Friday, May 31, 2013

#ESCChat #6 5/23/13 Tech Savvy School Counseling

This week's #escchat was moderated by the fabulous Danielle Schultz, owner and operator of School Counselor Blog and a huge advocate for tech savvy school counseling! As always, a full transcript for this chat can be found here and the summary of questions and answers is below. 

==>Q1: What is one technology tool you use each day as a school counselor and how?
  • Does the ipad count? I use it for lessons, taking notes, researching stuff quick, my calendar, my to-do list....
  • I use the student data portal to check student attendance and grades.
  • Google docs for creating forms, collecting data, etc.
  • My favorite tech tool is @googledrive! I love that I can easily collaborate with others! I use it daily!
  • We are also working on using an excel spreadsheet to track student attendance and collect data on school performance.
  • Google drive/Dropbox/Sky to collaborate as a department on various curriculum, scheduling and presentations. Love it!
  • I use excel for all of my tracking, scheduling, notes I'm hoping incorporate iPad in the future!
  • I also use EZ-Analyze time tracker every day, too
==>Q2: What is your favorite tech device or tool to use for collecting data? Share how you use it.
  • I love creating surveys in @googledrive forms! They are very user friendly and are able to be embedded into a website!
  • Right now I use iPad and One Note. I still have to transfer the info but it is handy and easy to access.
  • We also use survey monkey.
  • Ez-Analyze's Time Tracker is a great way to track hours. I also love google docs for surveys-I did 4 surveys this week alone!
  • Check out the blog post by @andreajburston about using an iPad for Minute Meetings using google forms:

==>Q3: What is your favorite tech device or tool to use in individual counseling? Share how you use it! 
  • Sounds silly, but I got a lot of use out of a simple timer app on my phone! 
  • At this time, I've only used a few websites with games-usually anti-bullying stuff.
  • A countdown of how much time they have left in your office helps them to transition. Plus who doesn't love funny alarm sounds?!
  • Check out this list of apps that @andreajburston suggests for#schoolcounselors! She is the #schoolcounselor iPad guru!

==>Q4: What is your favorite tech tool or device to use in group counseling? Share how you use it 
  • I like using wordle and tagzedo to summarize what we've learned/explored/talked about. My 4th/5th grade girls love it!
  • Wordle
  • I also use fotovidea to make slideshows. It is great to pass on to the boe and admin
  • I like using Prezi to do short lessons or presentations in a small group or one on one.

==>Q5: What is your favorite tech tool or device to use in classroom lessons? Share how you use it
  • @prezi! I can throw together a quick prezi to intro or review a lesson.
  • I use a program called Guidance Direct. It is for career and college planning.
  • I recently was trained in the basics of using a @SMART_Techinteractive whiteboard! It was really cool!
  • Interactive whiteboards can be a great tool for#schoolcounselors to utilize in the classroom!
  • I also am an old fashioned PowerPoint girl.
  • has tutorials and tons of resources! 
  • My university offers FREE trainings for faculty and grad students!
  • We have promethian boards. I use it for scheduling.
  • Another brand of interactive whiteboard is @PrometheanUSA they have tons of info/resources on
  • Next year I am getting a large screen tv that they are supposed to link to my iPad so I can use it like a smartboard. 
==>Q6: What area of your job do you wish you could integrate technology into more?
  • I would set two goals. One would be my planning. This summer I plan to explore ways to organize time, collect data, etc. 
  • Communicating to parents
  • Planning on going to the @ASCAtweets #asca13 conference? Lots of tech tools will be shared in Web 2.0 & Tech Smackdown session!
  • The Harlem Shake App for iPhone is awesome.
  • I used it to make a video for our kids for a Pep Rally. It's free, easyset up and creates a video for you.
  • Don't forget abt @scopeistech4scs for tech needs!
Do you have school counseling tech ideas to add to the conversation?? Comment below or tweet using #escchat hashtag! 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

#ESCchat #5: Supporting Students Coping with Grief & Loss

Last week's chat was an engaging discussion on many aspects of student grief & loss. As always, here is the storify transcript for the whole chat, and a summary of the questions and answers are below. 
==>Q1: In what ways might a student display signs of dealing with grief & loss?
  • Students may be withdrawn, may stop doing the things they used to like to do, their grades might suffer, outward signs of sadness.
  • Outburst of anger, short temper, or sometimes a complete personality change are ways kids express grief
  • Also, emotional outbursts and acting out behavior. Immature behavior (needing to be held, etc).
  • All signs of depression could come up, not wanting to show up to school, somatization difficulties as well.
  • Tired, withdrawn, angry.
  • Attendance - not wanting to come to school, not engaging with friends, clinging to family.
  • Student running away and hiding out in the building.

