Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Season's Greetings

     I have been absent from posting on the blog given a recent hand surgery.  I will be back in full force in the coming year!  In the meantime, I wanted to wish you all a wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

School Administrator Magazine Selects School Counselor Central as 2014 Top 100 Product

Mahopac, NY- December 1, 2014 - PRESS RELEASE

School Counselor Central (www.schoolcounselorcentral.com) has been recognized for making a positive difference in education by K12 leaders who named it to District Administration magazine's "Readers' Choice Top 100 Products for 2014."

The winners, selected by District Administration's editors from a record 2,400-plus nominations, were products that received the highest number of nominations and best descriptions from K12 leaders. The Readers' Choice Top 100 has been announced online and in the December 2014 issue of District Administration.

District Administration's Readers' Choice Top 100 Products award informs superintendents and other senior school district leaders about products their colleagues around the country are using to help their districts excel in a variety of areas, such as technology, sustainability and curriculum instruction.

"With the Top 100 award program steadily growing in size and recognition each year, all of our 2014 honorees should be very proud of their success," says JD Solomon, District Administration's editorial director. "We hope that all of our readers continue to be inspired and find innovative ideas from their peers who have had successful product implementations."

District Administration provides K12 leaders with critical news and information for school district management, through its monthly magazine, website, e-newsletters and the District Administration Leadership Institute Superintendent Summits. For more information, visit www.DistrictAdministration.com.


A concise and comprehensive school counseling model writer and school counseling program organizer, including:
  • School Counseling Plan: An organized and clear framework for school counselor programs with extensive reporting tools such as the Student Personnel Accountability Report Card.
  • Student Achievement Log: A secure journal on student meetings by school counselor program domains and a graduation tracker to support student academic completion goals.
  • School Counselor Services Tracker: A time management analysis with the school counselor weekly services.
  • Program Review: Maintain the comprehensive school counseling model online for an annual review of program.
  • Advisory Council: Keep minutes of action plans from an advisory council with working goals for the school counseling program.
     ......... and much more!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

School Counseling Lessons - Importance of Curriculum Mapping

     An excitement begins.  Students have shared a topic with you that they feel is important to know. Your creative thought process begins and you identify a lesson.  What a great topic, you may think, and so the organization of the topic delivery, activity, and plans develop.  When done, you ask a teacher to let you into their class.  After reviewing their calendar, you get an opening and off you go.  The students have fun, you enjoy adding the lesson to your portfolio as a school counselor and you can check off that you covered an important topic that students brought to your attention.

     Reactive lessons are always "dangerous" for the school counseling profession.  Why?  It is a lesson for the moment because a few students may have brought the idea to your attention.  How does it connect to the comprehensive school counseling program, the counseling mission, as well as the school's overall vision?  In simple terms, and what I state all the time, "SO WHAT?"

     Rewind.......let's take one step at a time to understand what I mean about connected lessons vs. reactive lessons.  Connected lessons have a purpose and have been carefully developed to align to the professional standards of school counseling, the comprehensive school counseling program foundation, and the school's vision.  When mapped out, it allows teachers to see the lesson, topic, activity and relate to a possible topic they are delivering, bringing a collaborative approach to school counseling core curriculum!

     Here are a couple of guiding questions when developing a lesson:
         1) How do you know it is a needed topic?
         2) Did the topic come from an initial need assessment to students, teachers and parents?
         3) What is the essential question being addressed? (National Standards of School Counseling - select a standard)
         4) What are the skills that students will learn as a result of the lesson? (Selected Standard Competency)
         5) What content will students get to know as a result of the lesson? (Selected Standard Competency Indicator)

     I have drafted a table that shows the above mapping.  Yes, initially you may think it takes a long time to put together.  Actually, it is quite simple.  Using www.schoolcounselorcentral.com, the lesson creator tool quickly does the drop down answering each of the questions above.

I am providing you with a visual of a table I created to assist me in mapping the lessons.


Goals for each unit…….What do we want kids to:

Essential Questions
Skills (Do)
Content (Know)
Career Cluster Inventory
What is the relationship between student interests and careers?
Discussing importance interest inventory results.
Utilizing online resources to research career

Programs and majors related to careers

Completion of career cluster on Naviance.
Learning Styles Inventory
What is the relationship between learning style and academic success?

Utilizing inventory results to obtaining learning preferences.

