information section. We schedule a time and he came to work on it. The whole time we worked on the application, he kept saying thank you to me. He said "I feel like I should pay you for helping me." I told him that helping him is part of my job and it's what I love to do. He then said, "helping me is probably a whole lot more work though." I assured him that it wasn't and that I enjoyed working on his application with him and any other time he comes to see me.

His application was well written and he did a great job on it.

On Different Terms
I had two students sent to me for arguing with each other at lunch. The one student I had met with before and the other student was a student I had not worked with before. After assisting in resolving the conflict between the two girls, I asked the girl I had not met with before to stay behind. I told her that I wanted to meet with her again later that day sometime. I explained to her that I don't like have students only experience with me to be a about a problem. I told her I wanted to get to know her and show her my office.

I had her take a needs assessment because she was a new student. While going over it, I noticed her answers to the question "Are there any questions or concerns you would like to share with Mrs. Schultz?"stated "you care bout me."

We discussed many other things during the session I had with her. I thought it was powerful that she already knew I cared about her from the brief interaction I had with her.

(Side Note: At the recommendation of a reader, I made a Google document version of the needs assessment for you to access.)

The After Lunch Crowd
My door is always open when I am not with a student or on the phone with someone. I want students to know I am available and that they can come in to see me.

I had the opportunity to meet with all of the eighth grade students during ninth grade scheduling. For many of them, it was the only time they had been in my office. They were able to see what I am about and what I have in my office.

I noticed a trend recently. After scheduling was over, a few eighth graders started popping in after lunch and before their next class. As time has progressed, more were stopping by. Now it has gotten to the point where I have over fifteen students who come into my office and say hello or just look at things in my office after lunch. I tell them to get a pass if they want to come and see me and advise that if they come and see me after lunch they have to be at there next class on time.

Do Not Underestimate YOUR Power
You do not need any fancy things to have an impact on the lives of students; you just need to build a relationship with them. I show students who I am by respecting them, giving them unconditional positive regard, and being genuine.

Do not underestimate the power you have within you to work with students.  It can be easy to be humble and brush it off, but YOU play a huge role in the lives of students!

How have you seen the power of the relationship in action? 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.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Serving Up Career Standards With Career Café

Are you looking for a super fun and engaging way to increase career awareness and exposure at your school? Career Café may be exactly what you are searching for!

This year, one of my goals was to create greater awareness and exposure to careers at my school. When planning at the beginning of the school year, the other school counselor I work with and I sought out ideas for ways we could infuse career into our curriculum. We met with a school counselor at a neighboring district who gave us the idea to start a weekly career program at our school, called Career Café.  We started Career Café at the beginning of the school year and it has been instrumental in building excitement around careers at our school!

Bulletin board/display advertising Career Café to students.
What is Career Café?
Career Café is an opportunity for students to meet individuals from their community and learn about their career journeys. At our school, we invite students in fifth through eighth grade to participate in Career Café.

We wanted our Career Café to be very purposeful so administered career interest surveys to all students in third through eighth grade. We administered Bridges Paws in Jobland to all students in fourth through fifth grade and administered Bridges Choices to all students in sixth through eighth grade. We had students record their current hobbies and interests, three careers that were recommended for them by the career interest inventory, and any additional careers they wanted to learn more about.

We also have students complete a brief pre/post test during each Career Café session to show students are meeting Pennsylvania Career Standards and American School Counselor Association Standards by attending! I made a google document of the pre/post test we administer to students so you can utilize it for your own Career Café.

How are students selected to attend Career Café?
Students are invited to Career Café based on their career interests. Each week before Career Café I look through all the students' career interest inventory information to determine who will be invited. If there are not enough students to fill the slots I ask students during breakfast or lunch if they would be interested in learning about the Career Café speaker for that week. We host two sessions in a row during lunch and invite approximately 20 students to each session.

I designed a postcard on VistaPrint to use as invitations. I got 100 FREE postcards and I only had to pay for shipping. I fill in the back of the postcard with the student's name, the date, and the time using an orange sharpie.

If you want to order pre-designed Career Café passes, visit the School Counselor Blog Store.

Where do you host Career Café?
We have been hosting Career Café in the other school counselor's room. We have both been fortunate this year to have classrooms as "offices" which has allowed us to be very creative with our spaces. For Career Café we arrange the tables in her office and cover them with plastic tablecloths. We try to make it look and feel like a real cafe!

Bulletin board advertising Career Café to students.
How do you recruit Career Café speakers?
We use the students' career interest inventory information to recruit career speakers. Once we initially determined some careers students were interested in learning about, we began contacting individuals we knew and reaching out to community members.

Our first Career Café speaker was an art teacher from our school. It was great to start out with someone we knew well because it gave us an opportunity to see how Career Café would work and get feedback. Our first Career Café was a huge success! The art teacher had a blast and the kids loved it!

Since the beginning of the year we have hosted an art teacher, a bank branch manager, a lawyer and a chef! We have future career speakers scheduled including a cosmetologist, a humane society worker, and a news anchor.  We are continually recruiting individuals to come and speak to students about careers. I recommend asking individuals in your school, local businesses, colleges, and anyone you know to help you be a career speaker!

Get Started!
The really cool thing about starting a Career Café is that you can really customize it to your school. Career Café could be hosted in an elementary school, middle school, or high school! If you do not have the ability to host it every week, host it once a month. If you want to do it for only one grade do it with one grade.  You can really make it your own and unique to your schools' needs!

Career Café has been such an amazing experience. Students are so excited to be invited to Career Café. I think it says a lot that students (even 8th graders!) are willing to come and learn during lunch! Career Café has opened students' eyes to a variety of career opportunities and has helped them understand the connection between school and the world of work.  I am amazed at how much I am learning from Career Café too!

You can also read about Career Café in an article I wrote for The Pennsylvania Counselor, the Pennsylvania School Counselors Association magazine.

Do you host a Career Café at your school? Do you have any questions about starting a Career Café that I didn't answer? 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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