EOY Reflections, and of course some data

Less than a week ago, I wrapped up quite an interesting school year. I am still mid-reflection about how my school year went, but I feel ‘interesting’ is a solid word choice to describe it. For lots of reasons…

  1. I started late. 8 weeks late to be exact, due to taking maternity leave. It is the strangest feeling to be just getting started when everyone else is already knee deep in student issues, concerns, schedules, etc. Would I change the time I took? Absolutely not. At the same time, it set me up for a challenge, that’s for sure.
  2. Speaking of maternity leave, this was my first year trying to balance two full-time jobs. When I didn’t have my school counselor hat on, I had my mom hat on. Sometimes, I had both on at the same time. Insert #momguilt here. 
  3. This school year seemed to be filled with crisis experiences, either first hand or second hand. Either way, I had my state’s 24/7 crisis hotline number memorized by about January.
  4. Because of the many hours crisis work takes, I had to make a very difficult decision this year. I am split between schools, and furthermore, I was being split between my proactive, preventative services and my reactive, responsive services. I couldn’t do both effectively, and so, I had to push pause on delivering classroom lessons. This about killed me to do, but I felt I had to in order to handle each crisis with the care it deserved. 
  5. I got to work with some new professionals this year, both in district and out of district. Each added knowledge and expertise that helped me grow as a school counselor.

Along with my reflections, I want to use this post to share my school counselor newsletters I created this year, as well as my end of year report.

School Counselor Newsletters

As in previous years, I like to share my newsletters that I create for staff, parents/guardians, and community members. This year, because I was not able to do as many classroom lessons as preferable, I focused my newsletters on topics relating to common issues I found myself discussing with parents/guardians, students, or colleagues. I had planned to publish two newsletters per trimester; I fell shy of that goal due to reasons #1-3 above.

Anyway, here is what I was able to publish! I am happy to share them to help you create your own. As always, if you use most or all of one of my documents, please be respectful and give credit. Click on each link to see the newsletter.

Trimester 1 (November) – Mindfulness introduction and a blurb about my upcoming school counselor website.

Trimester 2 (January) – Helping children cope with “big” feelings through validation, education about the brain, and self-regulation skills.

Trimester 2 (February) – Importance of connection and understanding the root of behaviors from a new perspective.

Trimester 3 (May) – Media and screen time influences on children and how to set media guidelines.

End of Year Report

I have come to truly love collecting data to put in an EOY report. I love the accountability it provides for what I do each day. I love the validation I get from seeing the actual numbers for services I provide to my students. And what I love the most is when my data  is used for actual change. This year, my mid-year and EOY reports were collected and analyzed to consider INCREASING school counseling services in one of my very needy schools. HOW FREAKING AWESOME IS THAT?!?!

Because I know my reports are being looking at by administrators, among others, I decided to add a couple of things to my EOY report this year. First, I added a section to my google form I use for note taking: scheduled/planned vs unscheduled/unplanned meeting. That means that every time I inputted a new note after meeting with a student, I checked off whether it was a meeting I had planned for or not. I was then able to use this information to see the percentages of my scheduled vs unscheduled time in responsive services (you’ll see these percentages in the report below). 

The second thing I chose to add to my actual EOY report is a summary and take-away section. I realized that I knew exactly what my numbers mean because they are MY numbers; I am immersed in this data all year long. However, others are not. If someone is looking at my data for the first time, they might be impressed or they might not be, especially if they don’t know exactly what the numbers mean for our actual students. This year, I wanted it to be crystal clear what my data is showing as far as the needs in my schools and the vast differences in the services provided. 

Click on the picture to view the full report.

EOY Report 2016-17

Thanks for reading my reflections and viewing my newsletters and EOY report. I hope you have found something useful here for your own important work. 

Enjoy your time! 🙂 


Newsletters 2015-2016

WelcomTeenage Girl Working On Laptop Cliparte to another newsletter round-up! The last few years, I have shared the School Counselor Newsletters I put together for my teachers, staff, and parents/guardians. I hear from readers all the time that you appreciate the ideas to help you create your own. So, here’s some more!

