Monday, July 25, 2016

Technopalooza

Today was one of those have-to-wake-up-early-in-the-summer kind of days.  Technopalooza year 4!  I go every year and I always learn something new.  This year I learned about Schoology, Dropittome, Plickers, EdShelf, App Smashing, Augmented Reality, Newsela, Rewordify, Lego Movie Maker, YouTube Converter, and I got some tips on making instructional videos.  Plus I got to see friends, eat scrumptious food truck fare, and win a $50 Amazon card.  School?  #bringit

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sharing

Today I had the opportunity to participate in a panel of middle school counselors as we shared our career paths and more with university students in the Masters in School Counseling program.  There were four students, four school counselors, and one instructor, serving as the facilitator.  I wore this shirt:  

I love being able to share the intricacies of my job with future school counselors.  :)  What I realized today is that the information the others shared was also very valuable to me...an unexpected bonus! One of the main points I wanted to share with these students is the importance of networking and keeping current.  I was super excited to hear that the four students plan to attend our state conference in the fall.  Yay!!!

Why do I think conferences are important?

  • Opportunities for growth
  • Leadership potential
  • Amazing professional development
  • Networking
  • Change in scenery
  • Fun!  Fun!  Fun!

This year our state is hosting two phenomenal school counselors for our Saturday Institute.  They are none other than Jeff Ream:  The Counseling Geek and Carol Lawson Miller!  I am so excited to have them in Missouri!!!

Attending conferences and becoming involved in professional organizations is an excellent way to stay abreast of new and changing information as well as to let lose, have a little fun, learn, and share!  Definitely a Win!  Win!

Follow me on Twitter:  @LangeCounselor

















Friday, April 8, 2016

PBIS Collaboration

Yesterday our PBIS team went off-campus for a collaboration day.  We looked at what we are doing now and what we would like to accomplish for next year.

Let me just say...we are only looking at tier 1 supports at this time.  As a team, I think we are anxious to move on to learn some intervention strategies to support our tier 2 kids, but at this time, we still need to build a solid foundation school wide.

Let me be honest here...I have been at my current school for three years now.  This is just my second year as a member of the PBIS team.  My first year was a complete whirlwind!  I was new to the building and had just switched from classroom teacher to school counselor.  I was learning the ropes and acclimating to a new school climate.  That first year I saw a lot of misbehavior.  I was confused about our discipline policy.  I knew if I was confused, then surely the kids were too.  While I loved my new position and the people I worked with, I saw a lot of room for growth.

Enter year two.  The PBIS team started strong, asking teachers to use the school wide expectations posted in their classrooms.  Then, we started getting PD once a month on PBIS strategies to support our expectations.  I could see a big difference...and so could the kids.  I joined the PBIS team this second year.  Becoming more involved in the process is something I enjoy.

Now it is year three and I am just pumped about the progress we have made and the growth we still have to come!  I can't wait to go to the Summer Institute and hear from model schools.  :)

One idea I have for next year is to start a new club that will serve as the student side of PBIS.  I would like it to be a service club that models our school-wide expectations.  Since we are the Leopards, the name will be...LEOPARD PRIDE.  So excited!!!

In the meantime, we are working to finish this school year on a positive note.  It is good to be excited about future growth, but sometimes I need to be grounded back to today.  Anyone else like that?  :)

Friday, December 18, 2015

We are an AVID school!

Do you know about AVID?  It stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination.  The mission of AVID is to close the achievement gap by preparing ALL students for college readiness and success in a global society.  Sounds like that fits right into a school counseling program, doesn't it?  :)

My school district has adopted the AVID program district-wide.  Each month we have AVID professional development within our grade level meetings.  After the PD, the teachers are challenged to implement at least one of the strategies learned into their classroom.

This is our third year implementing AVID both in the district and in our school.

We incorporate school-wide strategies for Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading and we have two AVID classes:  one for 7th graders and another for 8th graders.  Students go through an application and interview process to be selected for the class.



This year our AVID classes have worked hard to market the program to anyone walking in our building.  They have created several signs which are hung all over the building.



The signs serve two purposes:
1.  to educate others about the AVID program
2. to motivate and inspire our students

I love walking through the building and feeling the college and career mindset!  :)

Didn't the kids do great?














Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Stressful times

I love my job!  I love working with kids and I also enjoy the warm comraderie that we adults share at my school.  I truly feel like I have found my niche.  :)


Let me just say that while I love my job...this post is going to steer into the personal this time.  So...if you are looking for school counseling ideas, this time I will be writing about something very different from my normal blog post.  It might seem a little negative.  I just want it to be honest.  This is what I'm dealing with right now and I thought I would share.

As I continue to learn more and more about being a school counselor, I am given more responsibilities.  This makes me feel confident in my abilities and a little proud that I am being trusted with more.  Along with the positive comes more stressful days.  This year I have my first practicum student.  She is truly AMAZING!  She is enthusiastic and motivated, and very reliable.


 I start to get teary eyed just thinking of the end of semester.  I also realize that along with a practicum student comes even more responsibility...I need to model what a comprehensive guidance and counseling program looks like and carry the burden of proving this through my day to day interactions. 