Review results to understand how to be successful academically.
Using study strategies based on learning style.

Self-reflection of learning style habits.
Completion of learning style inventory.

Academic improvement based on knowledge and utilization of techniques geared toward learning style.

     Once you have this all written out either on School Counselor Central or a simple table, then it is important to showcase the curriculum map to your administrators, teachers and community.  This allows for everyone to know the important topics being presented, as well as support the ongoing learning for students on academic, social/emotional or career/college skills.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Addressing At Risk Behaviors - What Does It Mean?

     I have been waiting to post ideas on this topic for a while as I did not want to offend anyone or any specific program.  Instead, I wanted to reflect on the great work school counselors do in the month of October on the topics of Anti-Bullying and Red Ribbon Week.  However, for me, there is still a missing link to all of the prevention activities for these thematic days: the social emotional foundation of negative behaviors.

     The visuals are amazing and a reminder to students of themes for the month.  The more students see posters, bulletin boards and red ribbons, the better the connection.  As soon as the month is over, do students engage in the same cycle of negative activities and school counselors become reactive?  What happened to all of the prevention done through lessons and activities?

     I wonder what would happen if instead of the "Don't Do Drugs" bulletin boards, we as school counselors took time to create a visual that shows how students engage in negative behaviors?  Have more open discussions and presentations on the fear and repercussions of being an upstander and how to overcome it?  I understand that these are painful and difficult topics, but if we are going to make a difference, then helping students recognize and understand their pain, connect it to decision making and work on strategies to think and act differently would be a different approach!

     Here are a couple of resources for future lessons that would focus on the social emotional foundations of students:

Being an Upstander has infographics and worksheets that allow students to reflect on empathy and how it applies to anti-bullying.

From the same series, (I am not endorsing any product, just found it as a relevant resource to the blog topic!), here is one on recognizing the bully in yourself - I would use this in a level 2 Response to Intervention individual process:

This quiz for students on decision making is connected with drug/alcohol use and how the teen brain reacts to decision making: http://headsup.scholastic.com/students/teens-and-decision-making-worksheet

     How do you know if it works?  Data of course!  How did you know the previous lessons/activities had an impact on students?  If you did not measure it, then data is non-existant!  Try now.  Use a different approach and see what happens!  
     These changes in activities and lessons have to have a component of connection to an adult with whom students can talk to if they need help.  Don't forget the importance of relationships and supporting students!  

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Social Emotional Technology Learning

     In the school counseling community we talk about the importance of social emotional development learning.  We are in the classrooms or in groups talking about self awareness, emotions, anti-bullying, and relationship building skills that are needed to understand interactions as well as outcomes of such interactions as children and young adults.

     What we often are not connecting is how tools used today and the reaction to information posted can have such negative impact on our students, as well as adults (I include ourselves as counselors and other educators),  We often will talk about netiquette, digital literacy, etc...but students do not really connect to the ideas unless they can experience it.

     This week I saw how social media can break in matters of seconds, the trust, relationships, and positive culture in a school building.  A new app, built for positive anonymous posting intent, named Yik Yak, went viral in its use with unfortunate, nasty comments.  It only took one action to have a negative reaction.  A combination of bad self management of an emotional process with a reaction utilizing a social media tool.  Such app joins others that are concerning, such as FormSpring, SnapChat, etc...that allow for increased opportunities for at risk behaviors as a result of desperation of not knowing how to react to postings.  Here is an article on other apps students are using for social media: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/15-sites-and-apps-kids-are-heading-to-beyond-facebook.

     I want to focus on change...and it all starts with the way we think and deliver our lessons on social emotional development and learning.  I am not anti-technology or anti-social media, but think about the appropriate use of such and its impact on students and adults.  It is not only about the competencies and indicators that students will learn, but it is also about the tool students and adults are using.

     So why not incorporate a new standard I coined into our lessons as educators: Social Emotional Technology Learning.  I don't have any specific competencies written out, but let's start thinking about our lessons and how the technology tool is a component of the goal for student learning.  I did find this wonderful website on Technology: Enhanced Social Emotional Learning which gives some great resources for activities, http://seltechnology.weebly.com/. Here are some lesson ideas:

     1) When teaching self-awareness, include topics of branding yourself and digital footprint.  What have you posted, good or bad, that would describe you?
     2) The lesson on time-management, include the app Menthal, to monitor how students spend their time with technology and what other activities they could be doing instead.
     3) Teaching empathy is not only to have students understand the concept, but use technology to track how they are making a difference.  There is a new kindness app called Ripil that can be used.

