For High School Counselors - Blog chronicling the real life experiences of a..
I have been a professional school counselor for 14 years and I enjoy sharing information and resources with colleagues. In addition to school counseling, I have a doctorate in Teacher Leadership and my focus is training students and adults in conflict resolution education and peer helping skills.
Did you miss #ASCA19? Are you currently attending #ASCA19 and want to continue the conversation? Please join me and Danielle Schultz for the annual #NOTATASCA19 chat on Tuesday, July 2nd @ 8 PM EDT on Twitter.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed that I have been missing for a month. With my retirement (yes, I have completed my 30 years!!) and a move to another city, life has been a little hectic. However, I will be jumping back in this week and following #ASCA19 from my couch. So, starting today, I will be #notatasca19...sigh!
Although I can't be in Boston with other great school counselors, I will be glued to Twitter and reading all the great blog posts following the conference. Also, if you really want to be apart of the conference at home, ASCA is hosting a virtual conference for those who cannot attend.
Before I go, consider joining Danielle Schultz, myself, and some other #notatasca19 counselors next week as we will host the annual #notatasca chat. Already, I have gathered so much information from #ASCA19 that I can't wait to share it with those who were not able to attend this year.
Looking forward to seeing you at #ASCA20 in Seattle! Consider submitting your proposal idea by September 3rd.
This week is College Decision Day!! If you are like me and are looking for last minute ideas, I decided to share a post I wrote in 2015 about how to put together a College Decision Day event. If you want to make plans for next year (which is more realistic), you can check out the resources below to create your own event for 2020. In addition, I want to give a shout out to Franciene Sabens and her blog, School Counselor Space, for a great presentation on how to create an amazing event. Please check out her amazing presentation from ASCA.
Typically on Saturday night, I settle early into bed and check out my social media accounts (exciting right?). One post that caught my attention was an article I found on Facebook explaining how adolescents are more open to talking about suicide and mental health than adults. This article reiterated what I often hear from students who tell me they often lack a trusted adult to talk to when they are feeling down or have concerns. Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to share an activity that I conducted earlier in the year with middle and high school students at a Mental Health Summit.
Teen Chat on Mental Health Issues
Earlier in the year, I was asked to organize a teen chat for middle and high school students around mental health issues. After much contemplation, I decided I could not be the only person in front of 30 students conducting a discussion...boring! My plan was to train my peer leaders to facilitate a group discussion on important topics in mental health. Before attempting to coordinate this event, I polled my students about issues that caused them stress or anxiety. Well, they certainly came through! The students choose the following topics:
Self Harm and Suicide in Self and Others Coping Skills and Self Care Toxic Relationships and Peer Pressure Time Management and Stress Drug Abuse
Preparing to Facilitate a Student Led Discussion
Before turning teens loose in a discussion about these sensitive topics, it was imperative to train them to facilitate a dialogue. I set aside an afternoon and invited interested peer leaders to learn about group facilitation. The training included: how to set ground rules, how to listen attentively, how to conduct an informative dialogue, what resources we should share, techniques for closing a discussion, and, most importantly, how to make a referral. Each student was given a set of guidelines and agreed to sign a confidentiality pledge not to share student information from the chat (of course there are exceptions that supersede this pledge--cases of harm to self, harm to others, abuse, or illegal activities).
Setting Up a Discussion
On the night of the event, we divided the room into five tables with two student facilitators at each table. One student would lead the discussion and the second student or co-facilitator would keep the time, take notes, and assist with notifying one of the adults in the room if there was a student of concern. The students also were given a packet of resources and a large sheet of note paper to write down what they heard during the dialogue (this information would be shared with counselors and social workers).
Before the chat began, I had one student to greet the entire group to set a positive tone. On the wall, we listed the ground rules for our dialogue and identified the goals we wanted to accomplish with the group. Each peer leader introduce him/herself and we acknowledged the presence and role of all the adults in the room (each adult was stationed in the corner of each room and would walk around listening for any concerns or questions).
Peer Leaders Conducting a Discussion on Stress and Time Management
Ok, this was actually the hardest part of me. Coming up with interesting and informative resources for students is not the easiest thing to do. So, after much deliberation, here are the resources we shared with the students.
