BILINGUAL LEARNER

The path to bilingual/ESL teaching and counseling products that you can't find anywhere else!

header photo

If you are looking for a post/resource on a particular ESL or counseling topic, it's here! Just type in your key word below, and our search engine will take you right to it! If at first you don't succeed, keep trying with a single, more generic word.

The First Week Back- Photo Journal!

August 3, 2014

Well, Teachers and Counselors, it's that time of year again!  Time to dust off those shelves and unpack those boxes of new (and old) stuff!!  And if you're a counselor outside the school system, August is as good a time of year as any to clean out those office cobwebs and touch up with your latest and greatest new counseling materials!   Ditto for you enviable teachers who are still on break or lucky enough to be just wrapping up your work year now.

So, in honor of this bittersweet back to school time, we will post some pics and tips for setting up your teaching classroom or counseling office.  But first--EXCITING NEWS-- we are also sending out our summer newsletter this week, which will have all of the fab resources and freebies we've been saving up for you these last few months, plus a promotional giveaway for a free book!  If you haven't already put yourself on our newsletter mailing list, do so right now by filling out the eform just to the right of this post!

And without further ado, the ESL CLASSROOM...

We've posted some former ESL classroom photos below so you can see the results of of all our years of ESL trial and error;).  In each photo, we share explanations of ESL teaching tips and materials that work really well, many with links to free or low-cost downloadables and products.  Happy viewing!  As always, we've included a lot of links as helpful resources on these topics- the blue ones will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use and the red ones will take you to a freebie that you can download after you leave a comment below (once you leave a comment, the download automatically gets sent to you within a day). 

Here you can see some of our fav ESL read aloud books (download titles here), cards for BINGO,  as well as for alphabet & numbers practice.  We use these cards with our students in every lesson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's a few of of our favorite read alouds that we also like to use for Culture Sessions groups since these titles really nail the switching cultures challenge that all our ESL students face on a daily basis...

 

 

 

 

Students sit at group tables during lessons, since so much of speaking and understanding a language is cooperative and thus involves group work.  You can see the two PDF versions of the ESL for Beginners Lessons Guides that we use as well as the book versions, bingo cards, and vocabulary cards.  Of course there's also the treasure box, which is full of prizes for students to win since we play games in every lesson.

 

 

 

 

 

Wider shot of the group table and entrance to classroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's how a group table might look as students enter so we can jump right into the alphabet and number card practice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now for the COUNSELING OFFICE...In each photo, we share explanations of counseling tips and materials that work really well, many with links to free or low-cost downloadables and products.  Happy viewing!  As always, we've included a lot of links as helpful resources on these topics- the blue ones will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use and the red ones will take you to a freebie that you can download after you leave a comment below (once you leave a comment, the download automatically gets sent to you within a day). 

Here's one of our two bulletin boards- notice the envelope with the green "If You Need to See the Counselor" sign above it...this is one of the many places where students can pick up a request form to meet with us. We don't do walk-ins except in "3 Hurts" emergencies. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's our counseling office lobby.  The red chair/desk is where the student office aides sit and work, checking students in and keeping order in the waiting room. When we lost our secretary budget years back, we started a serious training program for counseling office aides and it is AMAZING what our aides can do (no jobs that would violate confidentiality, of course). One day soon we will publish our counseling office aide training manual- follow us on our Bilingual Learner Facebook or Twitter pages to see when it is available!

 

 

 

The Counseling Office Rules (red posterette) are crucial! Office Aides have students read them as they are waiting to see us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's my office...on my door is our TX state school counseling code detailing what school counselors do- it's great for explaining what our job actually is!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the bookshelf in my office, right next to the door. The blue cubbies on top of the book shelf may not look like much, but it is an organizational life-saver!! Counselors have their hands in so many different aspects of a school and these cubbies put each type of documentation in its spot. It was 50 bucks for cheap cardboard, but so worth it!  You can also see the shelves in the office are divided into sections for groups, for guidance lessons, for student books, and for professional books/binders. They may seem empty now, but they fill up fast as the year progresses!

 


The group counseling room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now for some tips on how to tackle the first week back...

If you are like us and the site of an un-organized 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 2013-14 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 2013-14.  If you didn't start your 2014-15 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/NABE/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 2013-14 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!

 

So, that's it for our August post.  Hope to see you back here the first Saturday in September!  Maybe we'll actually get to write that individual counseling post we keep talking about;)  And there's LOTS brewing in the ESL world- stay tuned for some big revelations and news next month.   Please leave a comment about your back to school experience, office, classroom, or tips.  Let's all share the wealth!   Remember, we'll trade ya a comment for a freebie resource- comment below and we'll send you the code for the resources in RED above so you can download it for free from our Google Docs account. In the meantime, 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.

