BILINGUAL LEARNER

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Boys Counseling Group and ESL Summer Resources

July 8, 2016

Happy Independence Day!  Hope your 4th of July was safe, fun and restful!  For this month's post, I want to write a bit about a new boys counseling group I started last spring called Goals Make the Man.

I also have a few Independence Day and summer-themed ESL/EFL activities to include, plus 2 freebie downloadables from my new intermediate ESL lessons guide: ESL in the Middle Volume 2.  Speaking of new books, let's get the Bilingual Learner updates out of the way...

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • The End of the School Year Freebies is extended! Due to popular demand, I've extended my buy-one-get-one-free deal going on ANY of the teaching or counseling eguides. Head on over to my product page and get your freebies today.  (Once you purchase your first eguide, just email me at bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with your receipt number and the title of the eguide you'd like for free and I'll email you your freebie right away.) 
  • My new bilingual group counseling guide is available, Relajate: Stress Management Group Counseling Guide with English/Spanish Activities!  Look for it on my products page or download a free preview from my home page
  • Look for my new intermediate ESL guide, ESL in the Middle Volume Two, in August!  It will be an intermediate English lessons guide for ESL/EFL students, organized into 4 weekly units.  Here's a freebie preview of the guide, so you can check it out!
  • We now have a Texas School Counselor FB group to share ideas, exchange resources, ask questions, and get support on all things counseling!  Join our FB group and add all your counseling colleagues here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1327148357311451/.

As always, I've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.  Plus, my Bilingual Learner quarterly counseling newsletter will be coming out in August with lots of new resources and freebie downloadables- sign up in the newsletter box in the right column.  

 

A COUNSELING GROUP CALLED GOALS MAKE THE MAN!

So last spring I decided to try a new type of counseling support group.  I wanted to target our most disadvantaged boys who seem to spend all their time getting into trouble and going to the In School Suspension room.  So I selected 8 boys- aged 11-14, who simply could not stay out of trouble, despite every intervention imaginable from their teachers and parents/guardians!  The main point of the group is goal achievement- namely for each group member to focus on what goal they wanted to achieve related to their discipline troubles.  In addition to working on goal achievement each session, we would also spend time each session on mastering some social skills and debunking some unhelpful masculine stereotypes.  So, I combed through our school discipline data and then met with the 15 boys who had the highest number of discipline referrals for the year.  During this pre-group interview,  I chose 7 of the boys who were most eager to improve their discipline record for the remaining two months of the school year. Additionally, I didn't chose anyone with chronic attendance problems since that is a completely separate problem that must be solved first (so they can actually be in school to attend the group sessions).  After choosing my 7 boys (3 of which didn't make it to group because of transferring schools), I completed all of the pre-group tasks, and we were off.  Here's a chronological list of all the tasks to complete before the first group session.  Despite my reservations (after all, these were THE most disrespectful and uncontrollable kiddos in the school AND what did I, a middle-aged woman, know about teenage boy issues and masculinity?!?), the group went smashingly.  And I have to attribute a large part of the group success to the participation of our School Resource Officer as a group member.  Deputy Robles came to every session faithfully and served as wonderful mentor and role model for our group members, many of whom had no positive adult male role model in their lives.  It was SUCH a wonderful experience, for the boys and for me as their group leader!  It was so powerful to see the boys connect with and support each other, give each other good advice, bond with Deputy Robles, and give all the group activities their best shot.  In summary, I attribute the success of the group to the following points-

  • The boys really wanted to improve their lives.
  • The SRO's presence, positivity, and leadership as a co-group facilitator was invaluable; I think it is crucial to have a positive male role model when conducting group sessions with boys who have serious discipline problems.
  • Our firm reminders of group rules (link here)- we read the rules together at the start of every session and gently corrected any group member not following a rule. 
  • The structured, positive group activities with a bit of fun and a lot of movement thrown in- this kept our boys coming back session after session.

I am writing and field testing the curriculum for this group during this 2016-17 school year, so look for it sometime in the near future on our products page.  In the meantime, here are a few Goals Make the Man pictures and resources to hold you over...

  • I showed various clips from this Tough Guise video to my boys and they were spell-bound while watching it.  It is a fabulous perspective on masculinity.  Just make sure you preview all the parts you want to show- there is some salty language and violent scenes in the vid.
  • This is the pre/posttest I gave to the boys during the first and last session of the group to collect data about knowledge gained.
  • Here is the template we used for the goals that the boys made and shared with each other.
  • We started every session with a toll of this mindfulness bell where the boys put their heads down and focused on breathing in and out for one minute until I rang the bell to end the exercise.  Despite some initial furrowed brows over this activity, the group mems grew to love and request it!

 

    

 

ESL SUMMER ACTIVITIES

Here are some of my favorite summer-themed ESL activities- both new and old!

  • This is about THE coolest fireworks craft you can have your students make- and following directions in English is a great language builder for intermediate English students! 
  • Good for summertime or anytime of this year- here's little freebie preview from my new guide, ESL in the Middle Volume Two, it's an ESL game called Math Bee.  
  • Love this adorable, animated 4th of July Song from School House Rock.
  • Lots of Super Fun Field Trips!

That brings me to the end of this month's post.  Check back here again next month for more tips and resources to kickstart your counseling or teaching program! As always, you can find out about Bilingual Learner’s latest promotions, free stuff, or my counseling/ESL adventures by following my Facebook PageTwitter Page, or Pinterest Page.  And don’t forget to follow me on my new Instagram Page to see pics of my adventures with students!
 
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Top 10 Tips for Wrapping Up Your Counseling Year & Building Your Program

June 15, 2016

Hello Summer Vacay!  This month, I have lots of ideas and tips on wrapping up this school year’s counseling program AND getting prepared for the next school year!  So if you'd like some professional food-for-thought to make your program even better once you start up again, this post is right up your alley!  As always, I've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.  Plus, my Bilingual Learner quarterly counseling newsletter will be coming out in August- sign up in the newsletter box in the right column.    A few Bilingual Learner updates to start us off…

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • End of the School Year Freebies! To celebrate the end of the school year, Bilingual Learner has a buy-one-get-one-free deal going on ANY of the teaching or counseling eguides. Head on over to my product page and get your freebies today.  (Once you purchase your first eguide, just email me at bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with your receipt number and the title of the eguide you'd like for free and I'll email you your freebie right away.) 
  • Just-revised group counseling guides, Be Cool and Tranquila, are ready!  I provide free revised editions of all our Bilingual Learner guides to customers who request them- just email me at bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with your name, the name of the guide, the date you purchased it, and where you purchased it from (our website, TPT, Amazon, etc) and I’ll get an electronic version of your revised guide emailed right out to you!
  • You can find out when I publish a revised guide by subscribing to the BL newsletter (sign up in the box in the right column on this page) because I advertise updated editions of my books there. 
  • New bilingual group counseling guide is available, Relajate: Stress Management Group Counseling Guide with English/Spanish Activities!  Look for it on my products page or download a free preview from my home page
  • Look for my new intermediate ESL guide, ESL in the Middle Volume Two, later this summer.  It will be an intermediate English lessons guide for ESL/EFL students, organized into 4 weekly units.  Here's a little freebie preview of the guide, it's an ESL game called, Math Bee.
  • Follow Bilingual Learner now on our new Instagram page @ instagram.com/bilinguallearner/ to see pics of my counseling and teaching adventures with students!
  • We now have a Texas School Counselor FB group to share ideas, exchange resources, ask questions, and get support on all things counseling!  Join our FB group and add all your counseling colleagues here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1327148357311451/.

 

TOP 10 COUNSELING TIPS FOR ENDING THE YEAR & IMPROVING YOUR PROGRAM

This time of year brings lots of closure as well as thoughts of what exciting programs to start in the fall!  Here are some tips and resources to help you with ending your sessions, wrapping up your counseling program, and planning a bit for the upcoming year! 

  1. Student Help- During lunch or off-times, enlist your students to help you pack up your office (minus any confidential student files, of course).  Spend an afternoon organizing various jobs for various students, give them a 30 minute training session and let them go!  While your student movers are working, you can use this time to research some dynamic guidance lessons and group sessions for next year!
  2. Make a List- Start writing down any changes and additions you would like to make in your teaching or counseling program on a "Things to Change Next Year" list.  Anytime you have a revelation about something that might work better for you and your students/clients, write it on the list.   Then at the end of your break, spend some time transferring the changes you most want to implement into your planner, smartphone, master counseling calendar (here's ours if you need a template), Outlook calendar, or whatever you use to organize and plan out your year.  Here's a link to a snippet of our "Things to Change Next Year" list.
  3. Terminating Counseling- There are many different ways to effectively wrap up your counseling sessions with students, but all should include discussions throughout counseling of when the final session will be and also discussion about how students can make future contact with the counselor, if needed. 
  4. Evaluations- Have students fill out an evaluation during the last session with you to show what they have learned, how they have grown, and ideas on improving future sessions-here is the evaluation from my newest counseling guide, Relajate - it is the English/Spanish group evaluation from the stress management guide, but it can easily be modified for use with individuals, too. 
  5. Student/Client List- Make a list of those students or clients with whom you didn't quite finish your work  last year; include a note about where you left off with them and what more you can do to support them.  Spend some time checking in with them in the beginning of the year to help them get started on the right foot.  Often just knowing that someone cares and is available is all the support they need.
  6. Data- Principals and administrators love data and data is THE way to get more funding, resources, and staff buy-in to enrich your counseling program.  Collect data on all your groups and guidance lessons through pre-/post-tests, analysis of members academic and discipline records, and student surveys. 
    • For help with the seemingly overwhelming task of compiling group and guidance lesson data tools, just click the “Group and Guidance Lessons Tools” icon link on my homepage.  
    • Present your data to your school leadership team and post your data (with all identifying student info removed!) in hard-to-miss locations like above the copy machine or in the bathroom!  FYI- there’s no rush on this- it is perfectly fine to present your data from this year’s counseling program at the beginning of the next school year in August or September.
    • Have every student on campus complete a counseling program evaluation.
    • Additionally, use all of the data you’ve collected as a sort of needs assessment for future lessons and counseling sessions since we all work with many of the same students from year to year.
  7. Avoid Burnout- Unless you MUST be in your office or classroom during your break, STAY AWAY!  Think of it this way- batteries don't recharge themselves while still in the flashlight.
  8. Compile Your Supplies- Spend some time writing out a list of all the supplies you would like to buy and then shop for them during your break when you have the time to concentrate, take your time, and enjoy your shopping experience. 
  9. Do Your PD (Professional Development) Reading- Use your break to read, highlight, and take notes on whatever it is you want to improve on in your career.  After reading, review your notes, and red star the 5-10 most important ones and then put them in your "Things to Change Next Year" list. Here's a PD (followed by a not-so-PD) reading list to start with if you need some ideas:
  • Lost at School by Ross Green
  • Life Re-imagined by Barbara Bradley Hagerty
  • The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz
  • American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales
  • Mindfulness by Mark Williams
  • Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin
  • Mindset by Carol Dweck
  • The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal

Fiction with Amazing Counseling Themes!

  • The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle
  • Defending Jacob by William Landay
  • The Pact by Jodi Piccoult
  • Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

And Some of the Tried and True, All Time Best Counseling Books Out There (that I mention every year;)

  • Brief Counseling That Works: A Solution-Focused Approach for School Counselors and Administrators, by Gerald B. (Bennett) Sklare
  • The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs (3rd edition), by the American School Counselor Association
  • Making Data Work, by Carol Kaffenberger and Anita Young
  • Brain on Fire, by Susanah Calahan

10.  Decorate- Stop doing #7 and return two to three days before your actual official start date to decorate your office or classroom.  So, knock out this fun and crucial task before the beginning-of-school-year tsunami hits!  Here are a few photos of my decorations below:

That brings me to the end of this month's post.  Check back here again next month for more tips and resources to kickstart your counseling program! As always, you can find out about Bilingual Learner’s latest promotions, free stuff, or my counseling/ESL adventures by following my Facebook PageTwitter Page, or Pinterest Page.  And don’t forget to follow me on my new Instagram Page!

 

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New School Counselor Group, Psychotic Student Support, and ESL/EFL Valentines & St. Paddy's Day Fun!

February 13, 2016

As one of our amazing colleagues put it in her notes to teachers- "Since educators, administrators, and school counselors all work together to support students, thank YOU for being one of the "3 Musketeers"  So Happy Belated National School Counseling Week to us all!  And Happy Valentines Day!!

In this post, we will cover some of the best highlights of the 2016 Texas School Counseling Conference which are great to incorporate into any school cousneling program, no matter the location.  As well, we will detail the latest, best practice techniques that we are using in our own ESL/EFL classes.  As always, you can click on any of the green links below for a free resource.  But first, a few Bilingual Learner updates...

 

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • CALLING ALL COUNSELORS:  We are super excited to announce that we now have a Texas School Counselor Facebook group to share ideas, exchange resources, answer questions, and support each other on all things related to school counseling!  In addition, this group supports the goals of advocacy and striving to align TX school counseling programs with the national ASCA model. Please  join our FB group if you haven't already and then add all your counseling colleagues to our group so we can build this resource to support counselors! Here's the link to join:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1327148357311451/.
  • ESL in the Middle Volume 2 is coming!  We hope to get the bulk of it written over Spring Break, so look for its publication in late spring or early summer!
  • Relajate: Bilingual Stress Management Group Counseling Guide is here!  Check out this link next week to see a preview!
  • The revision of Tranquila: Bilingual Anger Management Group Counseling Guide is here and it is better than ever!  With 2 additional sessions, plus lots of additional activities, you will find everything you need to help your Spanish speakers manage their anger in healthful ways.  What's more,  if you purchased Tranquila in the past, we have a free updgrade for you!  If you'd like your free PDF of the updated guide, email us at bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with your name, the date you purchased Tranquila, and where you purchased it (our website, TPT, Amazon, etc) and we will get your free upgrade right out to you!
  • We won't be posting our regular monthly blogs in the near future in order to free up time to publish.  Instead, we will post mini-blog posts here as we come across some resource or info that we just have to share with you.  And, as always, you can follow us on our Bilingual Learner page to get real time updates of resources, info, and free downloadables.

COUNSELING HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE TSCA CONFERENCE!

So, I just got back from the Texas School Counseling Association’s (TSCA) 2016 conference in Dallas where it was overwhelmingly evident that this is SUCH an exciting time in the school counseling profession- in session after session, I watched the foundation of a comprehensive, best practice counseling program model being laid for Texas.   No where was this more obvious than during the presentation to offer a preview of the 2016 Revised Texas Model School Counseling Guide! Here are some of the highlights of the revised guide:

An updated explanation of counselor duties under the four components (with a list of non-counseling duties like bus duty or 504 coordination OUTSIDE OF THE GRAPHIC!!!)

   

Plus, multiple pages solely dedicated to helping counselors avoid non-counseling duties!!  Oh, Hallelujah!

The new guide will also include an explanation of the responsive services component that differentiates between preventive, remedial, and crisis responses.

  

And finally a pyramid showing where each of our counseling duties falls within the RTI tiered system.

Some of the other amazing TSCA 2016 presentations included: 

Author Julia Cook's key note speech on Grit and Determination-- she talked a lot about these two qualities as being major determinants in student success, as well as turning off technology and establishing best practice boundaries. She gave a wonderful, engaging, and hilarious talk with some great guidelines for counselors and educators! Below are some highlights of her talk...  

  

 

And I also went a little fan-girl when I got to talk with her at her book signing...

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was an amazing presentation by social worker Benny Malone about how PSCs can support psychotic students such as:

1.  helping the family/student understand the illness

2.  helping the family see the need for treatment after diagnosis by a doctor

3.  helping the student regain the confident sense of self that will help foster a return to their previous level of functioning

4,  providing assistance with housing, employment, and school

5.  educating the student and family about relapse prevention in the following ways: 

  • avoiding stress-induced relapses
  • CBT therapy as helpful in healing
  • meds (if prescribed by a doctor) needed for at least 3 yrs after psychotic episode
 

She also provided an info gathering tool for school counselors called the At Risk Protocol for Early Warning Signs in Students; you can email the author here to request a copy and provide feedback on her protocol.  

 

Dr. Linda Metcalf's presentation on Solution Focused Counseling in Schools was also fantastic!  She shared many helpful tips and strategies on counseling.  Some of them are below.

  • With disrespectful students, you should get MORE RESPECTFUL as they get more disrespectful because this tends to de-escalate their disrespect.
  • Walk problem students back to the classroom of their referring teacher after you have met with them and ask the teacher to step outside classroom for a moment so you can say, “J and I talked over what was going wrong in the classroom and he has some ideas on what he can do to fix things- can you please watch for what he does differently now?”  She said this is key in getting students to change their behavior with minimal followup work from the teacher.
  • When thinking “where do I start“ over a complex kid with complex problems, just ask, "What are your best hopes for our time together?"  Then work with the student to create one counseling goal from their best hope.