==>Q2: Aside from death of a loved one, what else could a student lose that may cause grief? 

  • Friends moving away, fights that end friendships, break ups with a bf or gf.
  • Divorce, family separation, losing a home, doesn't have to be about death!
  • Another form of loss... Personal health, limb...
  • Losing an identity. I've seen this with middle/high schoolers grieving who they thought they were.
  • Parent going to jail. Even a parent that travels for long period with work.
  • Parent getting deployed was hard.
  • I've had students grieve lost stuffed animals! It's still real, still grief!
  • I think children grow a strong connection with pets and certainly the loss of a friend/peer.
  • School closings! Chicago, Philly, other cities dealing w this kind of loss.
  • Student teacher leaving mid year or teacher leaving for maternity leave or long term illness.

==>Q3: In 1:1 school counseling sessions, what are some techniques/activities you would use to help these students?

  • Start with normalizing the grief. Letting the child know that it is normal to have these feelings, and it's ok to express them.
  • Empty chair technique-talking to that person as if they were in the seat across from them or writing a letter they never send.
  • NASP had a great quote- "Allow children to teach you about their own grief experiences." Each kid understands death differently.
  • Or even a letter to the family expressing how much the person meant to them. Taking action is good mourning.
  • "When Dinosaurs Die" is a helpful book to help elem students understand the concept of death. Get parent permission first!
  • I encourage them to talk to their parents and go back to what they believe related to their religion.
  • I used to have students write letters, tie to a balloon and have ceremony to let them go. 
  • I've had kids in a class create a banner, and we've planted living memorials as well.
==>Q4: What might you say to other students who express concern for their grieving friend?
  • You just have to be there to listen empathetically for support. Just being there through difficult times helps a great deal!
  • I make sure to praise friends for concern & ask them to keep school "as normal as possible" for the student-- usually helpful.
  • Everyone grieves differently and help them understand they may not share sadness and grief in the same way as their friend.
  • Keep an eye out for vicarious trauma-- if one student is very close to a grieving student, the friend may experience grief too.
==>Q5: Grief & loss small counseling groups: What potential difficulties do we need to consider in creating/running this group?
  • The biggest difficulty with grief groups is the type of loss. Suicide vs. loss from other types of death often separate groups.
  • May be difficulty in defining "loss" if death is still abstract. Also, differences in religious beliefs may come into play?
  • Stage of grief will be different and the amount of time that has passed.
  • There would be positives to running a G/L small group, too. I have not yet done this. I'd try a pair counseling experience first.
  • Sometimes you have to separate kids out for individual counseling instead if some of those issues come up.
  • I think the type of loss between students can be a challenge with groups.
==>Q6: As schcounselors, we're not therapists. Where do we draw the line in how much support to give these students? When to refer?
  • I personally struggle with this because I was a therapist before I was a school counselor.
  • I always give P's referral information regardless, but if it's a close relationship & S really struggling, def. referral.
  • Our school groups are generally short lived, 6 / 8 weeks. If it's turning into depression they need more.
  • Much overlap! I'm a trained therapist too. I frame schoolcounseling "brief therapy". If interfering w/ academics I refer.
  • Always good to have constant open convo with parents, esp in this situation. Therapy is less stigmatized with G&L.
  • I'm still surprised to see S's who never get therapy, even after a parent died. That really causes long term difficulties.
  • It certainly can, but some students surprise me with their resiliency!
==>Q7: In what ways could you offer support to the student’s family?
  • Main support could be connecting them with community resources. Counseling resources, school social worker, anything they need.
  • Find grief/loss resources in your community before you need them! That way you have connections on the ready! 
  • Activities, referral information, what to look for, listening to their concerns.
  • Let parents/families know you are there and can be a resource for facilitating services.
  • Communicate ASAP, offer support in any way. Our school has donated books in memory of students' family members, sent cards, etc.
  • We've helped families with funeral arrangements as well, through community groups such as the Lions Club, etc..
==>Q8: If we are informed that a student will experience loss in the near future, how can we be proactive in helping?
  • Making sure a relationship is established.
  • We can be there to give them ongoing counseling related to the coming loss. Also be there as a support for the family.
  • Relationship is key! Letting students know you are there!
  • True, when I'm an outside counselor coming in, it's harder as the S's don't know me, as compared when I know a S.
  • Relationships are crucial in every aspect of our field! What an important reminder message to end on! 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

#ESCchat #4 Bully Prevention

Our fourth #escchat sparked such thought-provoking discussion, that we ended after our usual stopping point! That's okay though-- the conversation never needs to end on Twitter! This chat focused on bully prevention programming and interventions, and many people contributed. As always, here is the storify transcript and here is a summary of the questions and answers:

==>Q1: How would YOU define “bullying”?