Below are the newsletters from 2015-2016. Please click on the link to see each newsletter.


September, 2015 – Introduction newsletter (I began a new position at two schools, neither of which were very familiar with the role of a School Counselor)

October, 2015 – Building emotional awareness in children

November/December, 2015 – Communicating feelings (cotton/sandpaper lesson and E+R=O lesson) plus information about the school’s Civil Rights Team

January, 2016 – Self-esteem

March, 2016 – Kindness and how it can reduce bullying behaviors

April, 2016 – Mindset (difference between closed vs. open)

May, 2016 – Multiple Intelligences/Career Awareness

Information about my newsletters: I use Microsoft Word to make each newsletter. Using a lot of text boxes, I can manipulate the spacing and sizing of what I want to include. When I’m satisfied, I save it as a PDF document to share.

I am happy to share my newsletters to help you create your own. If you use most or all of one of my documents, please be respectful and give credit. Unfortunately, I can no longer provide editable versions of my newsletters, as the demand for this has become too overwhelming. Just be happy that I share for free. 😉

Thanks for your support!

Another newsletter round-up

newspaper-clip-art-weekly-news-clipartThe last two summers I have shared my School Counselor Newsletters that I put together for parents and teachers. Since I got a lot of great feedback from readers, I thought I’d do that again.

If you want to see the posts with previous years’ newsletters click here and here.

My newsletters from the school year 2014-2015 are below. Each one is listed by month and topic. Click on each link to see them:

September, 2014 – Back-to-school transition tips for parents

October, 2014 – Various ways to start the “how was your day at school?” conversation with children (encouraging communication within the family)

November, 2014 – Stress and anxiety relief in children

December, 2014 – (No newsletter. Sorry!)

January, 2015 – Information and tips about getting your child to school ON TIME (this was an issue for some, so I saw an opportunity to educate many)

February, 2015 – Building grit in your child (and avoiding being the “rescuer”)

March, 2015 – A goodbye newsletter to my families with tips for closure (probably one of the hardest newsletters I’ve ever written) 😦

After March, I joined a new school and did not publish newsletters during my time there. It is my hope that I will get back to doing newsletters next school year! I still believe them to be a great communication and advocacy tool!

Information about my newsletters: I use Microsoft Word to make each newsletter. Using a lot of text boxes, I can manipulate the spacing and sizing of what I want to include. When I’m satisfied, I save it as a PDF document to share.

Hope this has been helpful! 🙂

For the love of formatting

tn_newspaper_clipartLast summer, I shared about how I create a newsletter each month for parents and teachers. Since I am always on the lookout for topics and ideas for my own newsletters, I thought it might be helpful to share some of mine with you.

My newsletters are only a page on purpose, to make them a quick read for busy parents and teachers. Honest-to-blog, I spend hours on each one because I am a type A, formatting, spelling, and grammar perfectionist. I also enjoy it, so there’s that…

Anyway, feel free to use and share what you find useful. Please just be respectful and give me credit if you use an entire document. Thank you. 🙂

These are the newsletters I created last school year, plus one I plan to publish in September when I’m back to school. Each one is listed by month and topic. Click on the links to see them.

2013-2014 School Year Newsletters:

September, 2013 Back to school information

October, 2013 Red Ribbon Week (this was the first year my school celebrated it!)

November, 2013 Gratitude

December, 2013 Kindness Matters bulletin board

January, 2014 Bullying and being an up-stander

February, 2014 Self-esteem

March, 2014 Trauma in children

April, 2014 Child Abuse Prevention Month

May, 2014 Career awareness unit

June, 2014 (No newsletter – things got a little busy! You know how that goes, right?)

I spent some time to redo my newsletter layout for next year, since I’ve used the same heading for 3 years now. Gotta keep it fresh!

2014-2015 School Year Newsletters:

September, 2014 Transition tips for parents


Hope you enjoyed my newsletters! If you find it helpful to see these, let me know and I’d be glad to share the ones I create for this upcoming school year! Thanks for reading. 🙂



Career Unit K-5

I have a confession. Here it is: I don’t like doing career lessons. I know, I know, career lessons are important! Because I know this, I made it a goal of mine to expand and improve upon my lessons in this area. As it turns out, I actually had a lot of fun doing them this year!