And here is where it gets personal.  I am recognizing that I need to write down what needs to get done or sometimes I forget to complete it.  I also realize that when my responsibilities increase, the length of my "fuze" decreases.  Add to all this my personal life...and the personal life of my siblings and now I have a knot in my stomach that is hard to release.  I notice that when I talk things out, I tend to feel better, but if I really want to talk all this out, it would be more fair to set up an appointment with a counselor/therapist than to talk it to death with my family and friends.  

So, right now I am super overwhelmed and having a hard time because the stress of the job compounded with family situations all lead to a greatly affected school counselor.  Sorry for the negativity in this post, but I really wanted to share that it truly can feel awful at times, but I am in the HELPING profession and most likely have some connections.  :)  

Can I handle all this on my own?  NO way!  Here is where I need to realize that I am important and so is my health (both physical and mental).  What is the next step?  I think a few counseling sessions might be helpful to work through what I am feeling right now.  

Moral of the story?  Please take care of yourself so that you can help others!  :)




Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New counselor in year three

This is my third year as a school counselor.  While I believe I have a much better understanding of what it means to be a school counselor now, I still feel like a newbie in many ways.  I still ask lots of questions and warmly welcome collaboration.

This year I do notice that I am taking on a lot more responsibilities. Maybe it is because I feel more comfortable or maybe it is because others believe I am capable (that's a good thing!).  Not sure...

One of my new repsonsibilities is being a mentor to practicum students.  Let me just say that I have a FABULOUS practicum student who is knowledgeable and motivated.  Together we have started three lunch groups to sharpen relationship skills.  We are in week three now and the groups are really coming together!  Since our first progress report just went out on Friday, we are also getting ready to tackle the D & F list togehter.  It is so nice to work with Rebecca and to share what I have learned.  In no way do I consider myself an expert, but I do believe in sharing experiences to help one another.  I know I have learned so much from my co-counselor that I feel whenever I can give back, I should.

Speaking of giving back, last night a few of my grad school buddies and I were asked to come talk with the practicum class.  What an energizing evening!  I remember how helpful it has been for me to read blogs and learn from more experienced counselors.  Now I am getting a chance to pass the baton!  :)

I will say that passing that baton would never have been possible without my two amazing "coaches":  my practicum instructor Ann and Carolyn.  Between the two of them is a wealth of knowledge!!  Not only have they shared their knowledge, but they have also taken us to regional and state conferences and even got out on the dance floor with us!  I really cannot say enough positive things about the Stephens College Guidance & Counseling Program and it is because of everything they have done for me that I will give back whenever I have the opportunity!  Thanks Stephens!


Sunday, August 30, 2015

My Favorite Responsive Service Resources


According to the ASCA National Model, “Responsive services are activities designed to meet students’ immediate needs and concerns. Responsive services may include counseling in individual or small-group settings or crisis response.”

Responding to student needs can be a little daunting, as we cannot accurately predict the issues and concerns they will bring us.  Thankfully, we can actually be proactive in responding by educating ourselves and collaborating with other professional school counselors. 

I would like to share two resources that help me tremendously in responding to students.  The first is a book and the second is an Internet resource.  (A non-techie and a techie resource)

While attending the ASCA conference this past summer, I attended an amazing session led by two gentlemen Keith Fulthorp and Around Schonberg.  They used the time in the session to share how they incorporate Solution-Focused Brief Therapy into their school counseling programs.  One of the books they recommend is Solutioning by Willyn Webb.  I was so excited about their session that I ordered the book as soon as I returned home from the conference!  I am in the middle of reading the book Solutioning.  


Here is what I like about Solutioning:
1.    It is easy to read.  Not full of a bunch of theoretical jargon. 
2.    This book is full of examples.  I love being able to see how someone else handled an issue I might face.
3.    This book features real language I can practice and use at school with my students.
4.    Each chapter ends with practice exercises to put me in the mindset to focus on solutions rather than problems.
5.    This may seem trivial, but I really like the size of this book.  It has over 300 pages, yet still fits in my purse.  This means I can take it with me and read whenever I have a few minutes.

My other favorite responsive service resource is a Facebook group called, “Caught in the Middle School Counselors” or CITM for short.  I found this group my first year as a school counselor and it has proven to be a constant support and resource for me as a professional.  Keeping up with this group is like getting a little bit of PD every time I check it.  If you are familiar with Facebook, you understand that people will post questions, comments, and pictures while group members have a chance to respond by offering support, opinions, or ideas.  It is virtual collaboration.  J

Here is what I like about “Caught in the Middle School Counselors”:
1.    This is a closed group consisting only of school counselors, mental health providers (such as social workers, psychiatrists, and therapists) and students studying to become school counselors and/or mental health practitioners. 
2.    The members are at all different experience levels!  Ideas based on years of experience as well as fresh ideas from those new in the field.
3.    This is a super active group!  Every time I check it, there is a new post.  So much information at my fingertips!!  J
4.    This group is full of real people in the trenches…just like me!  People who have faced some of the same challenges I have like the death of a student.  Not something any of us want to face, but definitely something that happens.  It is so nice to have others respond so quickly with tried and true information.
5.    This group has a Google Drive with files!  Just this week I used a peer conflict contract I found in this group.  So many resources already typed up and used by those with more experience than I have.  What’s not to love?


As school counselors, we want to be more proactive than reactive, but the truth is we need to be flexible with our time as a great portion of our program includes responding to student needs.  The two resources mentioned above are great ways of educating ourselves so that we can respond to student needs effectively and efficiently.  J