     ***  Note that with every lesson, keeping data to then broadcast it to the community is important!

     Finally, I leave you with a video that was shared with me that truly made an impact.  A true visual of the technology impact on social emotional development.

Digital Insanity: Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Disconnect to Reconnect

     I recently saw a quote on a poster that said: "Disconnect to Reconnect", author unknown.  It resonated with me as we are all dependent on ongoing information sharing and technology use.  I look back on the "good old" days where passing a hand written note was the equivalent of a text message!

     As school counselors,  we can identify with so many social emotional issues caused by the lack of appropriate communication skills.  Technology, in my opinion, creates barriers for conflict resolution skills, face to face communication ability, and understanding emotions.  The power of words can hurt!  As well as the power of pictures!!  Technology can be a great tool, we just need to educate students (as well as adults) that disconnecting can support reconnecting with a different perspective.

     I was watching NBC morning show and a report came on about a new app that measures how many times a person is checking their cell phones.  What an inspiration for a class lesson with Math! First you have to download the new app - Checky, http://www.checkyapp.com/.

     Once all students have downloaded the app, have the Math teacher do a lesson on graphing.  Topic to graph: how many times in a week have you checked your phone?  Or where have you checked your phone the most?  Once students graph it, you, as the school counselor can go in to the classroom and lead the discussion on the data results.  What makes students want to check the phone so many times?  What are the topics they are checking on?

     Now, set a challenge.  What would happen if the students held back and did not check their phones for 24 hours?  How would it feel?  What information did they feel they did not get because of disconnecting?  How did it affect their life?

     I certainly believe there is a huge potential for teaching balance.  So go for it!  Would love to hear if this inspired you and what the results were!!!



Sunday, September 14, 2014

School Counselors: RTI and Discipline

     I often hear that school counselors should not be involved with discipline as we are advocates for students.  I agree!  However, discipline has rich data that certainly can be analyzed for purposes of school counseling programs.  Connect the discipline to Response to Intervention (RTI) and now school counselors should get involved!
     First let's look at RTI.  RTI is a not a process for classifying students, but a process for intervention at different levels as support for student success.  I have given you a broad definition for purposes of this blog!  If you want to do further reading, here are some great websites: http://rtinetwork.org/learn/what/whatisrti;
http://www.rti4success.org/; and http://www.rti.org/.

     As a school counseling professional learning community (replaces the idea of the typical definition of department), we first identified what intervention services are available for students at each of the levels of RTI.  Below are the pyramids the team developed:

     Academic Pyramid

     Personal/Social Pyramid

     Once the team has identified the levels of interventions, we begn with data to analyze and provide services.  Let's take discipline referrals.  Let's start the process of inquiry as a team:

     To begin, my first questions is: what do you want to know about discipline referrals?  Make a list of questions.  Some of mine are: reason for referral, time of day with referral occurrence, gender and certainly name of the student.

     Use the student management system to get the data you want.  Once you have it, work with the team (school counselors, administrators and other student support staff members) to prioritize who needs what level of intervention.  Next, set up the intervention: 
                  Level 1: Lessons for everyone to know what gets referred for discipline.  
                  Level 2: Groups for decision making.
                  Level 3: Individual meeting with students in need of more support on decision making or setting goals to not be referred.

     Note: for the levels of intervention, you may want to research some curriculum to guide you.  CASEL is a great resource for data based curriculum, http://www.casel.org/.  Another amazing curriculum that can be done in different levels from classroom to groups is Success Highways measuring student resiliency with other components such as motivation, self-awareness, etc, http://www.scholarcentric.com/solutions/resiliency-solutions/.

     Always remember that when intervention begins, you have the baseline data.  Now, monitor how students are doing and number of referrals, as the outcome data.  In thinking of data and RTI in this manner, school counselors are seen as integral to the school program and important in supporting the student success!  Give it a try!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Preparing for Lunch Bunch Groups


     Many school counselors run lunch bunch groups.  Trying to get every student into a group can be a time consuming process.  Looking at schedules, writing lists, requesting permission from teachers and sending out notices to parents.  Not counting the time needed to set up the actual school counseling activity!