This post is all about the lessons I did in each grade K-5. Some of the ideas are borrowed, others I made myself. Please feel free to borrow any ideas/materials you’d like to use for your own lessons!

Kindergarten & First Grade

For the young ones, I started the career unit with a borrowed lesson from the Elementary School Counseling blog. We discussed what a job and a career is, and then we looked at the Whose Vehicle Is This? posters. Students guessed which career the vehicle would be used for, and we talked about why each career is important in our community.

Here’s an example of one vehicle:


Next, each student was given a vehicle page and was instructed to draw a person who does that job on the back. We shared with the class when finished. This is a good time to discuss with students that jobs are not gender specific – we see this when we look at each student’s picture. Here are a few examples of student work:

A garbage person
A garbage collector
A farmer
A farmer
An ice cream truck driver
An ice cream truck driver

Second Grade

For second graders, I borrowed a “career toolbox” lesson from Lisa, a counselor who posted it in the Elementary School Counselor Exchange Facebook Group. I collected various items and put them all in a box with a cover. For the lesson, I called students up one at a time to reach their hand in and pull out an item. Once they saw what the item was, they guessed what career(s) the item might be used for. The rest of the class also shared their ideas.

Examples of items I put in the box: a ruler, pencil, flashlight, compass, map, dog leash, manicure set, book, screw driver, rubber glove, floss, cell phone, walkie talkie, etc.

The students had a lot of fun with this activity! It was engaging because they wanted to see what item would come out next! It also covered a lot of different careers quickly.

As a follow up, we read “When I Grow Up” by Al Yankovic (always a favorite for kids) and students shared various jobs they’re interested in having.

When I grow up book

Goal-Setting Lesson (K-2)

To expand on the career lessons, I presented a goal-setting lesson and discussed how setting goals for yourself is a part of having a job or career. I was pleasantly surprised that in all classrooms, students were able to understand that there are two kinds of goals – the kind you score on a sports field, and the kind you set for yourself because you want to get better at something. We discussed that part of goal-setting is making a plan to meet your goal and thinking about people who could help you get there.

I created goal-setting posters and laminated them. Some of the posters showed an example of a goal and asked what that person could do to meet his/her goal. Other posters asked students to identify a goal for themselves that related to school, home, friendships, recess, etc.

In K & 1st, I laid several posters on the floor and had each student pick one they wanted to talk about by giving it a good swat with their hand (this got out some energy!). In 2nd grade, the students did a ‘long jump’ and whichever poster they landed on was the one they talked about. The students liked this, although it was a bit slippery because the posters were laminated…so some simply stepped on the poster they wanted to choose.

I was impressed that the majority of students were able to come up with appropriate answers for how someone could meet their goal!

Here’s a link to the posters I created: Goal-Setting Scenarios.

Third Grade

I employed the use of my career dolls that I’ve used in years past.

Career dolls
Career dolls

The activity that third graders completed was in groups. I put students in small groups and had one person from each choose a career doll from a bag without looking. Once they had their career doll, I gave them a notecard that listed the career (to avoid any confusion), and a worksheet.

The worksheet had the following questions:

  • What are the strengths of a person in this career?
  • Why is this career important in our community?
  • Is anyone in your group interested in this career? Why or why not?

After the groups finished, we came back together to share about each career. In one class, a group had the teacher doll – they shared that no one in their group wanted to be a teacher because “it’s too much work” and “kids are too loud.” 😉

Fourth Grade

Fourth grade lessons were all about multiple intelligences! I truly believe that all kids are smart and so many of them don’t believe they are because they’re not smart in the traditional reading/writing/arithematic way. I wasn’t surprised that when I opened the lesson by asking how do you know how smart you are, many students answered with “scores on a test” or “how easy the work is for you to do.” When I said there are 8 different ways to be smart, I got some crazy looks!

