4 months ago
Welcome to the first edition of Miss Lee’s Counselor Corner! I am Iesha Lee, the new school counselor for grades 6-9. It has been a great start to the 2018-2019 school year! Each month there will be a new newsletter discussing topics your student has learned throughout the month.
Greetings Parents and Guardians,
I am very excited to be starting my counseling career with West Point! I am even more thankful to have you and your child(ren) as a part of the Pointer Family. It is my goal to empower students to reach their fullest potential through character development, advocacy, and socioemotional support. With the collaboration of teachers, families, and the community, I know this goal is achievable.
As a school counselor, I believe that all students are unique individuals that possess the capability to learn, blossom, and be successful in a safe, collaborative, and equitable school environment. I hope to facilitate learning by creating a comprehensive school counseling program with engaging curriculum to support student achievement, socioemotional wellbeing, and skills needed as a 21st century learner.
What do school counselors do?
· Classroom support and
· Goal setting and study skills
· Identification of strengths
· Education on job clusters
· Interests and skills
· Life skills for the 21st century
Personal and Social
· Social skills and coping
· Character pillars
· Respect of self and others
· Problem Solving
How do school counselors do it?
Core Curriculum Lessons
Classroom lessons on various topics (respect, bullying, career, etc.) addressing student needs in academic, career, personal and social realms
Individual Student Planning
Creating a unique path for students
focusing on goals, interests, and abilities
Supports in crisis situations, meeting the immediate concerns and needs of students, and small group education
Connecting the school and community, advocating for students district-wide, as well as consultation with parents and teachers
sEPTEMBER CORE CURRICULUM LESSONS
As a topic for all grades in the month of September, goal setting is an important skill that is useful to all students in all grades. From sixth grade to eighth grade, each student learned about SMART Goals. If you ask you child, they should be able to explain to you the acronym. SMART— specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time specific. These five words help students and adults alike to create a goal that is realistic for them, yet pushes them to achieve. I encourage all parents, guardians, and grandparents alike to ask their child(ren) what SMART goal they set for the year and hold them accountable for their goal. As their counselor, I will be doing a mid-year check in to see the progress of said goal as well as an end of the year review of accomplishments. While some students set their sights on higher grades, others focused on character pillars (respect, honesty, etc.) and others wanted to improve in extracurricular activities.
Time Management and Prioritizing
In the month of September, seventh grade students learned about goal setting, but also received additional curriculum on time management and prioritizing. While goal setting is imperative for success and achievement, the strategies of prioritizing and time management can be used to assist students along the way. In learning these strategies, students did an activity in which they had to estimate the amount of time it would take to do various tasks and then record their actual times. From this activity, many seventh graders realized they either overestimated or underestimated the amount of time it took to complete certain tasks. Discussion was centered around the effects of time management on their school life, home life, and set goals.
4 months ago
Hello and welcome to the second edition of Miss Lee’s Counselor Corner. This newsletter cover all that was learned in the month of October. There were so many exciting things going on in school counseling this month!
National Bully Prevention Month
October is designated as National Bully Prevention Month and it was a goal to raise more awareness with students. A very critical factor in raising awareness was having students to understand the question “what is bullying?” While there are actions that may be rude, mean or hurtful, they do not always constitute bullying. West Point Public Schools defines bullying as “any aggressive and unwanted behavior that is intended to harm, intimidate, or
humiliate the victim; involves a real or perceived power imbalance between the aggressor or aggressors and victim; and is repeated over time or causes severe emotional trauma.” The policy continues in that bullying does in fact include cyber bullying, or using any method of technology to harass or bully another. “Bullying” includes cyber bullying and “does not include ordinary teasing, horseplay, argument or peer conflict”.
While the above definition is a bit complex, students mainly focused on the differences between being rude, being mean, and being a bully. They highlighted that being rude is an action or statement that can be harmful or disrespectful, but is not intentional. Being mean, however, is a step further that it includes intentionality.
The main focus for sixth grade was a subsidy of bullying, cyber bullying. Discussion was lead on the definition of cyberbullying as well as the impacts that it has on middle school students. Various students truly felt safe in the environment and shared experiences of harmful things they may have seen written on social media as well as personal situations.
