I'm Torn

Thursday, March 5, 2015

R.A.K. from your kids!


Yesterday, March 4, my sweet mother would have turned 80 years old.  I can't help but wonder about the celebrating we would have done with her.  I can imagine just how she would have looked, sweet smile and dark hair (great friends with her hair stylist).  She left us unexpectedly at the age of 65, before her time should have been up (in many minds).  The one thing I will say is she "packed it in" during those 65 years.  She taught kindergarten and loved it.  We always wished she would have written a book with all those stories she came home with.  She also started Pooh Corner Preschool when a mom in town asked her if she would after the school went to half day kindergarten.  She instilled a love of reading in all of us 6 kids---and the many grandkids who followed.  She baked cutout cookies for us to frost, made sure our birthdays were celebrated in style, helped us fill May Baskets every year to deliver to classmates and neighbors, and the list goes on.
We have done a variety of things to celebrate mom's birthday since she passed.  This year my 'baby' sister texted all of us kids and challenged us to 80 Random Acts of Kindness in honor of mom's birthday.  WOW!  80! And at least one act had to involve giving someone an apple (which mom collected).  That meant I had to act quickly!  So....here is what I came up with:
*quick run to the grocery store and picked up 10 apples to hand out to random people during the day
*paid for 3 people's breakfast who were behind me and the convenience store when I was grabbing my cup of coffee
*took a meal over to a family
*gave a co-worker a yogurt to have for a snack
*took bus duty for our band teacher who had an extra  band practice (4 degrees out and windy!)
*shared my fruit at lunch
*carried my daughter's bow in from the car after archery practice
*picked up supper for my husband and daughter while they were practicing archery so we wouldn't be late for church activities
*bought my dog an new spikey ball toy
*shared some counselor forms with a new counselor
*mailed notes to a couple of friends to encourage and thank them
*tidied up the information table at the archery club
*hung up clothes that had fallen on the floor of the clearance rack at Shopko
*money on my college daughter's bank account without being asked for it!
AND CONTINUING TODAY:
*ordered donuts for the last practice of 7th and 8th grade Jazz Band
*candies in mailboxes of co-workers
*notes on kids lockers encouraging growth mindset
*posters on the bathroom stall doors encouraging good character

Can't wait to see what else my day brings!  I know one thing, it sure is makes my day to do these Random Acts of Kindness!

Friday, February 6, 2015

School Counseling Week--Day 4 & 5

Should have planned ahead and had these all written and ready to post, but, well you know how it goes.
Day 4 was spent in the classroom pretty much all day.  I missed my 2nd grade classes on Wednesday and wanted to make up that time so we squeezed them in on Thursday.
We started our hands for the Kindness Challenge world record.  It was so fun to see the kids get excited about kindness!  We were invited to do this because we participated in The Great Kindness Challenge Week sponsored by Kids for Peace.  Can't wait to see all the finished hands decorated and ready to mail off!

Today was about TEAMWORK in 4th grade.  We tried building a house of cards a couple weeks ago.  It didn't get real far except flat!  So, I decided to show them the only thing I could think of as a tutorial which was of course The Brady Bunch episode where they built a card house.  (How come we don't have good shows like this on TV anymore?)  After watching, the kids decided to work as a class building the house of cards.  I think if we were snowed in at school, this would keep them busy all day because they love a challenge!

I got to thinking that TEAMWORK is what makes a school counseling program work!  I am so grateful that the wonderful people I work with help me in helping kids!  
Bus drivers let me know if there are kids having trouble getting along on the bus or maybe who don't want to get on the bus.  Custodians build relationships with kids by taking time to help them out if something isn't working right even if they take them on as a junior janitor!
Secretaries greet kids and help solve problems when they need to get in contact with a parent.
The school nurse sand I work very closely together---repeat visitors usually have something going on from anxiety to issues with other kids or at home.
Teacher associates seem to be the ones who get bombarded at recess with all types of problems from seeing kids having difficulty finding friends to anger issues.
Teachers know their kiddos so well that they can tell if something isn't right.  That is when we work together to figure out what is going on and what type of help they need.
Principals are the ones who follow up with discipline so the counselors are not put in that role.

I am also grateful that I get to work with 3 of my sisters in the same building I work in!  Cool or what?!
Today I twisted my twin sisters arm to let her 2nd grade class be a part of the music video I was working on.  I love writing parodies that can tell others about what I teach or do.  Thanks kids for being in the video during your milk break today!
I hope you enjoy the video too!