I had each student complete this Learning Styles Survey:

Multiple Intelligences Quiz

On the back of each survey was a visual of the 8 intelligence areas:

Multiple Intelligences Cartoon strip

After completing the survey and tallying their scores, students were grouped based on their highest intelligence area. Many had a tie for highest, so I had them choose the one they felt was most like them or the one they were most interested in. I reminded them that this is just a short survey and does not tell them everything about how smart they are.

In groups, students were given a poster of their kind of smarts to help them answer questions. I used these wonderful You’re a Smart Kid posters for free!

You're a smart kid poster pic

Each group worked together to answer questions and then each group shared with the class. Here are few examples of their work:



Check out the first career this group listed :)
Check out the first career this group listed 🙂


Fifth Grade

I spent a lot of time searching for a paper and pencil survey or quiz that my fifth graders could take to open their eyes to possible career opportunities. I know there are many online surveys, but I didn’t want to rely on technology. 😉

Each student completed a four-page Interest Survey that, when scored, brought them to career clusters they may be interested in pursuing. I was impressed with my 5th graders because they took their time answering each section to really narrow down their interest areas. Because they took their time, we didn’t have enough left over to do the group work portion of the lesson, but that’s okay….you gotta be flexible, right?

After the students had self scored their surveys, I had as many as time would allow share their top career cluster and answer a few questions about it:

  • What kinds of careers fall under this cluster?
  • What are the strengths of a person in this career?
  • What will you have to do in order to have this career? (College? Special training? Improve a specific skill?)

After sharing, we briefly discussed that as they continue their education into middle school, knowing their interests is important because they can expand their knowledge and skills by taking certain classes or joining certain clubs/groups. My 5th graders, at this point in the year, are ready for this kind of conversation. I was pleased that so many of them already had a career they were interested in and it came through in their surveys! 🙂

And, finally…

Whenever I do a unit like this, especially for the first time, I like to share it! Hey, we have to promote all the good stuff we do, right? So, I pieced together the career unit into a one-page newsletter for parents. Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out: May Newsletter 2014

Phew….the career unit was a lot of work to create and plan for, but it was worth it! 🙂


A short post about self-esteem

HAppy kids

This will be a short post.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the issues I work on with students at my school. As I went through a mental list of particular students I meet with regularly, it suddenly clicked – for the majority of them, whatever issues we’re addressing stem from an unhealthy self-esteem.

The reasons I meet with students vary, of course, from conflicts with peers, friendship issues, family concerns, anger management, emotional awareness and expression, etc. But, for many of my students, the REAL reason, the deep down reason, is because they don’t have great self-esteem, and thus, are not actively solving their own problems because they don’t feel capable, or are acting out because they don’t feel cared about or loved.

This lead to me to thinking about the root causes of their low self-esteem. For some of my students, I know it has something to do with abandonment issues or negative talk at home. But, I felt like I needed to offer something to parents about this issue and why it’s so important.

So, I decided to create my February School Counselor Newsletter around the issue of self-esteem, what it is, why it matters, and how parents can help their own children develop healthy beliefs about themselves.

If you’d like to take a look at it, click here.

Happy vacation! 🙂

Creating Newsletters


About a year and a half ago, I started creating a monthly School Counselor Newsletter that is distributed to parents. I include it in my school’s weekly newsletter that is already sent home. I must say, creating a newsletter each month is a lot of work! But, it’s also fun and it’s a great way to communicate with parents. Each month focuses on a different topic that relates to school counseling, parenting, and/or education. I also usually include a blurb about what I’m currently doing in classrooms with students.

I keep my newsletters small, only a page, and I create them using a Word document. I often include meaningful quotes, pictures, and information from sources that I research. When I’m finished, I like there to be a balance of information about the topic I’m writing about, resources for parents/teachers to check out, ideas for parents/teachers to use with their kids, and classroom lessons that I’m doing.

I like putting out newsletters because it gets my name out there to parents, staff, and administration over and over. The newsletters highlight that the job I do is important and that I’m a valuable part of my school’s team!

Here are a few examples of my School Counselor Newsletter that I have created in the last year:
School Counselor Newsletter October 2012
School Counselor Newsletter November/December 2012
School Counselor Newsletter March 2013
School Counselor Newsletter May 2013
School Counselor Newsletter June 2013