Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bullying Lesson for 1st Graders

Bullying is a concept that many 1st graders just don't quite understand.  I decided to do a lesson that would use a visual so that the kiddos would have a concrete example of how bullying feels.

We started the lesson by discussing what they already knew about bullying.  We referenced past lessons and what they have seen around school.  I then introduced the main character of the book that we were reading.  I used a document camera to do a quick sketch of Hooper from the book Hooper Humperdink...?  Not Him! by Dr. Seuss.  We talked about how bullying makes others feel "crumpled up" on the inside.  As I read the story aloud, students gave a thumbs down every time something negative was done or said about Hooper.  When that happened, I crumpled the sketch of Hooper a little bit. 

By the end of the story Hooper was crumpled and torn as you see below.  We talked about how important it is to apologize for your actions but that it doesn't completely "fix" how the other person feels.  We used bandaids to represent saying sorry and how it helps a little but doesn't take all the hurt feelings away.  When you say something to someone, you can never take back what you said and it can often leave unseen scars. 

The students agreed that Hooper probably didn't feel so good about himself.  They said he must have felt sad, angry, left out, frustrated, lonely and embarrassed (pretty good insight for 1st graders). 

When the lesson was finished, each class wanted to hang the poster in their classrooms to remind them to use kind words, treat others with respect, and include everyone. 

This was one of my favorite lessons that I have done because I felt like the students really understood the concept of bullying much better.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Calm and Relaxing

I have been searching for decent guided relaxation audio/video for kids.  What I have found is that I like bits and parts of each of them but have not found one that I like in its entirety.  Since I work with such a wide range of age levels, I was looking for one that would work for everyone.  As I was talking with my new intern the other day, she mentioned that I should just make one myself.  DUH!  So I went to work in my bedroom (away from noisy children and husband) and came up with a short guided relaxation audio/video for kids.

I would love some feedback on how it sounds and please be honest (but not mean).  Is it too hokey?  Too short?  Silly?

What do you think????

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Advice for a New Counselor

I had my first counseling intern begin today.  For the past few days, I have been thinking of all of the things that I wish I knew or had experienced before I started my counseling journey so that I can share them with her.  Here are the things that I think all potential counselors need to know:
  • Be flexible!!!! I have a weekly schedule of all of my lessons, groups, meetings and individual kiddos that I need to see. No matter how much I try to stick to my schedule, things inevitably come up. Therefore I try to be very flexible with my scheduling and often needing to reschedule things.
  • Have the ability to switch gears quickly. There are many times that you will go from a child melting down, to teaching a lesson, to sitting in a Children's Division investigation, to drying a Kindergartner's tears. My best advice to this is to take a few deep breaths and keeping going. if you have a minute to take a break (even if you lock yourself in the restroom), take it!
  • Have a sense of humor. The life of a counselor can often be very challenging and demanding. No matter the situation, find something to laugh about (even if you are laughing at yourself). Laughter is truly the best medicine and can help you stay emotionally available when you are needed.
  • Be organized. I cannot stress this one enough! Find what works for you when organizing your room, supplies, notes, thoughts, lessons, files, etc. It took me a few years to really get the organization thing down but I am always tweaking to make it better.
  • Remain open to suggestions and new ideas. No matter how long you have been in counseling there are always new and different ways of doing things. 
  • Stay on top of new ideas. Join chats, Facebook groups, and follow blogs. We can learn so much by helping and teaching others.
  • Be a team player. There is no way I would be able to do my job well without the AMAZING people I work with. Working with kids is a collaborative effort! I have always loved the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." However in a school it should be, "It takes a village to educate a child." No one is alone in the process of teaching our students.
  • Find people you can turn to. Many elementary schools only have one counselor per building. I could see how someone could feel very isolated and alone in a school. It is vital to find people in your school who can support you and can be a shoulder for you. Find a another counselor or group of counselors you can meet up with every once and awhile to support each other. 
  • Take care of yourself! Whatever it is that helps you it! Whether it is a bubble bath, dinner out with friends, a massage, or exercise, make sure you have something that you can do to keep your mental health strong.  
I truly feel that I have the best job in the world! Just like most jobs, counseling has its ups and downs. However, I would not trade it! If you are thinking about a career in counseling, you will not find a job that is more challenging and rewarding (with the exception of teaching).  

What advice would you give to a new counselor?  I would love to hear your ideas (and may steal some for myself).