  •  I define bullying as an imbalance of power. Where one person is intimidating another. 
  • Bullying is repeated intimidation meant to instill fear.
  • I define bully as any behavior, verbal or physical that makes someone feel like less than a person.
  • Power can be social, emotional, physical. Also, repeated actions.
  • I also define it as if the person is intentional trying to create an imbalance of power by installing fear in others.
  • Sure, it doesn't have to be in person, as we have seen with cyberbullying.
  • I was recently trained in @Olweus so I am kind of cheating. Their def is: Repeated & targeted negative actions with power imbalance.
  • There is a depersonalization factor as well, not treating someone as they should be treated. 
==>Q2: Great definitions! Now, what does a bully typically look like/experience? Realistically vs Stereotypes?

  • A bully can come in many forms, I don't know that there's a look per se, but all of the behaviors are common.
  • Bullies don't feel like they are making mistakes. Unfortunately, they have cognitive distortions and feel justified.
  • You don't have to be the biggest male on the playground!
  • I know my students think a bully looks like the many cartoon depictions they've seen. But there's no real look.
  • Doesn't have to be the kids from X-mas story stealing your lunch money. Could be the MS girl, or sexual harassment.
  • I try to explain to students that bullies are not always bad kids, they are not always hurt, they just fill the role they see.
==>Q3 What formal/informal tools would you use to determine the prevalence of bullying is in your building?

  • In our MS's we have a survey, part of the Olweus program that we use. We can use it to measure the progress of the program too.
  • I've used surveys for 3rd-5th grades to get an idea of where bullying behavior takes place, and what it looks like.
  • I imagine both qualitative and quantitative responses would be most helpful! 
  • I setup a survey monkey needs assessment b4 I know about minute meetings. It was not a hit, hoping for more succes with MM!
  • A broad needs assessment for prevention inc. bullying is helpful!
  • Observations would also be helpful, and focus groups. Also making sure to ask teachers and support staff their opinions.
  • It also helps to get info from class meetings. Some teachers use a anonymous concern box.
  • We use both Second Step and Steps to Respect. I like them both but to find where it happens and what it looks like.
  • The 40 assets survey is one you can give kids that gets at school needs. We've just created surveys for staff.
==>Q4: What are examples of school-wide proactive prevention techniques/programs have used or heard of?

  • We're getting psyched for @Olweus. Also, looking into funding for @cfchildren's Second Step programming. 
  • I have run a couple character education themed assemblies that touch on positive relationships. Mix-it-up-at-Lunch-Day too!
  • Anti-Defamation League's "No Place for Hate" program is awesome- Run 3 anti-bullying proactive programs per year for designation.
  • We do assemblies througout the year and teach lessons through classroom guidance about bullying behavior, being a bystander, etc.
  • I once helped run an Anti-Bullying Poster Contest- Class competition they showed off their posters to each other. 
  • My school created a motto that's stated on mrng announcements and fundraised to buy shirts that students wear every 3rd Tuesday.
==>Q5: Related question but more specific: What can we do to try to prevent Relational Aggression (aka “Mean Girls”)?

  • Great Question. I have dealt a lot with this this yr. struggled to find something that got thru to students. They dont see the fault.
  • All parents should read "Queen Bees & Wannabes". Great Relational Aggression resource, tells how to talk about it w kids!
  • The Ophelia Project has FREE curricula & resources for Relational Aggression for boys, girls, and cyberbullying!
  • We've pretty much approached relational aggression the same way as other types of bullying. But guidance sees the girls more!
  • Separate the students, discipline the bully, counsel the victim and long term work on caring majority for support!
  • Separating students is key. Research shows it's more harmful than helpful to bring a bully/victim face to face.
==>Q6: Shifting from Prevention to Intervention: How would you intervene with a student exhibiting bullying behavior?