 

 

ESL Summer Reading & Mrs. Obama

July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!  If you are a dog lover and an American, you probably have experienced this puppy shaming to the right!  We are experiencing it right now-- all three of our furry friends are cowering under the desk as I write this post late Friday night.  As always, we've included a lot of links as helpful resources on these topics- click on the blue links and we'll take you right to an article, video, or product you can use!

First things first, all the free downloadables for this post are on our Home Page.    We are super excited about these new counseling and ESL resources and we hope you find them helpful.  We've moved all the 2013 free homepage resources to our Resources Page, if you still need them.  Secondly, we have given our entire website a face lift with a new Reviews Page, a simplified (and much easier to navigate) Products Page, our newest favorite website links on our Resources Page, and more!!  We hope you have some time to play around with our new and improved website pages.  Finally, we are thrilled to announce that our newest ESL lessons guide has hit the presses: ESL for Beginners Volume Three. It's our final installment in our Beginners series and it's a doozy! This simple, easy-to-follow, chronological set of 20 lessons has everything you need to instruct your students on topics such as past tense verbs, articles, community & family vocabulary, numbers to 100,  and more!  Have fun teaching your students with dynamic activities such as Funky Phrases, Create Your Own Dialogue, and more!  We are also excited to announce that we have 2 brand new guides coming at you in the next month or two: Girl World Group Counseling Sessions Guide and The COMPLETE ESL for Beginners Lessons Guide!  Check out our Home Page for more details on these two guides. 

For our counseling post, we HAVE to talk a bit about the First Lady's visit and speech at the American School Counselor Association in Disney this week.  While we couldn't be there in person, we took a break from all our counseling guide writing to watch her speak live.  It was pretty exciting and we feel the winds of change blowing for us PSCs!!!  Not because of the new White House school counselor initiatives explained by the First Lady, but because the White House is putting the spotlight on school counseling and what needs to be fixed in our profession (ridiculous ratios, inappropriate job duties, etc). All great change starts with that first baby step! Here's a video of the main parts of the speech.  Here's the written speech so you can read the 3 initiatives for yourself.  And here's a good article of commentary about Mrs. Obama's speech, the Reach Higher initiative, and her presence at the conference. To borrow a key phrase from the article, "At last, a policy maker truly understood the needs of school counselors."  What do you think?

For our ESL post, we have lots of food for thought as you teachers enjoy your time off.  Just in case you are still teaching, here are 2 fab summer ESL activities from our fav, Busy Teacher:  Outdoor Activities for ESL Students and Summer Holidays.

Here's a great list of beach reading if you are a teacher with some time off and you'd like to use it to recharge those professional batteries:

So, that's it for July's Post.  Hope to see you back here the first Saturday in August for our post on all things "Back-to-School."  Please leave a comment about your favorite summer reading or your opinion on Mrs. Obama's speech.  We hope July is good to you!  In the meantime, 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.

 

Tech in the ESL & Counseling Worlds

May 31, 2014

 Summer is almost here for us and our Stateside readers!  Hopefully, no matter what hemisphere you reside in, you are nearing a loooooong and well deserved vacay!  As the school year winds down for us here at Bilingual Learner, we find ourselves with some extra time to explore the latest tech tools for ESL teachers and counselors.  We like to use this time to play with all the newest and coolest teaching and counseling technologies in order to get them lined up for our next school year.  Below are some of the ones we like best.  As always, we've included a lot of links as helpful resources on these topics- click on the blue links and we'll take you right to an article, video, or product you can use!

 

 

TECH IN THE ESL WORLD

The site pbslearningmedia.org is a wonderful resource with tons and tons of video clips, both long and short, that you can use in your ESL lessons. In our latest ESL lessons guide, ESL for Beginners Volume 3, we have an entire activity based on using the PBS video clips!

Edutopia has a great series here that introduces the educator to the world of technology in education.

Google Hangouts for Teachers is a supercool tool that let's you video conference with other teachers.  Google Drive, which we adore here at BL (more on this below), has a whole slew of GD add ons that look amazing for teachers.  We haven't gotten to try them out just yet, but if they are anything like GD itself, we know they will be phenom!  Definitely on our TO DO list for the summer....

Finally, here's an amazing Pinterest board from our friends over at KidWorldCitizen.org with TONS of great techie teaching tools just perfect for your ESL lessons!  Our personal fav is making word clouds with Tagzedo-- talk about an amazing way to use those word wall words!!

