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Top 5 Tips: Readying Your Counseling or Teaching Program for the New School Year!

July 30, 2017

 

Well, here we are again with a brand new start to the school year!  Like most other educators and counselors out there, I return with mixed feelings- excitement to see all my kids again and start a fresh school year, and....a little bummed that all those 8am wake-ups and lazy weekday trips with the dogs to the park are over.  Oh well...as with everything in life, you've got to take the good with the bad.  So let’s get motivated with five inspiring tips on how to tackle the first month back to school!!  As always, I've included some helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use.

First, here are Bilingual Learner updates...

NEWSY & NOTEWORTHY

AND SAVING THE BEST NEWS FOR LAST:

 

READY, SET, GOAL!!  TIPS FOR THE FIRST MONTH BACK TO SCHOOL

1. Set up your Space- don’t spend a ton of time on this since it will probably change as the year progresses. For now,  just make your classroom or counseling office comfortable to work in.

    

2. Meet with Colleague/s- Meet with your co-counselors or teaching team to sketch out your yearly curricular calendar (explained in next tip).  Also, start brainstorming ideas on your first 2 weeks of ESL or guidance lessons that you want to teach.  Set a weekly or monthly planning time to continue meeting regularly with your colleagues throughout the school year. 

3. Plan your calendar- Do your long-term planning for the year, aligning your activities with objectives and goals from your governing agency, such as the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) or Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL).  Here is a link to a sample counseling calendar for you to use.

4. Meet with Admin- Set up a meeting with your principal to discuss what your governing agency recommends that you do, what amazing things you are actually doing or would like to do, and what your principal needs for you to do. Show a draft of your curricular calendar so you can elicit principal feedback and modify accordingly.  This is also a good time to set up weekly or monthly meetings with your admin to give progress updates and plan next steps.  Also, if you are a school counselor, sign the ASCA Annual Agreement with your principal at this time. 

5. Start lesson planning- Now you are ready to start the fun part!  Armed with your yearly calendar, your amazing ideas for new activities, and all the fabulous resources you’ve compiled, start planning those lessons!  Here is a link to a sample ESL/EFL lesson plan that you can use as a template to plan your own lessons.  Happy Planning!

That brings me to the end of this month's post and some exciting news!  As mentioned above, I won't be blogging over the next few months as I set up my sister website, schoolcounselorstephanie.com.  So, check back here again in a few months for tips and resources solely dedicated to bilingual and ESL/EFL teaching! As always, you can find out about Bilingual Learner’s latest promotions, free stuff, or my counseling/ESL adventures by following my Facebook PageTwitter PagePinterest Page and Instagram Page!

5 Summer Self-Care Tips for Teachers and Counselors

June 29, 2017

Well summer is finally upon us and this season is the perfect time to practice some self-care as everything slows down a bit.  Self-care is described by the American Psychological Association as as providing adequate attention to one's own physical and psychological wellness (Beauchamp & Childress, 2001) and it is important because we must take care of ourselves in order to be healthy enough- both mentally and physically- in order to enjoy life to the fullest and in order to be our best selves with family, friends, students, and clients.  After all, there is a reason that adults are advised on every airplane flight to put the oxygen masks on themselves first and on their children second!  We can’t do much good in helping our child, who already has the oxygen mask on, if we are passed out because we didn’t get the oxygen masks on ourselves first!

So, in the spirit of taking care of ourselves first, here are five tried and true ways to practice effective and enjoyable self-care! As always, I've included some helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use.
 

1. Schedule It

What do you love to do?  Is it reading in bed all day, going for a spa day, binging on Netflix binging on the couch, lunch out at your favorite restaurant?  Whatever it is, schedule it in your calendar on a weekly basis during summer!  Go get your planner or smartphone right now and make that date night reservation or book those movie matinee tickets right now so life doesn’t get in the way of your weekly happy day!  And if you are a parent to young children, as so many of us are, this probably means scheduling your child care at the same time!  Or possibly coordinating your happy day with your child's activity if you don't have to be a part of it. If you are one of the lucky ones whose idea of a happy day involves your kids, more power to you for scheduling that beach mommy-daughter date.  But for the rest of us where happy equals alone time- book your sitter or call that family member who owes you a favor!

2. Call a Friend (or Family Member)

The more we work and spend time with our electronics, the less we interact with other humans.  Research shows that human interaction is crucial to our mental well-being, as explained in this article by the Mayo Clinic.  So, think of your favorite person and go call them, hang out with them, and just have some fun!

