Thursday, September 8, 2016

Documentation Binder

Last year I posted about my documentation system that I planned on using this year.  I formerly used Google Drive to document students seen, as described in this post, but I felt a little uncomfortable posting student information on the internet.  So as stated, I have switched to a binder system!  I have had several e-mails asking to see how I organized my binder.  I created my binder and decided I wanted to test it out before deciding whether to share it or not.  Well, the verdict is in and I love it! I designed the binder using some documents that I created and then added in alphabetized dividers like these.  I also added some pocket dividers to hold my extra forms.  That way I have plenty blank copies inside my binder to pull from when I meet with a new student or have a new consultation.  These are the ones I like.  Below, I have included pictures of all of the documents I created and if you click the pictures, you can download the forms to use!! So here is how I designed my binder:

At the very front is a blank form where I record students I have seen for individual counseling.  This could be a quick check in, or a long counseling session.  But I record every encounter with a child on this page.  Here is a picture:

If it is a student I am seeing for a longer counseling session or need to take notes on, I will put a star beside their name and then they will get an individual counseling summary sheet which will be filed behind the letter their last name begins with.  The item that says "scale #" refers to the likert scale I use during counseling sessions with students to assess their mood.  Here is a picture of that form:

If it is a consultation I have had about a student (with an administrator, teacher, parent, or community resource person), I will use the consultation summary form seen below.  They will not get their name written on the students seen form, but this will be filed under their alphabetical tab.

Another form I have included in my binder is a getting to know you sheet.  I created my own using the idea found in Diane Senn's Creative Approaches for Counseling Individual Children.  This is something I sometimes use when it's my first meeting with a student.  It helps me to make sure I've covered several different aspects of the child to get a sense of what we may need to work on and to help me get to know them better.

Last but not least, I also wanted to a way to track my small groups.  See below for the form I created to track who is in what group and what we discussed.  These are placed behind my student seen form.  At the end of the year, the students seen form and the small group documentation forms will be filed behind the dividers where extra forms are held.

I hope that you find some or all of these items useful while trying to organize your comprehensive counseling program!  I'm also interested in hearing about your systems and how you stay organized!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

New Documentation System

Holy smokes, I've been bad with keeping up with this!  As previously posted, I am currently working as an elementary school counselor split between two schools.  There are full time counselors at both schools and I love having a co-counselor to work with!  As it is my 2nd year in this new position, I have learned many new ways to conduct my counseling program with my caseloads.  Some of my old systems are not necessarily as efficient anymore.  I have already started thinking about new ways to document.  Currently I have been using a notebook with sticky flags to write my student notes in.  (I do not write detailed notes, keep it simple for reference only).  This is also where I write down any parent contacts, meetings, etc. pertaining to students.  Next year, I have decided to officially become a binder person! :)  I still plan to use technology for recording student contacts (see previous post about google forms).  

As far as my individual student notes I will be using a binder system.  In my binder I will also keep my classroom lesson and group schedules and any other information I may need to get to quickly and use as documentation.  I have created two forms that I will put in my binder concerning individual students.  The first form is my individual counseling log.  I like being able to see how many times I see a particular student in a year.  Each year, students will get a new sheet if needed.  There is a place for the date and scale #.  I like to use a likert scale for each session and will record there progress here.

I will also be using a consultation summary sheet to record any parent phone calls, parent conferences, teacher meetings, etc. concerning students.  All of these documents will be organized by last name and I will use alphabetical dividers in my binder.  I will also be coming up with a system to document which groups students have participated in.

You can download my individual counseling form here and my consultation form here.

Having a plan for documentation always makes me feel so smart and organized! :)

I am always looking for new ways to document what I do...what do you use?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Cooperation Clubs

I hope that you all are able to use my lesson that I previously posted on synergizing...but I have one more to share!
This lesson is one of my absolute favorites to use with 4th or 5th grade!  A lot of times I see students in this grade level having a difficult time getting along with others.  They are typically forming their close groups of friends, but have a harder time working with other students that they may be assigned to work with.  This lesson is a great one to discover the behaviors that they may exhibit that enhance or inhibit their group's success.  I would love to give credit to whoever came up with this one, but I honestly can't remember where I found it...