Wednesday, February 4, 2015

School Counseling Week--Day 3

Every year during School Counseling Week our AEA's put on a great PD day for counselors, it's called FEAST at the Forum!  We are actually treated like royalty thanks to the National Guard and all of those who put so much work into making this a great day for us!  One of the best perks for the day is getting to hear all the presenters (mostly counselors) share great things that they are doing.  I currently use so many of the ideas I have learned at FEAST and have made some great connections with other counselors too!

This year I twisted the arm of another counselor (it didn't take much) to present a session with me.  We decided to do our session on MOVEMENT IN THE CLASSROOM and the BENEFITS!  So I now present to you:
Get Yo' Body Movin'
presented by Laurel Klaassen (me) and Chelsey Town (my counselor friend)

Go Noodle is a great resource for brain breaks, yoga and just plain fun for kids.  AND IT'S FREE!!!
*You might need to help teachers get this set up in their classrooms on their computers so they are more apt to use it when you aren't there.

Benefits of Movement:
(source:  Dr. Martha Eddy, www.WellnessCKE.net)
Why move?
1. Our bodies are designed to move.
2. Some people think best when they are moving.
3. To engage diverse types of learners fully--kinesthetic learners or sleepy ones!
4.  To deepen understanding.
5. To experience a subject from a new perspective, using kinesthetic intelligence.
6.  To develop creativity.
7. To foster community.
8. To rest, recuperate and refocus.
9. To invigorate the body -- exercise for health.
10. To have FUN!

BOBSLED TEAM
(Source:  Find Something To Do by Jim Cain)
Have students stand in teams of 4 people in a line, hands on the shoulders of the person in front of you.  Introduce the following 3 commands:
Change-- the person at the front of the bobsled team moves to the rear of the same bobsled.
Switch -- team member two trades with team member four.
Rotate -- everyone individually turns 180 degrees.

In round one, invite teams to listen and follow your commands.  Then give teams two minutes to practice the change, switch and rotate commands on their own.
In round two, stack more commands together (change-change-switch-rotate).
In round three (the final round) add one more command (Loose Caboose -- where everyone scatters and must quickly become part of a new bobsled team of four).

I was fortunate to have our county extension youth specialist come to our school to do some programming with our students.  He did a program called Ricochet and incorporated TOOBEEZ into the program.  The kids L.O.V.E.D. them!  It got all the kids up and moving and working together.  Try the following activity which could be done using PVC pipe if you don't have TOOBEEZ.
The Helium Stick is such a fun activity and really pulls a group together to solve some problems. Click on the title to find out the directions.




Look at the awesome volunteers who were trying to get the helium stick to go down to the floor.


SUCCESS!!!!

Zenergy Chime
Be sure to order your Zenergy Chime (just google it and find the best price).  These are so helpful to quiet kids quickly.  It's like the "mute" button!  Once you train each classroom, you can use this in the hall or anywhere and it will quiet the kids FAST!
YOGA
Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube
Yoga on Go Noodle

We hope you can enjoy the information we presented.  Of course, if you are reading this and were not present, you will have to gather up some of your friends and try these out!





Tuesday, February 3, 2015

School Counseling Week--Day 2


Today my word is MINDSET.  There is so much out there right now that discusses mindsets.  As counselors (and my fellow educators) we address mindsets all the time.  Today we were talking about anger in 1st grade classrooms.  I asked the kids what pushed their buttons---an anger button is when something happens that causes an immediate anger, just like when we push a button and something automatically happens.  We said that there are consequences that go right along with those immediate choices we make when our buttons are pushed.  We talked about the Super Bowl and players getting into a fight and then getting kicked out of the game---consequences for even adults!

So, what do counselors do?  We help kids with their mindsets.  When they are struggling with behaviors, we can talk about their belief system and how we can change or alter that to bring them more success.  Of course, we use kid friendly language that they understand.

CHALLENGE:
What is a mindset that you might need to alter?  I know I can think of a few for myself that would help me to be more positive and feel better as a person.
For example, I found out yesterday that I have a stress fracture in one of the bones in my foot.  Lucky for me (the doctor said) that it is my left foot so it won't affect my driving.  Ha!  Guess who is a 2 foot driver?!  Yep, me!  Guess who is learning to be a 1 foot driver?  ME!





Monday, February 2, 2015

School Counseling Week 2015--Day 1



Wow!  It is National School Counseling Week and this has me totally pumped!
This week I am going to share with you what I do as a school counselor.  I am also going to share a word for the day and a challenge for you.