3. Spend Time in Nature (this includes hanging out with your pet!)

 Have you heard about the healing power of trees?  Yes, this IS a thing.  Research has proven that trees clean the air and that there is a direct correlation to improved health when people spend time in an area that has a good trees to humans ratio. Check out this research article by Dr. Robert McDonald who is the Lead Scientist for the Global Cities program at The Nature Conservancy  on this topic if you feel like I’ve gone too New Age-y on you.  Another nature option is to spend time near water. The sound of water is soothing and helps calm a busy mind. So, that being said, spend some time each week outside, preferably being active- take a walk, go for a run, head to the pool, lay on the beach or just sit in the shade with your dog- whatever the activity, if you spend some time with nature each week, your body and mind will thank you! And if you have kids, model the importance of self-care, enlist their ideas on the best nature activities, and take them with you!

4.  Take a Staycation!

As much fun as taking a vacation can be, we all know that travel is loaded with stressors too- the cost, the planning, air travel, unplanned snafus, etc!  So, take the most stress-free vacation known to man and give yourself a staycation!  Set aside a few days or a week where you turn off all technology, put all your work and chores to the side, and make a concerted effort to do (at home) all the things you would do on an actual vacation.  Take a drive, sleep in, see something new in your town, go for a day trip, go out to eat, have dessert, buy yourself some souvenirs (aka- whatever you want) at the mall (or on Teachers Pay Teachers!), and just enjoy all the parts of your city as if you were a tourist there.

5. Give Yourself Permission to do Nothing!

I say take one day a week (can be the same day as your Happy Day), or if that’s too much, at least one day a month and do nothing!  Remind yourself throughout the day as you start to clean or make someone a meal or take a peak at your TO DO list, that today is your DO NOTHING day.  And you can spend it however you want- lie on the couch with your cat and some ice cream, go window shopping, order a pizza and eat it in bed, meander around your neighborhood, go visit that friend you’ve been wanting to catchup with- whatever you want! PS-This is the day that it's ok to call in the babysitter. Or just encourage your kid to do nothing alongside you- let them max out on the ipad, each pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or hangout on their own in the pack and play!

 

So obviously this post was more about fun self-care than wellness self-care, but that's what summer is all about, right?  Either way, be sure to soak up all the fun and relaxing moments you can, since we all know what the Back-to-School tsunami brings in September for those of us teaching or counseling in schools. Happy Summer!

That brings me to the end of this month's post.  I'd love to hear your ideas on how you take care of yourselves, so leave a comment below!  Check back here again next month for tips and resources on kicking off your school year! As always, you can find out about Bilingual Learner’s latest promotions, free stuff, or my counseling and teaching adventures by following my Facebook PageTwitter Page, or Pinterest Page.  And don’t forget to follow me on my Instagram Page!

 

 

 

Top Ten Tips: Summer Counseling/Teaching To-Do's & Attending Counseling/Teaching Conferences

June 4, 2017

Hello, Summer, my old friend!  This month, I have lots of ideas on getting your counseling or teaching program ready 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!  Also, summer is the time that a lot of us counselors and teachers attend professional development conferences!  So, read on for my tips on making the best of your summer conferences. 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. 

 

IMPROVING YOUR PROGRAM OVER THE SUMMER

This time of year brings lots of thoughts of what exciting programs to start in the fall!  Here are some tips and resources to help you plan a dynamic counseling or teaching program for the upcoming year! 

 

