Going to a New School

Thursday, May 17, 2018
This is my final year at my school - I accepted a new position for next year. To say that I am filled with feelings about it all is an understatement. A month from now I will be saying goodbye to a major chapter in my life. This change was entirely by choice, and I wanted to take the time to write a post explaining how I knew that it was time to move on. I imagine I am not the only school counselor who has or will have to grapple with this decision. And as much as a "5 Ways I Knew It Was Time for Me to Leave My School!" is the type of blog title that's all the rage right now...I'm just gonna narrate this out and hope it's just as helpful and that something resonates with some of you.

Stand in My Shoes Lesson Plan: Redux

Monday, May 14, 2018
This post contains affiliate links.
Many moons ago (4 years and 3 months to be exact), I wrote a blog post about teaching empathy with the book Stand in My Shoes and a bunch of old shoe boxes. I used it a couple more times in the classroom and then a few more times in small groups. And then...it became time for an upgrade.

Stand in My Shoes Empathy Lesson Plan

The lesson was originally designed for 4th grade, and with a specific cohort of students in mind. The needs of my students have changed since then (holy guacamole - they are so much kinder to one another now!), this year I needed to do an empathy lesson with 2nd grade, and I was a bit tired of carrying the boxes around to each classroom (#shrug). I also saw a decent chunk of students get too distracted by the shoe brands on the boxes. This lesson needed a reboot.
shoe box empathy lesson

Stand in My shoes empathy bookFirst, I tried to find another book. A better book. I failed. I could find some marvelous books that had 1-2 examples of empathy in them (Those Shoes, Each Kindness, etc.) - but I needed a book that explained empathy and gave several model examples! I looked at Hey, Little Ant (again, since I did perspective taking using this book last year) - but again it only had 1 example and it wasn't very applicable to my students. I read through How Do I Stand in Your Shoes? - and I couldn't get over the awful illustrations and the wording that seemed so out of touch with how my kids think and talk. So...it was back to Stand in My Shoes. Not perfect, but also not bad and at least it has several examples. I did skip a few pages in it (a couple "examples" were not what I actually would call empathy), but I do that now and then in other books too. (Note: I love the Sesame Street empathy video and I use that in small groups all the time, but I really needed and wanted more examples to scaffold the concept whole group before having groups practice showing empathy on their own).

Because of my EL learners, and just to make sure I was making it as concrete as I could, I also had some student volunteers come and "stand" in the shoes of some of the characters to tell us how the main character showed them empathy.

Stand in My Shoes Empathy Lesson Plan

Then I introduced the activity. This was where I had previously whipped out my super cool shoe boxes. Less exciting (but also less distracting), were the file folder scenarios I brought this time. Inside each was a printed photo of someone wearing shoes and a written scenario with two questions (how was the person feeling and how could you show them that you care). I laid one on each table and explained to students that they'd be rotating around, practicing standing in the shoes of the characters in each scenario. We did one together and then they were on their own!

empathy example activityempathy example activity

Even in spring semester, with 2nd graders that have been receiving regular SEL instruction for years, and that just had a lesson on identifying the feelings in others, this was a little bit of a challenge. The could ID the feelings in a snap, and unlike my previous students they didn't all try to say what the character themselves should do. It was tricky for them to think of actual things to do or things to say in the situations though. But I think empathy is also just tricky in general - it's easy to describe but it's a complex skill that takes repetition and reinforcement and modeling and practice to take hold!

Looking for the lesson plan pieces and parts all typed out and ready to go? You can find it in my TpT store by clicking below:
stand in my shoes empathy lesson plan

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stand in my shoes empathy lesson plan

A Day in the Life of a School Counselor

Saturday, May 5, 2018
Back when I was deciding what type of grad school program I was interested in, I found it super helpful to read about what typical days looked like for different professions. A typical day for a school counselor is...anything but typical...and varies drastically depending on school and district. That said, for any aspiring school counselors out there checking out school counseling blogs, here's a breakdown of a "typical" day for me. I tried to include the general task as well as what it more specifically was during the weeks I wrote this.

a day in the life of an elementary school counselor

Snowball Fights for Sorting in School Counseling

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Snowball fight is a super engaging activity to use with students of all ages. Who doesn't enjoy crumpling up paper and throwing it?!

using snowball fights for sorting

School Counseling Escape Room: Social Skills

Thursday, April 5, 2018
Everybody is doing escape rooms these days...and I've jumped onto the bandwagon with enthusiasm! Even though the kids had tons of fun with the safari conversation skills lesson and safari social filter lesson, I knew they would need additional reinforcement of those skills. Because escape rooms are best for review, this was the perfect opportunity to give one a try.

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