 

TECH IN THE COUNSELING WORLD

While writing about teaching technology, we can't pass up this opportunity to give  a shout out to a few of our favs in counseling technology!  EZanalyze is a fabulous, FREE, and easy to learn tool that keeps track of your time spent on different tasks- at my school. we use it to send a monthly report to admin that you can see here about the percentage of our time we spent on each of the four ASCA components.  It also has a super password protected session log database with excellent confidentiality capabilities as long as you save it to a flashdrive rather than your school/business harddrive.  And just in case you aren't ready to embrace this advanced level of record-keeping technology, we have a simpler way to track your counseling time/duties using a chart, tally marks, and Excel- we have a free download of all this on our website.  If you are interested, click this link and then scroll down and click on the Weekly/Monthly Counseling Reports icon.

A few other counseling techie tools that are wowing us are:

Mail Chimp which allows you to send super cool looking newsletters and even tracks who reads them!  We are having lots of fun playing with this site in order to use it for our next seasonal newsletter.

We also aren't embarrassed to admit that we still LOVE our old school Microsoft Outlook email signatures that allow us to tag all our work emails with this cool link directing parents/students to our latest counseling office newsletter!

Finally, we couldn't live without our Google Docs here at Bilingual Learner as this is the way we make most of our free resources available to YOU!  GD allows you to create word processing, data base, and spreadsheet docs and them store them on the internet and provide a password link to anyone you want to share them with.  And as my school district starts embracing this amazing tool, I manage to stay one step ahead of them! 

 

AND JUST IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING...

Individual Counseling Resources Coming!  Also during the school year wrapup, we are in the throes of compiling the best  individual counseling resources we have to share.   Give us just a few more weeks to organize the last of our counseling materials that have spent this year strewn all over our counseling office in our daily mad dash to help kids.  It'll be worth the wait!  For a little sneak peak, here's our new staff feedback form- after we meet with a staff-referred student, we fill it out and give to it the staff member that referred that student to us so we can keep them in the loop about what interventions are occurring for their kiddo.

Spring Newsletter!  Our Latest eblast is out with a chance to win a free copy  of our new grief counseling guide, Cope into Hope!!  And our summer eblast will offer a chance to win a free copy of our upcoming lessons guide, ESL for Beginners V.3!  To get on our mailing list for a copy of our quarterly newsletter which has alerts and info about our ESL/counseling posts, freebies, promotions, guides, and other materials- please send an email to bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with NEWSLETTER in the subject line and we will add you to the mailing list.  Or you can look to the right of your screen and sign up for our email newsletter there.

We Just Started Girl World!  We just started writing our latest guide which will include 8 sessions of activities and info to empower girls ages 8-18 to be confident, productive members of society.  Through team building activities such as role plays, art projects, discussions, and journaling, this guide will keep your girls sharing and caring about topics such as making friends, body image, fostering healthy relationships, avoiding rumors, and handling "mean girls." Look for our new guide in both English and Spanish this summer!  Follow us below on our Facebook or Twitter pages to find out our exact release date and to get our promotional discount price! (Check out our sneak peek at Girl World here!)

 

That's all for today, Folks!  We'd love to hear about YOUR favorite teaching or counseling technology, so please leave a comment below!  Hope to see you back here the first Saturday in July for our next post!    In the meantime, 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.

 

 

Spring is in the Air!

April 26, 2014

Happy Spring from Texas!  Our gorgeous wildflowers at Bilingual Learner are in full bloom, as you can see below!

        

As all of us in stateside schools finish up testing (Thank God!) and watch our students get squirrelly with Spring Fever, our thoughts turn to summer.  For counselors, this might mean wrapping up your counseling sessions/lessons.  For ESL teachers, this might mean summer school.  So, we’ll expand on both of these subjects in this post.  As always, we've included a lot of links as helpful resources on these topics- the blue ones will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use and the red ones will take you to a freebie that you can download after you leave a comment below (once you leave a comment, the download automatically gets sent to you within a day). 

 

At my school, we are gearing up to work with our Newcomers 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 ESL lessons, we’ve found two great sites to share!  Bogglesworldesl.com has lots of fun and free summer-themed ESL worksheets.  ColorinColorado.org has awesome ideas for how to set up, run, and assess your summer ESL classroom.  For an actual assessment that you can use to gage the levels of your ESL students this summer, check out our own @ http://bilinguallearner.com/products -- just scroll down to #6 and you’ll find it right there.  Also, here’s two of the activities that we will be doing with our ESL students this summer,  coming right at you in the form of free downloadables from our brand new, soon-to-be- released teaching guide, ESL for Beginners Vol.3:

 

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 links and downloadables to help you with ending your sessions and lessons.  Here is a great link on how to end your counseling sessions with a student/client from Syracuse University School of Education.  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 soon-to-be-released 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 @ http://bilinguallearner.com/   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- we will be uploading an example of this in late May once we’ve collected all our lesson data.  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.

