Kelso's Choice Kit Winner

Today I'm excited because 86 readers entered to win our
Kelso's Conflict Resolution Kit and the number generator selected comment #11. Join me in congratulating Katie!

Here's what she shared about conflict resolution:

 Katie, please get in touch with me via email so I can pass your postal information on to our friends at the Cerebellum Corp.

In the event that I don't hear from Katie by Monday, February 20th, at noon {CST}, our number generator selected an alternate, Jennifer.

Here's what Jennifer does to help problem solve.

Jennifer, we will be in touch if we don't hear from Katie in the next few days.

I was just delighted that so many of you expressed interest in Kelso's Choices to help your superheroes soar and I appreciated reading all of your reflections about strategies you're already using to give your students these conflict-resolution skills.

Need a few ideas on how to use this fantastic empowerment tool? I've blogged about how Kelso helps us at school {here} and {here} and how Kelso can help families at home {here} and {here}. 

Check out this incredible investment for your character building;
I think you'll be hoppy that you did!


Kelso's Choice Giveaway

Happy Random Acts of Kindness Week and Valentine's Day.
How are you celebrating?
I'm still on a natural high from Counseling Week;
here's a sample of the heartfelt notes I got from my superheroes.

I love that he feels like the special one,
I'm happy that he finds my puppets joyful,
and I'm touched that he aspires to be like me when he grows up!

I also got this cool Kindness Box!

The adorable little hand-drawn pick-me-ups tucked neatly inside the box, just waiting to warm up whoever picks one, are evidence that it only takes one, one little person, one little act of kindness, one little ripple ... 

... to make a world of difference.

And if all of that kindness weren't enough, our friends from Kelso's Choice have offered to partner with me to give away this AmAzInG conflict-resolution kit to one of my dedicated readers.
Isn't that so incredibly generous and kind?

We love Kelso's Choice because it not only teaches our students to discern between small problems and big problems, but it also empowers them with skills to solve their small, pesky annoyances while giving them permission to seek help with larger, more threatening issues.

If you're in the US or Canada and would like a chance to win this kit, comment between now and this Saturday, February 18th, at noon {CST} with an effective problem-solving strategy that you use at home, at school or in the workplace. 

A random number generator will choose one lucky winner; we'll post that name this weekend with directions on how to claim your prize. 

Good luck and thanks again for coming by the Corner.

This giveaway is now closed; congrats to Katie (comment #11) for winning the kit.


Six Simple Words

It's that time of year again, when the American School Counselor Association
 sets aside a week of advocacy for our calling.

I started celebrating yesterday by putting a mini Moon Pie in each school family member's box, to let them know I'm over the moon for them. 
My husband helped me put the stickers on them.

Today I covered morning car-rider duty for a teacher at our sister school 
where I saw this gratitude on the marquee.

It actually tugged at my heart strings really hard, 
because opening the car doors and greeting those littles
had me longing a little lot for what used to be. 
Then, I got a text from someone over there that read:
You will always be my counselor.

And I cried. 
Big crocodile tears.
Tears for the connection behind those six simple words.
Tears of holding on and letting go.
Tears of gratitude for what was
and for the gift of bouncing forward into loving what is.
Ah, the power of words to lift us up and grow us.

Click image for source.
Back at Bales, I'm hosting a How many LEGOS? are in the vase challenge, as an excuse to treat my staff to a chance to win some fun stuff. 

We appreciate Teacher Peach for their donation.

And tomorrow I'm hosting a Coffee Chat with Heather, 
my counseling colleague and friend next door.

We're serving water and coffee, banana bread, 
blueberry muffins & coffee cake. Yum, yum.

After we go through our slides and do a few activities, we're going to read Flight School by Lita Judge to our participants. Here are the other mindset-themed titles we're going to recommend.

We'll sing this song, to seal the deal.

Not sure yet what's in store for Thursday and Friday,
though my husband did mention something about
a special lunch date with him at the end of the week.

He just walked in the door with a beautiful bouquet of flowers,
so I'll sign off for the night, but not before I close with these six simple words: 
Blessed to be a School Counselor.

Good night.


