The Middle School Counselor | Helping Students Reach For The Stars
I am a certified school counselor at Lansing Middle School in Lansing, NY. I have worked as a school counselor for the past 20 years. My first 5 years of counseling were spent as an elementary and middle school counselor. A blog about the ideas and practices of a Middle School Counselor.
Today, I was talking to another counselor and she was worried that her school was going to forget all about honoring her during School Counselor Week. I gently reminder her that next week started National School Counseling Week not Counselor's Week. You see, there is a big difference. The week is not about the worker. It's about the work we do and the program we have built. It's about promoting our profession that is still widely misunderstood by many. It's also about celebrating our work, our vision, and the appropriate duties that we are supposed to be doing. It's about advocacy, not accolades.
I remember one of the first National School Counseling Week I decided to celebrate. I was excited and wondered how it would go down at my school. I followed the ASCA fun, posting signs on my door about why I do what I do, and wore my shirt, Xing out ‘guidance’ and emphasizing SCHOOL COUNSELOR, and posted fun pics on social media.
But as the week went on, and I had many visits from school staff, attended a luncheon put on by the PTA, was welcomed by signs from student government, and received personalized notes from students in my caseload. I became more introspective about the week set aside just for us, and our programs. I get to talk to so many counselors from all over the country who are just do not feel appreciated, or feel that they are being allowed to do the job they went to school for. They do 3 lunch duties a day or have to act as the substitute when teachers are absent. They are testing coordinators or have been told they couldn't do small group counseling. My heart is with them this week. I advocate and I promote for them. I am on a mission to have the profession understood, recognized, and appreciated. For more, read this post.
So go ahead and challenge yourself to take on leadership opportunities and not be as much of a follower. Celebrate your professional accomplishments and share them with your stakeholders. Pick up a phone and call a counselor in a neighboring district and let them know you appreciate them. Take the lead!
Enjoy this week! Add the ASCA dialogue to increase your and your team's visibility. Remember these days and accolades on the tougher days. You matter, you are integral to your school and your students. If you are new to your school, speak up! Take on some leadership roles or introduce a new and exciting initiative.
National School Counseling Week 2019, "School Counselors: Providing Lessons for Life," will be celebrated from Feb. 4-8, 2019, to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems. National School Counseling Week, sponsored by ASCA, highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career. National School Counseling Week is always celebrated the first full week in February.
2019 National School Counseling Week Photo Challenge (Quoted From ASCA) Take a photo/video of the day’s theme and share on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram with #NSCW19. Get students, families and school colleagues in on the fun. Encourage them to download and use the supporter signs listed below.
For other celebration ideas, please check out The School Counselor Store FB groupthis weekend. I, along with my many counselor colleagues will have lots of FREE posters, ideas, and downloads to help you promote your work in your school.
One thing that has been really important to me since starting my new job, is to help create a culture of caring with staff members. Don't get me wrong, the faculty and staff at my new job are really amazing and they love the kids. What I've found, though is that our building is so big, that people have a hard time interacting with staff working with different grade levels. I'm trying different things this year, to change that, and I really wanted to focus in on the amazing things I'm seeing people do each day.
I'm hoping this Staff Shout Out Binder helps. The goal is for it to get passed around from teacher to teacher so that the words of colleagues can share the good news for everyone reading that follows.
I started our binder with a teacher who has really made me feel welcomed. She admitted the day after receiving it that when she got it she was having a really rough day and reading my comments really turned her day around. If you would like a copy of the cover page and inside directions, please sign up for my email list below, and you will get access to our Free Resource Library. To be honest, there are only a few things in there right now, but I hope to build it up in 2019.
If you have other ways of rallying staff, please let me know. I'd love to hear your ideas.
Going to conferences are invigorating, inspiring, and hectic. Believe it or not, I'm pretty shy. I know a lot of people, but I'd much prefer to stay home than go to large parties, and I get anxious in new environments. BUT. . .I love going to the ASCA annual conference with over 3,000 like-minded school counselors!
I feel like I'm visiting family. Each counselor I meet leaves a mark on my heart. I look forward to talking shop with them, listening to them talk about their families, their careers, and their passions. They are a welcoming group, and it doesn't matter who you're with, or who you're without, you'll find yourself welcomed and feel like you're home.
With that being said, there are a few things to understand about going to a huge professional conference.
1. Go to learn something. Take notes, be open minded, and be OK with acknowledging if the workshop you are in isn't your thing, then allow yourself to leave and try another one.
2. Dress Comfortably. It's going to be hot outside, but most likely, freezing inside. Bring a sweater and dress in layers. A tote is another thing you might want to carry. Opt for a good sturdy pair of walking shoes, and if you are wearing those new tennis shoes you just had to buy for the trip, bring some band aides just in case. You are going for a casual look, but you are still with professionals so look for a good balance. I will probably be wearing my dress yoga pants and a Polo t-shirt.
3. Things to pack. I always pack aspirin/advil, rolaids, a battery pack, a small notebook, business cards ( I use these in the exhibit hall for vendors), an extra iphone cord. charging plug, band aides, and a book and a few movies downloaded onto my devices. (The last are for the plane ride, and also the layovers).
4. Wear a smile. Even if you are lost, confused, or having the time of your life, the best way to meet others is to look approachable. You'll be amazed at how helpful everyone is and how willing to connect people are.
5. Have a plan. Download the ASCA app (itunes) or (google play) and check out the different sessions. Having a plan with where you are going will be helpful. I like to write down my sessions and attach them to the back of my name tag.
6. Sign up for the meetup. It's a great way to meet people and have a conference buddy!
I have several lists for you about summer reading for school counselors. This is part 1 of a 3 part series.
Summer is a great time to catch up on your reading. If you are like me, you're not just reading books for professional growth, but you are also reading what students are reading. I like to run book clubs with my students, so I want to find books my students will love and that also has a social emotional component.
But when you run a book group, you really have to read the book first. You need to know the high points and long drawn out sections. You need to know if there is any controversial content that might offend some of your families. You need to know if the language is appropriate for your group. You also need to make a determination if your group could handle the reading level and comprehension.
Another reason to read young adult books, is to experience through the pen, situations your students may be experiencing, Many counselors have caseloads that include homeless students, students whose parents are undocumented, trans, gay, bi, and questioning students, students who live lives of discrimination and racism, students with learning disabilities, and students who are so filled with anxiety, they feel they cannot function at school. My personal experience is much different than this. I appreciate any opportunity to learn more about what my students are experiencing. I have empathy, but to truly understand…that is different.
So, now is my chance to delve into some young adult reading that helps me look into a window of what my students experience daily. Thank you to my wonderful, collaborative, insightful middle school librarian friend.
Below are her suggested reads and a link to each book on Amazon. They are affiliate links, and I may receive a kickback if you choose to purchase a book through the link. (Just putting that out there!)
Enjoy and happy reading!
The Distance Between Us (grades 8 and up)
This book is about a young girl's memories of her childhood in Mexico and her parent's immigration to America. As her parent's immigrated, Reyna and her siblings are left behind and are forced to stay with her grandmother. It's a story about growing up, hopes and dreams and being left behind.
Every Falling Star (grades 8 and up)
Every Falling Star is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy, Sungju, who was forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains.
The 57 Bus (grades 8 and up)
Two high school students from two different communities are brought together by bus 57. It's a bus ride that changes their lives forever.
The Hate You Give (grades 8 and up)
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. When the case becomes National headlines, Starr has the potential to unveil the truth to what she saw. This is the story of what she does next.