2.11.2016

Thursday Treasure Trove

Today, a few treasures.
First, my Dear Me guest post at Free Spirit.
What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?


Why not take the Dear-Me Challenge?

Next, this growth-mindset maxim to remind us that 
anything is possible.


Then, from Daily Good: What If Schools Taught Kindness?


NPR's thoughtful post about What Kids Need From Grown-Ups

Play to Your Strengths from our friends at The 7 Mindsets


For comic relief, this Social Skills for Politicians clip

Finally, check out this passionate and innovative superhero:



E is for enthusiasm.
Don't you just love how excited he gets?

Talk about your Thursday treasure trove! 
Happy reading {and watching}.












2.06.2016

Counseling Love

Happy Saturday.
I've been on a self-imposed digital detox regimen,
a cleanse that has revived and refreshed.
Try it and see.
If you have kids, unplug with them and plug in to each other.
I'd love to know how it goes.
{We've been playing a lot of Canasta!}

Today I'm delighted to review my National School Counseling Week; our Superintendent came around on Wednesday with a challenge to complete this sign.


Pretty easy, though as you can see there wasn't enough room
for all of the reasons I love my calling.
Kids came around, too. All week long.
Bringing their hand-made creations of gratitude and love.


I haven't had the chance to read through all of them yet,
but so far the common themes are kindness, peace and fun.
I'll take it.
One of them made an acrostic out of my name,
and the U stood for Ukulele.
Pure joy. And bliss. And happiness.
To kick off the week, I got to meet Dr. Jean.


Fourteen years my elder, she's so full of life, light and insight.
Then I spent Sunday through Tuesday with 2000 other school counselors up in Dallas at our State Conference. On Monday I spoke to a room filled with caring character educators about
 Inspiring Empathy, Compassion & Kindness.
Bucket overflowed is an understatement.


Found author Julia Cook there and spent a little time reconnecting.
And goofing off.

Back home, baked goods were pouring me so that we could spend Wednesday afternoon packing boxes filled with hand-crafted Valentines and home-baked kindness from our kitchens ...

for the eleven deployed servicemen and women whom we adopted.


Twenty-nine boxes filled with 
gratitude, 
compassion 
and love.


On Friday, I got to start this,
our heart-felt reflections about why we love our school.
I can't wait to watch our heart grow.

And there you have it, 
just a few of the many reasons why I love being a School Counselor.






1.29.2016

PPBF: Turn! Turn! Turn!

Today's post will be short and sweet as we wrap up
The Great Kindness Challenge and get ready to celebrate
National School Counseling Week.
Today's PPBF perfectly complements both.

To everything, there is a season ... 


Title: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Author: Pete Seeger
Illustrator: Wendy Anderson Halperin
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing
Date: September 1, 2003
Suitable for: age 5 and up
Themes: inspirational, peace, circle of life
Brief Synopsis: Based on the inspiration of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, this book uses text from the Byrds song Turn!, Turn!, Turn! to explore and enjoy the ways people turn through the pages of the book of life.
Opening page:


Resources:
*Read a review {here}. 
*Listen to the song on CD, included in the book.
*Have students draw a time line of their lives; challenge them to make it circular rather than linear.
*Encourage students to write and illustrate another line.
A time to ____ , a time to _____ .
What would you add?

Why I like this book: I've always been a fan of that verse from the Ecclesiastes and this song. Then when my friend Ann brought me a copy of the book, I fell in love all over again. Look how pretty it is sitting on my shelf among my angels. 

To everything, there is a season ...
The circles on every page are beautifully illustrated to put this poetic text into a peace-filled picture. Such a simple yet important concept to remember, especially as we grieve the good-bye of something special and bounce forward into something new.

This week, some of our students worked with our high school PALs to paint a conflict-resolution peace labyrinth and it reminds me of the circular concept in this book.


To everything, there is a season.

We also hosted singer, songwriter, and expert bucket-filler Red Grammer on the Westwood side. Here he is teaching us to use our lids to keep ourselves happy and safe. Click the picture to see Mrs. Quigley's first-grade students teaching him and our audience the motions they use for his song The Power To Change The World.


 And today, we say good-bye to our Principal, Terri, and hello to a new leader, J.T. It's a time of change again at Bales, the perfect time to get quiet and contemplate the circle of life.

Turn, turn, turn.

For more PPBF picks today, turn now to Susanna's blog.





1.25.2016

Hugs From Home

Happy Great Kindness Challenge Week 2016! I'm super excited about our kindness project as we've been working hard to make Valentines for those military personnel who won't be home with their loved ones on Valentines' Day this year. Just look at these beauties, which our heroes refer to as hugs from home.


It has been so much fun creating these treasures together


in Leadership Central.


We're using crayons and colored pencils,

Where's Whitlock? Can you spot Westwood's AP?
scissors and glue,


construction paper, lined paper and plain white.


So many choices, so little time.


While we worked, we listened to Red Grammer, the singer and songwriter who's coming to Friendswood to share his Bucketfilling songs with us this week. If you're local, join us Friday night at 7 pm at Friendswood Junior High for a free concert.