Self Care Kit Informational handouts on suicide, teen dating violence, drug abuse, deep breathing and bullying Pictures (Adolescent brain on marijuana) Referral Resources (Suicide hotline, etc.) Brochures (i.e. self care) Coloring Pages and coloring crayons
Coloring Pages and Referral Information
List of Coping Skills and Deep Breathing
Brain Image and Drug Information Poster
Self Management Brochure
Preparing for a Crisis
In our initial training, we discussed what to do if a student reported harm to self, others, abuse, or illegal activities. Boy, did that training pay off!! During our two chat sessions, we had two separate incidences of where our peer leaders had to make a referral.
The first incident included a group of middle school students who were sitting together. After the initial chat was over, the students asked to speak to the peer leader privately. In that session, all three students reported having suicidal ideations. Our peer leader quickly involved me in the conversation and our team was able to refer the students to the therapist on site.
The second incident involved another middle school student who shared that he/she frequently used drugs for recreational use. After the chat was over, the peer leader immediately referred the student to our onsite social worker supervisor for follow up.
Following Up After the Event
After the event had concluded, the peer leaders were asked to evaluate the teen chat event. The students were asked three questions:
1. What went well? 2. What did not go so well? 3. What would you change in the future?
Each student was allowed to share his or her thoughts and we made notes about how we would make changes for any future events. In addition, we reviewed the student notes taken during the evening and decided to share them with our counselors and social workers.
Some student issues of concern included:
Stress Drama in Relationships Being Able to Ask for Help Being Able to Express Feelings Self Image Family Issues Time Management Sleep Peer Influence Anxiety Depression Bullying Academic Pressures Self Harm Fear of the Future
Also, we were able to obtain the student evaluation of our event and I am happy to say we received a lot of positive feedback. Our team decided to conduct more discussions during the school day especially during finals (i.e. lunch and learn).
How to Conduct Your Own Event
Soon, I will post my lesson for school counselors on how you can replicate a teen chat for students. Also, I would love to hear your ideas if you have conducted your own teen led events!!!!
Recently, Robert Carpenter, Director of National Programs with the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Organization (HOBY), reached out to For High School Counselors to share information about a student opportunity for leadership. I am very familiar with the benefits that my former high school students have experienced from attending their State Leadership Seminar. In this guest post, I wanted to dispense information about HOBY with other high school counselors who may not be aware of this great opportunity! Leadership Development Opportunity for High School Sophomores!
For more than five decades, HOBY has inspired young people to make a difference and become catalysts for positive change in their home, school, workplace, and community. Our Mission is to inspire and develop our global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation.
HOBY seeks to partner with educators and counselors to provide leadership development opportunities for students. HOBY offers engaging, participatory State Leadership Seminars to 10,000+ high school sophomores each year and seeks to promote self-efficacy and community engagement in youth.
Seminars are hosted on college campuses and include a three to four day interactive experience involving practical training and building connections with local leaders, volunteers and other participants. Seminar curriculum is based on the Social Change Model and promotes leadership from three perspectives: Personal Leadership, Group Leadership, and Leadership for Society. After the seminar each student is provided opportunities for further mentorship and challenged to utilize their skills by engaging in 100+ hours of community service. We seek to partner with schools to identify and engage students passionate about developing and utilizing leadership skills. We value the full spectrum of student experiences and backgrounds.
HOBY seeks to build strong partnerships with local schools to identify the best opportunities for supporting students and communities via seminars and through ongoing collaboration.
Educators, counselors and community leaders can select and register students to represent their school. To nominate or register a student please email email@example.com or visit our webpage at www.hoby.org
I don't know if I have ever shared with my readers that I am currently teaching a peer leadership class. Well actually, I am teaching five sections of peer leadership from middle school to high school in the evenings. In the highest level of my peer leadership class (aka Peer 3), I decided to teach a lesson on Sex Trafficking Awareness. This idea came about after one of our students in a lower level of peer leadership brought up his concerns about not knowing what to do if he was confronted with the issue in school. To be honest, it was one of the most eye opening lessons that I have taught in a while and the students were grateful that I was teaching about a subject which had not receive much attention in school. I am passionate about empowering students with proactive skills on how to protect themselves and educate others. In addition to the student lessons, I have been asked to create a school counselor lesson as well. This week I will be sharing this information with a group of master level students at a college. To me, this information can save many lives from potential victimization and counselors should be knowledgeable about this issue.