  1. Make a List- Start writing down any changes and additions you would like to make in your counseling/teaching 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, 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.
  2. Student Concerns- Make a note of those students with whom you didn't quite finish your work  last year as well as the ones that need a check in at the start of the school year; include a note about where you left off with them and/or what 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.
  3. Needs Assessments: Start Planning Those Groups and Lessons- Create counseling needs assessments to give staff, students, and parents in September.  Here is an example of my student needs assessment.  You can also use Survey Monkey for an easy way to make and analyze the data of an electronic needs assessment.  Use the results of the needs assessment (along with your district or state school counseling objectives) to pick your post-September guidance lesson topics and your support group topics. In the meantime, plan your August/September guidance lessons now; excellent August/September guidance topics include:  introductions, how to see the counselor, how to handle an emergency, and success in school.  If you are a teacher, use the summer break to start planning your lessons for the first few weeks of school. Here are some great ideas from Busyteacher.org to kick off your beginning-of-the school year lessons: games&activities, first day of class, and ice breakers.   For counselors, summer is also a good time to start reviewing resources to plan for your counseling support groups; click on the green links below to see a few of my faves:
  4. Compile Your Supplies and Decorate- 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. Then, return to school two to three days before your actual official start date to decorate your office or classroom.  Knock out this fun and crucial task before the beginning-of-school-year tsunami hits!  Below are a few photos of my space...                             
  5. Do Your PD (Professional Development) Reading and Attend Those Summer Conferences- 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 (including some fiction with counseling/teaching themes) to start with if you need some ideas:
    • Brief Counseling That Works: A Solution-Focused Approach for School Counselors and Administrators, by Gerald B. Sklare
    • The First Days of School, by Harry Wong
    • The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs (3rd edition), by the American School Counselor Association
    • Mentoring and Supervising, by the American School Counselor Association
    • Making Data Work, by Carol Kaffenberger and Anita Young
    • Brain on Fire, by Susanah Calahan
    • The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle
    • Defending Jacob by William Landay
    • The Pact by Jodi Piccoult
    • Mindset by Carol Dweck
    • The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal
    • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

And Speaking of Summer PD…  

5 TIPS FOR MAKING THE MOST OF THE SUMMER CONFERENCE 

  1. Just Do it!  If you have the opportunity to attend a counseling or teaching conference this summer, YOU MUST GO!  They are so fun, motivating and rich in professional development! Summer conferences are absolutely worth any planning or money necessary to make the trip happen!
  2. Get to Sessions Early- Once you decide to attend the conference, spend some time planning out the sessions you want to attend and then arrive to your desired sessions early since the best ones often fill up with standing (or no) room only.
  3. Dress in Layers, and Pack your Conference Bag- you don’t want to have to waste your session or networking time by running around looking for something to eat or heading back to your hotel room for a change of clothes! Pack a conference day bag to include a sweater, water, a snack or two, technology to take notes, your business cards, a notepad, a pencil, and your phone/technology charger.
  4. Network!  Even for introverts like me who love their alone time, the summer conference experience is so enriched when you meet new professionals and trade tips and experiences.  Don’t worry about showing up alone- so many others will be there in the same boat!  Many conferences nowadays let you download an app that gives you session info as well as networking opportunities while attending the conference. Go to the conference Meet and Greet, share a meal with a colleague or just strike up a convo with the counselor or teacher sitting next to you in your session.  You won’t regret it!
  5. Don’t Expect Handouts- It is best to have your own technology (small laptop, ipad, tablet, or even phone) to take electronic notes so that you can revise them later and send them to your colleagues.  Many conferences nowadays encourage their presenters to Go Green, download their PPT to the conference website and avoid paper handouts.

That brings me to the end of this month's post.  I'd love to hear your ideas on how your build your counseling or ESL teaching program over the summer, so leave a comment below!  Check back here again next month for more tips and resources to kickstart your counseling or ESL/EFL program! As always, you can find out about Bilingual Learner’s latest promotions, free stuff, or my counseling and teaching adventures by following my Facebook PageTwitter Page, or Pinterest Page.  And don’t forget to follow me on my Instagram Page!

 

 

8 Tips to a Dynamic Counseling/Teaching Internship- for Interns AND Supervisors!

April 2, 2017

All of us in the counseling and teaching professions have had or will have the experience of being an intern- whether a student teaching intern or a counseling intern. This can be a magnificent, life-changing experience…or a roadmap of all the professional pitfalls to avoid.  Either way, read on for some sure-fire tips on making the best of your intern (or intern’s) experience! And 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.

 

 

TIPS FOR THE INTERN

Tip #1- Be Your Best.  Go above and beyond.  Be early and be excited! Try to work longer and work harder than everyone around you.  Think of your internship as a semester or year-long job interview.  (Actual interview questions below!!) Stay positive and avoid making negative comments about others/programs. Dress professionally, even if you see others that don’t. 

Tip #2- Fit into the Program.  Learn the program that is in place at your internship and make sure you fit into that program.  Avoid creating your own program in an internship setting unless your supervisor encourages you to do so.

Tip #3- Read the Handbook.  Review your workplace handbook carefully and refer to it often; make sure you check the handbook before you ask your supervisor a question.  Always keep in mind that your supervisor has their own workload that they have to accomplish, in addition to training and supervising you.

