Counselor's Corner

Mrs. Miller for the month of: January 2023

Dear Parent's & Guardians:

We spent the month of December learning the Apology & Forgiveness Tool, Patience Tool and the Courage Tool. As a result, we have finally learned all 12 tools!!!!

Please encourage your child(ren) to keep practicing these tool. These last 3 tools really help us learn make a good apology and forgive not only other's mistakes but our own too, learn to be a good "waiter" and have the courage to do the "right" thing, even when it is hard or scary. Let's face it, we all mess up and need to apologize from time to time, but also we need to forgive so we can move on. When we have to wait our turn, it can be hard, so kids learn they are strong enough to wait, and wait well. Last, we need courage for so many things: to do our best, to speak up when something is wrong or someone is getting teased, to try something new or try again, to telling the truth when we made a mistake.

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Smoketree Elementary Cougar Pledge and our PBIS expectations

The first week we are back in January will be review of our PBIS expectations of Safe, Responsible and Respectful. We will start off TOOLBOX with a lesson in Anger and how we need to learn to control our anger, as often that gets us into big trouble. We go over the tools, which the kids already have learned, and help them understand which tools help them when a situation makes them feel angry. We will also review the Breathing Tool and the Quiet Safe Place Tool. We continue to help our students use their tools to be safe, responsible, and respectful at school in their work and in their play.

Some more details about the last 3 tools we learned in December.

Apology & Forgiveness Tool: this tool is represented by a bottle of glue as this tool repairs broken relationships. Just like gluing two pieces of paper together, we use apology and forgiveness to glue friendships back together and to restore communication. A sincere apology opens the door to self-responsibility. It takes self-esteem and inner strength to admit a mistake and do the right thing. Forgiveness takes equal strength. It requires letting go of anger and judgment. It does not mean we have to forget, but there's a willingness to forgive.

Patience Tool: the icon for this tool is a wood planer. A wood plane is used to smooth away the rough surface of wooden objects - but it must be used slowly, gently, and patiently or it will leave a scar. Patience is the ability to wait quietly. Patience develops our capacity to tolerating situations that are not in our control. Children learn patience when we model it. If patience is not modeled, children may learn to be impatient, demanding, and impulsive.

Courage tool: the symbol for this tool is a hanging lamp or work light. This reminds students that shining a light in the darkness helps us feel safer and braver, and allows us to see things the way they really are. In the same way, it is easier to use our Tools when we see clearly what we are afraid of, and understand why it scares us. We can turn on the lamp inside us to illuminate the darkness and give us courage, which means having inner strength and bravery to do the "right thing," even when it is difficult. When we feel troubled by our own or others' behaviors, it takes courage to use our tools. Acting with courage is empowering.

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Some of the tools come easy to some kids. However, most of our students are still learning and need these tools when problems come up. Let's also admit, we still need these tools too, to navigate life when we have problems that come up.

I say often to our students when they face a difficult situation, "Let's look at your tools and see which ones might make the situation better, not worse." When you can get your child to shift their brain away from the "big problem" right in front of them and get away from the feelings that are driving their poor behavior, this question I ask gets them to move to the executive functioning part of their brain, then thinking and decision-making returns, and they most often can figure out the next right step. Give it a try and see what tool they come up with. Then follow up with, "tell me how you are going to use that tool to help right now." If it sounds reasonable, have your child give it a try. This teaches them they have the power to choose a good next step and builds self-esteem. Tools can help solve problems and that feels good!