So, have you been looking for a lesson to teach student leaders about Sex Trafficking? In this post, I think I have a lesson that may be of interest to you along with additional resources. Student LessonSex Trafficking Awareness Student Leader Edition Looking for a lesson to educate and promote awareness regarding the dangers of sex trafficking? This presentation is intended for high student leaders to learn about sex trafficking, provide awareness to their peers, and create an action plan. This can be taught in the fall before promoting awareness about Sex Trafficking Awareness each January. Also, download the free separate parent permission letter before starting the lesson.
Human Trafficking Prevention Education in Schools & Communities - YouTube
Check out this short film from Frederick Douglass Family Iniatives
Human Trafficking in American Schools defines Sex Trafficking as "when a child (a person under 18 years of age) is induced to perform a commercial sex act, proving force, fraud, or coercion against the child’s pimp is not necessary for the offense to be characterized as human trafficking."
Why Should School Counselors Be Concerned?
Here are some basic facts you should consider about Sex Trafficking.
Sex Trafficking is the second leading crime in the world.
If a student runs away from home and not recovered in 48 hours, it is likely they have been pulled into sex trafficking.
Victims have a 30% chance of death.
Trafficking creates unhealthy relationships.
Trafficking starts around age 12 in girls and 11 in boys.
Trafficking can occur in the community and in school.
Peers often recruit other peers.
What Can Counselors Do?Educate, educate, educate! Providing awareness is key to help our students avoid victimization. Providing AwarenessJanuary is Sex Trafficking Awareness Month
Know the Law
Sex Trafficking is child abuse and staff members must report suspected abuse. Here is a list of state laws regarding reporting child abuse in your state.
So, three weeks ago I had a medical procedure and was on bed rest for the rest of the afternoon. Being that it was New Year's Eve, I was miserable. While lying in bed, I was preoccupied with thoughts of missing my annual New Year's dinner date...rats! As you can tell, I did not like being horizontal so I decided to keep myself entertained. After I ran out of stuff to do (getting on social media, watching an educational video, talking to my mom on the phone, trying to take a nap), I decided to go through my blog. Surprisingly, I noticed I had two drafts saved that I never finished. "Hmmmm, I wonder what I started and never finished?" The post that drew me in was one from 2015...almost four years ago. After reading it, I thought it was appropriate to pull it out and finally finish it. Now, let's go back 2015 and look at the top news topics of that year (yes, I was that bored).
The 2015 Time Capsule
10.Accusations were made that the New England Patriots used a deflated ball to win games. This was known as Deflate Gate. 9. Empire was top show of the year. 8. Hillary Clinton's emails were the talk of Washington. 7. Bruce Jenner becomes Caitlyn Jenner. 6. Martin Shkreli became the most hated man in America when he jacked up the price of the HIV drug, Daraprim, by 5000%! 5. Star Wars made a triumphant come back in theaters. 4. Bill Cosby was accused of sexually assaulting women by drugging them. 3. 2015 became one of the warmest years on record due to the El Nino pattern. 2. Laws on marriage changed allowing same sex marriage. 1. Video cams became common police equipment revealing police brutality and true criminal behavior.
So, that was 2015...can you believe it is now four years later!! Even though I added a few new resources and comments to this post, I believe this old post is still relevant for school counselors today!
Written Winter, 2015...(my dramatic entrance) As spring approaches, I have two intentions for writing this post. First, I want to give high school counselors some specific examples of how to advocate for themselves. Second, I want to empower them with some fresh new ideas. As we know, school counseling jobs are hard to come by these days with school districts' limited resources. In addition, the job of the school counselor seems ubiquitous to administrators, teachers, and parents who often say, "So, what do you do?" Urrrggghhhh...I get so sick of hearing that same question over and over. Therefore, I am always looking for ways that we can stay in within the ASCA domains (academic, career, and social/emotional), but show our stakeholders we are worth the investment!!
A few sidebar notes.... Want to know more about the misconceptions of school counselors, check out this guest post from 2017 by Sheldon Soper.
If you want to make a difference in your school community and advocate for your profession, there are some ways you can do this effectively. I decided to poll some school counselors at all levels and they gave me some great suggestions of how you can be a stand out counselor in 2019. Five Recommendations on How to Become a Stand Out School Counselor 1. Promote a Safe School Climate
Safe, inclusive, and positive school climates provide students with supports (i.e. social and emotional learning). How can school counselors do this effectively?
Some suggestions include...