Just Fifty Cents

Today I'm excited because my brother Mark and his friend Shawn are in town for the Super Bowl tomorrow, so they're staying with us. It was great fun to sit around the breakfast table this morning, listen to the story of how they ended up getting into the ESPN party alongside Green Bay Packer Eddie Lacy . . .

and enjoy pancakes and bacon with them
 while laughing and reconnecting.

I'm also super satisfied and bursting with joy
 that our SOS (Sweets for Our Soldiers) care packages
filled with home-baked goodness and homemade Valentines 

are on their way to the hearts, hands, and tummies 
of the sixteen deployed service men and women we adopted.

This long-standing tradition started years ago as an Operation SOS campaign to send much-needed supplies to our soldiers with notes of thanks as a way to show our patriotism and citizenship while expressing our gratitude for their heroism, service and sacrifice.

A few years back, we switched gears and decided to encourage our families to work together for a cause so we could send kindness from our kitchens, something our military heroes have coined hugs from home

This week, a picture of exactly what we were going for.

Every year, the Friendswood Rotary sets aside funds to help us pay the postage on these flat-rate boxes, which cost $17.35 each to ship. At this year's Rotary luncheon, a month before our project would even begin, one Rotarian felt called to give us a $20 from her purse, so their donation would be $520 in all. It really helps to not have to worry about how we'll possibly pay for this project on a school budget and we are so very grateful to the Rotary for their generous partnership.

I started out just taping up seventeen large boxes because we never know how many families will be able to carve out time to make something tasty for our troops. As we filled one table, then two and three with these delectable delights, I knew that this would be yet another successful service project.

Student Council reps met Thursday afternoon to fill each box to the brim with the yummy donations that had rolled in as I taped up thirteen more boxes. By 4:30 that afternoon, our thirty boxes were packed full and taped shut, ready to go.

Because the Rotary provided the funds for shipping, it wasn't until I got home that afternoon that I wondered how close we'd come to using their donation. I couldn't believe what I saw when I punched the numbers into my calculator. 

Wait, what? Just 50 cents?

Was it a coincidence that my brother needed my car on Friday so I caught a ride to school with my friend Caryn? Was it a coincidence that she just happens to have a brother on deployment getting two of our boxes? And was it a coincidence that Caryn's children were the first to hear the story about how beautifully our box count aligned with the Rotary's donation?

After helping me carry the boxes to the front and stack them into a patriotic pyramid display, these superheroes each brought me a quarter, the fifty cents that we would need to complete this year's SOS kindness campaign. 

It doesn't get any sweeter than that.


Friendship Is In The Air

How is it possible that January 2017 has already come and gone?
How is your focus on that one little word helping you?
Mine is hope; here's what spoke to me today.
I like the idea of being joyful in hope.

And our nation is going through some turbulent times,
so I connect with being patient in affliction
and faithful in prayer.

Tonight, a quick post, to express my gratitude
for this uplifting visual display.

Here's how this beautiful bouquet came to be:
I saw a variation of this as a door decor at my former school
that really caught my eye and called my name.
Meant as a Valentine's Day display, it read:
Love is in the air ...

Well, I loved it instantly, that's for sure ... so I sent a Facebook message to the mom (Beth) who created it to ask if she'd come make one for us ... not knowing what the answer would be since she doesn't even have students on our campus. 
Obviously, she said yes!
First I thought ours might say kindness is in the air,
it being during the Great Kindness Challenge and all when I first spied it,
but then I remembered that we were heading in to February
and our focus would be shifting to trustworthiness,
our friendship pillar.
So I switched gears and voila.
She decided to tape the letters up there,
so we can switch it to respect or responsibility,
if the spirit moves us.

On the hearts, we put strong verbs that can help students
 make healthy connections in their relationships.

Be Kind.
Show compassion.
Practice empathy.
Use self-control.
Be a light.
Play fairly.
Take responsibility.
Tell the truth.
Express gratitude.

And so on.

We left a few blank, in case students want to add their reflections.

My heart is soaring because friendship is in the air at Bales Intermediate. And I'm grateful for a volunteer who chose to generously share her time and talent with us.

