July 7, 2016

School Counselor's Superpowers

Back to School Introductions


"Good morning everyone!!” I excitedly said to the class. I had been eagerly awaiting the announcements to end so my lesson could start.
 
“Who knows who I am?”

“Mrs. Belllllllll” they excitedly yelled back.

“That’s right! I’m Mrs. Bell! I know you all see me around campus a lot, but who knows what I do? What’s my job here at school?”

I was surprised by the wide array of answers.

“You’re the Principal!”

“You work with the lunches.”

“You help with ketchup!”

“When you have a banana that you can’t open, you come and open it!”

“You’re the School Canceller! You get to cancel school!”

I thought I had done a really good job introducing myself at open house and on the school news during the first week of the year. Clearly, I had not.

I started thinking, if they don’t know what I do, will they be able to effectively utilize and maximize School Counseling services?

From that moment on it became my mission to become known among all students and staff.

In preparation for my mission to make myself known, I created a plan of attack to change the mindset surrounding my role as the School Counselor. I wanted the entire building to know what I do and when it would be best to contact me. I think in this profession as a whole, many School Counselors feel like their skills aren’t being utilized to their full potential and do not feel like a valuable asset to the school. I wanted to start the school year with a bang and let the teachers know just how super we counselors can be.

I figured the best way to explain my roles and responsibilities would be in terms of superpowers.

Here’s how I did it:
I presented the information and explained my superpowers to every class in the form of a guidance lesson.

I always started the lesson the same:
“Good morning everyone! Who can tell me what my name is?”

“Mrs. Bell!”

“That’s right! Who knows what I do here at school?”

I got the conversation started by gauging their perspective of me and my position. Their responses let me know how much time I needed to go over my position and how quickly we could move to the fun parts.

I put this poster on the overhead display and explained to students that I am here to help them in three main domains: 1) academics, 2) social/emotional development and 3) career choices.


After the students had a working understanding of my position and these three domains, I passed out either the cootie catcher or the discussion cube depending on how much time I had.

The cootie catcher takes about three minutes of prep work to make. You print, cut out the square shape, fold according to the printed directions included in the download and then you are ready to go.







The cube is super-fast too; just cut, fold and glue. I prefer to laminate and then hot glue these together. I find it to be a bit more durable, but that is just my personal preference.

Taking turns, the students roll the question cube and answer the question they land on. Printed questions ask students to describe and/or explain six of the School Counselor's main roles/superpowers:

How could the School Counselor help you with career choices?
How can the School Counselor help you with friends?
How can the School Counselor help you deal with life changes?

And so on.



I passed out one cootie catcher or cube per pair of students and let the kids ask each other the questions and discuss their answers as partners.



After my role was thoroughly introduced and the cubes and catchers were put away, I said, “Who can tell me what a superpower is?”

They would get wide eyed with excitement and their little fingers would frantically wave in the air begging to be called on. I would take about five examples of heroes and the powers that make them super before I introduced the idea that School Counselors have superpowers too.

“Just like Hulk and Flash have superpowers that allow them to be super strong and super-fast, School Counselors have superpowers too!”

I would then explain my five powers using the poster, answering any questions along the way. I outlined that School Counselors have the power to:


Help you SOLVE PROBLEMS,
help you deal with LIFE CHANGES,
remind you how SPECIAL you are,
LISTEN to your problems and concerns,
help you make and keep FRIENDS, and to
teach you about CAREER options.

Then I’d get them thinking about how it all connects and set the scene for our card game!

“Now let’s think about this for a second, Hulk and Flash are both superheroes right?”

“Yeahhhhhhh”

“What is Hulk known for?”

“Strength.”

“What about Flash?”

“Speed!”

“If I needed someone to lift my car, would one of these two superheroes would be better for the job?”

“Hulllkkkkkkkkk!!!!”

“What about if I lived in Florida and I needed a package delivered to California in 20 minutes? Who would I call then?!”

“Flashhhhhhhhh!!!”

“That’s right! We just said that they are both superheroes, right? Yet they aren’t both perfect for the same job? Why is that?”

They chattered for a bit and eventually came up with the fact that they each had skills that make them better at each of the jobs.

