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Goal Based Counseling- Working the Growth Mindset

November 19, 2016
 

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 principales 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 November's two-part 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!
 
 
  
The icing on the cake- we end the lesson with a number review and then Numbers Bingo!
 
 

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!

 

 

Boys Counseling Group and ESL Summer Resources

July 8, 2016

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

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

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

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

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

 

A COUNSELING GROUP CALLED GOALS MAKE THE MAN!

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

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

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

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

 

    

 

ESL SUMMER ACTIVITIES

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

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

That brings me to the end of this month's post.  Check back here again next month for more tips and resources to kickstart your counseling or teaching program! As always, you can find out about Bilingual Learner’s latest promotions, free stuff, or my counseling/ESL adventures by following my Facebook PageTwitter Page, or Pinterest Page.  And don’t forget to follow me on my new Instagram Page to see pics of my adventures with students!
 
Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that my hard work helped you out! If you found a resource here, please show your love and comment about it below!

 

 

Top 10 Tips for Wrapping Up Your Counseling Year & Building Your Program

June 15, 2016

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

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

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

 

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

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

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

Fiction with Amazing Counseling Themes!

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

February 13, 2016

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

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

 

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

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

COUNSELING HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE TSCA CONFERENCE!

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

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

   

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

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

  

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

Some of the other amazing TSCA 2016 presentations included: 

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

  

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

1.  helping the family/student understand the illness

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

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

4,  providing assistance with housing, employment, and school

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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Holidays Galore for the ESL/EFL and Counseling Worlds!

November 7, 2015

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

 

 

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

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

 

 

 

HOLIDAY ESL/EFL RESOURCES

 

 

HOLIDAY COUNSELING RESOURCES

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Red Ribbon Week, ESL Kickoff and Some Halloween Fun!

October 3, 2015

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

 

 

 

BUT FIRST A FEW BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES:


 

DRUG/ALCOHOL PREVENTION & RED RIBBON WEEK

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

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

 

ESL/EFL CLASS KICKOFF!

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

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

My Tiny Classroom-in-a-Closet

My tiny classroom-in-a-closet   

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

Class Rules and Consequences

Read Aloud  Book and Grammar Structure Games

Video Clip Activity

Some Students Watching the Video Clip

 

 

HALLOWEEN SCENE!

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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