So, all in all, it was a fantastic, though exhausting, 3 days.  I left the conference feeling so, so excited about the best practice path that Texas school counseling is on.  Now, I just have to remind myself that Rome wasn't built in a day....so note to self- baby steps and patience!

 

OUR LATEST ESL/EFL TIPS & TECHNIQUES WE ARE USING IN CLASS

So, we just started teaching the intermediate class of ESL in the Middle after graduating our students from the ESL for Beginners curriculum. We've picked up a bunch more students who missed our October registration as well as keeping many of our students from the ESL for Beginners class.  It is inspiring to see the two groups of students come together and work so well at their various levels.  Though all are at some level of intermediate, the range is wide and so we are using lots of different techniques to allow each student to move at their own pace within the class setting.  Below are some of our latest ESL/EFL teaching techniques.

 

Our more experienced students now run the classroom intro activities such as reviewing the class rules, number card reviews, and leading the class in  vocabulary card games, to name a few.   Since many of these activities follow the same format as last semester, our experienced students have seen the teacher lead the class many, many times in these activities.  Now, instead of the teacher leading everything, she sits in the back of the class as the "student-teacher" leads the class in the activity.  It is so inspiring for the class to have one of their own leading the activities.  Plus, there is no better way for the "student-teacher" to practice and apply their English than by leading a class activity!  

During the Color Me Verby activity, students had a chance to listen to and analyze the structure of past tense sentences.  They got so excited as they played this game, that they were flashing their color cards everywhere! Another cool thing about this activity was that 2 students who never have excelled at English won the game and another student who usually excels in English didn't even earn one point.  Apparently, the game really tested some different language skills!

Another technique that we are having a blast using this semester is the Garfield Comic of the Day- if you want to try it, go to the previous link and show the Garfield daily comic to your class.  Discuss as a class whatever daily comic pops up using discussions question such as: Was the comic funny? Why or why not?  What was confusing in the comic?  How old do you think the comic characters are?  Tell me something you like/dislike about the comic.

And finally, Grammar Structure Musical Chairs is such a simple and super fun activity that we can't believe we didn't start using it years ago!  Since we started using it last semester, our students beg to conjugate verbs while playing musical chairs.  The idea is simple-  set out chairs (one fewer than the number of students playing) and play some music; students must try to sit once the music stops, and whoever is left standing has to conjugate the verb.  The key to the overwhelming success of this activity is to play songs that students love and that have a fast, energetic beat such as Uptown Funk (Bruno Mars), Sugar (Maroon 5), Billie Jean (Michael Jackson), etc.

 

In closing, we'll leave you with a fun little Valentine activity called Valentine Video Clips- we hope your students love it as much as ours do!  We also want to leave you with one of our fav ESL/EFL St Patrick's Day activities. Happy Holiday-ing!

 

 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.     And don't forget to join our new Texas School Counselor FB page here.  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

 

 

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Holidays Galore for the ESL/EFL and Counseling Worlds!

November 7, 2015

Happy November!  In this post, we have tons of holiday resources and ideas to share for your ESL/EFL classroom or counseling office.  Also, a quick update- that we will be signing off here for a few months to focus on getting all the teaching and counseling guides below written.  As always, you can click on any of the green links below for a free resource.

 

 

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • As mentioned above, we won't be posted our regular monthly blogs in the near future in order to free up time to publish all the teaching and counseling guides listed below.  Instead, we will post mini-blog posts here as we come across some resource or info that we just have to share with you.  And, as always, you can follow us on our Bilingual Learner FB page to get real time updates of resources, info, and free downloadables.
  • Here are our latest guides coming at you very soon:

 

 

 

HOLIDAY ESL/EFL RESOURCES

 

 

HOLIDAY COUNSELING RESOURCES

 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  If you haven't done so already, like us at one our Facebook page below to become one of our Bilingual Learner followers where you will have access to real time updates of our latest info, resources, and all our other free downloadables!    As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that our hard work helped you out! If you found a resource here, please show us your love and comment about it below!

 

Red Ribbon Week, ESL Kickoff and Some Halloween Fun!

October 3, 2015

As October rolls in, we are gearing up for Red Ribbon Week on the counseling front to highlight drug and alcohol awareness.  On the ESL/EFL front, we are starting our English classes, so we have some tips and photos for teaching the not-so-beginning beginner English students!  As always, we've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below

 

 

 

BUT FIRST A FEW BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES:


 

DRUG/ALCOHOL PREVENTION & RED RIBBON WEEK

Red Ribbon Week occurs at the end of October to honor the life and work of DEA agent, Kiki Camarena, who fought against the drug cartels in Central America and was killed when they targeted him during a lunch date.  At my school. we celebrate this week with students by sharing info with students about Kiki Camarena and his fight against the drug trade.  We also share some info about drug and alcohol awareness from the sources below, depending on the age group.  And finally, we show the incredible, breathtaking animated short, Nuggets, to our older students who can grasp it's meaning.  After showing the video, we use the questions at this link to guide a lively discussion with our classes.

Here are a few other other wonderful drug and alcohol prevention resources to use with your students and clients:

 

ESL/EFL CLASS KICKOFF!

My latest round of ESL classes started up about three weeks ago.  I have 12 students of varying adolescent ages and beginning levels.  They are enthusiastic, wonderful, and full of energy despite the later afternoon hour (our class doesn't start until 4pm and it seems that as I am winding down for the evening, they are just getting more wound up!) 

For this group, I am using my ESL for Beginners Volume Three lessons guide since many of these students have a basic knowledge of English and started their own public school ESL classes 2 months ago.  Currently, we are learning past tense to be verb structures while reviewing present tense verbs.  During the first week, we spent  a lot of time going over the classroom rules and consequences to set the tone- this was after I gave them our daily snack and 15 minutes of playtime outside so they were ready to focus.  Aside from rules and consequences, we mostly just had a lot of fun the first week!  I think it is important to start off on a positive and engaging note to give them a super-positive first impression of the class so they are excited to come to future classes each day.  At the same time, it is crucial to be consistent, clear, and firm with rules, procedures, and consequences.  In order to build English speaking and listening skills, we have been doing the following activities in these first few weeks: feelings vocabulary card games with prizes for winners, sing-alongs with ESL-themed songs, chants with hand claps, read alouds of engaging picture books, pronunciation of numbers to 50, Create Your Own Dialogues, and Word Wall Games.   Next week, we'll continue with instruction on past continuous verb structures, video clip activities, teacher-student oral practice, active listening for pronunciation, and so much more.  Stay tuned for more news on all this good stuff!  Below are pics of my ESL classroom...

My Tiny Classroom-in-a-Closet

My tiny classroom-in-a-closet   

Our Class Songs, Rules, and Daily Agenda on Chart Paper

Class Rules and Consequences

Read Aloud  Book and Grammar Structure Games

Video Clip Activity

Some Students Watching the Video Clip

 

 

HALLOWEEN SCENE!

Whether you are a counselor or teacher, here are some ideas you can use to celebrate the scarier-themed fall festival holidays with your students!  We've had lots of fun reading "In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories," which is full of repetitive scary stories with easy vocab and perfect for the Halloween season.  Along with this book, we also teach students the scary song, "Have You Seen the Ghost of John?", also with easy vocab and lots of repetition perfect for ESL learners or anyone trying to adapt to the US culture.  They love it and we've sang it throughout past Octobers with super-simple guitar accompaniment of just four 'anyone-can-learn-in-an-afternoon' guitar chords (just google them for finger placement).  Additionally, here's a link to Bilingual Learner's own fun Halloween passage to teach about this popular American holiday . 

 And here's a few more Halloween/fall goodies we want to pass on...

  • Spooky Halloween fun from Busyteacher.org: the holiday
  • Buzzfeed's Best Teacher Costumes
  • And, in the spirit of fall and all things slightly scary, you've GOT to see this Youtube viral video- it is hilarious: Spiderdog 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in November for our next post on "Staying in Your Lane: How to Gracefully Decline Non- Counseling or Non-Teaching Job Duties."  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that our hard work helped you out! If you found a resource here, please show us your love and comment about it below!

 

 

 

 

New Kids on the Block: Tips for the Rookie Counselor or ESL/EFL Teacher

August 30, 2015

If you are new to the school environment, the start of the school year is about as overwhelming as it gets!  So our September post is full of tips for helping the rookie counselor or teacher survive and thrive during your first (or fifth) year.  Someone once said that the first year of teaching is just survival....

 

 

BUT FIRST A FEW BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES:

  • Our newest guide, Get Your Goal On: Academic Achievement Group Counseling Guide is here! Order it or download a free preview to motivate your underachieving students to pass those classes! Check it out @ http://bilinguallearner.com/Products.
  • We also just put up our other counseling guide, The Unstressables: Stress Management Group Counseling Guide, on our website.  Check out the free downloadable preview on our homepage @ http://bilinguallearner.com/.
  • Finally, our latest ESL/EFL lessons guide, ESL in the Middle Volume One, is available with lots of lesson plans for your intermediate English learner.  We hope to start cranking out Volume Two after the December holidays!

 

TIPS FOR NEW COUNSELORS AND NEW TEACHERS

The first year of counseling is like the first year of teaching- SURVIVAL!  So our first tip for you is our most simple and most important:

  • Just do your best and go with the flow- you really do need that first full year of school counseling or teaching under your belt before you can have a true understanding of what your job entails.  Unfortunately, you can't get to that understanding until to make it through your first year.  The learning curve is incredibly steep, so as long as your show up everyday, keep a running list of upgrades for your program the following year, and do your best to help kids, you are a shining star!  Which leads us to our next tip...
  • Start a "Things to Do/Modify for Next Year" list right away where you can jot down any ideas or modifications for things you'd like to implement differently the following year.  It is so crucial to jot down your ideas in the moment right as they strike you- trust us, you'll never remember it all if you wait until the end of the year to make your list.
  • Say the serenity prayer or some other form of it often.  Working in schools is truly an experience where you will always see much more need than you can meet.  In addition, you will see things that need to change, but are out of your control.  Just remember to stay positive and change the things you can, accept the things you cannot, and try to know the difference.

TIPS FOR NEW COUNSELORS ONLY

  • Get a copy of your state's counselor manual (here's a link to an example- it's our Texas one) and make it your Bible- everything you do in your day should somehow relate back to the duties in that manual.
  • Join ASCA and make time to read their monthly magazine.
  • Meet with your administration (especially your principal or director) and fill out and sign a school counseling annual agreement for planning your program.  Here's a link to ASCA's template for an Annual Agreement. 
  • Find out your district's protocol for handling student crisis (3 hurts) situations and be ready and well-versed in how to follow it.  If you are in a district or school that doesn't have a protocol for this, use ours by following this link.
  • If you are transitioning from being a teacher to being a school counselor (as we did), keep in mind that you are no longer part of the teacher team and this may sting.  Some teachers think that no one works as hard as they do and some can be forgetful or unwelcoming to non-teaching staff.  If this is your campus reality, just hang in there and be friendly- sooner or later you'll make some close ties with the other non-teaching staff (at my school, we call ourselves the No-team Team) and you'll eventually find some teachers that will be thrilled to have you on their "team."

 

 TIPS FOR NEW TEACHERS ONLY

We also had an equally long list of additional tips for new ESL/EFL teachers, but then we realized... why post our tips when the experts say it so much better!  So here some links to the best new teacher tips we found among the top educational organizations.

 

AND NOW A FEW PICS OF OUR 2015-16 SCHOOL SPACES:

 

   

 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  We'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on being a new teacher or counselor (we were all there once!), so comment below!  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in October for our next post on substance abuse prevention in the classroom and Red Ribbon Week activities.  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

 

Back to School- An ESL and Counseling Plan!

August 1, 2015

It was such a pleasant surprise to go back to school this week. The end of the summer is always a little depressing and this break, in particular, was especially difficult to end since I had such a good time writing some new ESL and counseling books while visiting my parents in Florida.  (Visiting my parents in their "subdivision resort," as we like to call it, is a reverse vacation for us since we live the lifestyle everyday of a camping vacation in our totally rustic 700 square foot cabin on 7 acres of wilderness).  Then, when we got back from the "subdivision resort,"  my husband and I had a great time enjoying our two new horses and newly built screened-in porch. So, after all this, I was NOT feeling ready to go back to school.  But then I walked into my office and two things happened.  First, I started preparing for my new colleague who is so enthusiastic about starting her school counseling career that her enthusiasm just totally energized me!  I felt more professionally excited than I had in a long time.  Last year was especially draining with our very high-need student population always growing and the resulting stressed reactions from staff members.  Second, I was further energized by prepping for a new teaching experience that awaits me- I made plans last semester with our extra-curricular coordinator and Newcomer teacher to start teaching a speaking and listening class to our intermediate ESL learners.  So, I worked  all summer to get this curriculum, ESL in the Middle, ready.  Making plans and prepping materials to teach this class had me buzzing all around my office! So the moral of this story is: embrace the new! Having a new teacher or counselor come on board with you can give your educational world a whole new, rosy glow! Likewise, having a new teaching or counseling program that you are excited about can get you bounding into school with golden retriever puppy energy!

After setting up my office, burning through a summer's worth of emails, getting my ESL/EFL curriculum squared away, and setting up my planner for the year, I was ready to get down to business and update our counselor handbook for the new counselor.  I wrote the handbook several years ago as a guide to keep in our counseling office and I've used it through the years with new colleagues or interns.  However, it hasn't had a major overhaul in years, so it was time.  I felt so inspired thinking of the newness and excitement of starting out in the school counseling profession.  This inspiration got my professional juices flowing and I revised the counseling handbook, adding in tons of new docs that have come into popular use over the last few years, both in my district and nationally .  I'll be tweaking this handbook throughout the year and I hope to publish it on our website here in early 2016.  Here are two free downloadables from the handbook: a very rough Table of Contents (giving a snapshot of some of the documents it will contain) and our Counseling Office Tragedy Plan (God forbid, if one of our students/families suffers a tragedy).  There are many other helpful resources below- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.

First, a few Bilingual Learner updates...

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

And now, onto our main feature:

TACKLING THE FIRST WEEK BACK!

If you are like us and the sight of a disorganized office or classroom is overwhelming and disorienting, here is a list below of how we tackle the first week in order to have things in order and in process by the time everyone returns:

  • Unpack all materials and set up your office/classroom. (3-6 hours...don't spend more than a day on this, even if you are breaking in a new office/classroom because it will all change as the year progresses anyway.  Just put everything you have in a place so that you feel somewhat comfortable in your space.)
  • Change out your summer break phone/email message and return any phone messages you acquired while hanging out at the beach. (30 min-1 hour)
  • Check work email and take care of those over-the-summer emails and any others you just couldn't deal with during the last few days of the 2014-15 school year. (2 hours)
  • Put together your TO DO list and write the tasks in your planner or Outlook Calendar or Smartphone or whatever you use.  This way, you will know when to do them and actually remember to do each task. (1-2 hours if you are continuing from the TO DO list you started for this new school year at the end of 2014-15.  If you didn't start your 2015-16 TO DO list last year and you have to make it from scratch- block out a half day.)
  • Meet with your colleague (if you have one) to coordinate your activities/plan your lessons for the next two weeks and to set a weekly or monthly planning time to continue meeting regularly through the school year.  After, get your materials together. (2-3 hours counselors, 2-3 days teachers)
  • COUNSELORS ONLY: Set up your waiting room/suite/lobby if you have one. (20 minutes- IF you have an awesome student helper who you can call up to come to the school and do this for you.  In our counseling office, we have amazing office aides each year that we painstakingly train- email us if you need training mats.  Because our counseling office secretary positions were cut a few years ago, our student aides are like mini-office managers and know our suite layout better than we do.  So, we bought our student aide lunch and just let her go- 2 hours later, she was all done and our waiting room sparkled.)
  • Set up and make/email copies of your weekly schedule and yearly calendar/syllabus- post copies wherever you work, on your office door, and email/give to your administrators; its also good at this time to set up with admin a weekly or monthly meeting time that runs throughout the school year so everyone knows: what ASCA/TESOL recommends that you do, what amazing things you are actually doing, and what admin needs for you to do. (1 hour- IF you laid the foundation for this at the end of the 2014-15 school year with your admin.  If not and you need guidance- email us as it's too much to go into here.)
  • Start on that TO DO list.   Happy DO-ing!

If you'd like to see some photos of our counseling office or ESL/EFL classroom, you can scroll down to last month's post where we posted photos of last year's classroom and counseling office.  If you want to see current 2015-16 photos, stay tuned- they will go up in our September post here next month!  In the meantime, I will share this awesome self-disclosure poster from NY social worker, Doralee Michaeli- I've already hung it on my office wall- you'll see it in the pics next month! 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in September for our next post with ideas for those new PSCs and teachers who are just starting out, plus lots of pics of our counseling office and ESL classroom!  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that our hard work helped you out! If you found a resource here, please show us your love and comment about it below!

