Saturday, February 25, 2012

What are they thinking about me?

Third graders are delving more deeply into understanding how their behaviors affect how others think and feel about them. We all want people to like us, and one way to help make that happen is to have expected behaviors, which make people have good thoughts and feelings about us.

In class councils, third graders each came up with examples of  their own behaviors -- an expected behavior that they have most of the time, and an unexpected behavior that they have some of the time. After choosing their behaviors, they considered what others might think about them.

One of my favorite things about having kids learn about expected and unexpected behaviors is that it helps them understand that their behaviors are separate from who they are. Unfortunately, sometimes when kids do things that others don't like, break rules, or fail to follow directions, they think of themselves as "bad" or "stupid" or that the person who is unhappy with their behavior just doesn't like them. This can lead to feelings of shame, and avoidance or lashing out, rather than addressing the behavior. However, when they look at their behavior just in itself, they are better able to identify the behavior as a mistake that they can fix. They can see that it is my behavior and not me that people don't like. Telling a child, "Yelling is unexpected. I am noticing that people are having uncomfortable thoughts. What can you do so that they have comfortable thoughts about you?" helps them move toward changing their behavior.

The third graders did a great job being honest and matter of fact about their unexpected behaviors. No one needed help identifying one -- no one felt shamed! Their ideas about what people might think were spot on. I was so proud of them!

 Here is some of their insightful work:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Standing Up to Bullies

Fourth graders are continuing to learn about bullying.  They are doing a really great job at defining that:

 Bullying = Danger

Bullying is:
On Purpose to Hurt
It Happens Over and Over Again
An Imbalance of Power

The five types of bullying are:

Fourth graders have gotten so good at these definitions that I choose students to teach the review portion of the bullying lessons.  They really love doing this and it is a great way for them to work on their presentation skills.

A critical aspect of bullying education is helping students identify strategies to deal with a bullying situation. 

I used the book Confessions of a Former Bully to provide students with strategies for standing up to a bully.  They love this book because it is written from a bully's perspective.

Strategies for standing up to a bully: 
1.  Say "Stop It" in a strong and assertive voice.
2.  Walk Away from the bully.
3.  Say "Huh, Whatever, So, Who Cares"
4.  Change The Subject.
5.  Act Silly or Goofy
6.  Turn An Insult Into a Compliment
7.  Agree

When I taught these strategies I advised students only to use the strategies they were comfortable with.  For example, not everyone might feel comfortable agreeing with the bully.  Second, I explained that these strategies might not always work in the moment, and that they don't always stop the bullying.  It is still important to tell a trusted adult that the bullying is going on.  

Students were given scenerios and asked to provide examples of how they could use these strategies.  They then practiced by role playing in front of the class.  The lesson went very well!  This week I asked students if any of them had tried the strategies in real life situations.  Many of them had!  My follow up question of course was, "did it work?" and most of them responded with "yes." Thier responses resulted in one happy school counselor!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What's in Your Thinking Bubble?

No matter what we do, our behavior affects how other people think about us. If you help someone pick up something he dropped, he might think: "He's nice," or "I like being his friend." If you say something mean, another kid might think: "She's rude," or "I am not going to sit with her." They might not say it out loud, but you can be sure that these thoughts are in their "thinking bubbles."

In one of our class councils, third graders used personal white boards as their thinking bubbles so that everyone could see the kinds of thoughts people have in response to expected and unexpected behaviors. When we have expected behaviors, people have good thoughts and good feelings about us. When we have unexpected behaviors, people have uncomfortable thoughts and feelings about us.

In these pictures, third graders are showing what is in their thinking bubbles when "Person A" calls someone else a name -- "Person A" is mean, a big bully, not nice, etc. We used several different examples of expected and unexpected behaviors, and the kids wanted to keep going past the end of class council time. It was pretty eye opening for them to recognize what an impact their behavior has on how other people think and feel about them and how it affects whether or not others want to be their friend, work partner, or seatmate.

Monday, February 6, 2012

EveryONE Belongs

To wrap up our first grade unit on bullying we read the book One by Kathryn Otoshi. The characters in the book are colors: Red, a bully; Blue, his target; and Yellow, Orange, Green, and Purple, who don't like the bullying, but don't know what to do to stop it. When they don't speak up, Red gets stronger and Blue gets weaker, and everyone is unhappy. . . Until One comes along and shows everyone how to stand up for themselves and each other. One provides a powerful lesson on including others and how sometimes just one person can make a difference.

The first graders thought about ways that they could make sure that everyone is included, then made collage pictures to illustrate their ideas about. Here are a few examples of kids including everyone when they play basketball, read, play foursquare, do math, play kickball, play hockey, and draw:

Happy National School Counseling Week!

The week of February 6 is National School Counselors' Week. We won't be doing anything special to celebrate it at DBS, but this image was just too great not to share.

Unfortunately, school counselors CAN'T always keep up with their blogging. Working with kids, parents, and teachers has to take priority over writing about it. And they can't always do that either, like when they're forced to take time out of school to recover from surgery. I (Rebecca) have been out for a couple of weeks, but am hoping to make a comeback this Thursday. Until then, there's time to catch up on blogging about what kids have been learning in class councils and groups. Stay tuned!

Many thanks to the fifth grade girls who sprinkled me with magic fairy dust so that my surgery would go well (it worked!), and to my co-counselor, Erica Talbot, who has been filling in and working with my 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade students.

Here's a wonderful note I received from a student (complete with his spelling):

Sorry you broke your foot!
I hope it gets better soon.
I am working hard
Just for you
You are good
At wate you do
You are good at teching
You are good at prity much

I feel very lucky to be a school counselor for so many reasons, not least of which is that I get notes like these!

P.S. Do you think the school counselor in this picture got arms like that from using crutches to get around school?