     So today, I am going to show you a strategy with technology, orientation or website posting that can assist with the sign up process, leaving you some time to organize the remainder of the lunch bunch preparation components!

     Begin by thinking of what activities students will have as they return to school: orientation, assemblies, etc..  In our case, we are looking to do a Lunch Bunch meeting with all 9th graders where we discuss the transition process and four year plans.  Since the orientation is being run by the peer leaders each with a group of 9th graders, why not create a QR code system for 9th graders to scan in their lunch bunch meeting time?  Seems complex?  Not really!  All students have a smartphone and a personal learning device (tablet). Let's use the idea!

    Next, let's start the set up process:
         * Create a free account with Eventbrite (www.eventbrite.com) or Doodle (www.doodle.com).  These sites will assist with scheduling events and provide you with a URL link for the time.
         * I used Eventbrite.  In the system, I created a separate event for each of our lunch periods on each day that we will have lunch bunches.  I set each lunch bunch to 10 attendees, but you do the math and how many groups you want to run and set the number you want!  This just eliminated the process of printing up schedules and trying to figure things out by hand! :)
         * In Eventbrite, once the event is published, I will receive a URL link to share.  Copy the URL link for each lunch period you created and go to a free QR Code creator such as https://www.the-qrcode-generator.com/ or www.qrstuff.com.  There are many available, so pick the one you like!  Enter the URL into the area on the QR Code creator and get your code visual!
          * You are almost done!  Since I am sharing this with the peer leaders, I need to give them instructions:
              1) Each student should have the QR code reader downloaded on their phone.
              2)  I will provide each peer leader with a sheet showing dates, lunch periods and the QR code for each lunch period.
              3) 9th graders will have to scan the QR code related to their lunch period with their phone and accept the invite!

     If any student does not attend the orientation, then you can post the dates and codes on the website or email them the link.  Either way they will be able to join!  With Eventbrite, I can actually run lists of who is signed up for what date and lunch period!  Finally, it connects with survey monkey so I can send out a survey of the program adding to the school counseling data I have collected!!!

      How else have I used the scheduling system?  We sent out the link for registering for PSAT so we get an accurate list.  We also sent it to colleges to sign up for the Mock Interview program we offer to seniors as the paper invitation get's lost in the admissions office!  With the 9th grade orientation next week, we took the idea and sent out a link for each counselor and a location for 9th parents to meet their HS counselor!  Folks signed up immediately for all events!!  You get it, there are so many uses!!

     There are so many uses of technology with school counseling!  Just think of how it can help you work smarter and not harder!!  Have fun!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sample Electronic Portfolios

     This past month, I had the pleasure of co-teaching a Tech for School Counselor graduate class.  I had previously posted the idea of doing electronic portfolios and thought it would be a great exercise as a final class project.  Not just to see the final creative products, but also to analyze the process of public relations that would engage community, educators, and leaders to understand the role of the school counselor as well as the comprehensive school counseling program.

     I began by assigning graduate students the task of registering for a web page on weebly.com.  Many counselors use Weebly and have provided insight on the ease of use.  Once the logins were done, we discovered that the free account only allowed for the development of five pages.  As a team, we decided to have the following pages: About Me, Lessons, Data, Resources, or if they wanted to change one of the pages to something they were interested in providing, I was open to the creative process.

    Throughout the Tech for School Counselor class, we used different websites related to academic, social-emotional, and college/career readiness topics.  We discussed and created school counseling lessons with the different tools, and analyzed results we would get from the data compiled!

    With permission, I am able to share the different end results for the electronic portfolios my graduate students created.  Enjoy and think about how you might use some of the tech tools you know on your school counseling website or portfolio!!!

Click on the portfolio number to take you to the website.