 

 

8 Tips to Prepare Your ESL/EFL Classroom or Counseling Office for the Next School Year!

July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day to all you Americans out there!  Enjoy this little blast-from-the-past video clip in honor of the 4th of July (click on the telescope pic to the left)...

 

 

 

Well, better late than never!  We finally have our July post up and ready for you, just before midnight!  This month, we are full of ideas and tips on getting prepared for the next school year!  So if you'd like some professional food-for-thought to make your program even better once you start up again, this post is right up your alley!  As always, we've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.

But, first, a few Bilingual Learner updates...

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

And now, onto our main feature:

5 TIPS TO PREPARE YOUR ESL/EFL CLASSROOM OR COUNSELING OFFICE FOR THE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR

1.  Avoid Burnout-Unless you MUST be in your office or classroom during your break, STAY AWAY!  We know... this can be really hard. There's just something so tempting about the potential to get work done in the quiet and solitary environment of your own empty classroom/office.  But, it is important to stay away in order to recharge yourself so you can start fresh when you do have to return.  Think of it this way- batteries don't recharge themselves while still in the flashlight.

2.  Make a List- Start writing down any changes and additions you would like to make in your teaching or counseling program on a "Things to Change Next Year" list.  Anytime you have a revelation about something that might work better for you and your students/clients, write it on the list.   Then at the end of your break, spend some time transferring the changes you most want to implement into your planner, smartphone, master counseling calendar (here's ours if you need a template), Outlook calendar, or whatever you use to organize and plan out your year.  Here's a link to a snippet of our "Things to Change Next Year" list.

3.  Compile Your Supplies- Staples makes a lot of money off of us over the summer.  They may not see us during the entire school year except for an occasional frantic weeknight run, but we are on a first-name basis over the summer!  Spend some time writing out a list of all the supplies you would like to buy and then shop for them during your break when you have the time to concentrate, take your time, and enjoy your shopping experience.  Here's our shopping list (and a pic!) so far:

  • 2015-16 Academic Planner
  • First-day-of-school outfit (We buy ourselves a new one every year to feel a little extra sparkly on that first day when we throw open the doors!)
  • Stickers
  • Prizes for the treasure chest
  • index cards
  • CD labels
  • padded envelopes

 

4.  Do Your PD (Professional Development) Reading- If you are into this sort of thing, use your break to read, highlight, and take notes on whatever it is you want to improve on in your career.  After reading, review your notes, and red star the 5-10 most important ones and then put them in your "Things to Change Next Year" list. Here's a PD reading list to start with if you need some ideas:

ESL/EFL BOOKS

COUNSELING BOOKS

6. Student/Client List- Make a list of those students or clients who you didn't quite finish your work with last year; include a note about where you left off with them and what more you can do to support them.  Spend some time checking in with them in the beginning of the year to help them get started on the right foot.  Often just knowing that someone cares and is available is all the support they need.

7.  Plan it Out of the Way! Plan as many of your lessons, units, group sessions, and/or guidance lessons as you can.  As mentioned above, the beginning of the school year tsunami is coming and the less you have to do when it hits, the better you will feel!

8. Decorate- Stop doing #1 and return two to three days before your actual official start date to decorate your office or classroom.  Even, better, do it before you leave on break, if you still have that option. Decorating your classroom or office is one of the few things you can do without students, clients, or work systems in place.  All you need is some butcher paper, a stapler, staples and StaplesTM, Pinterest, and your own creativity.  So, knock out this fun and crucial task before the beginning-of-school-year tsunami hits!  Here are a few photos of our decorations below:

COUNSELING OFFICE

 

 

 

ESL CLASSROOM

    

 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in August for our next post on the adventures of the first month back to counseling and teaching!   As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that our hard work helped you out! If you found a resource here, please show us your love and comment about it below!

 

 

 

 

 

ESL & Counseling Tips for the End of the School Year

June 6, 2015

Hello Summer Vacay!  Oh, it's that glorious time of the year when US teachers and school counselors throw their hands up in the air in FREEDOM!  Sorry to all you overseas educators who are still slugging away at your schools, but we'll be envying you big time come December and January...

 

 

So, our June post is a shorter one because we have just sent out our quarterly newsletter with 19 different downloadable resources that we'd normally put in this post.  So, sign up to the right asap if you haven't already received our latest newsletter.  However, in the spirit of our monthly post, we do have some updates and freebies for you.  Read on below and, as always...we've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • Look for our new beginners ESL guide, ESL Express, later this summer.  It will be a streamlined version of ESL for Beginners that is organized into 4 weekly units.
  • We just sent our latest ESL teaching guide, ESL in the Middle: Lessons Guide for Teaching Intermediate Students to our editor!  As soon as Anne works her editing magic, we will have it up on the website for order.  A sneak peek and freebie downloadable from this intermediate ESL/EFL teaching guide is now available on the left side of our homepage!
  • The Spanish version of Girl World: Girl Empowerment Group Counseling Guide, Charla Entre Chicas, is FINALLY ready for publication.  Look for it on our products page in the next few weeks. 
  • A huge shoutout to the newest member of the Bilingual Learner team, Monica Briancon, our amazing Spanish editor who we had to go all the way to Bolivia to find!  We've been searching for her for 2 years, but she is definitely worth the wait!
  • Get ready for our latest counseling guides, The Unstressables and Get Your Goal On!  These 2 books on anti-anxiety techniques and academic achievement strategies are starting production this week!!  We are super excited and can't wait to get going on them!  Look for updates, free preview downloadables, and ordering details on our website or FB page below.
  • Another huge shoutout to our fabulously talented illustrator, Michell Schalik, for the new Be Cool: Anger Management Group Counseling Guide illustrations that will go into our revised guide later this summer.  The pics are wonderful and a sneak peak is above. 
  • FYI- we provide free revised editions of all our Bilingual Learner guides to all our customers who request them.  You can find out when we publish a revised guide by subscribing to our newsletter because we advertise updated editions of our books there.  Once you hear of a revised guide, just email us at bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with your name, the name of the guide, the date you purchased it, and where you purchased it from (our website, TPT, Amazon, etc) and we will get an electronic version of your revised guide emailed right out to you!

 

END-OF-YEAR ESL/EFL TIPS

If you are ending your ESL classes for the school year, consider these tips:

  • Keep students engaged in meaningful lessons until the last day of class.  Although the temptation is strong to start showing videos and letting students play games, this will only frustrate you as class time crawls and everyone wastes their time (or worse-misbehavior starts).  Consider incorporating meaningful lesson content into fun activities such as field trips or art projects.  And in case you haven't yet taught contractions... Click on this freebie contractions chart to have some meaningful content to incorporate into your fun end-of-the-year activities! 
  • Give students a reading list of favorite, easy reader English chapter books that they can enjoy over the summer in order to keep their English fresh. 
  • During lunch or off-times, enlist your students to help you pack up your classroom.  Spend an afternoon organizing various jobs for various students, give them a 30 minute training session and let them go!  While your student movers are working, you can use this time to research some dynamic lessons and units for next year!

 

ENDING YOUR COUNSELING SESSIONS

But first, a fun freebie for working with those academic underachievers:  The No Zeroes Race! Do you have students who struggle with passing their classes?  We do and as part of our academic achievement group counseling curriculum, we play The No Zeroes Race with our group members.  For the racetrack and directions, click here!

If you are in the counseling profession, this time of year brings lots of closure.  We wrap up guidance lessons and terminate individual/group sessions as students leave on summer trips or move away.  So, for this post, Bilingual Learner has included a few downloadables to help you with ending your sessions and lessons.  We think there are many different ways to effectively wrap up your counseling sessions, but all should include discussions throughout counseling of when the final session will be and also discussion about how to make future contact with the counselor, if needed.   For all our groups and individual sessions we run, we have students fill out an evaluation during the last session to show us what they have learned, how they have grown, and ways we might improve our sessions for the future-here is the evaluation from our counseling guide, Be Cool! - it is the group evaluation from this guide, but can easily be modified for use with individuals, too.  We use anonymous quotes from the session evaluations in our data presentations to school stakeholders to show them the power and effectiveness of counseling- you can see an example of this from the preview of our Girl World Group Counseling Sessions Guide coming out this summer.  If you would like to see the rest of our group and guidance lesson data tools, just click the “Group and Guidance Lessons Tools” icon link on our homepage.   Alternately, for school-wide counseling programs, we have every student on campus complete this evaluation of our program and the lessons we have taught We also plot all the data collected in our student program evaluations on excel charts/graphs and present them as well to the school leadership team.  While all of these forms work primarily as evaluation tools, we also use them as a sort of needs assessment for future lessons and counseling sessions since we work with many of the same students from year to year.

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in July for our next MYSTERY post.   As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that our hard work helped you out! If you found a resource here, please show us your love and comment about it below!

 

 

 

ESL/EFL SUMMER RESOURCES PLUS IDENTITY & SUICIDE SUPPORT

May 2, 2015

 

We have lots of interesting tidbits to share today so let’s just jump right into it!  Our post today will feature some of the latest resources we’ve come across this spring in the ESL/EFL and counseling worlds…summer English activities, Memorial Day lessons and other cultural resources, suicide prevention, and LGBT awareness.  More on all this in a bit, but first, let’s start with some updates.

As always, we've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • Get ready for our latest counseling guides, Stress Blasters and Get Your Goal On!  These 2 books on antianxiety techniques and academic achievement strategies are starting production as soon as we begin our summer break in June.  Look for updates, free preview downloadables, and ordering details on our website or FB page below!
  • Our Spring eblast is coming!  If you aren't already on our enewsletter mailing list, sign up by filling out the form on this webpage to the right.  Then, we can send our newsletter filled with free counseling/ESL/EFL resources right to your inbox!
  • We are continuing to churn out our newest teaching guide, ESL in the Middle: Lessons Guide for Teaching Intermediate Students.  A sneak peek and freebie downloadable from this intermediate ESL/EFL teaching guide is now available on the left side of our homepage!

 

ESL/EFL MEMORIAL DAY & SUMMER ACTIVITIES... PLUS CULTURE RESOURCES!

As happens every year in May, schools are gearing up to work with Newcomer students over the summer to give them that extra push into language that will help propel them along for the next school year.  In researching some of our own summer-themed ESL/EFL activities for the latest guide we are writing, ESL in the Middle, we’ve found and created some fun and free summer-themed ESL/EFL activities below that you can use with your ELL or Newcomer students.  In addition, we came across the most amazing set of maps of the English-speaking world and culturePlus, the map explanations sum up our reasoning behind writing the Bilingual Learner Culture Explorer guides where students can learn about and experience various aspects of the "English-speaking culture."

 

 

 

COUNSELING: SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES AND LGBT AWARENESS

A sad but very frequent reality that counselors have to deal with is suicide prevention.  Suicidal Ideation (thinking about, considering, or planning for suicide) is something every counselor will come into contact with as they treat their students/clients.  For that reason, we’d like to include some of the best resources we’ve come across that will help you reach out to your kids who are battling this monster. 

 

And finally, we’d like to wrap up with a few words about and resources for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) movement that is really gaining momentum in reaching out to young people and providing a safe place for countless numbers of youngsters struggling with their own gender identity. 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in June for our next post on ending your counseling sessions and wrapping up your ESL/EFL classroom for summer break.  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL/EFL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that our hard work helped you out! If you found a great resource here, please show us your love and comment about it below!

 

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Boys Counseling Group and ESL Summer Resources

July 8, 2016

Happy Independence Day!  Hope your 4th of July was safe, fun and restful!  For this month's post, I want to write a bit about a new boys counseling group I started last spring called Goals Make the Man.

I also have a few Independence Day and summer-themed ESL/EFL activities to include, plus 2 freebie downloadables from my new intermediate ESL lessons guide: ESL in the Middle Volume 2.  Speaking of new books, let's get the Bilingual Learner updates out of the way...

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • The End of the School Year Freebies is extended! Due to popular demand, I've extended my buy-one-get-one-free deal going on ANY of the teaching or counseling eguides. Head on over to my product page and get your freebies today.  (Once you purchase your first eguide, just email me at bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with your receipt number and the title of the eguide you'd like for free and I'll email you your freebie right away.) 
  • My new bilingual group counseling guide is available, Relajate: Stress Management Group Counseling Guide with English/Spanish Activities!  Look for it on my products page or download a free preview from my home page
  • Look for my new intermediate ESL guide, ESL in the Middle Volume Two, in August!  It will be an intermediate English lessons guide for ESL/EFL students, organized into 4 weekly units.  Here's a freebie preview of the guide, so you can check it out!
  • We now have a Texas School Counselor FB group to share ideas, exchange resources, ask questions, and get support on all things counseling!  Join our FB group and add all your counseling colleagues here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1327148357311451/.

As always, I've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.  Plus, my Bilingual Learner quarterly counseling newsletter will be coming out in August with lots of new resources and freebie downloadables- sign up in the newsletter box in the right column.  

 

A COUNSELING GROUP CALLED GOALS MAKE THE MAN!

So last spring I decided to try a new type of counseling support group.  I wanted to target our most disadvantaged boys who seem to spend all their time getting into trouble and going to the In School Suspension room.  So I selected 8 boys- aged 11-14, who simply could not stay out of trouble, despite every intervention imaginable from their teachers and parents/guardians!  The main point of the group is goal achievement- namely for each group member to focus on what goal they wanted to achieve related to their discipline troubles.  In addition to working on goal achievement each session, we would also spend time each session on mastering some social skills and debunking some unhelpful masculine stereotypes.  So, I combed through our school discipline data and then met with the 15 boys who had the highest number of discipline referrals for the year.  During this pre-group interview,  I chose 7 of the boys who were most eager to improve their discipline record for the remaining two months of the school year. Additionally, I didn't chose anyone with chronic attendance problems since that is a completely separate problem that must be solved first (so they can actually be in school to attend the group sessions).  After choosing my 7 boys (3 of which didn't make it to group because of transferring schools), I completed all of the pre-group tasks, and we were off.  Here's a chronological list of all the tasks to complete before the first group session.  Despite my reservations (after all, these were THE most disrespectful and uncontrollable kiddos in the school AND what did I, a middle-aged woman, know about teenage boy issues and masculinity?!?), the group went smashingly.  And I have to attribute a large part of the group success to the participation of our School Resource Officer as a group member.  Deputy Robles came to every session faithfully and served as wonderful mentor and role model for our group members, many of whom had no positive adult male role model in their lives.  It was SUCH a wonderful experience, for the boys and for me as their group leader!  It was so powerful to see the boys connect with and support each other, give each other good advice, bond with Deputy Robles, and give all the group activities their best shot.  In summary, I attribute the success of the group to the following points-

  • The boys really wanted to improve their lives.
  • The SRO's presence, positivity, and leadership as a co-group facilitator was invaluable; I think it is crucial to have a positive male role model when conducting group sessions with boys who have serious discipline problems.
  • Our firm reminders of group rules (link here)- we read the rules together at the start of every session and gently corrected any group member not following a rule. 
  • The structured, positive group activities with a bit of fun and a lot of movement thrown in- this kept our boys coming back session after session.

I am writing and field testing the curriculum for this group during this 2016-17 school year, so look for it sometime in the near future on our products page.  In the meantime, here are a few Goals Make the Man pictures and resources to hold you over...

  • I showed various clips from this Tough Guise video to my boys and they were spell-bound while watching it.  It is a fabulous perspective on masculinity.  Just make sure you preview all the parts you want to show- there is some salty language and violent scenes in the vid.
  • This is the pre/posttest I gave to the boys during the first and last session of the group to collect data about knowledge gained.
  • Here is the template we used for the goals that the boys made and shared with each other.
  • We started every session with a toll of this mindfulness bell where the boys put their heads down and focused on breathing in and out for one minute until I rang the bell to end the exercise.  Despite some initial furrowed brows over this activity, the group mems grew to love and request it!

 

    

 

ESL SUMMER ACTIVITIES

Here are some of my favorite summer-themed ESL activities- both new and old!

  • This is about THE coolest fireworks craft you can have your students make- and following directions in English is a great language builder for intermediate English students! 
  • Good for summertime or anytime of this year- here's little freebie preview from my new guide, ESL in the Middle Volume Two, it's an ESL game called Math Bee.  
  • Love this adorable, animated 4th of July Song from School House Rock.
  • Lots of Super Fun Field Trips!

That brings me to the end of this month's post.  Check back here again next month for more tips and resources to kickstart your counseling or teaching program! As always, you can find out about Bilingual Learner’s latest promotions, free stuff, or my counseling/ESL adventures by following my Facebook PageTwitter Page, or Pinterest Page.  And don’t forget to follow me on my new Instagram Page to see pics of my adventures with students!
 