Tip #4- Ask for Help.  Tell your university professor/leader if you are being used inappropriately such as in a substitute or secretary capacity.  This is your chance to be a workplace sponge and you don’t want to waste it soaking up data entry or crowd control skills. Sidenote- make sure you know what the appropriate tasks are for your job before expressing a concern; here are links to appropriate VS inappropriate tasks for counselors and teachers.

Tip #5- Observe Other Professionals.  Ask your intern supervisor for time and opportunities to observe lots of other experienced counselors or teachers in the workplace.  The more you see, the fuller your toolbox will be!

Tip #6- Make Mistakes.  This is your chance to mess up without professional repercussions!  Don’t be afraid of failure; learn from it instead.

Tip #7- Embrace the Chaos. You will be completely overwhelmed with all the new stuff you are having to suddenly learn and we get it.  We’ve all been there.  Just breathe and take in as much as you can.  There’s always tomorrow, or next week, or your career, to learn the rest!

Tip #8- Use a Planner.  As you embrace the chaos, you will need a planner to keep track of all your duties throughout your day; a planner is also an excellent place to plan out your actions for each of your duties.  I recommend the At a Glance teacher planner for student teaching interns and the At a Glance Academic Planner for counseling interns.

 

TIPS FOR THE INTERN SUPERVISOR

Tip #1- Make Space.  If at all possible, give your intern their own space, where they can sit, work, and leave their stuff during their workday.  I give mine a desk, computer, phone, a drawer, and cabinet (that they can lock with a chain or bike lock if they are so inclined).

Tip #2- Interview.  Before agreeing to supervise their internship, give them the experience of a job interview where you can also determine if they are a good fit for your workplace.  Use these links (ASCA interview questions or teacher interview questions) to pick out 3-5 interview questions to ask. Also, show them the duties and time commitments of the internship (see next link below).

Tip #3- Sign an Agreement.  Create (and revise together, if necessary) an agreement that you both sign of their duties and time requirements in your workplace. This is also a good place to include a timeline of their semester/year at your workplace.  Here is an example of my counseling intern agreement, which can be modified easily for use with student teaching interns as well.   

Tip #4- Train with a Handbook. Before the first work day with students, provide a training session or two for your intern where you go over their handbook.  The handbook should include all they will need to know to function in your workplace (lesson plan template, important phone numbers, crisis protocols, data tracking templates, etc).  The handbook should also include norms of the workplace (start times, dress code, appropriate use of time, etc).  Have the intern read the handbook before the training, then they can ask you questions about it during the training as you go over key parts of the handbook together.  During the training, it is also good to have a checklist of technology and training items that need to be completed in order for them to do their job.

Tip #5- Observe, Observe, Observe.  Have the intern observe you (with a 10-20 minute debrief immediately after each observation where they can ask questions, give feedback, etc.) before they try any student/parent/teacher task on their own.  The first 2-3 weeks should be mostly observation and shadowing; it is also good for the intern to observe lots of your experienced, best practice colleagues.

Tip #6- Provide 3 to 1 Feedback.  Observe them at their duties.  A lot.  Give them written feedback on your observations- try to aim for three positives for every constructive criticism.

Tip #7- Do Your Homework. ASCA’s School Counseling Principles: Mentoring, Supervising and Coaching or Supervising Student Teachers: The Professional Way is a must-read for intern supervisors.

Tip #8- Give a Project.  Give them a lengthy, long-term project such as creating several college-themed bulletin boards, conducting Minute Meetings, writing a positive note home for every student, etc. This project should be something they can work on without your supervision, during any downtime that occurs.  This really helps them to stay busy and gives you a break to get your own work done at the start of an internship when they need a lot of guidance and haven’t yet learned how to do their duties independently. 

 

The intern experience can be such a rewarding time for both the intern and supervisor!  So, I hope this post leaves you with some food-for-thought to energize your next internship adventure.  Remember, to access any of the resources mentioned above, just click on the green links.  Please comment below to share any tips you have for a successful internship-- the more tools we all have, the better. 

This brings me to the end of April's post.  Some exciting news to explain why I won't be writing a May post, or anymore spring posts, for that matter... I just signed a multi-book deal with the Youthlight publishing company! Look for my multi-group counseling guide, Sending Students Soaring, in book stores by June 2017.  Yes, I know it's only 3 months away- hence my silence here for the rest of the spring! I will be crazy-busy trying to meet my book deadlines! So, check back here in the summer for my next post about must-do's for attending summer conferences.  As always, you can find out about Bilingual Learner’s latest promotions, free stuff, or my counseling/ESL adventures by following my Facebook Page, Instagram Page, and Pinterest Page!  