 

NEW PRODUCT ALERT!

We have just finished our latest counseling guide- in both book form and PDF!!!  It is the Spanish/English version of Cope Into Hope: Grief Counseling Sessions Guide with Activities.  Look for more photos of it on our Products Page where it is available for purchase at a discounted price.  The book is also available on Amazon and TeachersPayTeachers.com at full price!

     

 

We had hoped to include some helpful resources and free downloadables on individual counseling in this post, but we are out of time…so look for this topic in a later summer post- we promise, it’ll be worth the wait!  As for this posts topics of ESL summer programs and counseling evals/needs assessments, we’d love to hear what you are using and doing, so please leave a comment below! Remember, we'll trade ya a comment for a freebie resource- comment below and we'll send you the code for the resources in RED above so you can download it for free from our Google Docs account.  Hope to see you back here the first Saturday in June for our next post on the newest technologies in ESL and counseling.   In the meantime, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caught Stress Handed!! Feeling Words in the Testing World...

April 2, 2014

 DURING TESTING, TEACHERS BE LIKE:

 

Ahhhh, the testing season is upon us!  We thought this Dr. Evil testing meme would be a great way to kick off our post this month on dealing with test stress and general anxiety. Whether you are a frazzled counselor trying to deal with the collateral damage of high stakes testing on students, a TEFL teacher trying to get your own students ready for their fluency exams, or a stateside ESL /bilingual teacher bravely facing down the state exams in L2 with your students, this time of year means...

S-T-R-E-S-S! 

For that reason, we've included a lot of links in this post as helpful resources for dealing with anxiety, stress, and calming the two- the blue ones will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use and the red ones will take you to a freebie that you can download after you leave a comment below (once you leave a comment, the download automatically gets sent to you within a day). 

Okay, so let's get started!  Stress and anxiety tax all of our body systems and they feel terrible.   Here’s a little info from the American Psychological Association on how stress harms the body in both the short and long term.  Anxiety, in particular, also inhibits performance, whether that takes the form of not being able to speak fluently during an oral language exam or not performing to one’s best ability on a state, national, or international exam.

Thankfully, there are all kinds of ways to alleviate the effects of stress caused by test anxiety (or any kind of anxiety, really).   Because so much of test anxiety is linked to a fear of failure, it’s very enlightening for students to watch this fabulous Michael Jordan commercial that views failure from a completely different (and better!) perspective.  Showing this commercial is a great way to kick off a fab discussion about how a test is just a test and how test failure today can lead to academic success tomorrow.  Here are some of our other favorite anxiety calming resources:

Well, we hope all the goodies above can help get you and your students/clients through this testing season. You can also look for our new book this summer to get you through NEXT year’s testing season:  Stress Busters: Group Counseling Sessions Guide with Activities.  It will be an 8 session counseling guide for running a calming, anti-anxiety group.  Follow us on Facebook or Twitter below to find out when it is available.  And if all else fails, just remember the meme below:

 

 that awkward moment during a test

 

 

NEW PRODUCT ALERT!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have just finished our latest counseling guide- in both book form and PDF!!!  It is the Spanish/English version of Cope Into Hope: Grief Counseling Sessions Guide with Activities.  Look for more photos of it on our Products Page where it is available for purchase at a discounted price.  The book is also available on Amazon and TeachersPayTeachers.com at full price!

That's all for today, Folks!  We'd love to hear your thoughts on helping students deal with anxiety, so please leave a comment below! Remember, we'll trade ya a comment for a freebie resource- comment below and we'll send you the code for the resources in RED above so you can download it for free from our Google Docs account.  Hope to see you back here the first Saturday in May for our next post on super summer ESL topics, needs assessments, and running effective individual counseling sessions.   In the meantime, 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.

 

Winter Eblast & Sexting 101!

March 1, 2014

Good morning!  Today's post is going to be a short one because most of the resources we would normally put here will go out this week in our quarterly Eblast newsletter- more about this below.  As always, we've included a lot of links below as helpful resources- just click on the blue lettering links and we'll take you right to the article, resource, or product you can use.

 So!  A question came up on a recent forum over what to do regarding students/minors posting suggestive pictures of themselves (or others) online.  We have an entire lesson we present to students in the spring over how to handle situations involving sexting and cyberbullying.  You can access the basics of our lesson here or just wait for our newsletter which includes a more detailed lesson with additional cyberbullying materials.  Also, here is a super helpful cyberbullying resource from Facebook.  In a nutshell, we educate students that any nude or semi-nude image of a minor can be considered child pornography and the serious consequences of that.  We remind students that if they ever receive a suggestive picture they should immediately: tell their parent/guardian and then delete the picture.