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Top 10 Tips for Wrapping Up Your Counseling Year & Building Your Program

June 15, 2016

Hello Summer Vacay!  This month, I have lots of ideas and tips on wrapping up this school year’s counseling program AND getting prepared for the next school year!  So if you'd like some professional food-for-thought to make your program even better once you start up again, this post is right up your alley!  As always, I've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.  Plus, my Bilingual Learner quarterly counseling newsletter will be coming out in August- sign up in the newsletter box in the right column.    A few Bilingual Learner updates to start us off…

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • End of the School Year Freebies! To celebrate the end of the school year, Bilingual Learner has a buy-one-get-one-free deal going on ANY of the teaching or counseling eguides. Head on over to my product page and get your freebies today.  (Once you purchase your first eguide, just email me at bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with your receipt number and the title of the eguide you'd like for free and I'll email you your freebie right away.) 
  • Just-revised group counseling guides, Be Cool and Tranquila, are ready!  I provide free revised editions of all our Bilingual Learner guides to customers who request them- just email me at bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with your name, the name of the guide, the date you purchased it, and where you purchased it from (our website, TPT, Amazon, etc) and I’ll get an electronic version of your revised guide emailed right out to you!
  • You can find out when I publish a revised guide by subscribing to the BL newsletter (sign up in the box in the right column on this page) because I advertise updated editions of my books there. 
  • New bilingual group counseling guide is available, Relajate: Stress Management Group Counseling Guide with English/Spanish Activities!  Look for it on my products page or download a free preview from my home page
  • Look for my new intermediate ESL guide, ESL in the Middle Volume Two, later this summer.  It will be an intermediate English lessons guide for ESL/EFL students, organized into 4 weekly units.  Here's a little freebie preview of the guide, it's an ESL game called, Math Bee.
  • Follow Bilingual Learner now on our new Instagram page @ instagram.com/bilinguallearner/ to see pics of my counseling and teaching adventures with students!
  • We now have a Texas School Counselor FB group to share ideas, exchange resources, ask questions, and get support on all things counseling!  Join our FB group and add all your counseling colleagues here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1327148357311451/.

 

TOP 10 COUNSELING TIPS FOR ENDING THE YEAR & IMPROVING YOUR PROGRAM

This time of year brings lots of closure as well as thoughts of what exciting programs to start in the fall!  Here are some tips and resources to help you with ending your sessions, wrapping up your counseling program, and planning a bit for the upcoming year! 

  1. Student Help- During lunch or off-times, enlist your students to help you pack up your office (minus any confidential student files, of course).  Spend an afternoon organizing various jobs for various students, give them a 30 minute training session and let them go!  While your student movers are working, you can use this time to research some dynamic guidance lessons and group sessions for next year!
  2. Make a List- Start writing down any changes and additions you would like to make in your teaching or counseling program on a "Things to Change Next Year" list.  Anytime you have a revelation about something that might work better for you and your students/clients, write it on the list.   Then at the end of your break, spend some time transferring the changes you most want to implement into your planner, smartphone, master counseling calendar (here's ours if you need a template), Outlook calendar, or whatever you use to organize and plan out your year.  Here's a link to a snippet of our "Things to Change Next Year" list.
  3. Terminating Counseling- There are many different ways to effectively wrap up your counseling sessions with students, but all should include discussions throughout counseling of when the final session will be and also discussion about how students can make future contact with the counselor, if needed. 
  4. Evaluations- Have students fill out an evaluation during the last session with you to show what they have learned, how they have grown, and ideas on improving future sessions-here is the evaluation from my newest counseling guide, Relajate - it is the English/Spanish group evaluation from the stress management guide, but it can easily be modified for use with individuals, too. 
  5. Student/Client List- Make a list of those students or clients with whom you didn't quite finish your work  last year; include a note about where you left off with them and what more you can do to support them.  Spend some time checking in with them in the beginning of the year to help them get started on the right foot.  Often just knowing that someone cares and is available is all the support they need.
  6. Data- Principals and administrators love data and data is THE way to get more funding, resources, and staff buy-in to enrich your counseling program.  Collect data on all your groups and guidance lessons through pre-/post-tests, analysis of members academic and discipline records, and student surveys. 
    • For help with the seemingly overwhelming task of compiling group and guidance lesson data tools, just click the “Group and Guidance Lessons Tools” icon link on my homepage.  
    • Present your data to your school leadership team and post your data (with all identifying student info removed!) in hard-to-miss locations like above the copy machine or in the bathroom!  FYI- there’s no rush on this- it is perfectly fine to present your data from this year’s counseling program at the beginning of the next school year in August or September.
    • Have every student on campus complete a counseling program evaluation.
    • Additionally, use all of the data you’ve collected as a sort of needs assessment for future lessons and counseling sessions since we all work with many of the same students from year to year.
  7. Avoid Burnout- Unless you MUST be in your office or classroom during your break, STAY AWAY!  Think of it this way- batteries don't recharge themselves while still in the flashlight.
  8. Compile Your Supplies- Spend some time writing out a list of all the supplies you would like to buy and then shop for them during your break when you have the time to concentrate, take your time, and enjoy your shopping experience. 
  9. Do Your PD (Professional Development) Reading- Use your break to read, highlight, and take notes on whatever it is you want to improve on in your career.  After reading, review your notes, and red star the 5-10 most important ones and then put them in your "Things to Change Next Year" list. Here's a PD (followed by a not-so-PD) reading list to start with if you need some ideas:
  • Lost at School by Ross Green
  • Life Re-imagined by Barbara Bradley Hagerty
  • The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz
  • American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales
  • Mindfulness by Mark Williams
  • Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin
  • Mindset by Carol Dweck
  • The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal

Fiction with Amazing Counseling Themes!

  • The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle
  • Defending Jacob by William Landay
  • The Pact by Jodi Piccoult
  • Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

And Some of the Tried and True, All Time Best Counseling Books Out There (that I mention every year;)

  • Brief Counseling That Works: A Solution-Focused Approach for School Counselors and Administrators, by Gerald B. (Bennett) Sklare
  • The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs (3rd edition), by the American School Counselor Association
  • Making Data Work, by Carol Kaffenberger and Anita Young
  • Brain on Fire, by Susanah Calahan

10.  Decorate- Stop doing #7 and return two to three days before your actual official start date to decorate your office or classroom.  So, knock out this fun and crucial task before the beginning-of-school-year tsunami hits!  Here are a few photos of my decorations below:

That brings me to the end of this month's post.  Check back here again next month for more tips and resources to kickstart your counseling program! As always, you can find out about Bilingual Learner’s latest promotions, free stuff, or my counseling/ESL adventures by following my Facebook PageTwitter Page, or Pinterest Page.  And don’t forget to follow me on my new Instagram Page!

 

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New School Counselor Group, Psychotic Student Support, and ESL/EFL Valentines & St. Paddy's Day Fun!

February 13, 2016

As one of our amazing colleagues put it in her notes to teachers- "Since educators, administrators, and school counselors all work together to support students, thank YOU for being one of the "3 Musketeers"  So Happy Belated National School Counseling Week to us all!  And Happy Valentines Day!!

In this post, we will cover some of the best highlights of the 2016 Texas School Counseling Conference which are great to incorporate into any school cousneling program, no matter the location.  As well, we will detail the latest, best practice techniques that we are using in our own ESL/EFL classes.  As always, you can click on any of the green links below for a free resource.  But first, a few Bilingual Learner updates...

 

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • CALLING ALL COUNSELORS:  We are super excited to announce that we now have a Texas School Counselor Facebook group to share ideas, exchange resources, answer questions, and support each other on all things related to school counseling!  In addition, this group supports the goals of advocacy and striving to align TX school counseling programs with the national ASCA model. Please  join our FB group if you haven't already and then add all your counseling colleagues to our group so we can build this resource to support counselors! Here's the link to join:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1327148357311451/.
  • ESL in the Middle Volume 2 is coming!  We hope to get the bulk of it written over Spring Break, so look for its publication in late spring or early summer!
  • Relajate: Bilingual Stress Management Group Counseling Guide is here!  Check out this link next week to see a preview!
  • The revision of Tranquila: Bilingual Anger Management Group Counseling Guide is here and it is better than ever!  With 2 additional sessions, plus lots of additional activities, you will find everything you need to help your Spanish speakers manage their anger in healthful ways.  What's more,  if you purchased Tranquila in the past, we have a free updgrade for you!  If you'd like your free PDF of the updated guide, email us at bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with your name, the date you purchased Tranquila, and where you purchased it (our website, TPT, Amazon, etc) and we will get your free upgrade right out to you!
  • We won't be posting our regular monthly blogs in the near future in order to free up time to publish.  Instead, we will post mini-blog posts here as we come across some resource or info that we just have to share with you.  And, as always, you can follow us on our Bilingual Learner page to get real time updates of resources, info, and free downloadables.

COUNSELING HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE TSCA CONFERENCE!

So, I just got back from the Texas School Counseling Association’s (TSCA) 2016 conference in Dallas where it was overwhelmingly evident that this is SUCH an exciting time in the school counseling profession- in session after session, I watched the foundation of a comprehensive, best practice counseling program model being laid for Texas.   No where was this more obvious than during the presentation to offer a preview of the 2016 Revised Texas Model School Counseling Guide! Here are some of the highlights of the revised guide:

An updated explanation of counselor duties under the four components (with a list of non-counseling duties like bus duty or 504 coordination OUTSIDE OF THE GRAPHIC!!!)

   

Plus, multiple pages solely dedicated to helping counselors avoid non-counseling duties!!  Oh, Hallelujah!

The new guide will also include an explanation of the responsive services component that differentiates between preventive, remedial, and crisis responses.

  

And finally a pyramid showing where each of our counseling duties falls within the RTI tiered system.

Some of the other amazing TSCA 2016 presentations included: 

Author Julia Cook's key note speech on Grit and Determination-- she talked a lot about these two qualities as being major determinants in student success, as well as turning off technology and establishing best practice boundaries. She gave a wonderful, engaging, and hilarious talk with some great guidelines for counselors and educators! Below are some highlights of her talk...  

  

 

And I also went a little fan-girl when I got to talk with her at her book signing...

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was an amazing presentation by social worker Benny Malone about how PSCs can support psychotic students such as:

1.  helping the family/student understand the illness

2.  helping the family see the need for treatment after diagnosis by a doctor

3.  helping the student regain the confident sense of self that will help foster a return to their previous level of functioning

4,  providing assistance with housing, employment, and school

5.  educating the student and family about relapse prevention in the following ways: 

  • avoiding stress-induced relapses
  • CBT therapy as helpful in healing
  • meds (if prescribed by a doctor) needed for at least 3 yrs after psychotic episode
 

She also provided an info gathering tool for school counselors called the At Risk Protocol for Early Warning Signs in Students; you can email the author here to request a copy and provide feedback on her protocol.  

 

Dr. Linda Metcalf's presentation on Solution Focused Counseling in Schools was also fantastic!  She shared many helpful tips and strategies on counseling.  Some of them are below.

  • With disrespectful students, you should get MORE RESPECTFUL as they get more disrespectful because this tends to de-escalate their disrespect.
  • Walk problem students back to the classroom of their referring teacher after you have met with them and ask the teacher to step outside classroom for a moment so you can say, “J and I talked over what was going wrong in the classroom and he has some ideas on what he can do to fix things- can you please watch for what he does differently now?”  She said this is key in getting students to change their behavior with minimal followup work from the teacher.
  • When thinking “where do I start“ over a complex kid with complex problems, just ask, "What are your best hopes for our time together?"  Then work with the student to create one counseling goal from their best hope.

So, all in all, it was a fantastic, though exhausting, 3 days.  I left the conference feeling so, so excited about the best practice path that Texas school counseling is on.  Now, I just have to remind myself that Rome wasn't built in a day....so note to self- baby steps and patience!

 

OUR LATEST ESL/EFL TIPS & TECHNIQUES WE ARE USING IN CLASS

So, we just started teaching the intermediate class of ESL in the Middle after graduating our students from the ESL for Beginners curriculum. We've picked up a bunch more students who missed our October registration as well as keeping many of our students from the ESL for Beginners class.  It is inspiring to see the two groups of students come together and work so well at their various levels.  Though all are at some level of intermediate, the range is wide and so we are using lots of different techniques to allow each student to move at their own pace within the class setting.  Below are some of our latest ESL/EFL teaching techniques.

 

Our more experienced students now run the classroom intro activities such as reviewing the class rules, number card reviews, and leading the class in  vocabulary card games, to name a few.   Since many of these activities follow the same format as last semester, our experienced students have seen the teacher lead the class many, many times in these activities.  Now, instead of the teacher leading everything, she sits in the back of the class as the "student-teacher" leads the class in the activity.  It is so inspiring for the class to have one of their own leading the activities.  Plus, there is no better way for the "student-teacher" to practice and apply their English than by leading a class activity!  

During the Color Me Verby activity, students had a chance to listen to and analyze the structure of past tense sentences.  They got so excited as they played this game, that they were flashing their color cards everywhere! Another cool thing about this activity was that 2 students who never have excelled at English won the game and another student who usually excels in English didn't even earn one point.  Apparently, the game really tested some different language skills!

Another technique that we are having a blast using this semester is the Garfield Comic of the Day- if you want to try it, go to the previous link and show the Garfield daily comic to your class.  Discuss as a class whatever daily comic pops up using discussions question such as: Was the comic funny? Why or why not?  What was confusing in the comic?  How old do you think the comic characters are?  Tell me something you like/dislike about the comic.

And finally, Grammar Structure Musical Chairs is such a simple and super fun activity that we can't believe we didn't start using it years ago!  Since we started using it last semester, our students beg to conjugate verbs while playing musical chairs.  The idea is simple-  set out chairs (one fewer than the number of students playing) and play some music; students must try to sit once the music stops, and whoever is left standing has to conjugate the verb.  The key to the overwhelming success of this activity is to play songs that students love and that have a fast, energetic beat such as Uptown Funk (Bruno Mars), Sugar (Maroon 5), Billie Jean (Michael Jackson), etc.

 

In closing, we'll leave you with a fun little Valentine activity called Valentine Video Clips- we hope your students love it as much as ours do!  We also want to leave you with one of our fav ESL/EFL St Patrick's Day activities. Happy Holiday-ing!

 

 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.     And don't forget to join our new Texas School Counselor FB page here.  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

 

 

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Holidays Galore for the ESL/EFL and Counseling Worlds!

November 7, 2015

Happy November!  In this post, we have tons of holiday resources and ideas to share for your ESL/EFL classroom or counseling office.  Also, a quick update- that we will be signing off here for a few months to focus on getting all the teaching and counseling guides below written.  As always, you can click on any of the green links below for a free resource.

 

 

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • As mentioned above, we won't be posted our regular monthly blogs in the near future in order to free up time to publish all the teaching and counseling guides listed below.  Instead, we will post mini-blog posts here as we come across some resource or info that we just have to share with you.  And, as always, you can follow us on our Bilingual Learner FB page to get real time updates of resources, info, and free downloadables.
  • Here are our latest guides coming at you very soon:

 

 

 

HOLIDAY ESL/EFL RESOURCES

 

 

HOLIDAY COUNSELING RESOURCES

 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  If you haven't done so already, like us at one our Facebook page below to become one of our Bilingual Learner followers where you will have access to real time updates of our latest info, resources, and all our other free downloadables!    As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Red Ribbon Week, ESL Kickoff and Some Halloween Fun!

October 3, 2015

As October rolls in, we are gearing up for Red Ribbon Week on the counseling front to highlight drug and alcohol awareness.  On the ESL/EFL front, we are starting our English classes, so we have some tips and photos for teaching the not-so-beginning beginner English students!  As always, we've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below

 

 

 

BUT FIRST A FEW BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES:


 

DRUG/ALCOHOL PREVENTION & RED RIBBON WEEK

Red Ribbon Week occurs at the end of October to honor the life and work of DEA agent, Kiki Camarena, who fought against the drug cartels in Central America and was killed when they targeted him during a lunch date.  At my school. we celebrate this week with students by sharing info with students about Kiki Camarena and his fight against the drug trade.  We also share some info about drug and alcohol awareness from the sources below, depending on the age group.  And finally, we show the incredible, breathtaking animated short, Nuggets, to our older students who can grasp it's meaning.  After showing the video, we use the questions at this link to guide a lively discussion with our classes.

Here are a few other other wonderful drug and alcohol prevention resources to use with your students and clients:

 

ESL/EFL CLASS KICKOFF!

My latest round of ESL classes started up about three weeks ago.  I have 12 students of varying adolescent ages and beginning levels.  They are enthusiastic, wonderful, and full of energy despite the later afternoon hour (our class doesn't start until 4pm and it seems that as I am winding down for the evening, they are just getting more wound up!) 