 

Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Resources...Along with Some ESL/EFL St. Patrick's Day Goodies to Cheer Us Up!!

March 5, 2017


I’ve been away too long, I know it! I have some great reasons for my online absence, but more on that in a moment.  First, lots of interesting tidbits to share this month so let’s just jump right into it!  My counseling post today will feature some of the latest resources I’ve come across for crisis intervention and suicide prevention.  My ESL/EFL post will have a fun St. Patrick’s Day activity that you can use with your students as well as some resources for students new to the US.  More on all this in a bit, but first, let’s start with some updates. 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.

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

 

 

So this post has been verrrrrrrry delayed- it was supposed to air the first week in Janaury along with my Janaury eblast newsletter.  Needless to say, neither the post or eblast went out in January!  The reason: I have been swamped with both presenting at the Texas School Counseling Association Conference in Arlington and with winning the 2016 Texas CREST Award with my colleagues!!! We were so honored to receive the CREST award for excellence in creating and implementing a comprehensive school counseling program! 

Speaking of the Texas School Counseling Association (TSCA) Conference, it was so wonderful to be able to share all our group counseling info with other counselors- especially on the topic of working with ESL students and running a Culture Exploreres group!

Here are some photos of our Culture Explorers group presentation at the TSCA conference below!

              

 

 

ESL/EFL POST- CULTURE EXPLORERS AND ST. PATRICK'S DAY

The students in my Culture Explorers class love to learn about St. Patrick's Day! Whether you run counseling groups for ESL/EFL students or you teach them cultural lessons in conjunction with your English lessons, knowledge of major holidays is such an important part of feeling comfortable and accepted within a culture.  It is a great way for newcomers to gain understanding of that culture.  Moreover, this is something that all young nationals get as they go through the school system in their own culture, but our newcomers often miss out on this important cultural knowledge when they transition in after all the fun grade school holiday instruction is finished.   Here is our favorite St. Paddy’s Day activity, as well as some others to carry you through March…

 

COUNSELING POST: CRISIS INTERVENTION & SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES

And now onto two more somber, but very necessary topics- crisis intervention and suicide prevention!  Dealing with student crises is a sad and crucial part of our job as school or clinical counselors.  My school counseling office has a set protocol for dealing with student crises, or "3 Hurts Emergencies" as we like to call them.  Whenever a student, parent, or staff member sends to/comes to us with a student emergency, we drop whatever we are doing to deal with it right away.  An important part of our counseling program is that we thoroughly train our students and staff from the day they walk through the front doors about the "3 Hurts Emergency" and how they MUST come straight to us with an emergency.  Thus, we rarely get false alarms.  In fact, this school year alone, I’ve handled over 75 crisis situations, of varying severity, at the Title 1 public school where I work as a school counselor.  So, for that reason, I've included our crisis steps here in this link in case you don't have a process for students who make serious outcries.  In addition, I've included a link to our Emergency Notification for Parents Form and our Student Safety Plan. 

Another 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, I’d like to include some of the best resources I’ve come across that will help you reach out to your kids who are battling this monster. 

New York Times writer, David Brooks, wrote this insightful and poignant piece, "The Irony of Despair."   Brooks shares “Jennifer Michael Hecht’s two big counterideas that she hopes people contemplating potential suicides will keep in their heads,”—these 2 ideas are real gems that you might consider sharing with your own people. 

The second resource is an article from the Pulitzer Prize winning magazine, The Gazette, out of Colorado.  This article gives some great facts about suicide and then goes on to describe a suicide prevention program that a local school district is using to have peers get the message across about warning signs and prevention. 

Here’s a link to an amazing free suicide prevention manual, especially created for high school personnel (but just as good for middle school/college ages as well as the clinical scene) that you can download. 

And the final resource we have to share is from one of our favorite online video resources, Wellcast.  Here is their wonderful, wonderful video to share with anyone you know who is battling thoughts of suicide.

Remember, to access any of the resources mentioned above, just click on the green link.  Please comment below to share any strategies/interventions you have for helping a child in crisis-- the more tools we all have to help kids, the better. 

This brings me to the end of March's post.  Check back here again next month for my post on  tips for being the best intern or intern supervisor you can be (it really is coming)!  As always, you can find out about Bilingual Learner’s latest promotions, free stuff, or my counseling/ESL adventures by following my Facebook Page, Instagram Page, and Pinterest Page!  