Cooperation Clubs

Split students into groups...I select the groups myself and typically try to split up the little friendships so that I can really challenge my students to work with different people.  

Explain to students that they will need to work together as a team to come up with a club.  Their club needs to have:
  1. A Club Name
  2. A President
  3. A secret password
  4. A secret handshake
  5. A purpose of their club
It is important to not tell students how to accomplish this task, but observe the process, only intervening if they need help.

After students have finished completing their assigned task, have students come up and present their club to the rest of the class.  Discuss what behaviors helped the group work effectively, and what behaviors were not as productive.  Some discussion questions I typically ask are:
  • How did you make decisions as a group?
  • Did one person take over?
  • Did any members sit back and let others do the work?
  • How well did you feel that your group did at synergizing?
  • What could have helped your group work better together?
  • What can we learn from this that can help us in a regular classroom setting?
The kids always love this lesson and learn about themselves to boot, and I love it too!  I hope you have fun synergizing with your cooperative trays and cooperation clubs! :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cooperative Tray

As I have already shared with you, I am split between two schools this year.  At one school, I primarily work with Kindergarten and 1st grade, and at the other school I primarily work with 2nd and 3rd grade.  I love that even being at two different schools, I am still able to serve a variety of ages.  At both schools, we teach the 7 Habits of Happy Kids as our classroom curriculum.  I was very excited about this, because I have been using the 7 Habits for years in my classroom lessons, small groups, and individual counseling sessions.  Last month, our focus was on "Habit 6: Synergize" which has to do with cooperation, tolerance, and teamwork.  One of my favorite lessons is one that was shared with me several years ago from my counseling internship supervisor, Ann!  I still love this lesson and use it to this day...

The Cooperative Tray:

The purpose of this lesson is for students to see first hand that you are able to accomplish more as a team than you are alone.  (We also discuss how sometimes it is hard to work with different people, but that this is what a true "synergizer" is able to do).

First, you will need to prepare your tray:  

1.  Find some type of tray to use (or beg your cafeteria for one if they still have them...) :)
2.  Select 14-15 random items that you can mount to your tray.
3.  Mount the items onto the tray securely...mounting tape, hot glue, or super glue should all work.
4.  Use some type of cloth to cover your tray.

Lesson Procedures:

As the lesson begins, pretend to be super serious and explain to students that they need to quickly be quiet, pull out a piece of paper and a pencil.  Today we will be taking a test.  This is very serious so there should be no talking or I will know that they are cheating!  Tell students to number their paper from 1-14 (or however many items you have)

After the moans and groans, explain to students that today we will be taking a memory test.  This is an individual activity because we want to see how much they can remember.  Make sure to tell them to cover their papers because you are looking to see who remembers the most.

Walk around the room showing each table the items on the tray, explaining to students that they  may not pick up their pencil until you tell them "GO!"  Once everyone has had a good look, cover up the tray again and tell the students to begin.

Typically, students remember about 6-8 items from the tray.  I tell them all "great job!" and that this is what I expected for them to remember.  Next, I tell them that they did a pretty good job on their own, but I want to see how they do as a team.  Allow students to work with a partner (or their table group) to see if they can get all 14 items.

Students will usually remember more items, but not all 14.  We talk about this.  Then, I tell them we will work as a whole class to see if we can remember all 14 items.  We are easily able to remember them all.  We check our work by looking at the tray and then discuss the activity.  Students are easily able to gather that when we work as a team, we are able to accomplish more and do a better job than when we work alone.  This leads to a discussion of behaviors that help us be successful in working as a team and behaviors that keep us from doing our best.

