10 Must haves for your School Counseling Office

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

I like to organize my organizational tools into one organized list. Ha! Okay, so I am a little crazy about organization but I swear it helps reduce my stress. When I organize my office and/or desk I immediately feel better...like Hey I can do these 3,000 tasks now that everything is neat and orderly...alright onto my list of 10 must have organization tools for your office or classroom.

1. Cart on wheels

This cart is so useful! Sometimes my classroom lessons have multiple pieces to them or different supplies and I struggle to balance them all in my arms getting to the class. Not anymore, with this handy little cart that I discovered while on maternity leave (I use one at home as a diaper and feeding caddy). I have also seen it used as a coffee station, which is a welcoming addition to an office for parents and staff.

2. Plastic Book Organizers
These are so colorful and make my life easier. I can't tell you how many times my principal or a teacher has asked for a lesson on a specific topic, and I need to be able to find the book I use quickly. The different tabs are labeled by general topic of the book, such as bullying, character education, families, anxiety/stress, grief, self esteem, feelings, health/sickness, manners, and friendship. These save me time and lets be honest, every second of our day matters.

3. Paper Organizer Basket

One of the many hats I wear as a counselor is RTI coordinator and 504 liaison. With these roles comes a lot of paperwork. Teachers sometimes do not feel comfortable leaving papers with student information on in my mailbox, because so many people are in and out of the mailroom. I labeled these baskets so that they can drop their RTI graphs in or 504 teacher questionnaires that they need to get to me. It keeps it so much more organized than just throwing it on my desk.

4. An awesome planner


I live by my agenda, it holds important info and acts as my memory. I keep mine right in front of me and open to the weekly section. When a parent calls, I write down the info on the date of the call. When a teacher or admin come in and make a request, I write it on the day too. I also write little to do reminders. If I cant get to one of my tasks, I either highlight it or write it in tomorrow's area. It saves me everytime my principal comes in and says "Did you talk to so and so's parent recently?", a quick scan of my planner will remind me when/if I did. Otherwise, with 1,380 students there is no way I would remember. My favorite planners (and there are so many good ones out there) are by Erin Condren and Me & My Big Ideas.

5. The 10-Drawer Cart

This colorful cart is a game changer. You have to have it, trust me. It is like an OCD organizers DREAM. It is adorable and helps me organize my lesson plans by topic. You can easily label them and if you are wondering where I got my labels from, I bought them on TpT (of course) from Miss West Best, you can also create your own. Plus I mean it's on wheels, need I say more?

6. Mini Storage Bins
I have a TON of sensory toys, stuffed animals, and fidget toys in my office. I keep them all in one place with these little mini crates, you can usually find similar ones at Dollar Tree. When we are done using the items in the crates, I have the student help me clean up and the crates make it easier for them to do so. I have one student that comes to see me every day during his lunch time because the cafeteria is too overwhelming for him (noise and amount of people). Once he finishes his lunch, he knows right where to get his crate with his dinosaur squishy toys.

7. Post it note organizer

One of my biggest pet peeves is having a bunch of post it notes on my desk. Sometimes it's notes I quickly wrote down, or front office staff writing down a message from a parent. It piles up quickly and it looks like a mess, I noticed it also causes me stress when I see a ton of them all around. So I found this really fantastic looking post it organizer. It is originally meant to be used as a weekly planner but I changed it to be by topic, just works better for my brain. At the top instead of Mon/Tues/Wed etc., I put the main concerns that come my way. Such as parent messages, 504 plan requests, RTI meeting requests, Parent conference requests, classroom lesson requests. It sits on the side of my desk so I can easily place all those post it notes underneath their designated topic....organization happiness!!

8. Wall File Organizer

Continuing on with my pet peeve about having a bunch of stuff on my desk, this wall organizer not only saves space but keeps those papers off my desk. Just say no to random paper pile ups, they make you more stressed and overwhelmed, not to mention your office looks like a tornado hit it.

