Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sesame Street: Bruno Mars: Don't Give Up

I found this video on youtube.  This would be a great motivational song for elementary school.  Might be a bit juvenile for middle school, but I really like it!  :)  What are your thoughts?

Trying something new!

Ok, so I have got to share what we did at Lange Middle School yesterday! It was a shorter day, with the kids getting out at 12:05. We also had an assembly in there. So, our PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention & Support) Team decided that we needed to stress the positives in our school by doing fun activities. One thing they came up with was a "Switch Day". 

Students were given a punch card that listed their 4 core classes and 2 electives. Yesterday, students could go to their classes in any order. They had to attend core classes on their team, but they could choose when to go. As for electives, they were able to choose any elective class to try for the day. 

When students came to class, the teacher punched their cards and closed the door when class was full (28 students) and hung up a red sign. 

What a creative idea!!! I really applaud our PBIS team for the courage to try something so out of the box! 

When I asked the kids their opinion on the day, here were some of the comments I received:
"BEST day ever!"
"Just another day of school."
"It was like the Hunger Games trying to get to the elective class I wanted."
"It was like Black Friday."
"Kids were running to get to class."

The crazy thing is, the hallways were EMPTY in between classes. Kids were excited to be with their friends and try something new. Let me say this again, "Kids were running to get to class!" When does this happen?!

Awesome job Lange Middle School!!!! 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Almost Free Samples - The Career Game by Rick Trow Productions

Almost Free Samples - The Career Game by Rick Trow Productions

If you are looking for mateirals for middle school career exploration, check out the link above!  Several samples.  All you pay for is the shipping!

Who's going to try this with me?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Future Puerto Rico Trip

In June, I am taking 4 students and 2 adults on a trip to Puerto Rico!

Puerto Rico 2014

I started planning and organizing this trip while I was a Spanish teacher.  Now that I am a school counselor, the purpose for the trip is more global.  Not only do I want the students to appreciate another culture and practice a different language.  I want them to be able to see how they each grow personally and socially from their experiences on this trip.

We are a small group, so we will be paired with at least one other group.  We have no control over who that might be.

Another interesting thing about this trip is that each student enrolled is from a different school.  None of them know each other.  I am excited to get everyone together and get to know each other!

I am interested to know if you have ever traveled with students.  If so, how did it go?  What was your purpose?

Also...if this trip looks like something you might be interested in, check out the Puerto Rico 2014 link at the top of the page.  I would LOVE to travel with another colleague!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Awesome Blog!

Are you familiar with the blog entitled, "School Must See Videos"?  As is true of most of my internet experience, I was playing around and stumbled across this fabulous blog!  The title describes it perfectly.  It is a blog filled with videos pertinent to our area of practice.

I'd love to share the newest video on the blog with you.  It speaks to the kindness of strangers.  Please, check it out: Must See Videos: Man's act of kindness to autistic girl on plane go...:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Enrollment Presentations

Today was another exciting day in the world of school counseling!  Today the high school counselors came to talk to our 8th grade students about enrolling for high school classes.  The students were attentive because this is IMPORTANT information to them.

One girl said, "I don't know why I'm getting excited about going to high school?"

Another student:  "Now THESE are the classes I want to take!"

I love seeing kids get excited about their future!

Some students have really blown off middle school and are not excited about moving on because they see an even rougher road ahead.  We are so fortunate to have a new program called AVID available to students who need that extra support to succeed in high school and college.  (If you are unfamiliar with AVID, check out this link:  AVID).  Today some AVID students shared their journey and their successes with our 8th graders.  It is truly an exciting program with high expectations!  Our school district's goal is that all students in the AVID program select a college they want to attend and earn a full ride scholarship!  I am excited to see that happen!

Speaking of AVID, I just checked out their website and found an article about Battle High School in Columbia, MO.  That is the school we feed into!  Look up December 30th, 2013 under News.  Wow!  So proud of those AVID kiddos!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Odd job

I certainly love the freedom of being a school counselor.  At first, it was difficult to get used to.  For 19 years my work life revolved around a bell schedule that had 4 minutes passing time.  Having the freedom to schedule myself is so exciting!