 

Growth Mindset for the Counselor & ESL/EFL Holiday Activities

December 11, 2016

 

 

 

Happy December!  For this post, I'd like to share my favorite winter holiday ESL and counseling resources and then discuss Growth Mindset as it relates to goal-based counseling.

 

 

 

 

HOLIDAY RESOURCES

Here are some of my favs for both ESL teachers and counselors!

 

GROWTH MINDSET

If you are in the counseling profession, you undoubtedly have had some experience with individual sessions.  For new counselors, there are so many questions running through our heads- How often? What do we talk about?  How to get the kiddo to open up?  How many sessions?  How to handle breakdowns? and so on and so on.   Let me preface all this by saying that I am very partial to goal focused counseling because it utilizes many of the principles of Growth Mindset and because school counselor time in working with students is super limited due to huge caseloads.   Therefore, I try to accomplish a lot in about 4 sessions or less, meeting with the student at a set, scheduled time every 2 weeks (just answered the How often? and How many? questions).  For some other answers and helpful tips on effective goal focused individual counseling, read on below:

  • Start with some ice breaker activities if you don't know the student well.  Have these ice breakers lead into determining what goal the student (and you) want to accomplish in your time together.   Here's a link to a good ice breaker if you need one.
  • After deciding on a goal with the student, write it down together (index cards work great here) and make photocopies, so (if you are in a school setting) you can send it to them weekly or (if you are in a non-school setting) you can give the student/client a copy each time you meet with them.  This weekly goal reminder is crucial is helping the student/client to remember, revise, and achieve their goal.
  • If you have an unresponsive student/client, try one of the many engaging board games to get them to open up a bit.  My personal fav is The Talking, Feeling, and Doing Game.  This same strategy works really well in getting students/clients calmed after a breakdown.
  • If you work in a school setting (or even if you don't), its really helpful to get feedback from teachers as they spend the majority of the day with your student/client.  Additionally, if the student is referred to you by a teacher, I find that it really builds teacher-counselor rapport if you send the teacher a general followup note after your meeting with the student.  Here's a link to the teacher feedback form I use.

 

Obviously, with individual counseling, the ideas above are just the tip of the iceberg.  If you need more resources, check out the individual counseling sessions guide, Where There's a Goal, There's a Way (or ¡Gol! if you need the Spanish bilingual version) which you can find at this link.

That brings me to the end of December's post.  Check back here again next month for my post on  tips for being the best intern or intern supervisor you can be!  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!


 

Thanksgiving Activities for ESL/EFL Teachers & Counselors!

November 11, 2016

Happy November!  If you are living stateside, I hope the fall finds you in a good place and the election drama hasn't been too hard on you.  For all the readers living abroad, hope you are enjoying this crazy show that the American electoral process is providing the world!  If you find that your students are struggling with all the election drama (or any kind of conflicts over disagreements in opinion, for that matter), click on the video image below to show your students  some positive food for thought!

 

So this post will be a short one because I have been swamped with both presenting at the Texas Counseling Association Conference in Dallas and with gearing up to publish my latest ESL lessons guide, ESL in the Middle, Volume 2!  Speaking of the Texas Counseling Conference, it was so wonderful to be able to share all my group counseling info with other counselors, but a TON of work and prep went into the presentation, so I'm feeling a bit "Whew!" that its all behind me.  See some photos of our group presentation below!

    

 

One of the students in my Culture Explorers class asked me recently, Cuando es el dia de pabo? (When is Thanksgiving?).  I get this question from my Newcomers every year about this time, so that is my own cue to line up some  Thanksgiving activities for our sessions!  In our ESL Survival Skills guide, we include a Thanksgiving booklet & funquiz for teachers or counselors to make with their ESL students to introduce them to this fabulous American holiday.  Whether you run cousneling groups for ESL/EFL students or you teach them cultural lessons in conjunction with your English lessons, knowledge of major holidays is such an important part of feeling comfortable and accepted within a culture.  It is a great way for newcomers to gain understanding of that culture.  Moreover, this is something all young nationals get as they go through the school system in their own culture, but our newcomers often miss out on this important cultural knowledge when they transition in after all the fun grade school holiday instruction is finished.   Here are some other Thanksgiving activities we've found that you might want to use with your ESL students...

Kids and Stress During the Holidays

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Managing Holiday Stress During Thanksgiving

Kids Talk about Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Flashcards

Free Thanksgiving Worksheets

Teaching a Thanksgiving Lesson Outside of the USA

If You Were at the First Thanksgiving

 

And finally, from Mark Parisi, a funny Thanksgiving cartoon for all the pet owners out there:

 

That brings me to the end of this month's post.  Check back here again next month for my post on  tips for being the best intern or intern supervisor you can be!  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!