9. Google Calendar
Our school district recently started using Outlook which has a similar calendar to Google, but before that we had an old school system and I used my personal Google email account to utilize the calendar. This calendar will make you so organized in every aspect of your life. You can sync it with your phone's calendar or use the Google Calendar app. I color code every event (Purple= 504 meeting, Pink=RTI meeting, Green=Off campus training, etc.)so I can see my day/week/month at a glance and know what I have coming up. I also utilize the reminders so my computer makes a noise and a pop up tells me that I have a classroom lesson scheduled in 30 minutes. This has saved me a couple times from my terrible memory. 

10. Desktop Wallpaper Organizer

I was helping a teacher with some data graphs and she clicked to her desktop and my OCD mind went BANANAS because she had like 3,000 icons covering the whole screen. I had to fix that madness immediately and luckily she knows my craziness and let me organize it for her. One wallpaper organizer, and a couple desktop folders later, and viola! Life is better with an organized desktop, less digital clutter makes your more productive ;)

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Random Acts of Kindness #Honor17

Friday, March 9, 2018

There is always time in your day to spread a little more kindness in the world.
Check out these inspiring random acts of kindness cards in honor of the 17 lost lives from the Stoneman Douglas shooting created by Honor17Journey. I think it is a great way to honor their memory and put a little more happiness in the world. It will not only put a smile on the person you are being kind to, but also it will put a smile on your face too!

Here are some simple ideas from RandomActsofKindness.org on how to spread some kindness today:
  1. Pay it Backward: buy coffee for the person behind you in line.
  2. Compliment the first three people you talk to today.
  3. Send a positive text message to five different people right now.
  4. Post inspirational sticky notes around your neighborhood, office, school, etc.
  5. Tell someone they dropped a dollar (even though they didn’t). Then give them a dollar.
  6. Donate old towels or blankets to an animal shelter.
  7. Say hi to the person next to you on the elevator.
  8. Surprise a neighbor with freshly baked cookies or treats!
  9. Let someone go in front of you in line who only has a few items.
  10. Leave a gas gift card at a gas pump.
  11. Throw a party to celebrate someone just for being who they are, which is awesome.
  12. Have a LinkedIn account? Write a recommendation for coworker or connection.
  13. Leave quarters at the laundromat.
  14. Encounter someone in customer service who is especially kind? Take an extra five minutes to tell their manager.
  15. Leave unused coupons next to corresponding products in the grocery store.
  16. Leave a note on someone’s car telling them how awesome they parked.
  17. Try to make sure every person in a group conversation feels included.
  18. Write a kind message on your mirror with a dry erase marker for yourself, your significant other or a family member.
  19. Place a positive body image notes in jean pockets at a department store.
  20. Smile at five strangers.
  21. Set an alarm on your phone to go off at three different times during the day. In those moments, do something kind for someone else.
  22. Send a gratitude email to a coworker who deserves more recognition.
  23. Practice self-kindness and spend 30 minutes doing something you love today.
  24. Give away stuff for free on Craig’s List.
  25. Write a gratitude list in the morning and again in the evening.
  26. Know parents who could use a night out? Offer to babysit for free.
  27. Hold up positive signs for traffic or in a park for people exercising outside!
  28. Return shopping carts for people at the grocery store.
  29. Buy a plant. Put it in a terracotta pot. Write positive words that describe a friend on the pot. Give it to that friend!
  30. Write a positive comment on your favorite blog, website, or a friend’s social media account.
  31. Have a clean up party at a beach or park.
  32. While you’re out, compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.
  33. Leave a kind server the biggest tip you can afford.
  34. When you’re throwing something away on the street, pick up any litter around you and put that in the trash too.
  35. Pay the toll for the person behind you.
  36. Put 50 paper hearts in a box. On each cutout write something that is special about your partner or a friend. Give them the box and tell them to pull out a heart anytime they need a pick-me-up.
  37. Everyone is important. Learn the names of your office security guard, the person at the front desk and other people you see every day. Greet them by name. Also say “hello” to strangers and smile. These acts of kindness are so easy, and they almost always make people smile.
  38. Write your partner a list of things you love about them.
  39. Purchase extra dog or cat food and bring it to an animal shelter.
  40. Find opportunities to give compliments. It costs nothing, takes no time, and could make someone’s entire day. Don’t just think it. Say it.
  41. Take flowers or treats to the nurses’ station at your nearest hospital.
  42. Keep an extra umbrella at work, so you can lend it out when it rains.
  43. Send a ‘Thank you’ card or note to the officers at your local police or fire station.
  44. Take muffins or cookies to your local librarians.
  45. Run an errand for a family member who is busy.
  46. Leave a box of goodies in your mailbox for your mail carrier.
  47. Tape coins around a playground for kids to find.
  48. Put your phone away while in the company of others.
  49. Email or write to a former teacher who made a difference in your life.
  50. When you hear that discouraging voice in your head, tell yourself something positive — you deserve kindness too!  
  51. Thank a teacher for her hard work!! (I added this one) ;)