Before winter break, my principal asked if I would drive 2 of our students to the board office for their monthly meeting with the superintendent (they are on a middle school advisory council).  I agreed to do it.  

So today was the day to play taxi.  One student remembered, and the other forget.  I called her classroom to remind her to come on down.  When she got to the office, she said, "I just got so carried away with Algebra!"  I knew at that point that I was in for a ride!  :)

The kids and I chatted the whole trip there and back (about 15 minutes one way).  I thought maybe it would be slow going for conversation, but I was pleasantly surprised...and impressed!  These two kiddos, who I really did not know before our trip, even made sure to offer me a fortune cookie when their meeting was finished (they had Chinese for lunch).  I told them I didn't realize that I could have joined them.  Their response?  "Next month we're having Italian!"

It is so refreshing to me to see a different side of kids that the classroom teacher does not always get a chance to see.  This was a perfect example of that!

We discussed how fun it was to get out of the school building.  It sure was fun to hang out with some really awesome kids today!

That's school counseling!  You don't always know what your day will look like until you are in the moment.  So much fun!!


I cannot think of one school in our nation that does not have trouble with bullying.

There are so many resources out there in cyber space it is unbelievable!  Here is a new website I found today:  It even has videos!  Lots of good information out there.

What is your favorite website to share?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Be more adventurous with Twitter!

Do you have a Twitter account?  One of the most used forms of social media for educators (including school counselors--check out #scchat and #sccrowd) is Twitter.  The fact that you can only post 140 characters at a time makes those who post be succint and concise in their posting.

I have had an account for a few years, but haven't used it much.

Last year my son started playing high school lacrosse and the coach would send out tweets regarding where and when games/practices would be held.  We folled coach to get those tweets, but I must admit my husband did more of the following than I.

Then I started seeing all this # stuff on facebook (my preferred social media).  I had tried Twitter for a little while, but found it hard to figure out.  But the more I was reading blogs, the more I saw the hashtags and the more I felt left out because I didn't tweet.

So, over winter break I played around a little more with my account.  And, I tried my first ever Twitter chat.  WOW!

Twitter chats are super fast paced, but you can always lurk first before actually participating.  Usually the moderators will compose a storify of the chat so you can read all the tweets, in case you missed any.

SCOPE has a great 30 minute video on youtube explaining Twitter SCOPE Twitter video, but if you don't have 30 minutes, I found that Edudemic wrote a good article to get you started:  Edudumic Twitter Article.  You might learn something!

What is your favorite form of social media that keeps you up to date with the counseling world?

Why I Love My Job

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Today I greeted one of the girls I have been working with in the hallway.  I have not seen her since before winter break.  She had a little gift for me that she made over the break.  She learned to sew and she made me a beautiful coaster!  Hand stitched.  Double sided.  I always have a water bottle with me at school and need a coaster to collect the condensation.  What a perfect gift!

The relationships that we build as school counselors are the reason I love my job.!  It isn't that I want gifts, but heartfelt gifts like these are feedback to me.  Feedback that I AM connecting with the student and am making a difference.

Sometimes we don't get that feedback.  We wonder if we are making an impact.  We keep trying, but we may never know.

Feedback can come in all shapes and sizes.  These are some examples of feedback I have gotten:

  • Kids asking to eat lunch with me
  • Emails and phone calls from parents
  • Hugs
  • Shout outs like, "Mrs. Hughes!  I passed my first Algebra test EVER!!!"
  • Notes from students telling me I really understand
  • Smiles
  • Thank yous from administrators, staff, and parents
  • "I feel wanted when I'm in your office."
  • "I could spend all day in your office."
  • Kids who stay after school with me to decorate my office
Not all feedback is positive.  Sometimes I can't make the change that students/parents think I can.  Sometimes I have to say, "We don't make schedule changes because you want a different teacher."  Even in those cases, where the student/parent/staff member does not feel better, I think he/she is learning a lesson about life.

When I taught Spanish, I didn't think of it as teaching a specific subject.  In all reality, I taught kids.  While the subject matter was Spanish, I wanted them to walk away having learned lessons about life.  