The Art of Saying No Gracefully: Deflecting Non Counseling & Non ESL Duties

November 9, 2016

As school counselors and as teachers, we are driven by nature to help, nurture, and solve problems. Therefore, most of us don't like to say no to any request. This creates a problem because there are only so many hours in the day and we have more than enough teaching or counseling duties of our own to fill those hours. So, obviously there is no extra time for non-counselor duties or non-educator duties. Below are several tips to strengthen your saying no skills in the most pleasant and professional manner possible. 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 First, a few Bilingual Learner updates...

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

HOW TO STAY IN YOUR LANE: TIPS FOR DEFLECTING NON-COUNSELING/NON-ESL DUTIES!

Many of us have ratios or class sizes that far exceed what is recommended in the number of students we can effectively serve. As a result, we are always busy- planning for students, working with students, and following up with student families.  Therefore, saying no excessive duties outside of our job role is a really important skill for both school counselors and teachers to utilize.

1. Be preventative in saying no and lessen the amount of times you have to say no by establishing your role and duties upfront with staff and administration. 

2. Set clear boundaries and use every opportunity available to communicate the boundaries to staff. 

  • Give gentle, yet firm redirections to staff to reestablish the boundaries of your role and duties when they overstep them.  Here is a wonderful post from The Counseling Geek that highlights some ways to communicate these boundaries. 
  • Offer to do something else instead which is within your appropriate role as a school counselor and/or something you are already doing. For example, if you are asked to discipline a student, you can instead offer to discuss with the student reasonsfor and alternative to the behavior rather than actually handling the discipline.

3. Use data to back up the importance of your boundaries, roles, and duties.  Here is a link to my post on data, "Tech in the ESL and Counseling Worlds."

4. Respond to principal requests that are outside of your role as a counselor or ESL teacher in the following pleasant, yet boundary-setting ways:

5. Respond to staff requests that are outside of your role as a counselor or ESL teacher in the following pleasant, yet boundary-setting ways:

  • “I am happy to be part of the team to accomplish that task. However, I don’t have any student responsibilities that I can give up.  Therefore, I don't have the time to do that task by myself or lead a team to complete the task.”
  • Say no with a smile and use the positive sandwich:  positive comment about request+refusal with apology+positive comment about staff making request  For example, "I really appreciate you thinking of me in order to help the school in this way.  I’m so sorry but I justt have no extra time in my day to squeeze that in.  Thanks so much for taking care of our school the way you do!" 
  • And for those staff members that just cannot take no for an answer, you might try giving them a list of 3-5 tasks you need from them before you can do the task they are requesting of you.  For example, if someone asks you to compile the At Risk report, you might tell them that first you need, in writing: a list of all students in the school, the state definitions of each At Risk indicator, and the duties expected of you as At Risk coordinator.

6. Stay busy and have your weekly calendar displayed, showing all your hourly duties. 

 

In conclusion, know that it is fine, and even preferable, to take baby steps as you develop your skills in the art of saying no gracefully.  Decide on two or three of the most important areas you need to say no to and slowly, politely, professionally work on deflecting these non-counseling and non-teaching duties throughout the school year.

 

 

HALLOWEEN FUN!

Of course, I couldn’t close out this post without some fun Halloween activities.  Here are some of my favs:

​*Have 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. 

*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.

*Here's a link to Bilingual Learner's own fun Halloween passage to teach about this popular American holiday.

*Spooky Halloween fun from Busyteacher.org: the holiday

 

​​PHOTO GALLERY

Also, as promised in the previous September post, below are photos of my ESL/EFL classroom.  
 
 
        
ESL Classroom-in-a-Closet!                                                        We always start class with playtime outside! BRAIN BREAK!
 
 
         
Class Agenda, Rules & Consequences                                  Starting off with a vocabulary warmup game!
 
 
             
We speak about time with moveable clocks and a chant!         Winding down the lesson with guitar singalongs!
 
 
 
That brings me to the end of this month's post.  Check back here again next month for my post on Thanksgiving ESL/EFL and counseling for the Thanksgiving season! I also may sqeeze in some tips for being the best intern or intern supervisor you can be!  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!