Cyberbullying Tips from ConnectSafely.org (https://www.connectsafely.org/cyberbullying/)
Know it’s not your fault. Sometimes people call an argument between two people “bullying”. However, if someone is cruel repeatedly, then it is considered bullying and the victim is not to blame.
Don’t respond. Sometimes aggressors are looking for a reaction because they think that it gives them power. If the students is able, removing themselves from the situation could be helpful. A response is not warranted, and decreases the amount of the power the bully believes that he has.
Block the bully. If there are messages being received through social media or other technology sources, the child can do themselves a favor and block the aggressor. There are various privacy protections on phones and options to “unfriend” or block them on social media. If this is a group chat, the student can choose to leave the group.
Save the evidence. There is only one good thing about cyber bullying an that is that the messages can be saved and shown to a trusted adult that can help. It is easy to think to save the larger events that occur, but saving minor things is helpful in case the situation escalates.
Don’t retaliate. One of the first thoughts that students may have after overcoming fear could be to “get back” at the bully This in fact reinforces the bully behavior and can create a cycle or negative behavior, aggression, and bullying behavior.
Be civil. Not sinking to the other person’s level as it pertains to behavior is highly important. Similar to retaliation, this can can be an easy thing to do. It all goes back to the golden rule— treat others the way you want to be treated.
Talk with a trusted adult. There are various adults in the building that can help your child if they feel they are being bullied. This person could be the principal, assistant principal, myself (the school counselor), or a teacher. Having a positive, trusting relationship with at least one adult in the building may increase the chances of a student reporting such behavior.
Don’t be a bully. It takes a couple of seconds to practice empathy and viewing a situation from another person’s point of view. You can ask your child how they would feel if they were a victim of bullying, harassment, or exclusion.
Be a friend, not a bystander. A bystander is someone who is present when something is happening, but does not help or take part. Being a friend means standing up for someone if they see bullying occurring within the school or elsewhere. In standing up for others, students are also standing up for themselves.
Seventh and Eighth Grade
During the month of October, the 7th and 8th graders were focused on being proactive in bullying situations and played the “Dare” Game Show. This Game Show included categories where students had to act out scenarios with their team, sketch a picture of them being upstanders, as well as imagining how they would react in various situations. Prompts ranged from acting out how they would address a bully and practicing how to realistically stand up to someone inside and outside of the school building.
The activities for 7th and 8th grade not only allowed them to openly express how they felt about bullying, but encouraged discussion of how to end they cycle. Students were able to gain valuable collaboration and communication skills. Included in the Parent Plug In section are a couple of resources that could be helpful when facilitating discussion with your child on bullying.
Parent Plug In
While conversations about bullying can be challenging, I encourage you to follow up with your child about this topic as it is very important. Here at West Point Middle School all students should be able to engage in a safe learning environment. Discussion could include simply checking on their well-being, talking about the harmful effects of bullying, and/or asking the tough question— how are you treating your peers at school? Ample research shows that children who are bullied have lower self-esteem, higher rates of depression, higher absenteeism, as well as more suicidal ideation. I challenge each and every Pointers to take a STAND against bullying! Below are a few helpful resources on this month’s focus.
What's Coming Up?
The month of November is National Career Development Month! Students will be focused possible pathways and various soft skills needed to be a successful employee! I encourage you to begin creating discussion around their interests, skills and abilities, as well as possible careers that are associated.
3 months ago
Welcome to the third edition of Miss Lee’s Counselor Corner. Considering November is recognized as National Career Development Month, the month was devoted to career exploration and soft skills needed in the workplace.
Careers, careers, careers!
While students were reassured that they did not have to know “what they want to be when they grow up”, they were encouraged to consider their possibilities and current interests that could lead to a career path. In middle school years, students should focus on comparing post-secondary education and training, use their interests and strength to guide their exploration, and identify basic skills necessary for seeking a job or to be used in the workplace. Each grade level began to understand the differences between a job and career, wages and salary, as well as the various post-secondary opportunities available to them (i.e. trade school, community college, four year universities, military). Career decision making is a process as well as a skill that can be taught.