For this group, I am using my ESL for Beginners Volume Three lessons guide since many of these students have a basic knowledge of English and started their own public school ESL classes 2 months ago.  Currently, we are learning past tense to be verb structures while reviewing present tense verbs.  During the first week, we spent  a lot of time going over the classroom rules and consequences to set the tone- this was after I gave them our daily snack and 15 minutes of playtime outside so they were ready to focus.  Aside from rules and consequences, we mostly just had a lot of fun the first week!  I think it is important to start off on a positive and engaging note to give them a super-positive first impression of the class so they are excited to come to future classes each day.  At the same time, it is crucial to be consistent, clear, and firm with rules, procedures, and consequences.  In order to build English speaking and listening skills, we have been doing the following activities in these first few weeks: feelings vocabulary card games with prizes for winners, sing-alongs with ESL-themed songs, chants with hand claps, read alouds of engaging picture books, pronunciation of numbers to 50, Create Your Own Dialogues, and Word Wall Games.   Next week, we'll continue with instruction on past continuous verb structures, video clip activities, teacher-student oral practice, active listening for pronunciation, and so much more.  Stay tuned for more news on all this good stuff!  Below are pics of my ESL classroom...

My Tiny Classroom-in-a-Closet

My tiny classroom-in-a-closet   

Our Class Songs, Rules, and Daily Agenda on Chart Paper

Class Rules and Consequences

Read Aloud  Book and Grammar Structure Games

Video Clip Activity

Some Students Watching the Video Clip

 

 

HALLOWEEN SCENE!

Whether you are a counselor or teacher, here are some ideas you can use to celebrate the scarier-themed fall festival holidays with your students!  We've had lots of fun reading "In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories," which is full of repetitive scary stories with easy vocab and perfect for the Halloween season.  Along with this book, we also teach students the scary song, "Have You Seen the Ghost of John?", also with easy vocab and lots of repetition perfect for ESL learners or anyone trying to adapt to the US culture.  They love it and we've sang it throughout past Octobers with super-simple guitar accompaniment of just four 'anyone-can-learn-in-an-afternoon' guitar chords (just google them for finger placement).  Additionally, here's a link to Bilingual Learner's own fun Halloween passage to teach about this popular American holiday . 

 And here's a few more Halloween/fall goodies we want to pass on...

  • Spooky Halloween fun from Busyteacher.org: the holiday
  • Buzzfeed's Best Teacher Costumes
  • And, in the spirit of fall and all things slightly scary, you've GOT to see this Youtube viral video- it is hilarious: Spiderdog 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in November for our next post on "Staying in Your Lane: How to Gracefully Decline Non- Counseling or Non-Teaching Job Duties."  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

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New Kids on the Block: Tips for the Rookie Counselor or ESL/EFL Teacher

August 30, 2015

If you are new to the school environment, the start of the school year is about as overwhelming as it gets!  So our September post is full of tips for helping the rookie counselor or teacher survive and thrive during your first (or fifth) year.  Someone once said that the first year of teaching is just survival....

 

 

BUT FIRST A FEW BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES:

  • Our newest guide, Get Your Goal On: Academic Achievement Group Counseling Guide is here! Order it or download a free preview to motivate your underachieving students to pass those classes! Check it out @ http://bilinguallearner.com/Products.
  • We also just put up our other counseling guide, The Unstressables: Stress Management Group Counseling Guide, on our website.  Check out the free downloadable preview on our homepage @ http://bilinguallearner.com/.
  • Finally, our latest ESL/EFL lessons guide, ESL in the Middle Volume One, is available with lots of lesson plans for your intermediate English learner.  We hope to start cranking out Volume Two after the December holidays!

 

TIPS FOR NEW COUNSELORS AND NEW TEACHERS

The first year of counseling is like the first year of teaching- SURVIVAL!  So our first tip for you is our most simple and most important:

  • Just do your best and go with the flow- you really do need that first full year of school counseling or teaching under your belt before you can have a true understanding of what your job entails.  Unfortunately, you can't get to that understanding until to make it through your first year.  The learning curve is incredibly steep, so as long as your show up everyday, keep a running list of upgrades for your program the following year, and do your best to help kids, you are a shining star!  Which leads us to our next tip...
  • Start a "Things to Do/Modify for Next Year" list right away where you can jot down any ideas or modifications for things you'd like to implement differently the following year.  It is so crucial to jot down your ideas in the moment right as they strike you- trust us, you'll never remember it all if you wait until the end of the year to make your list.
  • Say the serenity prayer or some other form of it often.  Working in schools is truly an experience where you will always see much more need than you can meet.  In addition, you will see things that need to change, but are out of your control.  Just remember to stay positive and change the things you can, accept the things you cannot, and try to know the difference.

TIPS FOR NEW COUNSELORS ONLY

  • Get a copy of your state's counselor manual (here's a link to an example- it's our Texas one) and make it your Bible- everything you do in your day should somehow relate back to the duties in that manual.
  • Join ASCA and make time to read their monthly magazine.
  • Meet with your administration (especially your principal or director) and fill out and sign a school counseling annual agreement for planning your program.  Here's a link to ASCA's template for an Annual Agreement. 
  • Find out your district's protocol for handling student crisis (3 hurts) situations and be ready and well-versed in how to follow it.  If you are in a district or school that doesn't have a protocol for this, use ours by following this link.
  • If you are transitioning from being a teacher to being a school counselor (as we did), keep in mind that you are no longer part of the teacher team and this may sting.  Some teachers think that no one works as hard as they do and some can be forgetful or unwelcoming to non-teaching staff.  If this is your campus reality, just hang in there and be friendly- sooner or later you'll make some close ties with the other non-teaching staff (at my school, we call ourselves the No-team Team) and you'll eventually find some teachers that will be thrilled to have you on their "team."

 

 TIPS FOR NEW TEACHERS ONLY

We also had an equally long list of additional tips for new ESL/EFL teachers, but then we realized... why post our tips when the experts say it so much better!  So here some links to the best new teacher tips we found among the top educational organizations.

 

AND NOW A FEW PICS OF OUR 2015-16 SCHOOL SPACES:

 

   

 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  We'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on being a new teacher or counselor (we were all there once!), so comment below!  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in October for our next post on substance abuse prevention in the classroom and Red Ribbon Week activities.  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

 

Back to School- An ESL and Counseling Plan!

August 1, 2015

It was such a pleasant surprise to go back to school this week. The end of the summer is always a little depressing and this break, in particular, was especially difficult to end since I had such a good time writing some new ESL and counseling books while visiting my parents in Florida.  (Visiting my parents in their "subdivision resort," as we like to call it, is a reverse vacation for us since we live the lifestyle everyday of a camping vacation in our totally rustic 700 square foot cabin on 7 acres of wilderness).  Then, when we got back from the "subdivision resort,"  my husband and I had a great time enjoying our two new horses and newly built screened-in porch. So, after all this, I was NOT feeling ready to go back to school.  But then I walked into my office and two things happened.  First, I started preparing for my new colleague who is so enthusiastic about starting her school counseling career that her enthusiasm just totally energized me!  I felt more professionally excited than I had in a long time.  Last year was especially draining with our very high-need student population always growing and the resulting stressed reactions from staff members.  Second, I was further energized by prepping for a new teaching experience that awaits me- I made plans last semester with our extra-curricular coordinator and Newcomer teacher to start teaching a speaking and listening class to our intermediate ESL learners.  So, I worked  all summer to get this curriculum, ESL in the Middle, ready.  Making plans and prepping materials to teach this class had me buzzing all around my office! So the moral of this story is: embrace the new! Having a new teacher or counselor come on board with you can give your educational world a whole new, rosy glow! Likewise, having a new teaching or counseling program that you are excited about can get you bounding into school with golden retriever puppy energy!

After setting up my office, burning through a summer's worth of emails, getting my ESL/EFL curriculum squared away, and setting up my planner for the year, I was ready to get down to business and update our counselor handbook for the new counselor.  I wrote the handbook several years ago as a guide to keep in our counseling office and I've used it through the years with new colleagues or interns.  However, it hasn't had a major overhaul in years, so it was time.  I felt so inspired thinking of the newness and excitement of starting out in the school counseling profession.  This inspiration got my professional juices flowing and I revised the counseling handbook, adding in tons of new docs that have come into popular use over the last few years, both in my district and nationally .  I'll be tweaking this handbook throughout the year and I hope to publish it on our website here in early 2016.  Here are two free downloadables from the handbook: a very rough Table of Contents (giving a snapshot of some of the documents it will contain) and our Counseling Office Tragedy Plan (God forbid, if one of our students/families suffers a tragedy).  There are many other helpful resources below- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.

First, a few Bilingual Learner updates...

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

And now, onto our main feature:

TACKLING THE FIRST WEEK BACK!

If you are like us and the sight of a disorganized office or classroom is overwhelming and disorienting, here is a list below of how we tackle the first week in order to have things in order and in process by the time everyone returns:

  • Unpack all materials and set up your office/classroom. (3-6 hours...don't spend more than a day on this, even if you are breaking in a new office/classroom because it will all change as the year progresses anyway.  Just put everything you have in a place so that you feel somewhat comfortable in your space.)
  • Change out your summer break phone/email message and return any phone messages you acquired while hanging out at the beach. (30 min-1 hour)
  • Check work email and take care of those over-the-summer emails and any others you just couldn't deal with during the last few days of the 2014-15 school year. (2 hours)
  • Put together your TO DO list and write the tasks in your planner or Outlook Calendar or Smartphone or whatever you use.  This way, you will know when to do them and actually remember to do each task. (1-2 hours if you are continuing from the TO DO list you started for this new school year at the end of 2014-15.  If you didn't start your 2015-16 TO DO list last year and you have to make it from scratch- block out a half day.)
  • Meet with your colleague (if you have one) to coordinate your activities/plan your lessons for the next two weeks and to set a weekly or monthly planning time to continue meeting regularly through the school year.  After, get your materials together. (2-3 hours counselors, 2-3 days teachers)
  • COUNSELORS ONLY: Set up your waiting room/suite/lobby if you have one. (20 minutes- IF you have an awesome student helper who you can call up to come to the school and do this for you.  In our counseling office, we have amazing office aides each year that we painstakingly train- email us if you need training mats.  Because our counseling office secretary positions were cut a few years ago, our student aides are like mini-office managers and know our suite layout better than we do.  So, we bought our student aide lunch and just let her go- 2 hours later, she was all done and our waiting room sparkled.)
  • Set up and make/email copies of your weekly schedule and yearly calendar/syllabus- post copies wherever you work, on your office door, and email/give to your administrators; its also good at this time to set up with admin a weekly or monthly meeting time that runs throughout the school year so everyone knows: what ASCA/TESOL recommends that you do, what amazing things you are actually doing, and what admin needs for you to do. (1 hour- IF you laid the foundation for this at the end of the 2014-15 school year with your admin.  If not and you need guidance- email us as it's too much to go into here.)
  • Start on that TO DO list.   Happy DO-ing!

If you'd like to see some photos of our counseling office or ESL/EFL classroom, you can scroll down to last month's post where we posted photos of last year's classroom and counseling office.  If you want to see current 2015-16 photos, stay tuned- they will go up in our September post here next month!  In the meantime, I will share this awesome self-disclosure poster from NY social worker, Doralee Michaeli- I've already hung it on my office wall- you'll see it in the pics next month! 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in September for our next post with ideas for those new PSCs and teachers who are just starting out, plus lots of pics of our counseling office and ESL classroom!  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that our hard work helped you out! If you found a resource here, please show us your love and comment about it below!

 

 

8 Tips to Prepare Your ESL/EFL Classroom or Counseling Office for the Next School Year!

July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day to all you Americans out there!  Enjoy this little blast-from-the-past video clip in honor of the 4th of July (click on the telescope pic to the left)...

 

 

 

Well, better late than never!  We finally have our July post up and ready for you, just before midnight!  This month, we are full of ideas and tips on getting prepared for the next school year!  So if you'd like some professional food-for-thought to make your program even better once you start up again, this post is right up your alley!  As always, we've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.

But, first, a few Bilingual Learner updates...

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

And now, onto our main feature:

5 TIPS TO PREPARE YOUR ESL/EFL CLASSROOM OR COUNSELING OFFICE FOR THE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR

1.  Avoid Burnout-Unless you MUST be in your office or classroom during your break, STAY AWAY!  We know... this can be really hard. There's just something so tempting about the potential to get work done in the quiet and solitary environment of your own empty classroom/office.  But, it is important to stay away in order to recharge yourself so you can start fresh when you do have to return.  Think of it this way- batteries don't recharge themselves while still in the flashlight.

2.  Make a List- Start writing down any changes and additions you would like to make in your teaching or counseling program on a "Things to Change Next Year" list.  Anytime you have a revelation about something that might work better for you and your students/clients, write it on the list.   Then at the end of your break, spend some time transferring the changes you most want to implement into your planner, smartphone, master counseling calendar (here's ours if you need a template), Outlook calendar, or whatever you use to organize and plan out your year.  Here's a link to a snippet of our "Things to Change Next Year" list.

3.  Compile Your Supplies- Staples makes a lot of money off of us over the summer.  They may not see us during the entire school year except for an occasional frantic weeknight run, but we are on a first-name basis over the summer!  Spend some time writing out a list of all the supplies you would like to buy and then shop for them during your break when you have the time to concentrate, take your time, and enjoy your shopping experience.  Here's our shopping list (and a pic!) so far:

  • 2015-16 Academic Planner
  • First-day-of-school outfit (We buy ourselves a new one every year to feel a little extra sparkly on that first day when we throw open the doors!)
  • Stickers
  • Prizes for the treasure chest
  • index cards
  • CD labels
  • padded envelopes

 

4.  Do Your PD (Professional Development) Reading- If you are into this sort of thing, use your break to read, highlight, and take notes on whatever it is you want to improve on in your career.  After reading, review your notes, and red star the 5-10 most important ones and then put them in your "Things to Change Next Year" list. Here's a PD reading list to start with if you need some ideas:

ESL/EFL BOOKS

COUNSELING BOOKS

6. Student/Client List- Make a list of those students or clients who you didn't quite finish your work with last year; include a note about where you left off with them and what more you can do to support them.  Spend some time checking in with them in the beginning of the year to help them get started on the right foot.  Often just knowing that someone cares and is available is all the support they need.

7.  Plan it Out of the Way! Plan as many of your lessons, units, group sessions, and/or guidance lessons as you can.  As mentioned above, the beginning of the school year tsunami is coming and the less you have to do when it hits, the better you will feel!

8. Decorate- Stop doing #1 and return two to three days before your actual official start date to decorate your office or classroom.  Even, better, do it before you leave on break, if you still have that option. Decorating your classroom or office is one of the few things you can do without students, clients, or work systems in place.  All you need is some butcher paper, a stapler, staples and StaplesTM, Pinterest, and your own creativity.  So, knock out this fun and crucial task before the beginning-of-school-year tsunami hits!  Here are a few photos of our decorations below:

COUNSELING OFFICE

 

 

 

ESL CLASSROOM

    

 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in August for our next post on the adventures of the first month back to counseling and teaching!   As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that our hard work helped you out! If you found a resource here, please show us your love and comment about it below!

 

 

 

 

 

ESL & Counseling Tips for the End of the School Year

June 6, 2015

Hello Summer Vacay!  Oh, it's that glorious time of the year when US teachers and school counselors throw their hands up in the air in FREEDOM!  Sorry to all you overseas educators who are still slugging away at your schools, but we'll be envying you big time come December and January...

 

 

So, our June post is a shorter one because we have just sent out our quarterly newsletter with 19 different downloadable resources that we'd normally put in this post.  So, sign up to the right asap if you haven't already received our latest newsletter.  However, in the spirit of our monthly post, we do have some updates and freebies for you.  Read on below and, as always...we've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • Look for our new beginners ESL guide, ESL Express, later this summer.  It will be a streamlined version of ESL for Beginners that is organized into 4 weekly units.
  • We just sent our latest ESL teaching guide, ESL in the Middle: Lessons Guide for Teaching Intermediate Students to our editor!  As soon as Anne works her editing magic, we will have it up on the website for order.  A sneak peek and freebie downloadable from this intermediate ESL/EFL teaching guide is now available on the left side of our homepage!
  • The Spanish version of Girl World: Girl Empowerment Group Counseling Guide, Charla Entre Chicas, is FINALLY ready for publication.  Look for it on our products page in the next few weeks. 
  • A huge shoutout to the newest member of the Bilingual Learner team, Monica Briancon, our amazing Spanish editor who we had to go all the way to Bolivia to find!  We've been searching for her for 2 years, but she is definitely worth the wait!
  • Get ready for our latest counseling guides, The Unstressables and Get Your Goal On!  These 2 books on anti-anxiety techniques and academic achievement strategies are starting production this week!!  We are super excited and can't wait to get going on them!  Look for updates, free preview downloadables, and ordering details on our website or FB page below.
  • Another huge shoutout to our fabulously talented illustrator, Michell Schalik, for the new Be Cool: Anger Management Group Counseling Guide illustrations that will go into our revised guide later this summer.  The pics are wonderful and a sneak peak is above. 
  • FYI- we provide free revised editions of all our Bilingual Learner guides to all our customers who request them.  You can find out when we publish a revised guide by subscribing to our newsletter because we advertise updated editions of our books there.  Once you hear of a revised guide, just email us at bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with your name, the name of the guide, the date you purchased it, and where you purchased it from (our website, TPT, Amazon, etc) and we will get an electronic version of your revised guide emailed right out to you!