I hope you enjoy this "Synergize" lesson and would love to hear more lessons that you use to teach the 7 Habits!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

PSSCA Conference

This year, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 2015 Palmetto State School Counselor Assocation's Conference in beautiful Myrtle Beach.  This is the first state conference I have attended since graduate school.  I was blessed to be able to go with one of my co-counselors.  We had a great time and learned A LOT!  The theme of the conference was Find Your OASIS:  Reflect, Refresh, Recharge.  This is exactly what we did.  We had a great time learning new information that can benefit our school counseling programs, got to network with other school counselors, and even got to meet Julia Cook! ....and bought wayyyy too many of her books--hey, they were autographed!

Since we teach the 7 Habits at both of my schools, we are constantly emphasizing the importance of sharpening the saw.  It's important for us counselors to remember to sharpen our saw as well.

Some of the sessions that I attended were:

Putting Out Fires to Preventing Fires:  Implementing Effective Tier II Behavior Supports (we learned some great ideas for supporting our programs with data and also some great ideas for groups)

School Counseling With HeART...Connecting With Elementary Students (Great ideas for using art in individual and small group counseling)

Be An Active Participant in Your Own Rescue (ideas for using self regulation and yoga)

The Tech Savvy School Counselor (One of our fellow Greenville County counselors presented on using various types of surveys to collect data)

Bullies Need Love Too (How to support not just the victim, but the child exhibiting bullying behavior as well)

Creative Counseling (Great ideas for using play and art therapies in school counseling)

And last but not least...Books That Make a Positive Difference by Julia Cook!

Not only did we get great ideas from these sessions, but we also were treated to a lunch with Julia Cook as our Keynote Speaker, speaking about motivating underachievers.

I hope that you all take time to sharpen your saws, both personally and professionally.  Sometimes we forget how important it is to network with other school counselors because we can't do it alone, whether that is by attending conferences or using the blogging community.  As one speaker said in our opening ceremony, "we're in good company with school counselors!"

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I'm Back!

Whew!  I recently realized that it has been almost a year since I have written anything on this blog!  That's embarrassing!  I feel like I have so many new things to share that I don't know where to start.  First off, let me get myself off the hook a little by explaining what I've been up to this past year.

I have had many life changes that have happened this last year that have turned my world upside down (in a good way!).  In the past year I have gotten engaged, moved to a new state, and started a new job!  My fiance relocated to South Carolina for his career so I was put into a professional-personal tug of war.  I loved my school and felt like the school counseling program there was my baby--I had developed and molded it into a program that worked for me, my students, my staff, and my school overall.  Was it a stressful job?  YES!  Was it hard being the only school counselor there? YES!  Did I love being a Wildcat?  DEFINITELY!

Look at my awesome family!

On the other hand, I knew that I had to put my personal life and family first, and made the difficult decision to leave my position and move to South Carolina.  Changing my licensure over to a new state was harder than I thought it would be and I spent many hours on the phone and on the computer making that happen.

I finally accepted a position split between two schools (mornings at one school and afternoons at the other).  We moved to SC the first week of August and two weeks later I was starting my new career as a SC School Counselor.
Starting a new job in a new state (and just moving to a new state in general) was difficult, but I wouldn't change my decision for the world.  Of course I miss my Wildcat family and they will always have a special place in my heart (and I miss those kids so much!), but making a decision to benefit my family was a no brainer.

My new life as a split school counselor has been a great learning opportunity!  I am fortunate enough that I FINALLY get to work with other school counselors in my buildings, and I have learned a lot from both of them.  In the language of Stephen Covey, I have had a huge paradigm shift and am becoming a better school counselor every day because of it!

Thanks for being patient with me, and the best is yet to come...

PS:  Happy National School Counseling Week!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Bowl for Kids Sake!


For the past couple of years, my school has participated in a fundraiser called Bowl for Kids Sake.  All money raised goes to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC (a mentoring program that makes a difference in deserving children's lives).  Personally, our school has partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters and a local high school to start a pilot program where we match high school ROTC students with elementary students.  We have seen great success as a result.  Please support our team by following the link below.  Every little bit helps this deserving organization!