Friday, September 26, 2014

Student Council Elections and a Lesson About Not Making Judgments/Assumptions

I am not sure if everyone knows, but in addition to all my work as a school counselor, I also run OHE's Student Council! This week was a busy and exciting week for Student Council, as we had our 2014-2015 elections! Student's were able to campaign all this week and presented their speeches today to the student body, who then had a chance to vote. Everyone who was in the running did such an amazing job!! Here are some photos from campaigning in the halls this week and our campaign parade!





They made sure to stick their stickers all over me, too!! :-)




Watching the students prepare for their speeches today was also fun and they all did such a great job!

It's always a little hard finding out you didn't win, but they all left feeling like winners because they are all still Student Council members AND eight runner ups get to be part of my No Place for Hate Coalition, which I also run. This is also a lot of fun and I know they will love it! Congratulations to all that were elected!

In addition to all the Student Council work this week, I still gave guidance lessons to all 2nd and 3rd grade classes!! Phew...what a BUSY, but fun week! 2nd Grade did the same lesson on being a good listener as you saw in last week's blog, but 3rd grades got to listen to a story called, "Mr. Peabody's Apples," which was actually written by Madonna!! I asked all of the classes if they knew who Madonna was and not a lot did, so now I am really feeling older!!! ;-/

This is a wonderful story about a man who is wrongfully accused of stealing because one child in the story made an assumption or judgment too quickly and spread a rumor about this man throughout the whole town. By the time they learned the truth and that he wasn't actually stealing, but had paid in advance, the damage had already been done. He could apologize for spreading the rumor, but he could never completely take everything back and fix it. We talked about making assumptions and spreading rumors and how most times rumors aren't even true and can be very hurtful. We learned, when in doubt ASK! Do NOT assume anything without knowing the 100% truth. Many kids offered the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover" and I would say that is a great saying to live by.

We then played a game of "Telephone" to show how easily a message from one person to another can get messed up. Every time I started the message, it got messed up by the last kid who received the message in the circle and we talked about how that is usually how rumors work, too! Too many people hear something and spread it around and things get changed from being a true statement to a made up or embellished statement. The kids had fun playing this game and loved tying it to the book!

Next week I will be in 4th and 5th grade classrooms and we will do the same lesson with "Mr. Peabody's Apples." Have a fabulous weekend!!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Here are some flyers from Austin Child Guidance Center about various topics that may be helpful to you and your family:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Learning to be a Good Listener

Happy Friday, everyone! What a rainy week it has been, but a great time for kids who haven't gotten as much recess in to learn about listening and following the rules! This week I got to go to all the Pre-K, Kindergarten, and First Grade classrooms. We listened to a fun video from the "Howard B. Wigglebottom" series called "Howard Learns to Listen". The kids absolutely love these books and videos. A lot of times I will read the books, but they also love the videos and the videos come with a fun song to listen and dance to afterward, too. You can find all of the "Howard B. Wigglebottom" videos, activities, and songs at this website:  The kids will probably love watching these at home, too!

After we watched the video and sang and danced to the song, we reviewed the four listening skills from the SEL lessons teachers teach each week. To be the best listeners we can be, we need to always have our "eyes watching, ears listening, voice quiet, and body still." We talked about how we need to be doing all four because doing only one, two, or even three of them will not ensure that we are being the BEST listeners we can be. You aren't paying FULL attention if you aren't doing all four.

We also did a fun activity where they had to really use their listening skills to hear all of the specific colors I asked them to color the girl's clothes on the sheet I gave them. Ms. Kittredge's class didn't make any mistakes on the colors because they listened very well to all of my instructions. I let them have a little fun after coloring the clothes the colors I asked them to by letting them color the skin ANY color they'd like! 

It was a fun week and all of the kids did such a great job showing me all of their listening skills! Next week I will be in 2nd and 3rd grade classes and we will also talk about being good listeners and making sure not to make assumptions or misinterpretations without being sure they understand. Look for more on this activity next week! Have a great weekend! 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Meet My New Social Work Intern, Allison Kriger

I am very lucky to have a social work intern, Allison Kriger, from the University of Texas join me this year. She is undergoing her graduate degree in Social Work and I am very pleased to have her collaborate with me and help with some of my individual/group counseling sessions this year. Here is a brief statement from Allison about herself: 

"I graduated from University of Colorado with a Bachelors in Psychology. After college, I worked as a special-education teacher until I enrolled into graduate school. I am now in my third semester at University of Texas receiving my masters in social work. I am interning for Cap City Kids- AISD, under the supervision of Kate Amerson. I am very excited to be interning at Oak Hill Elementary!!"

Allison Kriger, Social Work Intern at OHE

We are very lucky to have Allison join us this year!! 

I will be starting guidance lessons on Monday!! We rotate on an ABC schedule, so I will start off with "A Week" and will be in the Pre-K, Kinder, and First grade classes next week. We will have a fun lesson from "Howard B. Wigglebottom" on being a good listener!! I look forward to sharing more about that lesson with you next week! Have a great weekend! 

Friday, September 5, 2014

My First Blog!! Welcome Back to School!

I am excited to start my first blog! It is still a work in progress and I will be adding some more info to it soon, but I am glad to get it started!  I welcome everyone back to school and hope you all have adjusted well to the school routines! This week I was able to get to everyone's class to give an "Introduction to the Counselor" lesson. In grades PK- 2, the students helped me add body parts to my "Ms. Potato Head" and helped me identify how each of the parts we added were helpful to me with the work I do as a school counselor. For example, someone came up and chose some eyes for me to add and we talked about how my eyes help me to look at all of the children's faces and read the feelings on their face. I had them show me different emotions on their faces and talked about how it is my job to notice those emotions and if you look upset to ask, "What's wrong? How can I help you to feel better?" We continued with all the body parts and came to the conclusion that I don't need a nose for my job (besides breathing) because I don't need to smell children! ;-) They got a kick out of that! Here is the finished product from Ms. Roll's class: 

In grades 3-5, we tossed the "Get to Know You Ball" around, which has many questions on it to get to know the students; such as, "Do you have any brothers or sisters?" or "What is your favorite activity to do?" The kids answered whatever question their thumb landed on as they tossed the ball and caught it. It was great to get to learn more about each of them! After that, I wanted them to get to know more about my job as a school counselor, so I got out my School Counselor First Aid Kit and we talked about how all the objects in the kit could help me to do my job. For example, the band-aid I had in the kit can be used to help "heal wounds that are on the inside", or "patch up the hurt and bad feelings". The toothpick in the kit can be used to "pick out your problems," so we can work together to solve them. 

In all grades, after we did our activities, we all talked about how they can come and see me in my office if they need to. They are able to fill out a self-referral, which I gave to the teachers, if they would like to see me with a "big problem". We talked about big problems and little problems. Little problems are issues they can handle on their own, with the help of a friend, or with the teacher in the classroom. For example, someone pushed them, or called them a name. This can be solved by talking it out, one of our conflict-resolution strategies, or getting help from the teacher. They wouldn't need to come to me for this, but I do come and give guidance lessons every three weeks, which is where I teach them how to solve the smaller problems on their own. Big problems are ones that they can't handle on their own, with a friend, a parent, or with the help of a teacher. For example, their parents may be getting a divorce and they are struggling with this; or maybe a pet or family member has passed away. Those are bigger issues and I showed them how to request to see me if they need help dealing with any big problems they may have. 

What a fun week!! Look for me to post at least once a week to update you on what we learned for the week, or other important information!