Portfolio 1

Portfolio 2

Portfolio 3

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Reach Higher with Data

      A few weeks ago, I watched the first #ReachHigher conference where participants shared new ideas and strategies to engage more students into post-secondary options.  It is important to motivate, educate and get students from an early age up through the higher grades thinking about their future and eliminating any concerns with the process.
     I began pondering.  If we are to guide students into post-secondary options, we, as school counselors should understand what ignites their passion and how to connect that passion to opportunities, be it in school or after graduation. I posed the following questions:
1)      What data is available for at least three years that would give the best career interest results?
2)      What careers are predominant to our students?
3)      Have the same careers scored the highest interest for the past years?
4)      How are students learning about the careers of interest?
5)      How can we create individualized learning pathways to support career interests?
     Let me share with you the logical thinking process in this maze of questions!  Although I will speak from a high school perspective, the process can be adapted to all levels.  Our students take the PLAN test (www.act.org) in the Fall as Sophomores.  As part of the PLAN test, students do a career interest inventory and as part of the results the school receives is an individualized report on the Wheel of Work based on the student’s response.  The data compiled included the number of students interested in the given clusters from the Wheel of Work.
     For purposes of this blog entry I made a chart with all of the information, but for a simpler analysis, you can do a chart for each of the career clusters:

Now the big question I am known for: So What?

     As the year begins, this information will assist with new ideas to connect students to their passion and post-secondary options by:
         1)      Reframing the course catalog to identify what elective courses lead to the given career  pathways.
         2)      Developing individual pathway charts for students regarding their four year plan and interests.
         3)      Sharing with department leaders the career cluster graphs and possibilities of infusing class  discussions on different careers related to their courses.
         4)      Create new career related activities for students: monthly themes, presentations, or newsletters.
     So there is so much potential coming from a simple data chart that can enhance a school counseling program.  By looking at information from a different perspective, doors can open that lead to great opportunities for students!  Have fun and share some of the data work you have done!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

It All Started With a Mouse.....

          As I returned from the ASCA 2014 conference at Disney, it is impossible to not feel inspired by the creativity of the location, but the great work done by so many school counselors.  During the exhibit, School Counselor Central was buzzing with attention as participants wanted to know: "What is School Counselor Central?"  I also overheard some shout outs: "School Counselor Central, wow, I follow you online on Facebook!" or "School Counselor Central, love the ideas you share on Pinterest!"  Everyone seemed to be amazed when they actually met the person behind the tool, and all of the endless hours of resources provided to school counselors through different social media sites!

          I decided, why not share the background so everyone could understand what is School Counselor Central!  As Walt Disney once said: "Let's never loose sight that it all started with a mouse!"  As a great fan of Walt Disney's work and creativity, I, Dr. Deborah Hardy, would like to use the same quote, but in a different light:

School Counselor Central, www.schoolcounselorcentral.com, started with a mouse!

          As a many years past NYS School Counseling President, I had the opportunity to learn about the ASCA Model, and engage a team of school counselors to co-author the NYS K12 Comprehensive School Counseling Model.  A school counselor for many years, and currently a Director of K12 School Counseling as well as a Counselor Educator, I believed that if school counselors implemented a model, it could become a changing experience for the profession.  I had just defended my dissertation topic on the research related to the implementation of a K12 school counseling model and perceptions of school administrators with respect to school counselors in NYS.  Results indicated that there was a need for a tool to show the effectiveness of a school counseling program, the importance of the role of the school counselor and so much more!

          Housing all of the required information was overwhelming while servicing students and families.  How could school counselors work smarter and not harder.  I remember thinking that technology offered so many ways to support our profession other than using Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Access, and other programs.  Then trying to find everything to present to the district, also took so much time!

          Forward to 2010 and after many discussions with different groups and corporations, the idea of bringing to life School Counselor Central was no longer a dream, but a reality.  With a little help of family and friends, testing the site, developing the program, School Counselor Central is the only web based subscription program to support all of the comprehensive school counseling model components and support 7 of the 12 RAMP requirements.  The Facebook page, Pinterest boards and Twitter messages are resources to help each and everyone of my followers with incorporating new ideas into their school counseling programs.

          Now I ask my fellow school counseling colleagues:  what stops you of joining the many school counselors who have embarked on using www.schoolcounselorcentral.com?  I heard First Lady Michelle Obama give an inspiring speech on the importance of school counselors.  I saw so many workshops related to developing data, lesson planning and RAMP.  So why not work smarter by making a difference, and showing the powerful impact school counseling programs have on assisting students with academic, social, emotional, career, and college readiness skills?

          As I left ASCA's Conference, I was proud of my vision.  I was excited to hear the positive impact I had made to the profession with School Counselor Central.  I was honored to know that everyone felt a trust in the program as it was created by a school counselor with a dream and a mouse!