My husband and I have a belief that we share:  If you don’t enjoy your job, then find something else!  I feel so blessed to be able to go to school each day and work with a great staff and awesome kids!  I never really know how my day is going to go---I can have the best made plans but if there is a student who is in need of my help, that day can change rather quickly.  As counselors we have different ways to “serve” our students:
Counseling Curriculum--
this is the planned out deliberate lessons that we take to our students.  I mostly do this in the classroom lessons I teach.  I L.O.V.E. this part of being a counselor because I get to see ALL the kids!
Individual Student Planning--
This is when we help students plan out their personal goals to guide them in their future.
This is exciting because you get to hear what kids dreams are and help them figure out how to get there!
Responsive Services--
This is when a student has an immediate need, possibly even a crisis situation.  I can help students individually or in small groups.

Even though it is the students who receive these services, it may be parents, school staff or community resources that work together with me to meet the needs of students.

WORD FOR THE DAY:
SERVE



CHALLENGE:
My challenge for the day is to find a way to serve others.  This can be little things like helping someone who is struggling with math or just being a friend to someone.  Find someone to serve today.  You will be amazed at the positive feeling you will receive by serving others.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Liar Liar Pants on Fire!



So we have probably all told a little white lie if not a big whopper.  Today I addressed lying with my kindergarten friends.  I asked them first if they knew what it meant to have a "monkey on their back".  You can probably imagine the responses I heard: "It's when a monkey is hanging on your back because it's your friend!" and even "My sister had a monkey on her head one time when we went to the zoo!"  I responded with, "Really?  They usually keep the animals in their cages."  Her response to this, "Yes, they let her get in the cage with the monkeys."  Another friend says, "Well, that would be very dangerous."  AND so, the lesson on lying started.
I asked if any of them had ever told a lie, even a little lie.  Half the class raised their hands (we know who was telling the truth, don't we?).  I told them about Howard B. Wigglebottom having a problem with telling the truth and we listened to the story from We Do Listen website.  (All of the Howard B. Wigglebottom stories are there to listen too, including songs, activities and posters!)  We had so much fun singing and dancing to the song, "Telling the Truth is Cool" when the story finished---which is a great song to have stuck in your head!

OBJECT LESSON #1:
I have to admit, I think an object lesson really helps lock the message in those little brains!  So....I have two of them for lying.  Since Howard was carrying around that monkey which grew with each lie, I decided to have the kids put on an empty back pack.  I chose one student to wear the one I brought in.  I then gave an example of how a lie can get bigger and bigger or how multiple lies feel like we are carrying around some pretty heavy stuff!  Each time I added to the lie, I added a book to the back pack.  At first it was easy to carry around the back pack.  As I added more lies it became much more difficult to do things like sit in their chair or try running.  We talked about how easy it is to stretch the truth sometimes, but that it is really telling a lie.  The kids really "got this"!

Next week we will read "Lying Up a Storm" by Julia Cook.  Great book that is just out that talks about the feelings we get when we lie.  This book that helps kids understand there are consequences when telling a lie and also stresses how one lie often leads to another.  I love this quote from the book:  
"Whenever you tell a lie, your inside sun goes away.  
Then a lying cloud forms, and glooms up your day.  
Each time you tell a lie, another cloud starts to form, 
and before you can stop it from happening, your insides start to storm."


  
Object Lesson #2:
When I thinking of a storm at this time of year, I think of a snow storm.  When we get a snow storm, it's a mess of snow to clean up!  So I decided to dig out some Insta-Snow which I found at a teachers supply store in the science section.  It's really fun stuff. 

 With Insta-Snow, you start with a small amount ( a couple of tablespoons) in a cup or bowl.  Tell the kids that this represents the lie.  Add to it a little bit at a time each time you "add to the lie".  When you are ready to tell the final part of the lie, where the truth really comes out, add the water.  Just like that it expands and you have  A LOT of snow!  I like to take it an toss it on the floor to show what a mess a lie can make (don't worry, it cleans up really easy).  This is when the discussion really gets going and you can talk about the mess you can get yourself into when you tell a lie.  I like to let the kiddos lead the discussion and just throw in a  few questions to keep it going.




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Who is your Super Hero?


Character Counts Week and we are focusing on our theme:
Good Character is our Super Power! 
(Thanks for sharing the idea counselor friends!)
Today was dress like your super hero!  There are many we could choose from and it was kind of a challenge to get our little ones at school to understand the concept, especially when Halloween is around the corner.  We had kids dressed up so many ways.  Some dressed like their parents.  One little girl told me she was going to dress like another classmate because she follows class rules so well.  We had policemen and princesses.  Our staff decided it would be fun to dress up like our principal, since him and one of our janitors are the only males in the building! The kids kept saying, "Hi Mr. Jenness!" to all of us.  
So, who is your super hero?  
Who do you look up to?
Who do you see using their good character as a super power on a daily basis?