Ok, onto a lighter topic:  In a positive followup to last month's post about professional advocacy, here are two fantastic articles showing some positive outcomes of recent advocacy: one for teachers and the other for counselors.  Also, an interesting tidbit on ratios for all you PSCs out there.  Enjoy!

We came across two super ESL resources that we wanted to share:  50 Basic English Questions and How to Address Special Education Needs in the ELL Classroom .  We are already putting many of the 50 questions to use to enhance our own ESL lessons!  And we've started implementing some of the academic interventions in the 2nd article with our special education ESL'ers- our favs are bullets 2 and 4!  Stay tuned for a future link to a thought-provoking article on ESL and dyslexia!

If you are not already on our mailing list and would like to receive our newsletter, as well as other alerts about our ESL/counseling posts, freebies, promotions, guides, and other materials- please send an email to bilinguallearner@hotmail.com with NEWSLETTER in the subject line and we will add you to the mailing list.  Or you can look to the right of your screen and sign up for our email newsletter there. Below are some of the resources and freebies you can look forward to in this week's newsletter...

  • St Patrick's Day ESL Cultural Activity
  • Anxiety/Test-taking Stress Reduction Activity
  • Cutting Edge Tips for Teaching Grammar Structures
  • Preview Activity from our New GIRL POWER! Group Counseling Sessions Guide
  • Anti-Cyberbullying/Sexting Guidance Lesson
  • Dealing with Self Injury with the S.A.F.E Manual
  • Ideas for Using Games to Engage ESL Students
  • and More!

That's all for today, Folks!  We'd love to hear your thoughts on helping students deal with sexting/cyberbullying or on any of your fav ESL Qs or special education interventions, so please leave a comment below!  Hope to see you back here the first Saturday in April for our next post on strategies for dealing with text anxiety/life stress and related ESL & guidance lessons (sorry, it got pushed off this month's post by the Eblast resources).    In the meantime, 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.

 

Making It Work For Y-O-U!

February 4, 2014

Happy School Counselors' Week to all the PSCs out there!  We appreciate you!  Here at BL, we always say that our posts are about the latest developments in the ESL and counseling worlds.  Well, in the last few months, there’s been a real flurry of activity on the topic of professional advocacy.  So, for our first official post of 2014, I’d like to talk about this- both as it applies to counselors and to teachers.  Let’s start off with 2 very powerful articles to show how this is a B-I-G issue that resounds throughout the teaching and counseling worlds. As always, I've included a lot of links below as helpful resources- just click on the blue lettering links and we'll take you right to the article, resource, or product you can use.

Just click on the blue lettering links and we'll take you right to an article, resource, or product you can use.
Read more at http://bilinguallearner.com/-blog#fr12Bvev5ckmSmfw.99

First of all, what is professional advocacy?  Well, since both teachers and counselors are in professions that tend to dump huge caseloads on individuals and expect more time given than is compensated for, there is a big need for advocacy or the practice of educating those in power about what duties our profession entails and what conditions we need to best teach or counsel our clients.  The hope in advocacy is to bring about positive change by creating more of a balance between the reality of our jobs vs. what we can reasonably do in a work day with the resources (including salary) with which we are provided.

Here's an article from counselorsoffice.org which is an amazing piece on the importance of counselor advocacy and how our duties are being taken over by less qualified personnel because our counselor:student ratio is too high for us to effectively advise on college/career choices.  The author mostly focuses on the unsettling situation where the College Advising Corps are replacing the college/career advising aspect to the professional school counselor's (PSC) role.  My own personal example to add to this is how I see counseling agencies like Communities in Schools being contracted by school districts to take over many of the ACTUAL COUNSELING duties of the PSC like individual and group counseling, which then frees up the school counselor’s time for more administrative or (gasp!) clerical/data entry duties.  Instead, I ask:  why not give us counseling secretaries or data clerks who can take care of the system support aspects of our jobs that should only take up 10-15% percent of our time anyway, according to the ASCA model.  Don’t get me wrong, I am totally for school districts bringing in a family/crisis counselor to be employed by and housed on campus for the serious counseling issues that require therapy, which PSCs don’t provide.  It would be so wonderful to refer a child/family in need right down the hall to say, Room 305, when they are in crisis…rather than have to send them to the overcrowded psych emergency room 30 minutes away or have to refer them out where they may have to wait weeks for an outpatient appointment.