As a school counselor, I still feel the educator inside me.  My job is to teach others how to handle what life deals them so that they can grow up to be independent, successful adults.

I LOVE my job!  :)

How about you?  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Recognizing Blog Writers

Top School Counseling Blogs

Use the link above to nominate your top 3 favorite school counseling blogs!

We are so fortunate to have such amazing social media support for our profession.  Let's recognize those who give so much of themselves.  I know that I would not have so many tools in my counseling toolbox without these great bloggers!

#SCCHAT tonight 7pm central time!

I am stepping out.  New career.  New blog.  New facebook page.  Tonight I am going to try my first ever twitter chat!  Not sure what it is exactly, but willing to try something new!  Yeah!

Thanks to Danielle Schulz for compiling the NUMEROUS tweets from tonight's chat!  Check out the storify!

FREE Bullying Prevention Training

If you are a member of ASCA, they are offering FREE online antibullying prevention training as long as you finish the course before the end of June, 2014.  Check it out!  I am all about FREEEEEE!!  :)

Welcome | Random Acts of Kindness

Welcome | Random Acts of Kindness

If you like detailed free lesson plans and project ideas, check out the Random Acts of Kindness website linked above!!!  Registration is free.  They just want to know who you are and how you are going to use their materials.  LOVE me some free stuff that makes my life easier!  How about you?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Awesome website/curriculum!

Thanks to a post by Don Bentley on Caught In The Middle School Counselors facebook page, I became acquainted with The Ophelia Project.  WOW!!  FREE materials for parents, students, and school counselors.  I haven't had a lot of time to really delve into it, but what I did see so far has been amazing!

If you work in a school, then you need to check out this website!

Share how you plan to use it at your school.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year Video

At my school, administrators and counselors supervise the cafeteria for our 3 lunch shifts.  While it isn't my favorite responsibility, I view it as a time to connect with students.

Our outreach counselor pushed really hard to get a data projector installed in the lunch room so we could play slideshows for the kids during lunch.  A couple months ago she got her wish.

Now, what to do with it?  We started with posting the daily announcements (which are read 2nd period by the teachers) and some positive posters, all on powerpoint slides.  Then, we started getting creative.

  • We took pictures at club meetings, at lunch and in the hallway and started posting them.  
  • As Thanksgiving approached we found turkey humor and threw that in (remember, I am in a middle school!).  
  • Before winter break, we asked teachers to send us a picture of their holiday cards and we posted those with messages from the teachers.  
  • We had an ugly sweater contest and posted pictures of every teacher and his/her outfit (kids really like seeing that)!
  • We also put in posters about being kind to others.  One favorite says, "If you can't say something nice, be quiet!"  The kids love that can tell because we hear them saying it to their friends!  :)
  • On the last day before break we posted a video I created of building staff dancing.  It was a video made with the "Elf Yourself" app.  The students loved it!
We have had staff from other buildings comment on how much they like what we are doing with the data projector at lunch.  One counselor even said, "Your lunch shifts are so much quieter than ours!"

We love our new tool and the kids really do pay attention to it.  It gives us an opportunity to reinforce our guidance curriculum and stress the positive.  

As I've been on break, I have been looking at all the amazing videos available on youtube.  WOW!  There are so many possibilities for our lunch time!!!  The first day back I would like to show Kid President's New Year video.  I think it fits right in with a new year, a new semester, and a clean slate. 

What are your thoughts?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Depressed Comic

I recently went to an workshop entitled Mental Health First Aid.  At lunch Kevin Breel was our guest speaker.  He was amazing!

Suicide ideation is very prevelant in our schools.  I found his talk pertinent to today's world.  Please watch his Ted Talk:

What do you think?

Best Jobs=School Counselor!

Very interesting article ranking school counseling as one of the top jobs in the United States!  WE may love our jobs, but not everyone else always sees it the same way.  Link is at the bottom of the page.  :)

School Counselor Job Overview | Best Jobs | US News Careers

Friday, January 3, 2014

Check out my new Facebook MS Counseling page!

(26) MS Counseling

Reading material

While on winter break, I have a pile of school counseling books and magazines parked next to my favorite chair.  Truth is, I love reading about the newest trends in technology, counseling, and education in general.