  • We focus on changing the behavior from a GE perspective. It falls short in some regards.
  • Counseling often doesn't work well with bullies. Sometimes they need behavior management strategies as primary.
  • We try to use the steps outlined in the @olweus program So impt to name the behavior & as the adult show you won't stand 4 it.
  • Visit with the student exhibiting the behavior to get to the cause/need for the inappropriate behavior.
  • It is helpful to not use labels- Instead of calling student a bully, talk about them using "Bullying Behavior", helps to separate!
  • Yes, if it is ongoing problem, even a functional behavior assessment could be helpful.
  • Discipline must be involved. Bullying can be is seen as "counseling" topic but it needs both responses. 
  • Behavior can be reinforced when we skip out on discipline. Kids feel like they didn't do anything wrong.
  • I agree, both counseling & progressive discipline. Important that school counselor does not do the discipline part!
==>Q7: How do we empower students to be Intentional Upstanders (as opposed to passive bystanders)?

  • Creating the "upstanders" is an ongoing teaching process. Their needs to be a culture that is created throughout the school.
  • How do you get teachers on board? Creating the climate.
  • Yes it should be woven into the school culture for sure! Huge when kids have a "We don't do that here" mentality.
  • Creating upstanders can be tough because of fear created by the incident. I explain in guidance, standing by says it OKAY!
  • "Standing By Doesn't Fly, Standing Up... Wins the Cup?" Needs work. haha
  • It's also important not to shame kids about being "bystanders" but to promote safe spaces for them to speak up.
  • That's where the @Olweus program comes in real handy!
  • looking into @standforthesilent to work with our school on this issue.
==>Q8: How can we involve parents in our bully prevention efforts?

  • I have done parent presentations in the past, especially to discuss Relational aggression.
  • We held a parenting night on Bullying. The presenter gave great information.
  • We have to send the same messages to parents to teach their kids. That everyone is accepted here, that's the culture.
  • Having parents involved in our No Place for Hate events has been great. Also they help to plan assemblies, etc.
  • Help them understand what it bullying looks like in schools and the process for reporting to us. We need them as partners.
  • Getting P involved is hard. Many of the P don't respond but request bullying be addressed. 
  • Parents have great insight about school culture & can advise on where problems are - if we build pos. relationships.
  • Yes, parent presentation definitely help. I like to use the ones we do with staff for consistency.
  • Also, help them know we're targeting BEHAVIORS, not their child in bullying interventions. We want safe schools for ALL.
  • Make sure parents aren't intimidated by school & those there. They often feel uncomfortable at school/with staff. Create welcoming environment.
==>Q9 (last one!): Why do you think bullying is so difficult to prevent/stop?

  • Bullying maintains because it creates fear, and that works unfortunately. So the student gets what they want through intimidation.
  • I feel like there is so much that goes on that adults don't see.
  • I believe is a societal problem. Think of how many adults bully each other.
  • Makes me think we need more empathy building at a younger age.
  • We have to create a culture where it is hard to create fear, where everyone stands up for each other. 
  • If it's not you, you don't want it to be you. If it is, you don't want it to worsen. If you do it, you don't want to lose power.
  • Empathy and building students' EQ should be a focus during the elementary years.
  • Yes, but I think it is also a product of the larger context & problematic/discriminatory adult behavior.
  • Building positive relationships in a building is the #1 thing we can do to create a safe and nurturing environment.
  • Yes! Fueled by media, society, and our individualistic culture.
  • I believe it is dif to stop/prevent due to the media that glamorizes violence. We live in a society that demeans others daily.
  • Might be unpopular but values? Increasing narcissism? I think of the shows that are popular w/Ss seem to be both those things.

Comments? Questions? Ideas that we missed in the chat? Please leave a comment or connect with us using the #escchat hashtag! 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

#ESCchat #3 Career Education 5/2/13

My head is spinning-- in a good way! I learned so many new ideas to promote career education in my elementary school! Tonight, future and current school counselors (and friends in related professions) joined together on Twitter for our #escchat. To read the whole chat as it took place, check out our Storify transcript. Here is a summary of questions & answers:

==>Q1: Think back to your own experiences. Who/What inspired you to pursue your career?

  • My aunt and uncle inspired me, they were both school psycs. I originally wanted to be a social worker, but they changed my mind.
  • My grandfather was a "guidance" counselor. I think I discovered my own path via a psych major & love of kids!
  • I coached college baseball for years, got MA in counseling along the way. People mgmt is paramount in both.
  • I interned during college at an elementary school and it inspired me to become a school psych.
  • We all need mentors in our lives to guide us in the right direction. I was lucky to have two early mentors help a great deal.
  • Class in HS inspired me to be in psych, advisor at internship inspired me to do SC, other advisor got me into admissions.
  • Mentors are so important! I run a mentor program for my school. Wish I had enough mentors for all students!
==>Q2: Why is it important to provide education about career opportunities for students, even as young as elementary?