Now I’d like to share an article from the National Council of Teachers of English that highlights some key issues in teacher advocacy.  I especially like the part of this piece that talks about obstacles to teacher advocacy and the think-outside-the-box advocacy ideas #17 and #18.  As for my take on teacher advocacy, I didn’t really have one until I started teaching on the international school circuit 10 years into my educator career.  Wow!  What an eye opener!  I was treated (and compensated!!) like a valued professional with housing and airfare provided, and there was a real sense that our time was valued and we were compensated for ALL the time that we worked with lots of planning time/staff days built in so we didn’t have to work for free at home planning our lessons.  For example, students had a half day every Friday so staff could meet for the first hour (negating the need for afterschool staff meetings) and then plan in their professional teams for the rest of the day. That being said, my return to public education stateside in 2008 was a bit of an unpleasant shock.  I learned a lot, spoke up for myself, and tempered some of my higher ideals.

And so the million dollar question becomes: how do we get to this professional Utopia?  Well, ironically enough, Edutopia gives us counselors an excellent tool for facilitating this (check out this article in #2 below).  And so that brings us to some ideas about how to advocate for yourself as a teaching or counseling professional:

1.  Join a professional organization that has a great reputation for speaking up for its members- there is so much strength in numbers and attending a rally at your local government or having a chat with their legal staff if you find yourself on the dark side of the moon is priceless and VERY empowering.  Here are links to some of my favs: ASCA, NABE, TESOL, NEA, ACA

2.  Meet regularly (monthly, or even better, weekly) with your administration or with your team of colleagues and:

  • Follow an agenda.
  • After the meeting, send the agenda minutes to your admin with points about:  the great things you are doing, struggles you are having as a result of lack of resources, links to professional articles that advocate for your profession, and data points (see #3 below).
  • Bring and refer to your state, national or accreditation manual on how you should be carrying out your job duties- offer to give your admin a copy of this manual, too.  For example, I take my Texas Education Agency Model for a School Counseling Program wherever I go and I call it my Bible.
  • Share professional articles that advocate for your profession- here’s the Edutopia one I was referring to above.  And make sure that the links to the articles or the actual articles themselves make it into those minutes that you send to admin.

3.  Send your admin weekly or monthly data reports- nothing speaks truer than hard and fast numbers and administrators LOVE to see numbers.  Here are some ideas for how to keep your numbers:

  • If you are a teacher, this might look like a spreadsheet of your students weekly assessment scores (either district or state driven if you have these OR just send a spreadsheet of your student’s assessment scores on your own test instruments that you use in your class).  Always link your needs and requests to any problematic scores you provide.
  • If you are a counselor, I can’t recommend EZAnalyze enough- it’s an easy, FREE downloadable!  I’m not going to lie- it definitely takes a bit of time and effort to learn it and set it up (maybe a half day to a full day’s worth of time), and you do have to keep up with it daily which can be tedious sometimes, but all these minor inconveniences are NOTHING compared to the amazing data reports it generates with the click of a button…I share it with my admin monthly so they can see that I am spending my professional time effectively.
  • If you are a counselor nervous about jumping into the tech world with both feet to use EZAnalyze, you can also visit my link (once there, just scroll down and click on the first free downloadable called "Weekly/Monthly Counseling Reports") to see the simpler, less techy data charts I used very effectively before I started with EZAnalyze
  • I’ve heard glorious rumors that there is EZAnalyze for teachers now too- check out this link to see if it will work for you.

4.  Take care of yourself!  Leave work at work, make time for yourself and your family, and carve a bit of time out EACH DAY to do what you enjoy whether it’s a short walk, watching your fav sitcom, reading that trashy novel in bed, or just some deep breathing.  Here are links to great articles on self-care from the experts who explain avoiding burnout and enjoying your job a lot better than me…Teachers Slowing Down and 10 Ways to Slow Down.

5.  Put your state or accrediting agency education code of what teachers/counselors do on your office or classroom door.  Here’s mine and pic of it on my door, my bulletin board, and my counseling lobby (yellow-green poster).  I point to it often when people ask me why I’m not disciplining a student, or in charge of testing, or creating the master schedule, etc.  It’s so nice to be able to point like that. 

        

6.  And last but not least- just say no.  Like my wise and retired educational administrator Dad used to tell me as a child- NO is the easiest word to say.  Of course, you’ll have to pick your battles and you can’t say no all the time.  But if you have stellar workmanship that follows the framework set by your professional organization and you have a few examples up your sleeve of how you have recently “taken one for the team,” it’s ok to say no.  Here are professional frameworks from some of the big guns, if you need them: TESOL and ASCA.