Check out RandomActsofKindness.org for even more ideas, lesson plans, and posters on how to spread kindness in the classroom, and its FREE!!!!

Coping with the tragedy of the Stoneman Douglas School shooting

Saturday, February 17, 2018

My heart is heavy after the tragic events that occurred this past week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, about 8 miles from my house. I can not believe this happened in our community, and I know so many people feel the same.

I think the hardest part for me is the feeling of being helpless. We can go to active shooter training's (which we did this past year in Broward County), we can lock our classrooms doors, we can look for warning signs and red flags, but in the end it all comes down to a lost soul with a gun and whether or not they choose your school or not. I counter that helpless feeling by focusing on what I can control. Here are a few tips for working with students but also they are helpful for us adults too.

1. Talk about it.
Tell your story of what you went through. It will be hard, there will be tears, anger, survivor guilt, confusion, sadness, but you have to get it out. Holding it in is another way of letting the pain fester until it gets so bad you will explode. Get it out, experience all of the emotions so that at some point,  you will be able to move on. You will move on, it seems impossible now, but eventually your life will go back to its semi-normal routine...but you will forever have a new lens to see life through. My friend, Jennifer Shapiro, an Art Teacher at South Broward High had her students write thoughtful messages during class.

2. Go back to your routine.
When a traumatic experience happens, we expect normal life to stop. How can we continue the same way after this? Because you have to. Because if you don't, fear wins. We have to overcome and have courage to go back to school/work, get back to our routine. It will be hard at first, it will feel strange, but eventually the routine will help you feel safe again.
These signs were created by local students and put in our neighborhood's mailboxes to show support for #MSDstrong

3. Limit how much you are watching the news on this topic.
When it first happened, I was GLUED to the television and social media posts about the shooting. After 2 days of watching non-stop for updates, I realized it was making it worse. You need to feel the sadness and all the emotions that this event created, but re-playing it over and over like the news does is not healthy. You can not move on with your life if you continue to be engrossed in it. You are not honoring the beautiful souls that were lost by making yourself depressed.

4. Focus on the helpers. 
One of my favorite quotes is by Mr. Rogers:“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Look at the helpers, they will reestablish your faith in humanity. Coach Aaron Feis died shielding students from gunfire, Chris Hixon died rushing towards the gunfire to help, Scott Beigel died letting students into his classroom to save them from gunfire, Peter Wang died holding the door for students rushing out of the building to safety. There were countless police and paramedics who rushed to help as well. There is so much good in the world, don't let the hate pull you down. Focus on the amazing heroes that gave up their lives to protect and save others.

5. Write/call your state representatives.
If you have ideas of how to make your school safer, share it with your elected officials. Be an agent of change for your community, advocate for those changes. Their contact information is public, find it and call them, write them, use social media, get your voice heard. Even better, grow up to become an elected official and help make those changes a reality. You are the future.

There are many views out there on just how to make schools safer, here is one idea that I think could significantly save lives and even better PREVENT shooters from viewing schools as an easy target. It is an active shooter defense system created by Mythic Software. The system allows for a single user to lock-down the entire campus, alert authorities, and communicate information all within seconds of a event occurring. To view the threat defense system click here: Project ICARUS.
ICARUS Campus Defense System

New School Year, New office decor

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ok so I have a confession, I am obsessed with quotes! I love to pin them on pinterest and they are all over my office in posters. So I decided to create a Watercolor themed Office Decor poster set! It  comes with 25 inspirational posters, 4 character certificates, note from the counselor, pass to see the counselor, confidentiality sign, and Where is the counselor? sign (use a paperclip to designate where you are on the sign). Hope you like it :)

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