Happy February.


The Value Of Fairness

Today I'm excited because I got to speak at the Harris County Department of Education Mid-Winter Conference and Joelle, a blogger whose worked I've followed over at Not Just Child's Play for some time now, came to my workshop. What a treat! 

This on the heels of a week of kindness and a month of fairness in the spotlight. Yesterday we started the day with our Fairness Pep Rally. 
My heart is bursting at the seams.

We shared a fairness film clip called Touching Them All and, despite there being 500 intermediate learners in the gym, you could have heard a pin drop while the story of an injured college softball player and an odd ruling on the field played out.

The Character Cam caught the Principal giving out Bag Tags
to those students who'd been nominated for putting fairness into action. 
Every day.
Because we get more of what we focus on.
So much great energy when we spotlight character.

In leadership classes, we've been strengthening our fairness muscles with this activity we did fifteen years ago at the Character Counts! character development seminar. Our job was to read these six applications and decide which child we would award a scholarship to:
Of course we found that difficult to do because we simply didn't have enough information to make a fair decision. And that's the point, right? I've done a WOW Awards variation of this with my younger students, but now that I'm in intermediate, I decided to try this one. Since the activity was originally intended for high school students and/or adults, I altered the bios ever so slightly so that they read like this:

After a little puppet show with my pirate puppet Patch, who doesn't think it's fair that he has a hook for a hand and they don't, we dig in. I tell the students that we have a scholarship worth 100K to pay for college for one of these students. We talk about what the word scholarship means, and a few of them knew that scholarships are typically designated to reward something, like good grades, athleticism, or financial need. It's good to put that out there, but let them know that this scholarship is for students, not for something specific. Be vague on purpose; you'll come back to that later when you get to the point of not really being able to fairly evaluate these candidates against one another without better criteria up front. I ask for a volunteer to read what we know about the first applicant.

After reading about Sarah, I suggest that maybe we should just go ahead and give it to her. After all, teachers don't really make that much money and, well, they do love their teacher, right? Try as I may to convince them to just give it to the teacher's kid, my students convince me that it wouldn't be fair to just give it to Sarah because she's first but that we need to read them all.

So I play along, every once in awhile putting in a plug for one or trying to make it seem unfair, to get them thinking. Evaluating. Reflecting.

And after we discuss whom they think we ought to give it to and why, 
we take it to a vote, at their suggestion, to be fair. 
{None of them thinks paper, rock, scissors ought to decide something this important!} 
They suggest that each student ought to have a voice since they're pretty sure it'd be too hard to agree on just one candidate as a group. And yet, this is what that vote looked like at our school:

We tallied our fifth-grade vote on the left after our discussion made it clear to me that they weren't as set on giving it to Nelda as the younger voters. Their thinking had to do with Matthew possibly being the best steward of our scholarship. I was riveted by their reflections and really wished we'd have had more time to talk it through. We still have three classes that will vote on Monday, so it'll be interesting to see if Matthew gains any more momentum.

Real-life data.
From intermediate-aged fairness ambassadors.
Their argument pretty solid:
The majority wants the scholarship to go to Nelda,
because she needs our help.
Fairness, they explained to me, is all about giving people 
what they need 
when they need it, 
to level the playing field.

Click image for source.

After the results were in, I did try to play devil's advocate one more time. 
Me: Oh, dear, I forgot to tell you that our scholarship donor wants the money to go to a teacher's child.
Them: That's not fair to tell us that after we voted.
Me: You're right! Criteria needs to be set ahead of time and not changed midstream. You sure do know a lot about fairness.

Then, to seal the deal with a movement break,
What a rush that was, to feel the energy of that brain boost.

UPDATE: Monday morning, a third-grade learner came up to me in the hallway with an important inquiry on his heart: Is it too late to change my vote? He said that he'd been thinking about it and he'd changed his mind about who ought to get the scholarship, from Nelda to Matthew because he got to thinking and he's pretty sure Matthew would do a better job with our money. 

The learning is, indeed, in the reflection!

For more ideas on teaching the value of fairness, 
including the concept of equality versus equity, 
click {here} and {here}.

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