And that brings us to the close of our Feb post.  We'd love to hear about your experiences with or opinions about advocacy, so please leave us a comment below.  Just an FYI if you are one of our weekly readers- we will be changing from weekly Saturday posts that alternate between ESL and counseling issues to first-Saturday-of-the-month posts that combine the two.  We are revving ourselves up for the Spring rush of new counseling and ESL guides to unleash on the market and so we will be spending less time blogging and more time writing guides and creating other new products such as counseling kits, ESL song books, and more!  You can look forward to Cope Into Hope Grief Counseling Guide- Spanish Version, Girl Power! Group Counseling Guide, ESL for Beginners Lessons Guide Vol 3 and other products to start appearing on our products page, our Bilingual Learner FB page, and Twitter page sometime in March!

We hope to see you back here the first Saturday in March for our next post on strategies for dealing with text anxiety/life stress and related ESL & guidance lessons!    In the meantime, 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.

 

Happy Early Valentine's Day!

 

 

 

 

 

We're (Almost) Back!

January 24, 2014

Happy 2014 Counselors and ESL'ers!

We are almost back to sharing our weekly Bilingual Learner counseling and ESL posts! Check us out here next Saturday to read our first post of the New Year about counselor/teacher advocacy and self-care.

Advocating for ourselves as professionals and taking care of ourselves is CRUCIAL in a busy, mile-a-minute work (and life) culture. An endlessly stressed out/overworked teacher or counselor is NOT an effective teacher or counselor.  More on this topic next Saturday, same time, same place!

In the meantime, we've been busy settling into our new place!! Here are some of the things we've been doing during our writing hiatus, in case you wanted to have a look...

Clearing brush...


 

Fixing fences...


 

Deciding which project to tackle next...


 

Trying not to fall off our cliffs...


 

Taking a moment to catch our breath in the midst of all these JOBS...


 

Admiring the view every now and again...


 

And, last but BEST, finding the perfect writing spot to crank out our next counseling and ESL guides!

 

 

See ya next week...here's a preview of coming attractions for our next post:

 

Our Final 2013 Post!

November 30, 2013

You read it right, folks!  This is our last post of the year.  As many of you know from reading our previous posts or following us on Facebook, we are moving our office in December and January.  So, we will be super busy situating ourselves in our new home AND working on all our holiday/end of the year projects such as new pages to our website, new guides, and some free giveaways.  You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest to get real time alerts of when these things occur.  So... yes, this will be our last post of 2013.  You can expect us back full force with our weekly Saturday posts in February.

Onto today's post with some really good stuff to share- for both counselors and ESL'ers!  Just click on the blue lettering links and we'll take you right to an article, resource, or product you can use.  In my last ESL lesson, I tried out a new game called "Guess It!" which is an activity from the book ESL for Beginners Volume Two.  This activity is like an ESL version of Charades and my students loved it!  In fact, they got so into it, that the activity took over the entire class period and I had to reschedule all the other English activities I had planned for that class.  It would have been easy to cut the activity short, giving each student one turn... but they were just having so much fun and getting such awesome practice with the present continuous verb tense that we all played on and on. 

In other news, here is a fab article for new ESL teachers from Busyteacher.org.  I wish I'd had this when I started teaching ESL back in early 2000 in Mozambique!  My own favorite is number two, and I am trying out number five myself this week- I never even thought of having students use all five senses in English language learning- great idea!

And for counseling, I thought I'd leave you all with two great articles on advocacy to wrap up 2013.  It is such an important part of our profession and I never realized how much I'd have to advocate for my position, my profession, and myself.  But, it is what it is...so here's something to help you out:  an article that's great to present at staff meetings any time of year to win over teachers AND an article to share with your administration so they can support you at best practice counseling per national standards.  At my school, we presented the first article at our beginning of year staff meeting and it went over smashingly (for those teachers that were still awake after a full day of meetings since school counselors got the last 20 minute block of the day).  As for the second article, it is on my list of things to present to my own admin over Winter Break when we all have a moment to breathe and read more than just the parent/student/supervisor memos that are right in front of us!

 

And, now, a final 2013 thought to leave you with...good for both counselors and ESL'ers...

And PS- The shack in the pic above is NOT our new office...just a funny photo.  Here's an actual photo of our office-in-progress:

 

 

 

Happy Holidays and see ya'll back here in February!  And in the meantime, don't be a stranger- look for our daily alerts on our Bilingual Learner Facebook Page, our Twitter Page, or our Pinterest Page.  We'll be posting brief comments about our Facebook Follower Free-Product-of-Your-Choice Giveaway, our new sessions and teaching guides, and our newest fav resources/reviews added to our website.  See ya on the flip side!

That's all, Folks!