As I have been catching up on blogs and information I found a review for a fairly new book.  While it isn't about school counseling, it is about education and very pertinent to the middle school level.  The title?  The Best Kept Teaching Secret:  How Written Conversations Engage Kids, Activate Learning, and Grow Fluent Writers by Daniels and Daniels.

I think on Monday I will talk to our media center specialist and see if we could add this to our school library.  I really could have used this book as a teacher!

What are your thoughts?

Simple Acts of Kindness - Give it a try

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Help for Self Injury

I found this great website with tons of resources for school counselors and parents.  I see it is based out of St. Louis, Missouri so if you are like me and close to St. Louis, this is an even greater resource.  Check it out!

There is also a book study available that is worth 10 CEUs and costs less than $100.


Count On Me - Bruno Mars Lyrics (+playlist)

Useful videos

I LOVE winter break!  Why?

Because it gives me a chance to play around with youtube, pinterest, and catch up on my favorite blogs.  There is so much useful information/ideas out in cyberspace and during the rush, rush of the school year I just do not get the time to check them all out.  As a first year counselor I feel like a kid in a candy store!

Through the Caught In The Middle School Counselors group on facebook, I learned about some great videos.  LifeVestinside is a great channel on Youtube that offers several videos about spreading kindness.  Below is the first video by LifeVestinside that I saw.  You can subscribe to their channel and check out all their kindness videos.  Spreading kindness is a lot easier to do than stopping bullying.

Well, now I am on a hunt for videos about spreading kindness!  Our school has accepted Rachel's Challenge.  If you know nothing about Rachel Scott and how she is still making a difference even after her death, check out  It will give you a picture of who Rachel was and why she is still making a world of a difference!  The above video is from 2012, but I think it is powerful.

Finally, here is an awesome website with tons of kindness videos:  Tell me what you think!  :) Carey

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Made it to Winter Break!

This blogging stuff is new to me so please apologize the lack of posts since the first week of school.

I have learned a lot since August!

I have learned how to change schedules, make new schedules, and a whole bunch of other stuff concerning scheduling!  Useful information, but I cannot solve every student's scheduling problems!

Being a former Spanish Teacher has helped me GREATLY in this profession, with students, parents, and even other world language teachers!  Because I have been in the classroom for 19 years, that experience has allowed me to share with students the teacher's side of thinking...super helpful!  It has also allowed me to better explain course considerations to parents.  Most surprisingly, it has allowed me the opportunity to mentor some teachers who were really struggling.  Wow!  This was definitely unexpected!

Through this first semester I have gotten a sense of how teachers view counselors and how counselors and administrators view teachers too.  It has been eye opening!

I have proctored standardized tests and helped organize the whole process of high stakes testing.  Not my favorite part of the job, but I see its value.

I have been involved in successful mediation and unsuccessful mediation.  Yeah...

I have had to work really hard to build relationships with students.  It isn't as easy as it was when I saw them every day in class.  Lunch duty has been both a blessing and a curse.

I am still getting used to being considered a part of the office staff.  I am amazed at how the office comes together to celebrate birthdays, holidays, you name it!

Unfortunately, I have learned how this school and this district handle the loss of a student.  12 year old Jade tragically lost her life in a car accident over a weekend.  Monday was a tough, tough day, but other counselors throughout our district came to help and I was so thankful for the way they came in and guided us in the right direction.  You really learn the strenght of your school/district when tragedy strikes.  We sure were well take care of!

Something I did not imagine dealing with as much as I have is students who are suicidal.  I am so thankful for our outreach counselor who gives me hints and tips along the way!

In January we are about to start the enrollment process.  Because we are a middle school, we will be visiting elementary schools and coordinating with the high school and career center to set up days when the perspective schools talk to our students.  It is a busy time.  I am a little scared and a lot excited!

One thing I would like to start second semester is groups to support students.

This is just my first year and I am so thankful to have both an outreach counselor and another school counselor in my building to offer support and direction!

How about you?  Have you learned anything new this past semester?  Is there anything new you would like to start?

:) Carey