Listen. People need to feel heard. Students, parents, teachers, secretaries, even the principals.
Assist students in developing social and emotional competencies like self management, resilience, and decision making.
Refer students with complex social, emotional, and behavioral needs for psychological testing, mental health services, and other educational services.
Assist your administrator in addressing the root causes of disciplinary incidents; preventing future disciplinary concerns; reintegrating students returning from suspensions,alternate schools, or incarceration, and maintaining a safe, inclusive, and positive educational environment.
Involve students and student advocates in maintaining a safe, inclusive, and positive educational environment through such programs as peer mediation or restorative justice.
2. Get Involved in Staff Development and Training Some suggestions include...
Provide school staff with ongoing training in evidence based techniques such as conflict resolution and de-escalation strategies to decrease classroom disruptions.
Provide cultural awareness training to all school personnel.
Train school resource officers in cultural competence, child development, conflict resolution, privacy issues, and mentoring.
Train students to become peer helpers to extend your services in the school.
Connect with the other counselors in your district, not just your department. Start a PLC/PLN (Professional Learning Community/Network), meet on a regular basis to discuss common challenges/solutions/ community resources, share ideas, materials and encourage each other. This is beneficial at every level but even more at the elementary where counselors are often on their own. It takes leadership and initiative to start one and keep it going.
Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate!!! With teachers, counselors outside your school, community members, students. Also consider moving up to admin, counselors have great insight that is missing in administration.
You see a need and you fill it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a counseling group, a parent workshop, a newsletter home, or a holiday help program.
3. Become a Advocate for Yourself and All Students
Some suggestions include...
Provide clear, appropriate, and consistent expectations for all students, not just a few.
Advocate for providing positive interventions in the school discipline policy over student removal.
Promote equity and continuous improvement among the student body.
Be consistent in collecting data to prove your interventions are working.
Collect data to track progress in creating and maintaining a safe and inclusive educational environment.
Recognize that it is the best profession in the world and you are fortunate to serve students everyday sometimes never knowing the impact you have made. You have the opportunity every single day to make a difference in the life of a child. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Talk to local politicians about what your role looks like.
Get involved in your local branch of your association and your state association.
Find your “why”! There are going to be horrible, tough days you may even feel like quitting but know your why will make those hard days manageable! Plus give you a goal to work towards. Have a celebration folder for the rough days too! Self-care is essential. Plan it into your life! We can only help others if we help ourselves first! We must put the oxygen mask on us before others!!
Take care of yourself so you can be “present” with your students and help them navigate their mental health.
Get out of your office. Walk the halls at lunch. Get to know the kids and make yourself visible and approachable.
4. Teach Students Needed Skills for Success in Life (2018 resources added here)
Some suggestions include...
Consider teaching your students survival skills needed for the 21st Century. Consider such events as an Adulting Day Event. Want to know more? Check out my post on creating an Adulting Day Event.
Find creative ways to recognize all students for their skills and accomplishments. A creative and out of the box counselor gets noticed!!!
Consider doing something that no one else has done before in your school. Here are a few ideas to think about...
Career and Technical Letter of Intent Signing Day Many student are not recognized at award nights, college signing days, or honor ceremonies. Consider creating a Career and Technical Letter-of-Intent Signing Day." At this ceremony, students and company representatives sign letters of intent regarding conditions of the students' employment, training, and compensation.
College Signing Day For students who want to move to a college or university, consider a College Signing Day Event. Follow this guide to create your own College Signing Day to celebrate future success.
I hope this post will give you some ideas where to begin in becoming a stand out counselor. Here is my suggestion...don't try to do everything at one time. Just pick one suggestion and try it out. Also (if you don't celebrate this important event), National School Counselor's Week is just around the corner! Check out the awesome resources ASCA has provided for school counselors to show how we support our school. Happy 2015, um, 2019!
I have a new change coming for the ForHighSchoolCounselor Blog later this month.
If you are a regular following of the blog, I wanted to let you know that I will be moving to Word Press effective on January 30th. Although I have been with Blogger for six years, I wanted to change the look of the blog and Word Press seems to have what I need to make that change. The Word Press site is now available so you can now visit my site immediately.