Even though both heroes are great, there are certain heroes who were better to call in each situation. Flash isn’t as strong as hulk and hulk isn’t as fast as flash. They each have their own strengths and advantages as well as pitfalls and weak spots.

Unfortunately for School Counselors, time is the kryptonite that limits us. We can’t help in every situation. That’s where Super Teachers and Super Staff (Super Custodians, Super Bus Drivers, Super Helpers, Super Parents, etc.) are a big help. Sometimes they have superpowers that are perfect for the job and are right there and ready help. They’d be a much better person to go to in order to get a problem solved quicker.

I use this to lead into my “Is this a Job for the School Counselor” situation card game. I print, laminate and cut apart all cards. I then keep all of my cards in a tiny pizza box that I painted and made cute to store this activity.


I flip the cards upside down and let the students reach into the little box and pull one card out at a time.

   
Each student, one at a time, picks a card, reads the statement out loud and answers the question. After they finish answering, or I offer support if they are struggling, I get the whole class involved.

I asked, “Do you think this is a good job for the School Counselor?”

If they do, they give me a thumbs up. If they think someone else may be better for the job, they give me a thumbs down. We then talk about who may be better to help in that situation or why the School Counselor is best for the job.

Once we’ve said all that needs to be said, the next student gets a turn.

For Kindergarten and first grade I read the situation cards to them and use that same thumbs up or down formative assessment technique with the whole class to gauge understanding.

During this game, students recognize and establish boundaries and limitations for time spent with the School Counselor. Students will learn what types of situations should be brought to the counselor and which situations are better left to other superheroes on campus.

After the card game ends, I shift the focus onto their superpowers “I bet you didn’t know that each and every one of you have superpowers too!”

Again, their eyes light up and they get so excited.

We talk for a bit and then I distribute the activity sheets to recap student learning. There are a few different versions of the activity sheet, I gauged student ability (and my bravery level in having the students draw me) during the lesson and then chose the appropriate worksheet.
  
I used the full activity sheet with 2nd-3rd grade and the coloring sheet with Kindergarten-2nd (for 2nd grade I chose the worksheet based on student ability during the lesson).


 
These activity sheets also double as screeners to give me a beginning of the year list of students that I should probably make contact with.

 How do I get long lasting friends? 

 You can help me to calm down and not get mad at the teacher.

 When my sister doesn't want to come to school.
 
It also helped me to see themes, trends and common problems among grade levels.
 


You can help me with my problems with that kid on the bus!
The activity sheets also challenged students to think about their superpowers, what they are good at and what makes them special.



The kindergartners and first graders received a modified worksheet that allowed them to draw a picture of their School Counselor while thinking about and discussing their superpowers with their friends/table mates.

Be prepared to learn a few interesting things about yourself from the student’s perspective:

 That you are really good at giving out tissues.

 That you look like someone who would have a horse.

That you walk past PE too much. 


That you may really have superpowers.

 That you are more loved and appreciated than you realize.


 
Most importantly, don't be offended by their innocent drawings of you, no matter how funny they make you look,



or the answers they give. 


Aside from the laughs, my favorite part was helping students uncover what makes them powerful.


After I have walked students through the worksheet, they have completed their portion of the activity and my lesson is coming to an end, I like to show students the Limits of Confidentiality.

I then show students the Student Referral for Counseling Slips, explain how to fill the referral slips out, explain where to put them when finished and the process of me working with the teacher to find the best time to come talk to the student.

I left a copy of all three of these explanation sheets with each teacher so that they could hang them in their classrooms or keep in a convenient place for students to access throughout the year.

I tied cute ribbons to the posters and hung them in my office on hooks so that I could easily remove them from the wall when explaining these concepts to students.

I would have to say that Mission: Become Known to My Students has been quite the success.

You can download your own copy of 
School Counselor’s Superpowers 
by clicking here. 

Check out what I use with kinder and first by clicking here

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Best of luck next school year :)


3 comments:

  1. This is fantastic! I love your site! Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very fun and informative for the kids and probably to the school staff! Thank you for sharing

    ReplyDelete