 

END-OF-YEAR ESL/EFL TIPS

If you are ending your ESL classes for the school year, consider these tips:

  • Keep students engaged in meaningful lessons until the last day of class.  Although the temptation is strong to start showing videos and letting students play games, this will only frustrate you as class time crawls and everyone wastes their time (or worse-misbehavior starts).  Consider incorporating meaningful lesson content into fun activities such as field trips or art projects.  And in case you haven't yet taught contractions... Click on this freebie contractions chart to have some meaningful content to incorporate into your fun end-of-the-year activities! 
  • Give students a reading list of favorite, easy reader English chapter books that they can enjoy over the summer in order to keep their English fresh. 
  • During lunch or off-times, enlist your students to help you pack up your classroom.  Spend an afternoon organizing various jobs for various students, give them a 30 minute training session and let them go!  While your student movers are working, you can use this time to research some dynamic lessons and units for next year!

 

ENDING YOUR COUNSELING SESSIONS

But first, a fun freebie for working with those academic underachievers:  The No Zeroes Race! Do you have students who struggle with passing their classes?  We do and as part of our academic achievement group counseling curriculum, we play The No Zeroes Race with our group members.  For the racetrack and directions, click here!

If you are in the counseling profession, this time of year brings lots of closure.  We wrap up guidance lessons and terminate individual/group sessions as students leave on summer trips or move away.  So, for this post, Bilingual Learner has included a few downloadables to help you with ending your sessions and lessons.  We think there are many different ways to effectively wrap up your counseling sessions, but all should include discussions throughout counseling of when the final session will be and also discussion about how to make future contact with the counselor, if needed.   For all our groups and individual sessions we run, we have students fill out an evaluation during the last session to show us what they have learned, how they have grown, and ways we might improve our sessions for the future-here is the evaluation from our counseling guide, Be Cool! - it is the group evaluation from this guide, but can easily be modified for use with individuals, too.  We use anonymous quotes from the session evaluations in our data presentations to school stakeholders to show them the power and effectiveness of counseling- you can see an example of this from the preview of our Girl World Group Counseling Sessions Guide coming out this summer.  If you would like to see the rest of our group and guidance lesson data tools, just click the “Group and Guidance Lessons Tools” icon link on our homepage.   Alternately, for school-wide counseling programs, we have every student on campus complete this evaluation of our program and the lessons we have taught We also plot all the data collected in our student program evaluations on excel charts/graphs and present them as well to the school leadership team.  While all of these forms work primarily as evaluation tools, we also use them as a sort of needs assessment for future lessons and counseling sessions since we work with many of the same students from year to year.

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in July for our next MYSTERY post.   As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that our hard work helped you out! If you found a resource here, please show us your love and comment about it below!

 

 

 

ESL/EFL SUMMER RESOURCES PLUS IDENTITY & SUICIDE SUPPORT

May 2, 2015

 

We have lots of interesting tidbits to share today so let’s just jump right into it!  Our post today will feature some of the latest resources we’ve come across this spring in the ESL/EFL and counseling worlds…summer English activities, Memorial Day lessons and other cultural resources, suicide prevention, and LGBT awareness.  More on all this in a bit, but first, let’s start with some updates.

As always, we've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • Get ready for our latest counseling guides, Stress Blasters and Get Your Goal On!  These 2 books on antianxiety techniques and academic achievement strategies are starting production as soon as we begin our summer break in June.  Look for updates, free preview downloadables, and ordering details on our website or FB page below!
  • Our Spring eblast is coming!  If you aren't already on our enewsletter mailing list, sign up by filling out the form on this webpage to the right.  Then, we can send our newsletter filled with free counseling/ESL/EFL resources right to your inbox!
  • We are continuing to churn out our newest teaching guide, ESL in the Middle: Lessons Guide for Teaching Intermediate Students.  A sneak peek and freebie downloadable from this intermediate ESL/EFL teaching guide is now available on the left side of our homepage!

 

ESL/EFL MEMORIAL DAY & SUMMER ACTIVITIES... PLUS CULTURE RESOURCES!

As happens every year in May, schools are gearing up to work with Newcomer students over the summer to give them that extra push into language that will help propel them along for the next school year.  In researching some of our own summer-themed ESL/EFL activities for the latest guide we are writing, ESL in the Middle, we’ve found and created some fun and free summer-themed ESL/EFL activities below that you can use with your ELL or Newcomer students.  In addition, we came across the most amazing set of maps of the English-speaking world and culturePlus, the map explanations sum up our reasoning behind writing the Bilingual Learner Culture Explorer guides where students can learn about and experience various aspects of the "English-speaking culture."

 

 

 

COUNSELING: SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES AND LGBT AWARENESS

A sad but very frequent reality that counselors have to deal with is suicide prevention.  Suicidal Ideation (thinking about, considering, or planning for suicide) is something every counselor will come into contact with as they treat their students/clients.  For that reason, we’d like to include some of the best resources we’ve come across that will help you reach out to your kids who are battling this monster. 

 

And finally, we’d like to wrap up with a few words about and resources for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) movement that is really gaining momentum in reaching out to young people and providing a safe place for countless numbers of youngsters struggling with their own gender identity. 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in June for our next post on ending your counseling sessions and wrapping up your ESL/EFL classroom for summer break.  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL/EFL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that our hard work helped you out! If you found a great resource here, please show us your love and comment about it below!

 

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Boys Counseling Group and ESL Summer Resources

July 8, 2016

Happy Independence Day!  Hope your 4th of July was safe, fun and restful!  For this month's post, I want to write a bit about a new boys counseling group I started last spring called Goals Make the Man.

I also have a few Independence Day and summer-themed ESL/EFL activities to include, plus 2 freebie downloadables from my new intermediate ESL lessons guide: ESL in the Middle Volume 2.  Speaking of new books, let's get the Bilingual Learner updates out of the way...

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • The End of the School Year Freebies is extended! Due to popular demand, I've extended my buy-one-get-one-free deal going on ANY of the teaching or counseling eguides. Head on over to my product page and get your freebies today.  (Once you purchase your first eguide, just email me at bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with your receipt number and the title of the eguide you'd like for free and I'll email you your freebie right away.) 
  • My new bilingual group counseling guide is available, Relajate: Stress Management Group Counseling Guide with English/Spanish Activities!  Look for it on my products page or download a free preview from my home page
  • Look for my new intermediate ESL guide, ESL in the Middle Volume Two, in August!  It will be an intermediate English lessons guide for ESL/EFL students, organized into 4 weekly units.  Here's a freebie preview of the guide, so you can check it out!
  • We now have a Texas School Counselor FB group to share ideas, exchange resources, ask questions, and get support on all things counseling!  Join our FB group and add all your counseling colleagues here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1327148357311451/.

As always, I've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.  Plus, my Bilingual Learner quarterly counseling newsletter will be coming out in August with lots of new resources and freebie downloadables- sign up in the newsletter box in the right column.  

 

A COUNSELING GROUP CALLED GOALS MAKE THE MAN!

So last spring I decided to try a new type of counseling support group.  I wanted to target our most disadvantaged boys who seem to spend all their time getting into trouble and going to the In School Suspension room.  So I selected 8 boys- aged 11-14, who simply could not stay out of trouble, despite every intervention imaginable from their teachers and parents/guardians!  The main point of the group is goal achievement- namely for each group member to focus on what goal they wanted to achieve related to their discipline troubles.  In addition to working on goal achievement each session, we would also spend time each session on mastering some social skills and debunking some unhelpful masculine stereotypes.  So, I combed through our school discipline data and then met with the 15 boys who had the highest number of discipline referrals for the year.  During this pre-group interview,  I chose 7 of the boys who were most eager to improve their discipline record for the remaining two months of the school year. Additionally, I didn't chose anyone with chronic attendance problems since that is a completely separate problem that must be solved first (so they can actually be in school to attend the group sessions).  After choosing my 7 boys (3 of which didn't make it to group because of transferring schools), I completed all of the pre-group tasks, and we were off.  Here's a chronological list of all the tasks to complete before the first group session.  Despite my reservations (after all, these were THE most disrespectful and uncontrollable kiddos in the school AND what did I, a middle-aged woman, know about teenage boy issues and masculinity?!?), the group went smashingly.  And I have to attribute a large part of the group success to the participation of our School Resource Officer as a group member.  Deputy Robles came to every session faithfully and served as wonderful mentor and role model for our group members, many of whom had no positive adult male role model in their lives.  It was SUCH a wonderful experience, for the boys and for me as their group leader!  It was so powerful to see the boys connect with and support each other, give each other good advice, bond with Deputy Robles, and give all the group activities their best shot.  In summary, I attribute the success of the group to the following points-

  • The boys really wanted to improve their lives.
  • The SRO's presence, positivity, and leadership as a co-group facilitator was invaluable; I think it is crucial to have a positive male role model when conducting group sessions with boys who have serious discipline problems.
  • Our firm reminders of group rules (link here)- we read the rules together at the start of every session and gently corrected any group member not following a rule. 
  • The structured, positive group activities with a bit of fun and a lot of movement thrown in- this kept our boys coming back session after session.

I am writing and field testing the curriculum for this group during this 2016-17 school year, so look for it sometime in the near future on our products page.  In the meantime, here are a few Goals Make the Man pictures and resources to hold you over...

  • I showed various clips from this Tough Guise video to my boys and they were spell-bound while watching it.  It is a fabulous perspective on masculinity.  Just make sure you preview all the parts you want to show- there is some salty language and violent scenes in the vid.
  • This is the pre/posttest I gave to the boys during the first and last session of the group to collect data about knowledge gained.
  • Here is the template we used for the goals that the boys made and shared with each other.
  • We started every session with a toll of this mindfulness bell where the boys put their heads down and focused on breathing in and out for one minute until I rang the bell to end the exercise.  Despite some initial furrowed brows over this activity, the group mems grew to love and request it!

 

    

 

ESL SUMMER ACTIVITIES

Here are some of my favorite summer-themed ESL activities- both new and old!

  • This is about THE coolest fireworks craft you can have your students make- and following directions in English is a great language builder for intermediate English students! 
  • Good for summertime or anytime of this year- here's little freebie preview from my new guide, ESL in the Middle Volume Two, it's an ESL game called Math Bee.  
  • Love this adorable, animated 4th of July Song from School House Rock.
  • Lots of Super Fun Field Trips!

That brings me to the end of this month's post.  Check back here again next month for more tips and resources to kickstart your counseling or teaching program! As always, you can find out about Bilingual Learner’s latest promotions, free stuff, or my counseling/ESL adventures by following my Facebook PageTwitter Page, or Pinterest Page.  And don’t forget to follow me on my new Instagram Page to see pics of my adventures with students!
 
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Top 10 Tips for Wrapping Up Your Counseling Year & Building Your Program

June 15, 2016

Hello Summer Vacay!  This month, I have lots of ideas and tips on wrapping up this school year’s counseling program AND getting prepared for the next school year!  So if you'd like some professional food-for-thought to make your program even better once you start up again, this post is right up your alley!  As always, I've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.  Plus, my Bilingual Learner quarterly counseling newsletter will be coming out in August- sign up in the newsletter box in the right column.    A few Bilingual Learner updates to start us off…

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • End of the School Year Freebies! To celebrate the end of the school year, Bilingual Learner has a buy-one-get-one-free deal going on ANY of the teaching or counseling eguides. Head on over to my product page and get your freebies today.  (Once you purchase your first eguide, just email me at bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with your receipt number and the title of the eguide you'd like for free and I'll email you your freebie right away.) 
  • Just-revised group counseling guides, Be Cool and Tranquila, are ready!  I provide free revised editions of all our Bilingual Learner guides to customers who request them- just email me at bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with your name, the name of the guide, the date you purchased it, and where you purchased it from (our website, TPT, Amazon, etc) and I’ll get an electronic version of your revised guide emailed right out to you!
  • You can find out when I publish a revised guide by subscribing to the BL newsletter (sign up in the box in the right column on this page) because I advertise updated editions of my books there. 
  • New bilingual group counseling guide is available, Relajate: Stress Management Group Counseling Guide with English/Spanish Activities!  Look for it on my products page or download a free preview from my home page
  • Look for my new intermediate ESL guide, ESL in the Middle Volume Two, later this summer.  It will be an intermediate English lessons guide for ESL/EFL students, organized into 4 weekly units.  Here's a little freebie preview of the guide, it's an ESL game called, Math Bee.
  • Follow Bilingual Learner now on our new Instagram page @ instagram.com/bilinguallearner/ to see pics of my counseling and teaching adventures with students!
  • We now have a Texas School Counselor FB group to share ideas, exchange resources, ask questions, and get support on all things counseling!  Join our FB group and add all your counseling colleagues here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1327148357311451/.

 

TOP 10 COUNSELING TIPS FOR ENDING THE YEAR & IMPROVING YOUR PROGRAM

This time of year brings lots of closure as well as thoughts of what exciting programs to start in the fall!  Here are some tips and resources to help you with ending your sessions, wrapping up your counseling program, and planning a bit for the upcoming year! 

  1. Student Help- During lunch or off-times, enlist your students to help you pack up your office (minus any confidential student files, of course).  Spend an afternoon organizing various jobs for various students, give them a 30 minute training session and let them go!  While your student movers are working, you can use this time to research some dynamic guidance lessons and group sessions for next year!
  2. Make a List- Start writing down any changes and additions you would like to make in your teaching or counseling program on a "Things to Change Next Year" list.  Anytime you have a revelation about something that might work better for you and your students/clients, write it on the list.   Then at the end of your break, spend some time transferring the changes you most want to implement into your planner, smartphone, master counseling calendar (here's ours if you need a template), Outlook calendar, or whatever you use to organize and plan out your year.  Here's a link to a snippet of our "Things to Change Next Year" list.
  3. Terminating Counseling- There are many different ways to effectively wrap up your counseling sessions with students, but all should include discussions throughout counseling of when the final session will be and also discussion about how students can make future contact with the counselor, if needed. 
  4. Evaluations- Have students fill out an evaluation during the last session with you to show what they have learned, how they have grown, and ideas on improving future sessions-here is the evaluation from my newest counseling guide, Relajate - it is the English/Spanish group evaluation from the stress management guide, but it can easily be modified for use with individuals, too. 
  5. Student/Client List- Make a list of those students or clients with whom you didn't quite finish your work  last year; include a note about where you left off with them and what more you can do to support them.  Spend some time checking in with them in the beginning of the year to help them get started on the right foot.  Often just knowing that someone cares and is available is all the support they need.
  6. Data- Principals and administrators love data and data is THE way to get more funding, resources, and staff buy-in to enrich your counseling program.  Collect data on all your groups and guidance lessons through pre-/post-tests, analysis of members academic and discipline records, and student surveys. 
    • For help with the seemingly overwhelming task of compiling group and guidance lesson data tools, just click the “Group and Guidance Lessons Tools” icon link on my homepage.  
    • Present your data to your school leadership team and post your data (with all identifying student info removed!) in hard-to-miss locations like above the copy machine or in the bathroom!  FYI- there’s no rush on this- it is perfectly fine to present your data from this year’s counseling program at the beginning of the next school year in August or September.
    • Have every student on campus complete a counseling program evaluation.
    • Additionally, use all of the data you’ve collected as a sort of needs assessment for future lessons and counseling sessions since we all work with many of the same students from year to year.
  7. Avoid Burnout- Unless you MUST be in your office or classroom during your break, STAY AWAY!  Think of it this way- batteries don't recharge themselves while still in the flashlight.
  8. Compile Your Supplies- Spend some time writing out a list of all the supplies you would like to buy and then shop for them during your break when you have the time to concentrate, take your time, and enjoy your shopping experience. 
  9. Do Your PD (Professional Development) Reading- Use your break to read, highlight, and take notes on whatever it is you want to improve on in your career.  After reading, review your notes, and red star the 5-10 most important ones and then put them in your "Things to Change Next Year" list. Here's a PD (followed by a not-so-PD) reading list to start with if you need some ideas:
  • Lost at School by Ross Green
  • Life Re-imagined by Barbara Bradley Hagerty
  • The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz
  • American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales
  • Mindfulness by Mark Williams
  • Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin
  • Mindset by Carol Dweck
  • The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal

Fiction with Amazing Counseling Themes!