Presenting Your Counseling or ESL/EFL Program to Staff

September 4, 2016

The time is now!!  Each year during Back to School Season, my co-counselors and I spend time and effort putting together a presentation for staff about our counseling program.  This is such an important part of what we do! Whether you are a specialist teacher (ESL/EFL) or a mental health professional (school counselor, psychologist, etc), it is crucial to present to staff about your program and what your job entails. Even if you spend most of your work week on one campus, with the same colleagues and administrators, many staff on campus probably do not know all that you do during your work day.  And this can be tricky- because when colleagues and administrators don't know what we do, they might think we need things to do.  Or worse, they might feel resentful if they think our job has less duties than their job.  So, in this post, I will give you lots of tips and resources to create a presentation that lets you explain your dynamic program to your staff!  As always, I've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links below which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use.  Plus, my Bilingual Learner quarterly counseling newsletter just went out in August with lots of new resources and freebie downloadables- sign up in the newsletter box in the right column if you didn't get your newsletter! 

Before getting into all the details of our program presentations to staff, here are a few important Bilingual Learner updates...

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

 

 

 

PROGRAM PRESENTATION TO STAFF

So, at my school, we ask for 30-45 minutes of a semester one professional development day, and then we present our program to staff through a Powerpoint with handouts.  We also include an ending activity where they can apply what we've presented to them.  It is a lot of work to put the powerpoint together, but it pays off in spades, because for the rest of the year they understand what we do, how we help students, and how to utilize our services.  In our presentation, we cover the following topics using lots of color, cartoons, memes, jokes, interesting anecdotes, games, prizes, and anything else we can think of to make the presentation as eye catching, interesting, and interactive as possible.

Presentation Topics

  • The official characteristics and duties of our role in the school (according to the guidelines set by governing state, board, campus, national or professional organization)
  • How we can support teachers in their work with students
  • How we support students
  • Procedures for how staff and students can utilize our services
  • A summary of the top 3-5 most important points of our presentation

Here is a link to our counseling powerpoint presentation.

Here is a link to an excellent ESL/EFL presentation by Ms. Marnee Dubrowski.

 

PHOTO GALLERY!

Also, as promised in the previous August post, below are photos of our counseling office.  I am still in the process of setting up my ESL/EFL classroom, so I will post those photos next month.  However, I presented last month at a professional development workshop on how to include culture lessons in working with ESL/EFL/ELL students, so I've also posted a few pictures of this presentation below! 

        

Bibliotherapy Corner                                          Counseling Bulletin Board

   

   

College Swag                                                                          Group Rules

 

   

Group Counseling Session Setup                                         Entrance Area to Counseling Office

 

     

Presenting to Fellow Educators About How to Infuse Cultural Activities into ESL/EFL Lessons and Groups

 

That brings me to the end of this month's post.  Check back here again next month for my post on the art of saying no gracefully to non-counseling or non-ESL/EFL duties! 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!

Back to School for ESL Teachers & Counselors!

July 26, 2016

Happy Back-to-School Season, Everyone!

This August post will just be a quickie post to tell you about a few Back-to-School tips since I will be sending out my quarterly newsletter in a week or two with ALL the tips you'd usually find here plus lots of freebie downloadables! If you aren't already on my mailing list to get the Bilingual Learner newsletter, you can sign up in the box in the right column on this page! 

I also want to give you all info on an awesome deal on the Teachers Pay Teachers site where you can get tons of school counseling supplies at 50% off this week only (sale ends Thursday).  Here are the details:

This is the last week of Super Summer Deals from your favorite Counselor-authors before Back-to-School Season begins. Don't shed any tears. To make you feel better, we are offering 4 products in each of our stores at 50% off. Sale products will be in the featured product section at the top of each participating store.To find the deals:
1) Search this week's sale by typing in ‪#‎herecomesthesun‬ into the TpT search box
2) Click this link http://confidentcounselors.com/counselor-stores/ and find a listing of each store on sale. 
3) Counselors who are participating will also leave their store links in the comments below, and let you know about their products throughout the week.

 

TACKLING THE FIRST WEEK BACK!

If you are like me and the sight of a disorganized office or classroom is overwhelming and disorienting, here is a list below of how I 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 2015-16 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 2015-16.  If you didn't start your 2016-17 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 2015-16 school year with your admin.  If not and you need guidance- email me 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 my counseling office or ESL/EFL classroom, stay tuned- they will go up here in September!   

                    

Remember to check out the supercheap counselor resources on TPT this week and sign up for my August newsletter, if you haven't already!

Good luck on an AMAZING start to your school year!

 

 

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