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Core Values of School Counseling: Establishing SMART Goals

Core Values of School Counseling: Establishing Goals

     Now that the mission, vision and values have been established, it is time to develop the goals of the school counseling program.  We have all heard the term SMART Goals.  SMART goals are defined as:


     Right now, most school counselors are in panic reading this as it can be overwhelming to understand and create.  Remember I stated previously that we are in the business of school counseling, therefore following a business model sets our profession apart.  In order to simplify the idea of creating a SMART Goal, the entry today will provide you with examples!

     Let's begin!  The first thing you are going to do is work off of your already developed set of values.  Ask your team, or yourself, to put a sticker next to the three values that are important.  Each individual, if in a team, should have three stickers.  Once everyone has had a chance to identify their preferred values, then discuss the top three with the most votes.  Your top values become the department's leading concepts to create the SMART Goals!

     To visualize the process, I am posting a table with three top value examples.  From the value, a goal, objective and action plan will be written.
     Next, pick one value and write a goal.  Remember the timeline!  In this case, we began with the simple statement of "by 2014".  Notice the alignment to the ASCA Model domains.

Creating a SMART Goal

     Now, for this SMART Goal, think of an objective.  The objective is answering the question of what you want to accomplish?  In this case, the team had previously discussed the lack of attendance from the community to the evening programs.  The reasons behind it were varied based on qualitative data obtained.  So the team decided to investigate different methods of providing the information to the community.

Writing a SMART Goal Objective

     The final component is the action.  Action is the specific nature of what is going to be done and the steps involved to achieve the objective.  In this case, exploring different tools to provide the community with information on the evening programs was the action plan.  The "how" was discussed as part of the department meeting.  The team identified: technology tools such as webinars, twitter and weekly school newsletters.  In addition, the team decided to ask the video class to tape the events and with the technology department's assistance, post the taped presentations on the school counseling's website.

     Once all these components are in place, don't forget the measurable aspect of the SMART Goal.  How did the team know that the new way of providing information to the community worked?  Adding a counter to the videos showed the quantitative response of how many people visited the site.  The qualitative response to the new idea was positively overwhelming from parents and students.  Data is our friend!  

     For the 2015 year, take the developed values and goals and reassess them.  Is there something else needed under that category?  What other goals had been developed and fit the new year best?  Review and redevelop!  It becomes a great process to show how school counseling programs are essential, integral and collaborative!  


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Core Values of a School Counseling Program: Identifying Values

Identifying Values:

     In last week's post, I went over the mission and vision of a comprehensive program as part of the business of school counseling.  This week I wanted to focus on another essential component of creating a foundation for any business: values.

     Values are defined as the importance or usefulness of something.  For the school counseling program, I am going to challenge school counselors to define values as the moral, ethics, or even better, code of behavior school counselors are willing to accept and follow as a team.  Values must be accepted by all school counselors and guidelines for behavior in a school counseling department with respect to colleagues, students, families and delivery of program.

                                   VALUES – How must we behave to make our shared vision a reality?
          In the context of organizational development, the values question represents the essential ABCs of school improvement because it challenges the people within that organization to identify the specific attitudes, behaviors, and commitments they must demonstrate in order to advance toward their vision. ( Dufour, Allthings PLC)

     I can imagine what most school counselors are thinking: "None of the stakeholders will care", "My department has different personalities and it will not work", etc...  Done?  Vented?  Great!  Time to move on.  That is why this is an excellent exercise for a professional development day focused on reassessing the comprehensive school counseling program already in existance or in development.

     Step 1) Have everyone or yourself if only one counselor, take a sheet of paper and begin identifying no more than three bullet points as values they would like to see on the list.  Make sure you have a recorder, who also participates, and can write them up on the big screen on Word for everyone to see.
     Step 2) Have all members share and record the comments on Word.
     Step 3) As the moderator, read each one aloud and take a count of how many counselors would be supportive of the value.  Record your votes and at the end prioritize the values.
     Step 4) Review the list, in priority and address any concerns with language or clarification of value.  Once done, do a check and balance by asking one more time if all counselors can live with and accept that specific value.  If good, move on; if not, leave it to the side and come back later.
     Step 5) Finalize the list and review the ones in question.  If still a problem, leave them out.  Only create a list that is accepted by all.

     Remember: The list is not about quantity, but quality.  There could be 3 or 5 or 10 values.  The bigger question at the end of the exercise is: "What do we do when our values do not match with our actions?"  Now create a list of accountability actions that all school counselors in the department are willing to accept if their attitudes or behaviors do not match with the developed values.