Success in School

November 24, 2013

Let the good times commence!  Here at Bilingual Learner, we are on vacayyyyyyyy!  Our "real job" in public ed has just gone on Thanksgiving hiatus for one whole, glorious week.  We hope you are just as lucky!  Anyway, this week's post is about working with chronically underachieving students.  These are the kiddos who have the ability to succeed in school, but continue to fail their classes throughout the school year.  In our counseling office, we have been working all semester on getting these students on track so they are passing their classes and we use various strategies to achieve this goal.  It's so exciting to report that the stars have aligned this year and with the right mix of interventions (after many years of research, trial and error), we are finally seeing some consistent success with our underachieving students. Below is our program for helping students find success in school with links to helpful resources- click on the blue ones to take you right to an article, video, or product you can use and click on the red ones to take you to a Bilingual Learner freebie that you can download after you leave a comment below (once you leave a comment, the download automatically gets sent to you within a day). 

The first thing we do is handpick the students to go into our group, which we call Middle School 101, though it might be renamed Success in School, since our program is applicable to any age group- elementary, middle, high, or even post-secondary.  The criteria for the student to be admitted into the group is quite specific: failure of two or more subjects, a desire on the part of the student to improve their grades, no chronic attendance problems, and no undiagnosed learning problems.  Of course, we have other means for supporting students whose absences or ability to learn interfere with their success in school, but that is a topic for another post.  Since this psycho-educational group is primarily goal-based and focuses on building good work/study/organization habits, it would be unfair to include students who cannot raise their grades no matter their goal or how hard they work because of learning or attendance issues.  Further, if the student does not WANT to improve their grades, there's not much we can do in this group setting....you know what they say- you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink!  We provide other supports for these type of students who are indifferent or resistant (see page 18), but, again, that is a topic for another post. 

Once we have our list of potential group members, we send home the group permission slips and the first ones to return them go into the group (our counseling office ALWAYS has a waiting list for groups and we see A LOT of failing students as poverty and high stakes testing really impact our kids and their grades).  In my experience, it is best to run this group as a weekly, yearlong process, cycling the students through 3 stages: 

  • as a beginning group member who is mentored in group by a more "expert" member (for the first set of group members in September, the group leader can serve as the mentor)
  • as an "expert" member where they get their own mentee
  • and finally, after consistent success and goal achievement, the member is ready to exit the group

In order to facilitate our 3 stages model, I start with a smaller number of group members, spending a month or two to get them achieving their school goals and then gradually increasing the group by adding new group members where the "expert" original group members can mentor the new ones.  And after a month or two of this, I exit the expert members who are showing consistent improvement/ success in school.

Here at Bilingual Learner, are working on a new counseling sessions guide that details and provides materials/activities for all aspects of running this type of Success in School group-- look for it Summer 2014!  However, in the meantime, here are some guidelines for running each session:

  • Start each session by giving the students a report of their current term class/assignment grades that they have earned  with a copy of their goal they created in the last group session; members can also sign in at this time on their progress chart which is displayed in the group room  to keep track of their goal achievement and use of minilesson strategies. 
  • Allow students time to review their grade sheets and goal and then share with group a success (no matter how small) they have had with their goal
  • Allow students to continue working towards their same goal or model for students how to create a new improving grades goal based on the low class grades on their grade sheets
  • each group member reads their new or continued goal to the group
  • teach a 5-10 minute minilesson on study skills, organization, or good work habits
  • if time, play a game such as Great Grades BINGO to wrap things up in a fun way and keep the overall mood of the group very positive

There are so many more exciting aspects to share about facilitating a group like this, but of course we can't fit it all into one blog post.  So, I will sign off here with a promise of our Success in School Group Counseling Sessions Guide with Activities coming in Summer 2014 (if not earlier!) and of future Bilingual Learner posts about details/updates of our experiences with this group as the school year progresses. 

And, finally, in honor of Thanksgiving coming in just a few days (YUM!), here are two cool Thanksgiving resources I just came across from busyteacher.org- one is a Thanksgiving PPT  and the other is a history of Thanksgiving.  Also, you can scroll down or just click here, and read our Bilingual Learner post from last week as we have several Thanksgiving resources embedded in that post.  To close, here's a silly poster by Carrie Keplinger that combines a little psychology humor with some English/ESL humor...

 

And that brings us to the end of this Saturday's counseling post.  Catch up with us again next Saturday for our post focusing on the ESL world.  So, see ya back here next week, same time-same place!  We'd love to hear about your experiences in working with underachieving students/clients, so please leave us a comment.  Remember, we'll trade ya a comment for a freebie resource- comment below and we'll send you the code for the resources in RED above so you can download it for free from our Google Docs account.  In the meantime, 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.

 

 

 

View older posts »

Visitors