In discussion of careers, 6th graders participated in a career scoot activity. With this, 30 cards with a variety of different interest were placed around the room (i.e. working with your hands, technology) and students could go around and check if they were interested in that activity or not interested. After completing students determined which column they had the most “interested” checks. The columns represented various career clusters including human services, communication arts, health sciences, business services, and technical sciences. Once their primary cluster was selected, students discussed careers in that particular area and chose two that they could see for themselves in the future.Being aware of their own interests and talents can better prepare them for the future and allow students to always remember that they have many options. Additionally, students were exposed to careers that required varying levels of education.
The 7th grade group received multiple lessons throughout the month pertaining to careers and post-secondary options. From job skills to career opportunities, the 7th grade covered a wide basis.
Our new program, MajorClarity, was used to help students investigate careers paths, understand requirements and training necessary for careers, and consider academic planning. With this program students have the ability to take a short assessment and match with careers based on their current interests. By completing a short online assessment, 7th grade students were placed into career categories based on their personalities and interests using the Holland Code. Categories are as follows:
Realistic: prefers more practical and hands on activities that have tangible results. Typically refers and enjoys building, fixing, repairing, working outside, and/or mechanical things.
Investigative: prefers abstract thinking and problem solving that may involve science, engineering,and similar subjects. Students in this category are interested in how and why things work the way they do. Additionally, they may enjoy original or unconventional attitudes and to be challenged.
Artistic: prefers to be unstructured and enjoys self-expression through various artistic mediums (music, art, film, writing)
Social: prefer helping opportunities which include, but are not limited to, advising, counseling, mentoring, coaching, teaching, discussion. Students in this category may be more inclined towards social causes or humanistic courses/careers.
Enterprising: prefer the talents of persuasion, selling, or influencing as it typically pertains to business. These students are very easily drawn to leadership opportunities, roles in marketing, and management opportunities. Some characteristics of those in the enterprising category would be assertive, energetic, and high self-confidence.
Conventional: prefers business situations that may involve analyzing data, planning and organizing, finance and other related interests. Students in this category appreciate order and efficiency.
After completing the assessment and receiving percentages in each Holland area, students were able to be matched with careers, perform simulated tasks with the career area, and learn more about the education and course load that could aid them in this field.
While understanding interests and the possibilities that lie ahead, it is also imperative that students begin to develop soft skills that employers value such as teamwork and cooperation. A lesson was delivered on “dealing with a difficult coworker” which involved various scenarios that could occur within the work setting. Scenarios presented in this lesson were also compared to situations that occur now in the classroom, and possibly outside of school considering school is their “workplace”. Similarly to the work environment, attendance and effort are extremely important for success.
Seventh and Eighth Grade
7th and 8th graders were challenged with a breakout/escape room activity that involved all post-secondary options that they can pursue after high school. With breakout activities students utilize their collaboration and teamwork skills to solve a variety of puzzles. These activities allowed students to further develop the 5 critical thinking skills (analysis, communication, open-mindedness, problem solving, and creativity) whole working through six challenges. Challenges involved mazes, separating careers by their required education, decoding braille, matching careers with their descriptions, and word scrambles. Topics covered throughout the challenges included college mascots, trade school, two and four year colleges, post-graduate degrees, and all branches of the United States military. Between the 7th and 8th grade there was one group who successfully completed all six challenges within the class period. To read more about this activity feel free to visit with West Point Middle School Facebook page!
Parents provide an invaluable insight and guidance into career education for their child. Sharing your experiences and knowledge can allow a child to have a better concept of the important topics that play a role in career choice. Also, you have first-hand knowledge of your child’s abilities/interest and spend a great deal of time with them. Not to mention, you are one of their first role models as it pertains to work-ethic, careers, and other areas. Beginning this conversation at a younger age promotes thought of interests and years beyond high school. While this may change, from year to year or month to month, it allows students to consider all options and pathways. Many times we as “what do you want to be when you grow up” as if that is their final and concrete choice verus “what are your interests” which helps them to continuously explore options.
By Iesha Lee