  • The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle
  • Defending Jacob by William Landay
  • The Pact by Jodi Piccoult
  • Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

And Some of the Tried and True, All Time Best Counseling Books Out There (that I mention every year;)

  • Brief Counseling That Works: A Solution-Focused Approach for School Counselors and Administrators, by Gerald B. (Bennett) Sklare
  • The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs (3rd edition), by the American School Counselor Association
  • Making Data Work, by Carol Kaffenberger and Anita Young
  • Brain on Fire, by Susanah Calahan

10.  Decorate- Stop doing #7 and return two to three days before your actual official start date to decorate your office or classroom.  So, knock out this fun and crucial task before the beginning-of-school-year tsunami hits!  Here are a few photos of my decorations below:

That brings me to the end of this month's post.  Check back here again next month for more tips and resources to kickstart your counseling program! As always, you can find out about Bilingual Learner’s latest promotions, free stuff, or my counseling/ESL adventures by following my Facebook PageTwitter Page, or Pinterest Page.  And don’t forget to follow me on my new Instagram Page!

 

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New School Counselor Group, Psychotic Student Support, and ESL/EFL Valentines & St. Paddy's Day Fun!

February 13, 2016

As one of our amazing colleagues put it in her notes to teachers- "Since educators, administrators, and school counselors all work together to support students, thank YOU for being one of the "3 Musketeers"  So Happy Belated National School Counseling Week to us all!  And Happy Valentines Day!!

In this post, we will cover some of the best highlights of the 2016 Texas School Counseling Conference which are great to incorporate into any school cousneling program, no matter the location.  As well, we will detail the latest, best practice techniques that we are using in our own ESL/EFL classes.  As always, you can click on any of the green links below for a free resource.  But first, a few Bilingual Learner updates...

 

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • CALLING ALL COUNSELORS:  We are super excited to announce that we now have a Texas School Counselor Facebook group to share ideas, exchange resources, answer questions, and support each other on all things related to school counseling!  In addition, this group supports the goals of advocacy and striving to align TX school counseling programs with the national ASCA model. Please  join our FB group if you haven't already and then add all your counseling colleagues to our group so we can build this resource to support counselors! Here's the link to join:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1327148357311451/.
  • ESL in the Middle Volume 2 is coming!  We hope to get the bulk of it written over Spring Break, so look for its publication in late spring or early summer!
  • Relajate: Bilingual Stress Management Group Counseling Guide is here!  Check out this link next week to see a preview!
  • The revision of Tranquila: Bilingual Anger Management Group Counseling Guide is here and it is better than ever!  With 2 additional sessions, plus lots of additional activities, you will find everything you need to help your Spanish speakers manage their anger in healthful ways.  What's more,  if you purchased Tranquila in the past, we have a free updgrade for you!  If you'd like your free PDF of the updated guide, email us at bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with your name, the date you purchased Tranquila, and where you purchased it (our website, TPT, Amazon, etc) and we will get your free upgrade right out to you!
  • We won't be posting our regular monthly blogs in the near future in order to free up time to publish.  Instead, we will post mini-blog posts here as we come across some resource or info that we just have to share with you.  And, as always, you can follow us on our Bilingual Learner page to get real time updates of resources, info, and free downloadables.

COUNSELING HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE TSCA CONFERENCE!

So, I just got back from the Texas School Counseling Association’s (TSCA) 2016 conference in Dallas where it was overwhelmingly evident that this is SUCH an exciting time in the school counseling profession- in session after session, I watched the foundation of a comprehensive, best practice counseling program model being laid for Texas.   No where was this more obvious than during the presentation to offer a preview of the 2016 Revised Texas Model School Counseling Guide! Here are some of the highlights of the revised guide:

An updated explanation of counselor duties under the four components (with a list of non-counseling duties like bus duty or 504 coordination OUTSIDE OF THE GRAPHIC!!!)

   

Plus, multiple pages solely dedicated to helping counselors avoid non-counseling duties!!  Oh, Hallelujah!

The new guide will also include an explanation of the responsive services component that differentiates between preventive, remedial, and crisis responses.

  

And finally a pyramid showing where each of our counseling duties falls within the RTI tiered system.

Some of the other amazing TSCA 2016 presentations included: 

Author Julia Cook's key note speech on Grit and Determination-- she talked a lot about these two qualities as being major determinants in student success, as well as turning off technology and establishing best practice boundaries. She gave a wonderful, engaging, and hilarious talk with some great guidelines for counselors and educators! Below are some highlights of her talk...  

  

 

And I also went a little fan-girl when I got to talk with her at her book signing...

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was an amazing presentation by social worker Benny Malone about how PSCs can support psychotic students such as:

1.  helping the family/student understand the illness

2.  helping the family see the need for treatment after diagnosis by a doctor

3.  helping the student regain the confident sense of self that will help foster a return to their previous level of functioning

4,  providing assistance with housing, employment, and school

5.  educating the student and family about relapse prevention in the following ways: 

  • avoiding stress-induced relapses
  • CBT therapy as helpful in healing
  • meds (if prescribed by a doctor) needed for at least 3 yrs after psychotic episode
 

She also provided an info gathering tool for school counselors called the At Risk Protocol for Early Warning Signs in Students; you can email the author here to request a copy and provide feedback on her protocol.  

 

Dr. Linda Metcalf's presentation on Solution Focused Counseling in Schools was also fantastic!  She shared many helpful tips and strategies on counseling.  Some of them are below.

  • With disrespectful students, you should get MORE RESPECTFUL as they get more disrespectful because this tends to de-escalate their disrespect.
  • Walk problem students back to the classroom of their referring teacher after you have met with them and ask the teacher to step outside classroom for a moment so you can say, “J and I talked over what was going wrong in the classroom and he has some ideas on what he can do to fix things- can you please watch for what he does differently now?”  She said this is key in getting students to change their behavior with minimal followup work from the teacher.
  • When thinking “where do I start“ over a complex kid with complex problems, just ask, "What are your best hopes for our time together?"  Then work with the student to create one counseling goal from their best hope.

So, all in all, it was a fantastic, though exhausting, 3 days.  I left the conference feeling so, so excited about the best practice path that Texas school counseling is on.  Now, I just have to remind myself that Rome wasn't built in a day....so note to self- baby steps and patience!

 

OUR LATEST ESL/EFL TIPS & TECHNIQUES WE ARE USING IN CLASS

So, we just started teaching the intermediate class of ESL in the Middle after graduating our students from the ESL for Beginners curriculum. We've picked up a bunch more students who missed our October registration as well as keeping many of our students from the ESL for Beginners class.  It is inspiring to see the two groups of students come together and work so well at their various levels.  Though all are at some level of intermediate, the range is wide and so we are using lots of different techniques to allow each student to move at their own pace within the class setting.  Below are some of our latest ESL/EFL teaching techniques.

 

Our more experienced students now run the classroom intro activities such as reviewing the class rules, number card reviews, and leading the class in  vocabulary card games, to name a few.   Since many of these activities follow the same format as last semester, our experienced students have seen the teacher lead the class many, many times in these activities.  Now, instead of the teacher leading everything, she sits in the back of the class as the "student-teacher" leads the class in the activity.  It is so inspiring for the class to have one of their own leading the activities.  Plus, there is no better way for the "student-teacher" to practice and apply their English than by leading a class activity!  

During the Color Me Verby activity, students had a chance to listen to and analyze the structure of past tense sentences.  They got so excited as they played this game, that they were flashing their color cards everywhere! Another cool thing about this activity was that 2 students who never have excelled at English won the game and another student who usually excels in English didn't even earn one point.  Apparently, the game really tested some different language skills!

Another technique that we are having a blast using this semester is the Garfield Comic of the Day- if you want to try it, go to the previous link and show the Garfield daily comic to your class.  Discuss as a class whatever daily comic pops up using discussions question such as: Was the comic funny? Why or why not?  What was confusing in the comic?  How old do you think the comic characters are?  Tell me something you like/dislike about the comic.

And finally, Grammar Structure Musical Chairs is such a simple and super fun activity that we can't believe we didn't start using it years ago!  Since we started using it last semester, our students beg to conjugate verbs while playing musical chairs.  The idea is simple-  set out chairs (one fewer than the number of students playing) and play some music; students must try to sit once the music stops, and whoever is left standing has to conjugate the verb.  The key to the overwhelming success of this activity is to play songs that students love and that have a fast, energetic beat such as Uptown Funk (Bruno Mars), Sugar (Maroon 5), Billie Jean (Michael Jackson), etc.

 

In closing, we'll leave you with a fun little Valentine activity called Valentine Video Clips- we hope your students love it as much as ours do!  We also want to leave you with one of our fav ESL/EFL St Patrick's Day activities. Happy Holiday-ing!

 

 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.     And don't forget to join our new Texas School Counselor FB page here.  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

 

 

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Holidays Galore for the ESL/EFL and Counseling Worlds!

November 7, 2015

Happy November!  In this post, we have tons of holiday resources and ideas to share for your ESL/EFL classroom or counseling office.  Also, a quick update- that we will be signing off here for a few months to focus on getting all the teaching and counseling guides below written.  As always, you can click on any of the green links below for a free resource.

 

 

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • As mentioned above, we won't be posted our regular monthly blogs in the near future in order to free up time to publish all the teaching and counseling guides listed below.  Instead, we will post mini-blog posts here as we come across some resource or info that we just have to share with you.  And, as always, you can follow us on our Bilingual Learner FB page to get real time updates of resources, info, and free downloadables.
  • Here are our latest guides coming at you very soon:

 

 

 

HOLIDAY ESL/EFL RESOURCES

 

 

HOLIDAY COUNSELING RESOURCES

 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  If you haven't done so already, like us at one our Facebook page below to become one of our Bilingual Learner followers where you will have access to real time updates of our latest info, resources, and all our other free downloadables!    As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Red Ribbon Week, ESL Kickoff and Some Halloween Fun!

October 3, 2015

As October rolls in, we are gearing up for Red Ribbon Week on the counseling front to highlight drug and alcohol awareness.  On the ESL/EFL front, we are starting our English classes, so we have some tips and photos for teaching the not-so-beginning beginner English students!  As always, we've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below

 

 

 

BUT FIRST A FEW BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES:


 

DRUG/ALCOHOL PREVENTION & RED RIBBON WEEK

Red Ribbon Week occurs at the end of October to honor the life and work of DEA agent, Kiki Camarena, who fought against the drug cartels in Central America and was killed when they targeted him during a lunch date.  At my school. we celebrate this week with students by sharing info with students about Kiki Camarena and his fight against the drug trade.  We also share some info about drug and alcohol awareness from the sources below, depending on the age group.  And finally, we show the incredible, breathtaking animated short, Nuggets, to our older students who can grasp it's meaning.  After showing the video, we use the questions at this link to guide a lively discussion with our classes.

Here are a few other other wonderful drug and alcohol prevention resources to use with your students and clients:

 

ESL/EFL CLASS KICKOFF!

My latest round of ESL classes started up about three weeks ago.  I have 12 students of varying adolescent ages and beginning levels.  They are enthusiastic, wonderful, and full of energy despite the later afternoon hour (our class doesn't start until 4pm and it seems that as I am winding down for the evening, they are just getting more wound up!) 

For this group, I am using my ESL for Beginners Volume Three lessons guide since many of these students have a basic knowledge of English and started their own public school ESL classes 2 months ago.  Currently, we are learning past tense to be verb structures while reviewing present tense verbs.  During the first week, we spent  a lot of time going over the classroom rules and consequences to set the tone- this was after I gave them our daily snack and 15 minutes of playtime outside so they were ready to focus.  Aside from rules and consequences, we mostly just had a lot of fun the first week!  I think it is important to start off on a positive and engaging note to give them a super-positive first impression of the class so they are excited to come to future classes each day.  At the same time, it is crucial to be consistent, clear, and firm with rules, procedures, and consequences.  In order to build English speaking and listening skills, we have been doing the following activities in these first few weeks: feelings vocabulary card games with prizes for winners, sing-alongs with ESL-themed songs, chants with hand claps, read alouds of engaging picture books, pronunciation of numbers to 50, Create Your Own Dialogues, and Word Wall Games.   Next week, we'll continue with instruction on past continuous verb structures, video clip activities, teacher-student oral practice, active listening for pronunciation, and so much more.  Stay tuned for more news on all this good stuff!  Below are pics of my ESL classroom...

My Tiny Classroom-in-a-Closet

My tiny classroom-in-a-closet   

Our Class Songs, Rules, and Daily Agenda on Chart Paper

Class Rules and Consequences

Read Aloud  Book and Grammar Structure Games

Video Clip Activity

Some Students Watching the Video Clip

 

 

HALLOWEEN SCENE!

Whether you are a counselor or teacher, here are some ideas you can use to celebrate the scarier-themed fall festival holidays with your students!  We've had lots of fun reading "In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories," which is full of repetitive scary stories with easy vocab and perfect for the Halloween season.  Along with this book, we also teach students the scary song, "Have You Seen the Ghost of John?", also with easy vocab and lots of repetition perfect for ESL learners or anyone trying to adapt to the US culture.  They love it and we've sang it throughout past Octobers with super-simple guitar accompaniment of just four 'anyone-can-learn-in-an-afternoon' guitar chords (just google them for finger placement).  Additionally, here's a link to Bilingual Learner's own fun Halloween passage to teach about this popular American holiday . 

 And here's a few more Halloween/fall goodies we want to pass on...

  • Spooky Halloween fun from Busyteacher.org: the holiday
  • Buzzfeed's Best Teacher Costumes
  • And, in the spirit of fall and all things slightly scary, you've GOT to see this Youtube viral video- it is hilarious: Spiderdog 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in November for our next post on "Staying in Your Lane: How to Gracefully Decline Non- Counseling or Non-Teaching Job Duties."  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that our hard work helped you out! If you found a resource here, please show us your love and comment about it below!

 

 

 

 

New Kids on the Block: Tips for the Rookie Counselor or ESL/EFL Teacher

August 30, 2015

If you are new to the school environment, the start of the school year is about as overwhelming as it gets!  So our September post is full of tips for helping the rookie counselor or teacher survive and thrive during your first (or fifth) year.  Someone once said that the first year of teaching is just survival....

 

 

BUT FIRST A FEW BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES:

  • Our newest guide, Get Your Goal On: Academic Achievement Group Counseling Guide is here! Order it or download a free preview to motivate your underachieving students to pass those classes! Check it out @ http://bilinguallearner.com/Products.
  • We also just put up our other counseling guide, The Unstressables: Stress Management Group Counseling Guide, on our website.  Check out the free downloadable preview on our homepage @ http://bilinguallearner.com/.
  • Finally, our latest ESL/EFL lessons guide, ESL in the Middle Volume One, is available with lots of lesson plans for your intermediate English learner.  We hope to start cranking out Volume Two after the December holidays!

 

TIPS FOR NEW COUNSELORS AND NEW TEACHERS

The first year of counseling is like the first year of teaching- SURVIVAL!  So our first tip for you is our most simple and most important:

  • Just do your best and go with the flow- you really do need that first full year of school counseling or teaching under your belt before you can have a true understanding of what your job entails.  Unfortunately, you can't get to that understanding until to make it through your first year.  The learning curve is incredibly steep, so as long as your show up everyday, keep a running list of upgrades for your program the following year, and do your best to help kids, you are a shining star!  Which leads us to our next tip...
  • Start a "Things to Do/Modify for Next Year" list right away where you can jot down any ideas or modifications for things you'd like to implement differently the following year.  It is so crucial to jot down your ideas in the moment right as they strike you- trust us, you'll never remember it all if you wait until the end of the year to make your list.
  • Say the serenity prayer or some other form of it often.  Working in schools is truly an experience where you will always see much more need than you can meet.  In addition, you will see things that need to change, but are out of your control.  Just remember to stay positive and change the things you can, accept the things you cannot, and try to know the difference.

TIPS FOR NEW COUNSELORS ONLY

  • Get a copy of your state's counselor manual (here's a link to an example- it's our Texas one) and make it your Bible- everything you do in your day should somehow relate back to the duties in that manual.
  • Join ASCA and make time to read their monthly magazine.
  • Meet with your administration (especially your principal or director) and fill out and sign a school counseling annual agreement for planning your program.  Here's a link to ASCA's template for an Annual Agreement. 
  • Find out your district's protocol for handling student crisis (3 hurts) situations and be ready and well-versed in how to follow it.  If you are in a district or school that doesn't have a protocol for this, use ours by following this link.
  • If you are transitioning from being a teacher to being a school counselor (as we did), keep in mind that you are no longer part of the teacher team and this may sting.  Some teachers think that no one works as hard as they do and some can be forgetful or unwelcoming to non-teaching staff.  If this is your campus reality, just hang in there and be friendly- sooner or later you'll make some close ties with the other non-teaching staff (at my school, we call ourselves the No-team Team) and you'll eventually find some teachers that will be thrilled to have you on their "team."

 

 TIPS FOR NEW TEACHERS ONLY

We also had an equally long list of additional tips for new ESL/EFL teachers, but then we realized... why post our tips when the experts say it so much better!  So here some links to the best new teacher tips we found among the top educational organizations.