  • I think it helps kids understand the roles of those involved in helping professions and shows them a different path.
  • Educating them early re: career exploration is huge. Wish I had resources like this back when I was in school.
  • Volunteering and community service helps as well.
  • In most schools I've been in students don't know they can go to college/succeed. Career talk lets them know we believe in them.
  • Kids need exposure to all of the possibilities that are out there. That can include rich experiences in their classes too.
  • We can help set kids up with that thinking early on. And families too!
  • is a great career exp. tool for elem/middle school. Interactive and fun.
  • Great website! Also, Paws in Jobland great for elementary career exploration.
==>Q3: Let’s chat about Career Day! Do you have one in your school? If so/not, what makes (or would make) it effective?

  • Haven't experienced it yet but there's one in place. I'm in small-town, agriculture is big, 4H could be great exp for kids.
  • Some of my favorite models are the wax model career days where kids dress like their career and talk about it when touched.
  • Our career day is at our middle school in 8th grade. I usually break out the test kits to give kids a sample of school psycs.
  • I haven't launched my own yet-- 1st year in my building, but would LOVE to. Lucky to have involved parents who would volunteer!
==>Q4: Already shared some, but what are some more ideas for other school-wide career ed events besides Career Day? 

  • Guest speakers, project board where students design career pages. Collab. w/art teachers.
  • Career portfolios--make an age appropriate resume, project about career, interest inventory, four year plan, etc.
  • What about a career door decorating contest? Each room picks a careers, decorate doors w/ info. 
  • Our 8th grade also has a class called "Futures" designed at exploring various careers.
  • We have been just beginning to dig into career cruising for hs and ms. 
  • Paws in Jobland for elem!
==>Q5: What can be done to break down gender (and other?) stereotypes in career education?

  • The biggest problem is gender roles in STEM. We don't have enough girls interested in STEM subjects, we have to encourage them!
  • Kids base what they know on people they know. Bring in male nurses, female construction workers, minority business owners, etc.
==>Q6: FOLLOW UP- How can we start getting girls interested in #STEM in early years? 

  • I think having female scientists in the school on a regular basis or field tripping to visit one would be great.
  • 'm focused on that issue with my own daughter. Encouraging her to take risks in STEM areas, museums, making it fun.
  • For the "girly girls" out there-- 
  • A big part of it is letting girls know what options are available in those fields. So many misconceptions about STEM.
  • It's about constantly sending the message that there are no gender specific subjects. That we all have potential in all areas.
  • Early encouragement is KEY in making all professions gender equal! Compliment brains as much as beauty for both genders!
  • I'm a advocate 4 modeling behavior/aspirations. Would job shadows, job fairs with females in roles outside of the stereotypical.
  • There are a number of scholarships and organizations out there that help encourage STEM careers for females. 
==>Q7: How can we encourage teachers to integrate career/college ed into other subjects? Specific/General ideas?

  • Kids buy in to things they think they can use later in life -- teachers who can make it applicable may have more participation.
  • Let teachers know how career/college ed meets their teaching standards.
  • Just concentrating on engaging lessons in subjects will do the trick. When S's are engaged, they become interested in careers.
  • Maybe encourage them to spend a little time in each subject/topic area to research history and career path of key figures.
  • The first one that comes to mind is Science Fair. Maybe explaining how different science investigations lead to careers.
==>Q8: What school-wide events can we run to introduce post-secondary education options for kids?

  • Local colleges come to HS, MS participates just to see what it's about.
  • A simple "Wear College Gear Day" would be a good start. Students can ask teachers questions about their experiences!
  • Have each class or grade be a different college. They can be that mascot and have contests against other "colleges".
  • Field trips to colleges would be helpful, too.
  • Mock college fair-parents/teacher represent their colleges/trades, students walk through.
  • Having a good connection with local community and 4-year colleges can be helpful, so they can make presentations to S's.
  • A teacher who runs recess football/kickball leagues names teams after college teams- great taste of college sports!
  • We had a College Madness Week this yr. Teachers filled out forms about their college experiences for a bulletin board.
  •  If there is a college nearby, invite college students to volunteer and make a presence in the school.
  • We brought college students in to the HS do a college panel. The seniors loved the "real life" talk.
  • We had an alum come back (he's in med school) and talked about his projects in Haiti. Powerful stuff!
  • We also had a scavenger hunt. Find which teacher did ___ in college or went to ___ college or worked as ___ before teaching.
Did you miss this chat but have questions/comments on the topic? Feel free to leave a comment on this blog, or join the convo anytime at #escchat!