     I want to remind the reader that this is not a "gotcha" or "you are in trouble" exercise.  In any business, members are held to standards and expectations of conducts.  The ASCA school counselor competencies and the ethical standards guidelines do the same for our profession.  This is a way to incorporate the framework to practice.  After all, go back to why do we exist in schools and what do we hope to become?  Should we not ask ourselves what are the behaviors and attitudes we agree to uphold in support of ourselves, stakeholders and program?

     Let the Kid President guide you on not only what kids need to know, but what we should know as values!


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Core Values of a Comprehensive School Counseling Program: Leadership

     With the countdown to the 2014 ASCA conference, I wanted to take the next few blog entries and connect the core values of Disney to a comprehensive school counseling program.  It is no longer acceptable to just continue providing services as a reactive professional.  Change is difficult, and understanding the intricate process of restructuring a school counseling program to be preventive, integral and data driven takes time.  If you attend the workshop I am giving with some colleagues on June 30th, Aligning Program and Practice with Results from 9 am - 12 pm, you will get a visual sense of the implementation of these core values!

     Let's begin with leadership.  Often the word leadership implies that the department should have a coordinator or director of school counseling to whom a school counselor reports.  That may be true in a sense, however, leadership is an essential value that all school counselors should have and may come out in different ways.  For a comprehensive school counseling program, it is not the who, but the what as defined by leadership.

     Disney defines leadership as : leadership is about taking actions to create sustained, positive transformations within an organization. Great leaders align their own values and vision with those of their business and help operationalize them for the future. The most meaningful way to demonstrate these skills is to passionately communicate your shared vision and practice what your company stands for. " (http://disneyinstitute.com/about/our-core-competencies/)

     In a prior entry, I asked: Why do school counselors exist?  This is not where you stop reading the entry, but take moment to reflect.  Some answer: "to put out fires!", while others may be more detailed and suggest that without school counselors, students would not have advocates.  Let me redirect your thinking.  As a professional school counseling learning community, reflect on the fundamental purpose of the school counseling program, and the very reason why it exists?

     This is the essence of a mission statement!  Describe the culture the school counseling department and program seek as well as describing what is the business of a school counseling program.

     Next comes the vision: what do we hope to become as a professional learning community and by creating a comprehensive school counseling program?  Below are three provoking questions to answer.  Remember that it is not about you, the school counselor, but about the business of school counseling.  A vision instills an organization with a sense of direction.  It asks, “If we are true to our purpose now, what might we become at some point in the future?”

     Let's not forget that a component of leadership includes values.  If we, as school counselors know why the school counseling program exists, and have a clear direction for the future, then how might we, as professionals behave and hold ourselves as well as our school counseling colleagues accountable for their actions?  Values are mutually agreed upon and identify how we will not only act with our colleagues, but with students, administrators, parents, teachers, and the community in general.  Values make a shared mission and vision a reality!(http://www.allthingsplc.info/)

     As we go to Disney, it is not just about learning, and finding childhood fantasy.  There is a set of core ideals leading to the success of the theme park.  Think about Disney's way of being, doing, and supporting the clients they serve.  If every member believes in their ideals, then the client experience is positive and supportive.  Find your leadership and create magic in your school counseling program!



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

     Fixed or Growth Mindset?

     I wanted to shift from students and make this a professional development opportunity. Every year there are some comments in the school counseling community about not being able to change practice, having large caseloads and work being focused on non-counseling activities instead of working with students.  In the same philosophy of concerns, change is difficult and trying to get out of the known practice requires a different way of thinking! Opening minds to new ways of thinking which lead to different behaviors and actions.  I though I would begin by showing a visual on mindset. Think of your own school counseling practice as you watch the video.

Do you have a Fixed or Growth Mindset as a School Counselor?  Dr. Carol Dweck and her book Mindset offer some interesting insights (http://news.stanford.edu/pr/2007/pr-dweck-020707.html)!  From a personal perspective, most of us may initially say that we have a growth midset, but when we begin to analyze our daily routine and actions, then we come to realize that it may be fixed. Below I offer a comparison of beliefs of how minds can be fixed vs. growing based on the role of the school counselor:

How does a school counselor change into a growth mindset?
1) Create a vision, mission and set of values that will remind you why school counselors exist, what hopes the team has for the program and beliefs holding each other accountable.