On Wednesday, we'll be painting a Conflict-Resolution Peace Labyrinth on the slab outside between the two schools, another perfect complement to our 
Great Kindness Challenge.


Each student received a Kindness Matters wristband and have been encouraged to start each day wearing it on their left wrist. When they do an intentional act of kindness, they move it to their right wrist to remind them that showing kindness is the right thing to do.


To be clear, kindness knows no calendar, but isn't it amazing to be celebrating it with nearly 5 million other students around the world? Here's to a kinder, gentler, more peaceful place as we warm the world with kindness.








1.22.2016

PPBF: Penelope Perfect

Today's PPBF pick is perfect. 
Well, uh, Penelope Perfect that is.


Title: Penelope Perfect
Author: Shannon Anderson
Illustrator: Katie Kath
Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing
Date: August 20, 2015
Suitable for: ages K - 3rd
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Themes: anxiety, perfectionism, resilience, growth mindset
Brief synopsis: After her house losing power causes Penelope to oversleep, the mishaps in this young perfectionist's day align to brew the perfect storm. Can she survive an imperfect day and learn to let go of some of her perfectionism in the process?
Opening page: 

They call me Penelope Perfect.
If you know me, I'm sure you agree.

Have you ever heard of Old Faithful?
Well, that geyser has nothin' on me!

Copyright © 2015 by Shannon Anderson. 
Excerpted with permission of Free Spirit Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. 

Resources:
*Read this article for tips on Putting Perfectionism In Its Place.
*Read Magnificent Mindsets to spark a growth-mindset discussion.
*Is your perfectionism out of control? Click {here} to find out.
*Play the So What? game with your child(ren) to help get to the root of worries, anxieties or fear and change errant thinking about the end result. Start with a statement: You wake up late for school. Then ask {in a kind, non-judgmental tone} So what? Well, I'll be tardy. So what? I'll miss the morning warm-up. So what? Well ... you get the picture. It's a great way to get perfectionists to see that making the mistakes they fret about aren't likely to ever be something they can't rebound from and resolve.
*Springboard a geography lesson about Old Faithful and geysers. Look up where on the map it is, then challenge students to research other National Parks and find out what, if anything, sets them apart.
*Watch this video clip on resilience and discuss it:



*Make an anchor chart H-map and compare and contrast Penelope's tale with 





Why I like this book: I see a lot of Penelope in me; she loves order and wants everything to line up thrives when everything aligns. And while there's nothing inherently wrong with that, it does pose a problem that could easily spin her out of control when her orderly routine is upset. In true perfectionism form, the more we control, the more out of control we feel. So when stuff that we can't control takes over, it's how we bounce forward from those upsets that will ultimately make a difference. Such an important life lesson for people of any age. 

The activities and suggestions in the back of the book will help the readers who tend toward perfectionism work toward letting go of some of the worry and anxiety that's associated with that fixed mindset. Life will go so much more smoothly when we learn to celebrate mistakes instead of letting them paralyze us, a gift Penelope receives in the aftermath of her imperfect present and the laughter that ensued. Use the claim ~ Laughter is a resilience skill. ~ as a conversation starter or as a writing prompt to find out if/how they've used laughter to jump a high hurdle or overcome an obstacle.

Check out this book; I think it'll be the perfect addition to your collection. 
Then head to Susanna's blog for today's other PPBF titles.

Update: The evening of the day this posted, my Dad sent a message to me with a quote he'd just read: Perfection is the enemy of good.
 We are all connected, aren't we ...







1.20.2016

We've Got Your Back

Today I'm inspired because we kicked off our Great Kindness Challenge 2016 a few days early by inviting this superhero from a neighboring junior high to engage our students in her backpack project to help Houston's homeless.


Her name is Reagan and she's super passionate about her cause.
But this crusader's cape, well, it looks more like a backpack.
And though she doesn't help others for accolades and awards, I would like to affirm her work by mentioning that she is a recipient of the 
Charlotte Bacon Acts of Kindness Award.

It all began, she told a very still audience of 1000 students at our weekly Wednesday Warbles gathering, with a question
Do you have a backpack?

She went on to explain that initially it was feelings of guilt about not being able to help the homeless person who asked that question that urged her fifth-grade self back then to ask her mom to take her to a store to buy some backpacks for them. When her mom told her to look for a more creative way to meet that need, Reagan only had to go to her room to find the first few backpacks that would kick off that initial collection of one hundred and twenty five backpacks three years ago. This year, her goal is to collect a thousand backpacks. She confidently told our students that it shouldn't be a problem to meet that lofty goal, because "I've got you." That's when she invited them to help her collect backpacks as a part of our Great Kindness Challenge next week. Kids helping kids; isn't that the best?

Check out her four-minute presentation here.


If you're in the Houston area and would like to donate to Reagan's We've Got Your Back project, you can bring your gently-used backpacks to Westwood or Bales any day next week.

Thank you, Reagan, for being a beacon of light 
and making our world a kinder place to be!





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