Monday, May 18, 2015

Thinking 2015-16

There's still some work to be done for the remaining school year, but I've already got an eye on what's to come for 2015-16.  This is my working document for next year, a big Post-it sticky on my wall.  Nearby, I have another one with a list of tasks for summer 2015 that will support activities, ideas and goals. 
To expand on each one of these:

  1. Individual Student Planning Committee:  This is just a group of teaching staff from each time that will help me with all SpEd, TAG and §504 referrals for next year. Although the majority of the duties will fall to me, this team will be involved in the decision making process. 
  2. Academic Momentum Schedule: Academic Momentum is the curriculum for Eastern Promise, a regional initiative that supports early college experiences in our state. I will deliver this personally at the sixth grade level, but I'm responsible for a delivery model at the 7th and 8th grades. 
  3. Sixth Grade Counselor Schedule:  With the acquisition of funds to purchase the sixth grade Second Step program, and the support of administration and staff to implement it in our school, I will personally be delivering lessons along with Academic Momentum. I will likely be in a sixth grade classroom every two or three weeks next year.
  4. Forms/Schedules Book:  Shout out to Carol for this idea. Although it won't take the place of my Outlook calendar, it will be a great resource to have when I am out and about, and when I need quick access to a form.
  5. Lifeways/SMS Plan of Service.  Lifeways is our county mental health organization that provides individual and group services for our students.  They've done a great job in our building, and I think we could improve their service by getting input from more staff.  I'm anticipating more skill building groups for next year. 
Without realizing it, I might have addressed a recent tweet:

And finally, what is conspicuously absent on my list is a counseling program advisory committee. I've been talking about this entity for a few years now, but haven't gone through the steps to put one in place.  That's probably a blog post all by itself. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

#SCin30Q1: Why I became a school counselor

Susan Spellman Cann invited me to participate in her school counselor vlogging project, "School Counseling in 30".  Ironically, it was only yesterday that I acquired enough technology to participate, so here's my first installment.  Question: Why did you become a school counselor? It's a question that I mulled over 15 years ago when I first started my graduate studies, but I really hadn't thought about it for a long time. It's interesting to see how my perceptions and approach to this profession have changed over the years.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

5th Grade Transitions: Classroom meetings

I've spent some time this week meeting with fifth graders at our two feeder schools in their classrooms.  I've wanted them to get to know me early, answer a few questions, and generally let them know what to expect as they prepare to transition to middle school.  My answers to their questions have become somewhat predictable:

  • Yes, you have to dress down for PE.
  • No, you're not going to get stuffed into a locker (or garbage can) by an 8th grader.
  • Yes, I know your brother Carlos. 
One discussion item we've had centers on what is the same, and what is different from elementary school. It's been eye opening to me to hear some of their perceptions, even though I've heard many of the same concerns when I worked at the elementary level. Hearing them as a middle school counselor just gives me a different perspective. The main point I've wanted to get across to them is that if they have been successful in elementary school, their habits and behaviors will serve them well at the next level. If they've made some poor choices along the way, the best time to turn that around is right now. How you were in fifth grade doesn't have to be how you will be in sixth. 

I've also brought some combination locks to leave with their teachers so that they can practice opening them. The sooner we can get that stuff out of the way, the sooner they can get to learning in August.