Thursday, August 2, 2012

Let Me Introduce Myself

As I approach the start of a new school year I am reminded of the importance of introducing my role as the school counselor to staff, parents, and students.  For staff I simply take a few minutes from our first staff meeting of the school year to remind them about guidance procedures, review mandated reporting expectations and procedures, and also to share any new and exciting projects I plan to try during the year.  For parents I send home a brochure describing my role, guidance procedures, and how to contact me as well as monthly newsletters with reminders.  For students I take on this task during our first guidance lesson during the month of August.  I visit each and every classroom ASAP to introduce myself, discuss classroom guidance expectations, and review the concept of bucket filling. 

If you are like me you may have scoured the internet for fun and fresh ideas in how to introduce the somewhat complex role of the school counselor to students to create engaging lessons.  One concept I came across time and again is "the bag of tricks" in varying styles including the beach bum tote, hair stylist tool bag, first aid kit, a bag of hats, etc.  You bring your chosen "bag of tricks" to the classroom and pull out items one by one and relate them to your role.  For example, "The school counselor is like a beach towel as we are their to dry your tears and help you learn ways to feel better" or "The school counselor is like hair spray as we can help you learn to control your feelings when you become very angry so you can handle them in OK ways." 

While I love the idea of this, I dislike storing multiple bags of tricks and finding the items to fill them up.  Also I have made it my goal to make use of the wonderful technology my school has to offer:  ActivInspire on the Promethean Board.  So I combined the old bag of tricks idea and the Promethean technology to come up with some fresh lessons for my students.  I do not repeat lessons in different grades so each grade has their own counselor role introduction.  I'd like to share two of them with you today that may help get your technological creative juices flowing on how to use "old school" ideas with today's technology.

For third grade I incorporated a beach bum reference in my lesson.  I used free clipart from to create my beach tote and items.  I "locked" the tote on the page and "hid" my beach items behind it.  I call on students to "drag" items out of the bag and we discuss each one by one.  The students have a blast guessing what the items are used for and they often come up with better analogies than me.  Here is a screen shot of the page with the items and the tote:
For fourth grade I incorporated a hair stylist reference in my lesson.  Using the same concept and methods as the beach bum lessons I created my lesson with a hair stylist's tool bag and tools.  Here is a screen shot of the page with the tools and the tote:

I am still learning how to use all the features in ActivInspire so I can make my lessons more interactive and engaging.  I would love to hear from you if you utilize Promethean Board technology in your classroom guidance lessons.  Like most school counselors, I am always on the hunt for fresh ideas.  Please leave a comment to share you ideas.


  1. Would you mind listing the steps to lock and hide the items? I know Prometheum has this capability, but I did not get the same training teachers did and have done a lot of learning on the fly! Thanks!

  2. It's hard to explain without showing you, but I will try. Open the object browser that lists all the items on your page. There are gray boxed to the right of the items. Click on the gray box for the item you want to lock and choose the lock option. I hope that makes sense to you! I encourage you to take advantage of any trainings that your distrcit may offer. They are often geared toward classroom teachers in my district, however I find that I can still attend and tailor the information gained to work for my guidance lessons.

  3. I would love to know what the different items represent. Thank you!

  4. I would also love to know what you say about each item and how I could relate each item to my role as the school counselor :) Thanks!

  5. I would also like to know what you say about each item! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Sorry to leave you hanging! Below are the meanings for the items. Disclaimer---I found these somewhere on the internet a long time ago and I'm not sure where they originated from.

    Beach Bag Items:
    Sun Block:  Helps protect you.  School counselors teach you skills to help you protect yourself.
    Goggles:  Helps you see things clearly underwater.  If you are under water and you open your eyes, it’s cloudy and things aren't so clear.  But if you put on goggles you can see things much clearer and easier.  School counselors help you see things more clearly, too.  For example, if you have a problem and you are not sure what to do, you school counselor can help you figure it out.  Or if you aren’t sure how to deal with uncomfortable feelings, such as sad or mad, your school counselor can help you see that you have options on how you can deal with them.
    Snorkel:  A snorkel helps you breathe under water.  School counselors can't breathe for you, but I can help you breathe easier by teaching you healthy ways to let out your stress, anxiety, and anger.  I am here to listen to your concerns and feelings which may help you be more calm and breathe easier.
    Beach Ball:  Are for fun!  School counselors like to have fun with students to help them learn ways to be great learners, deal with feelings, and learn about careers.
    Beach Towel:  Helps dry you off.  School counselors help dry your tears when you are going through a hard time.
    Cooler:  Helps keep your food and drinks cool.  School counselors teach you ways to keep your cool when you feel angry.

    Hair Stylist Items:
    Shampoo: Gets rid of dirt.  School counselors help you deal with sticky situations that can be problems in your life.  We teach you how to deal with uncomfortable feelings and teach you how to wash them away.
    Comb: Helps get out the knots in your hair.  Students with longer hair know that those big knots can hurt so much that you just want to cry and it’s difficult to comb them out.  School counselors are here to help when things are "knotty" with your friends or family at home and it can be really upsetting.
    Hairdryer:  Helps dry your hair.  School counselors help dry your tears by being good listeners and helping you learn ways to calm down. 
    Scissors:  Are a hair stylists main tool.  School counselors provide you with lots of tools to help you at school and at home.  We teach about tools that help you cope with conflict, tools that help you have good character, and tools that help you succeed in school.  Our tools are the knowledge and skills we during guidance lessons.
    Curling iron:  Helps smooth the ends of your hair and make curls.  School counselors help smooth out the parts of your life that are hard to keep under control.
    Hairspray:  Helps control frizzy hair and keep things in place.  School counselors teach you ways to control your emotions, like anger, so you don’t loose control.