 

AND NOW A FEW PICS OF OUR 2015-16 SCHOOL SPACES:

 

   

 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  We'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on being a new teacher or counselor (we were all there once!), so comment below!  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in October for our next post on substance abuse prevention in the classroom and Red Ribbon Week activities.  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

 

Back to School- An ESL and Counseling Plan!

August 1, 2015

It was such a pleasant surprise to go back to school this week. The end of the summer is always a little depressing and this break, in particular, was especially difficult to end since I had such a good time writing some new ESL and counseling books while visiting my parents in Florida.  (Visiting my parents in their "subdivision resort," as we like to call it, is a reverse vacation for us since we live the lifestyle everyday of a camping vacation in our totally rustic 700 square foot cabin on 7 acres of wilderness).  Then, when we got back from the "subdivision resort,"  my husband and I had a great time enjoying our two new horses and newly built screened-in porch. So, after all this, I was NOT feeling ready to go back to school.  But then I walked into my office and two things happened.  First, I started preparing for my new colleague who is so enthusiastic about starting her school counseling career that her enthusiasm just totally energized me!  I felt more professionally excited than I had in a long time.  Last year was especially draining with our very high-need student population always growing and the resulting stressed reactions from staff members.  Second, I was further energized by prepping for a new teaching experience that awaits me- I made plans last semester with our extra-curricular coordinator and Newcomer teacher to start teaching a speaking and listening class to our intermediate ESL learners.  So, I worked  all summer to get this curriculum, ESL in the Middle, ready.  Making plans and prepping materials to teach this class had me buzzing all around my office! So the moral of this story is: embrace the new! Having a new teacher or counselor come on board with you can give your educational world a whole new, rosy glow! Likewise, having a new teaching or counseling program that you are excited about can get you bounding into school with golden retriever puppy energy!

After setting up my office, burning through a summer's worth of emails, getting my ESL/EFL curriculum squared away, and setting up my planner for the year, I was ready to get down to business and update our counselor handbook for the new counselor.  I wrote the handbook several years ago as a guide to keep in our counseling office and I've used it through the years with new colleagues or interns.  However, it hasn't had a major overhaul in years, so it was time.  I felt so inspired thinking of the newness and excitement of starting out in the school counseling profession.  This inspiration got my professional juices flowing and I revised the counseling handbook, adding in tons of new docs that have come into popular use over the last few years, both in my district and nationally .  I'll be tweaking this handbook throughout the year and I hope to publish it on our website here in early 2016.  Here are two free downloadables from the handbook: a very rough Table of Contents (giving a snapshot of some of the documents it will contain) and our Counseling Office Tragedy Plan (God forbid, if one of our students/families suffers a tragedy).  There are many other helpful resources below- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.

First, a few Bilingual Learner updates...

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

And now, onto our main feature:

TACKLING THE FIRST WEEK BACK!

If you are like us and the sight of a disorganized office or classroom is overwhelming and disorienting, here is a list below of how we tackle the first week in order to have things in order and in process by the time everyone returns:

  • Unpack all materials and set up your office/classroom. (3-6 hours...don't spend more than a day on this, even if you are breaking in a new office/classroom because it will all change as the year progresses anyway.  Just put everything you have in a place so that you feel somewhat comfortable in your space.)
  • Change out your summer break phone/email message and return any phone messages you acquired while hanging out at the beach. (30 min-1 hour)
  • Check work email and take care of those over-the-summer emails and any others you just couldn't deal with during the last few days of the 2014-15 school year. (2 hours)
  • Put together your TO DO list and write the tasks in your planner or Outlook Calendar or Smartphone or whatever you use.  This way, you will know when to do them and actually remember to do each task. (1-2 hours if you are continuing from the TO DO list you started for this new school year at the end of 2014-15.  If you didn't start your 2015-16 TO DO list last year and you have to make it from scratch- block out a half day.)
  • Meet with your colleague (if you have one) to coordinate your activities/plan your lessons for the next two weeks and to set a weekly or monthly planning time to continue meeting regularly through the school year.  After, get your materials together. (2-3 hours counselors, 2-3 days teachers)
  • COUNSELORS ONLY: Set up your waiting room/suite/lobby if you have one. (20 minutes- IF you have an awesome student helper who you can call up to come to the school and do this for you.  In our counseling office, we have amazing office aides each year that we painstakingly train- email us if you need training mats.  Because our counseling office secretary positions were cut a few years ago, our student aides are like mini-office managers and know our suite layout better than we do.  So, we bought our student aide lunch and just let her go- 2 hours later, she was all done and our waiting room sparkled.)
  • Set up and make/email copies of your weekly schedule and yearly calendar/syllabus- post copies wherever you work, on your office door, and email/give to your administrators; its also good at this time to set up with admin a weekly or monthly meeting time that runs throughout the school year so everyone knows: what ASCA/TESOL recommends that you do, what amazing things you are actually doing, and what admin needs for you to do. (1 hour- IF you laid the foundation for this at the end of the 2014-15 school year with your admin.  If not and you need guidance- email us as it's too much to go into here.)
  • Start on that TO DO list.   Happy DO-ing!

If you'd like to see some photos of our counseling office or ESL/EFL classroom, you can scroll down to last month's post where we posted photos of last year's classroom and counseling office.  If you want to see current 2015-16 photos, stay tuned- they will go up in our September post here next month!  In the meantime, I will share this awesome self-disclosure poster from NY social worker, Doralee Michaeli- I've already hung it on my office wall- you'll see it in the pics next month! 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in September for our next post with ideas for those new PSCs and teachers who are just starting out, plus lots of pics of our counseling office and ESL classroom!  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that our hard work helped you out! If you found a resource here, please show us your love and comment about it below!

 

 

8 Tips to Prepare Your ESL/EFL Classroom or Counseling Office for the Next School Year!

July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day to all you Americans out there!  Enjoy this little blast-from-the-past video clip in honor of the 4th of July (click on the telescope pic to the left)...

 

 

 

Well, better late than never!  We finally have our July post up and ready for you, just before midnight!  This month, we are full of ideas and tips on getting prepared for the next school year!  So if you'd like some professional food-for-thought to make your program even better once you start up again, this post is right up your alley!  As always, we've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.

But, first, a few Bilingual Learner updates...

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

And now, onto our main feature:

5 TIPS TO PREPARE YOUR ESL/EFL CLASSROOM OR COUNSELING OFFICE FOR THE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR

1.  Avoid Burnout-Unless you MUST be in your office or classroom during your break, STAY AWAY!  We know... this can be really hard. There's just something so tempting about the potential to get work done in the quiet and solitary environment of your own empty classroom/office.  But, it is important to stay away in order to recharge yourself so you can start fresh when you do have to return.  Think of it this way- batteries don't recharge themselves while still in the flashlight.

2.  Make a List- Start writing down any changes and additions you would like to make in your teaching or counseling program on a "Things to Change Next Year" list.  Anytime you have a revelation about something that might work better for you and your students/clients, write it on the list.   Then at the end of your break, spend some time transferring the changes you most want to implement into your planner, smartphone, master counseling calendar (here's ours if you need a template), Outlook calendar, or whatever you use to organize and plan out your year.  Here's a link to a snippet of our "Things to Change Next Year" list.

3.  Compile Your Supplies- Staples makes a lot of money off of us over the summer.  They may not see us during the entire school year except for an occasional frantic weeknight run, but we are on a first-name basis over the summer!  Spend some time writing out a list of all the supplies you would like to buy and then shop for them during your break when you have the time to concentrate, take your time, and enjoy your shopping experience.  Here's our shopping list (and a pic!) so far:

  • 2015-16 Academic Planner
  • First-day-of-school outfit (We buy ourselves a new one every year to feel a little extra sparkly on that first day when we throw open the doors!)
  • Stickers
  • Prizes for the treasure chest
  • index cards
  • CD labels
  • padded envelopes

 

4.  Do Your PD (Professional Development) Reading- If you are into this sort of thing, use your break to read, highlight, and take notes on whatever it is you want to improve on in your career.  After reading, review your notes, and red star the 5-10 most important ones and then put them in your "Things to Change Next Year" list. Here's a PD reading list to start with if you need some ideas:

ESL/EFL BOOKS

COUNSELING BOOKS

6. Student/Client List- Make a list of those students or clients who you didn't quite finish your work with last year; include a note about where you left off with them and what more you can do to support them.  Spend some time checking in with them in the beginning of the year to help them get started on the right foot.  Often just knowing that someone cares and is available is all the support they need.

7.  Plan it Out of the Way! Plan as many of your lessons, units, group sessions, and/or guidance lessons as you can.  As mentioned above, the beginning of the school year tsunami is coming and the less you have to do when it hits, the better you will feel!

8. Decorate- Stop doing #1 and return two to three days before your actual official start date to decorate your office or classroom.  Even, better, do it before you leave on break, if you still have that option. Decorating your classroom or office is one of the few things you can do without students, clients, or work systems in place.  All you need is some butcher paper, a stapler, staples and StaplesTM, Pinterest, and your own creativity.  So, knock out this fun and crucial task before the beginning-of-school-year tsunami hits!  Here are a few photos of our decorations below:

COUNSELING OFFICE

 

 

 

ESL CLASSROOM

    

 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in August for our next post on the adventures of the first month back to counseling and teaching!   As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that our hard work helped you out! If you found a resource here, please show us your love and comment about it below!

 

 

 

 

 

ESL & Counseling Tips for the End of the School Year

June 6, 2015

Hello Summer Vacay!  Oh, it's that glorious time of the year when US teachers and school counselors throw their hands up in the air in FREEDOM!  Sorry to all you overseas educators who are still slugging away at your schools, but we'll be envying you big time come December and January...

 

 

So, our June post is a shorter one because we have just sent out our quarterly newsletter with 19 different downloadable resources that we'd normally put in this post.  So, sign up to the right asap if you haven't already received our latest newsletter.  However, in the spirit of our monthly post, we do have some updates and freebies for you.  Read on below and, as always...we've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • Look for our new beginners ESL guide, ESL Express, later this summer.  It will be a streamlined version of ESL for Beginners that is organized into 4 weekly units.
  • We just sent our latest ESL teaching guide, ESL in the Middle: Lessons Guide for Teaching Intermediate Students to our editor!  As soon as Anne works her editing magic, we will have it up on the website for order.  A sneak peek and freebie downloadable from this intermediate ESL/EFL teaching guide is now available on the left side of our homepage!
  • The Spanish version of Girl World: Girl Empowerment Group Counseling Guide, Charla Entre Chicas, is FINALLY ready for publication.  Look for it on our products page in the next few weeks. 
  • A huge shoutout to the newest member of the Bilingual Learner team, Monica Briancon, our amazing Spanish editor who we had to go all the way to Bolivia to find!  We've been searching for her for 2 years, but she is definitely worth the wait!
  • Get ready for our latest counseling guides, The Unstressables and Get Your Goal On!  These 2 books on anti-anxiety techniques and academic achievement strategies are starting production this week!!  We are super excited and can't wait to get going on them!  Look for updates, free preview downloadables, and ordering details on our website or FB page below.
  • Another huge shoutout to our fabulously talented illustrator, Michell Schalik, for the new Be Cool: Anger Management Group Counseling Guide illustrations that will go into our revised guide later this summer.  The pics are wonderful and a sneak peak is above. 
  • FYI- we provide free revised editions of all our Bilingual Learner guides to all our customers who request them.  You can find out when we publish a revised guide by subscribing to our newsletter because we advertise updated editions of our books there.  Once you hear of a revised guide, just email us at bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with your name, the name of the guide, the date you purchased it, and where you purchased it from (our website, TPT, Amazon, etc) and we will get an electronic version of your revised guide emailed right out to you!

 

END-OF-YEAR ESL/EFL TIPS

If you are ending your ESL classes for the school year, consider these tips:

  • Keep students engaged in meaningful lessons until the last day of class.  Although the temptation is strong to start showing videos and letting students play games, this will only frustrate you as class time crawls and everyone wastes their time (or worse-misbehavior starts).  Consider incorporating meaningful lesson content into fun activities such as field trips or art projects.  And in case you haven't yet taught contractions... Click on this freebie contractions chart to have some meaningful content to incorporate into your fun end-of-the-year activities! 
  • Give students a reading list of favorite, easy reader English chapter books that they can enjoy over the summer in order to keep their English fresh. 
  • During lunch or off-times, enlist your students to help you pack up your classroom.  Spend an afternoon organizing various jobs for various students, give them a 30 minute training session and let them go!  While your student movers are working, you can use this time to research some dynamic lessons and units for next year!

 

ENDING YOUR COUNSELING SESSIONS

But first, a fun freebie for working with those academic underachievers:  The No Zeroes Race! Do you have students who struggle with passing their classes?  We do and as part of our academic achievement group counseling curriculum, we play The No Zeroes Race with our group members.  For the racetrack and directions, click here!

If you are in the counseling profession, this time of year brings lots of closure.  We wrap up guidance lessons and terminate individual/group sessions as students leave on summer trips or move away.  So, for this post, Bilingual Learner has included a few downloadables to help you with ending your sessions and lessons.  We think there are many different ways to effectively wrap up your counseling sessions, but all should include discussions throughout counseling of when the final session will be and also discussion about how to make future contact with the counselor, if needed.   For all our groups and individual sessions we run, we have students fill out an evaluation during the last session to show us what they have learned, how they have grown, and ways we might improve our sessions for the future-here is the evaluation from our counseling guide, Be Cool! - it is the group evaluation from this guide, but can easily be modified for use with individuals, too.  We use anonymous quotes from the session evaluations in our data presentations to school stakeholders to show them the power and effectiveness of counseling- you can see an example of this from the preview of our Girl World Group Counseling Sessions Guide coming out this summer.  If you would like to see the rest of our group and guidance lesson data tools, just click the “Group and Guidance Lessons Tools” icon link on our homepage.   Alternately, for school-wide counseling programs, we have every student on campus complete this evaluation of our program and the lessons we have taught We also plot all the data collected in our student program evaluations on excel charts/graphs and present them as well to the school leadership team.  While all of these forms work primarily as evaluation tools, we also use them as a sort of needs assessment for future lessons and counseling sessions since we work with many of the same students from year to year.

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in July for our next MYSTERY post.   As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that our hard work helped you out! If you found a resource here, please show us your love and comment about it below!

 

 

 

ESL/EFL SUMMER RESOURCES PLUS IDENTITY & SUICIDE SUPPORT

May 2, 2015

 

We have lots of interesting tidbits to share today so let’s just jump right into it!  Our post today will feature some of the latest resources we’ve come across this spring in the ESL/EFL and counseling worlds…summer English activities, Memorial Day lessons and other cultural resources, suicide prevention, and LGBT awareness.  More on all this in a bit, but first, let’s start with some updates.

As always, we've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • Get ready for our latest counseling guides, Stress Blasters and Get Your Goal On!  These 2 books on antianxiety techniques and academic achievement strategies are starting production as soon as we begin our summer break in June.  Look for updates, free preview downloadables, and ordering details on our website or FB page below!
  • Our Spring eblast is coming!  If you aren't already on our enewsletter mailing list, sign up by filling out the form on this webpage to the right.  Then, we can send our newsletter filled with free counseling/ESL/EFL resources right to your inbox!
  • We are continuing to churn out our newest teaching guide, ESL in the Middle: Lessons Guide for Teaching Intermediate Students.  A sneak peek and freebie downloadable from this intermediate ESL/EFL teaching guide is now available on the left side of our homepage!

 

ESL/EFL MEMORIAL DAY & SUMMER ACTIVITIES... PLUS CULTURE RESOURCES!

As happens every year in May, schools are gearing up to work with Newcomer students over the summer to give them that extra push into language that will help propel them along for the next school year.  In researching some of our own summer-themed ESL/EFL activities for the latest guide we are writing, ESL in the Middle, we’ve found and created some fun and free summer-themed ESL/EFL activities below that you can use with your ELL or Newcomer students.  In addition, we came across the most amazing set of maps of the English-speaking world and culturePlus, the map explanations sum up our reasoning behind writing the Bilingual Learner Culture Explorer guides where students can learn about and experience various aspects of the "English-speaking culture."

 

 

 

COUNSELING: SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES AND LGBT AWARENESS

A sad but very frequent reality that counselors have to deal with is suicide prevention.  Suicidal Ideation (thinking about, considering, or planning for suicide) is something every counselor will come into contact with as they treat their students/clients.  For that reason, we’d like to include some of the best resources we’ve come across that will help you reach out to your kids who are battling this monster. 

 

And finally, we’d like to wrap up with a few words about and resources for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) movement that is really gaining momentum in reaching out to young people and providing a safe place for countless numbers of youngsters struggling with their own gender identity. 

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in June for our next post on ending your counseling sessions and wrapping up your ESL/EFL classroom for summer break.  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL/EFL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that our hard work helped you out! If you found a great resource here, please show us your love and comment about it below!

 

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