If you have been following social media for the last couple of years, you may have noticed that the term adulting has become widely popular. Adulting refers to the basic skills needed to operate effectively after high school. According to the Urban Dictionary, adulting refers to a person who can carry "out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals" (i.e. opening a checking account or making a doctor's appointment). The word adulting became culturally accepted in the mid-2010's and refers to the time in which young adults begin to take on adult responsibilities. The current trend is that young adults, aka Millenials (those born between 1981-1996), perform common life experiences much later than former generations like the Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and Generation X (1965-1980). For some millenials, the term adulting has taken on a negative connotation. Its negative use is due to the fact that older generations describe Millenials as not being "adult enough" at the right time. So, in essence, using the term adulting can be seen as positive by some, but as a negative terms by others (Time Magazine).
So, why does it take so long to grow up these days? According to researchers, there are several reasons for emerging adulthood:
1. Technology Revolution
Unlike past decades, stable jobs are typically not available after high school so continuing education is essential for job stability. Therefore, it takes longer to prepare for today's knowledge based economy than the manufacturing economy of the past.
2. Sexual Revolution
With the creation of birth control in the 1960's, young people are involved in sexual relationships earlier which has prolonged the desire or need to marry. Researchers estimate that Millenials are waiting at least ten years longer than older generations to commit to a single relationship.
3. Women's Movement Unlike past decades there are more women in college than men. In fact, 58% of college attendance is women while 42% include men. Instead of beginning a family in their 20's, young woman use this time to make decisions about their professional lives.
4. Youth Movement
The new ideology of the Millenial generation is to prolong youth into their 30's and enjoy life more. The phrase "30 is the new 20" is really true!
Check out this video that explains this concept more in detail.
Why does it take so long to grow up today? | Jeffrey Jensen Arnett | TEDxPSU - YouTube
With the delay into adulthood, a new phenomenon has occurred in our culture. Because of the lack of preparation for life, many Millenials find it necessary to take adulting classes that teach everything from the importance of drinking water to changing the oil in a car. The Washington Examiner found that the concept of taking adulting classes has become necessary due to rise of the working mothers of Millenials. Because many mothers have to work, they often lack time in their busy schedules to teach their kids how to cook, clean, or balance a checkbook. Although parents should be empowering their children during adolescence, it seems as if Millenial parents feel the need to take care of everything for their kids rather than teaching them basic survival skills. Therefore, the concept of adulting classes was born. Originally, adulting classes were taught to emerging adults in their mid to late 20's, but recently, a news article caught my eye about a Kentucky High School sponsoring an adulting course for its students. Some of the topics that the school offers their students include:
Changing a tire
Cooking in your dorm room
Balancing a checkbook
Credit cards usage
Talking to police officers when stopped (great idea!)
Watch the short video below for more information about adulting day at this Kentucky high school.
School hosts 'Adulting Day' to teach students skills like paying bills, changing a tire - YouTube
In conducting research for this blog, I decided to look up some ideas about how to create an adulting class or day. Unfortunately, there are very little resources regarding how to create such an event. So, I decided to create some companion materials for high school counselors who may be interested in creating their own event.
In addition, I found these great videos that you may want to use with students during your event. These videos include everything from washing clothes to how to make coffee (an essential skill if you work with me!!).
Don't Panic: A Message to Graduates - YouTube
What Happens After High School?
5 Things to Know when you Turn 18 - YouTube
What Happens When You Turn 18?
Dorm Life Essentials: What to Pack for College Dorms! - YouTube
Living and Operating in a Dorm Room
The 7 Habits of Highly Happy Roommates! - YouTube
How to Get Along With Your Roommates
How to Do Laundry - YouTube
How to Do Your Own Laundry
12 Simple Steps to Change a Tire! - YouTube
How to Change a Flat Tire
How to Take Care of Yourself When You're Sick - YouTube
How to Take Care of Yourself When You are Sick
How to Tie a Necktie - YouTube
How to Tie a Necktie
11 Tips Before You Get a Tattoo - YouTube
Tips Before Getting a Tattoo
How to Meal Plan - YouTube
How to Plan a Meal
How to Make Coffee - YouTube
How to Make Coffee (Yes!!)
How to Write a Resumé (...Like a Wizard)! - YouTube
How to Write a Resume'
How to Write a Cover Letter! - YouTube
How to Write a Cover Letter
How to Write Personal & Professional Thank You Notes! - YouTube
How to Write a Thank You Letter
I hope you enjoy this post and I would love to hear if you find the resources helpful. Also, please let me know if you have planned an Adulting Day Event or planning one in the future...I would love to see your pictures!!