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,

     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:;; and

     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,  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,

     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!