2) From the values, select two or three agreed by everyone as the guiding statements for SMART goals.  The goals will lead into objectives and action plans for the program.

3) Identify all of the work currently being done by the school counselor.  This is the school counseling plan.  From the plan pick out the lessons.

4) Map the lessons and share them with the school district.  Lessons should also have assessments for measuring student understanding.  

5) From all of the changes, promote the evidence to the teachers, administrators, students and the community.  Answer the question: Why do school counselors exist by showing!

Change is difficult, time is of essence, so pick one item, find the time and try it out!  Results of change are amazing!  Take time to consider a growth mindset philosophy.  Knowing you can do it as a school counselor also assists students in their growth mindset development!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

How to Develop a School Counseling Core Curriculum Map:

     One of the components of the national school counseling model identifies school counseling curriculum as part of the delivery method.  I often get "deer in headlight" looks when teaching graduates or professional school counselors how to do a school counseling curriculum map for the program.  "We are not teachers!", "I don't have time to write out all of the classroom lessons!", "Does that mean that I have to assess and be measured by growth?", are but a few of the concerns arising from the implementation!

     Let me share a few positive thoughts about curriculum mapping:

     1) Value added - We talk about getting some value from our supervisors, teachers and the community on the work done to support students.  By mapping and giving transparency to the maps so everyone can see what students are learning as a result of the program, provides value to the role of the school counselor.

     2) Reflection - Many school counselors, including myself, have been doing the same lessons for years without necessarily seeing the developmental connections with previous and future grade levels.  Mapping allows for school counselors to reflect on: why are we doing this lesson and how do we know that students are learning from our lesson?

     3) Engagement - A curriculum map leads to discussions on measuring the effectiveness of the lesson.  This answers the questions of what do we do when students don't know or understand the topic or what do we do when students already know and understand the topic?  We often deliver a lesson and move on to the next idea.  A lesson can be part of the Response to Intervention process supporting teachers, students and parents!

     Remember:  Our fears of doing a curriculum mapping often come in two forms: how to do it and will it measure me as a school counselor?  My first response is, it is about the program, not the individual.  To answer the second one, let me show you the simplicity of mapping!

     Begin by getting three different colors of post it notes.  Assign a color for each of the three domains of the comprehensive model: academic, social/emotional and college/career.  Have the school counselors work on writing down the name of the lessons they deliver in class on the post it notes.  What if we do not have an elementary school counselor?  No data is good data because it shows the missing foundation areas necessary for student success!

     Now the lessons are identified, let's begin to anchor them to central ideas of mapping:

                 * Essential Question - Essential questions establish high order thinking, discussion, and alignment   to all disciplines or life skills learning!  An essential question is revisited again and again.  Take a   look at the ASCA National Standards and turn them in to essential questions!  In looking at the national standards for school counseling, there are key points that lead to developing school counseling related essential questions.  It answers: What do we want our students to understand and know?

                 * Skills - Skills define what students will understand, learn or do as a result of the lesson?  These are the ASCA National Standards competencies: "Students will....."  Skills can also become the student learning objectives some states are now requiring for the school counseling program.  For a learning objective, quantify the result expectation: "70% of the students will understand the role of the school counselor."

                 * Content - Content is the indicator on the ASCA National Standards.  What will students know as a result of the lesson?  It is more specific than the skills. "Students will learn how to accept mistakes as essential to the learning process".  Content can include the "how" it will be done in a simple sentence, phrase or word: "Through role playing, students will learn to accept mistakes as essential to the learning process."

                 * Assessment - Finally, how are the school counselors going to measure the student learning and understanding?  Notice I did not say effectiveness of the lesson because effectiveness is measured through student learning and understanding!  Determine the measurement tool or process to be used and identify it.

                 Here is an example of the mapping process done for elementary level:

     Now that the process seems a little easier, the question is finding time to do the maps.  Utilize the department meeting times and ask for summer curriculum days.  Once completed, take time to present the information to your administrators and faculty.

     If you are having difficulties mapping and crosswalking the lessons to the ASCA National Standards, remember that www.schoolcounselorcentral.com has a lesson creator with a dropdown that makes this entire process easy!  Just a suggestion!!!  Happy Mapping!