School Counselor Community

A Newsletter for School Counselors in the SUHSD June 2019

Wellness Tip

Watch This if You Have a Cell Phone

Do you know the impact constantly checking your phone has on your mood and brain? Watch the short video below, by Dr. Lynn Gribble who explains the effects of checking your phone and provides a tip to improve your focus. Subscribe to The Daily Goalcast on YouTube or Facebook for more inspiring stories and tutorials.

The Daily Goalcast

Wellness Tips From Our Colleagues

The end of the year brings on many challenges for school counselors. Our days are filled with meeting with students to get them over the finish line for promotion, graduation and post-secondary plans, summer school registration, parent conferences (many of them having to do with non-promo and non-grads), master schedule, crisis counseling, and planning for the following school year to name a few (whew!). This fast-paced and high stress time makes it all the more important to take care of ourselves.

As part of the School Counselor Induction Program, our mentor counselors shared their stress management and self-care tips with our induction counselors. Read what they had to share:

Stephanie Stephens - Southwest High School

The best stress reliever for me is a run outdoors, completely on my own, while listening to upbeat music. Unfortunately, due to the hustle and bustle of the week, this is often just a weekend luxury. During the week, daily interactions with loved ones help to ground me and keep me focused on the bigger picture in life. During bedtime, my kids and I think of three things that we are each thankful for from our days. This helps us all to remember that in spite of ups and downs, each day comes with new blessings.

Elvia Estrella - San Ysidro Learning Center

In attempting to assure that I maintain my personal equilibrium, I learned a long time ago to make sure that I also take care of myself. I too need to be a priority on my calendar:

  • I schedule activities on my calendar. I DO NOT reschedule those! Once on the calendar, they are my non-negotiables as if it was a doctor's appointment or anything else.
  • I workout 5-6 times a week and I have a fitness partner. (I make sure to have a fitness partner since I will be less likely to flake on someone else and to keep me accountable.
  • I make sure to spend time with family, movies, paddle boarding, and trying new restaurants with friends.

Araceli Loya - Olympian High School

One of the things that I have found to be most helpful when I have a lot going on is making a list first thing in the morning of the top three things I need to get done that day. Sometimes the list is much longer but I am able to prioritize the top three and then continue to work on the rest as I am able.

My favorite thing to do to decompress is to take my dog, Jessie, out for a nice long walk. I make a point of paying attention to the sights and sounds around us while we are out: the sunshine, the breeze blowing, the birds chirping in the trees. I always find that at the end of our walk I am feeling much better about everything.

Cristy Araki & Maggie Padilla - Chula Vista High School

  • Find time for yourself, even it it’s for a little bit, during the week. Take that time to recharge and do something that you enjoy.

  • Take walks in the morning or afternoon to help de-stress and be in nature.

  • Work as a team with your colleagues and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

  • Eat lunch - step away from your desk even if it’s for 15 minutes.

What are you doing at work and at home to take care of yourself?

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School Counseling Domains

School Counselor Induction Program

This was the culminating year for our school counselor induction cohort. School counselor's in the program received 30 hours+ hours of mentoring from a seasoned counselor and COSA in professional growth, attended professional development workshops, seminars, and learning walks, and honed in on learning with growth activities.

Each school counselor also created an Individual Learning Plan (ILP), a goal to focus on throughout the school year, that was based on data and their school's needs. Below are few examples of ILP goals:

  • Expand career exploration and exposure
  • Increase FAFSA/CADA application rates
  • Academic counseling groups to teach study skills and growth mindset
  • Incorporate technology into the six-year plan
  • Develop academic and social/emotional interventions for students who are ELL
  • Align school counseling program with ASCA model and apply to RAMP

In the end, the goal is for students to be positively impacted by having school counselor's focus in on their own practice.

The mentors and induction counselors learned a great deal from one another! Here are what some of the induction counselors had to share about the program along with a few program results:

"I'm thankful for this program. I feel I have a foundation and secure and stable place to lean on..."

"This has been a great experience and helpful as a new counselor."

"I absolutely loved and learned a lot from the learning walks; I took away tips and tools to add to my counseling practice. Meeting with my mentor was also very helpful in coming up with ideas to help me grow professionally and meeting the needs of my students."

School Counselor Learning Walks

This was the first year of our Learning Walks and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive! The Learning Walks were an engaging way to learn by visiting a site and gaining insight about the amazing work being done and going in depth by collaborating, discussing and brainstorming around a specific topic. The topics aligned to the ASCA National Model and SUHSD LCAP goals. These are the learning walks that were held this year:

  • Incorporating the Career Domain via a School Wide Career Fair hosted by Granger Junior High
  • Promoting Mental Wellness hosted by Sweetwater High counselors
  • Reaching All Students Via Core Curriculum and Technology hosted by Olympian High counselors
  • Group Counseling hosted by Eastlake High counselors
  • Master Schedule Advocacy and The Counselor's Role hosted by the COSA's

This is what our colleagues shared about the learning walks. Overall we had 29 participants throughout the year.

"... I really liked the opportunity to experience what it looks like when a space is created with Mental Health in mind. I also was able to see students enjoying the space that was created, it was awesome!"

"I liked the conversations we had and learned a lot by hearing different points of view..."

"I truly enjoyed!!!"

"So cool to be able to make a positive difference with the training we got. I am also very thankful that we have counselors who are willing to share the great things they are doing."

"It was helpful to tour another site to get ideas of how they set up and structure their department. Also useful collaborating with other counselors to share ideas and practices."

"The presentation was great and all the information shared to show the process of beginning and running counseling groups."

Stay tuned for next year's learning walk schedule. Interested in hosting a learning walk and showcasing your counseling program activity? Email Liliana Silva Diaz to get on the calendar.

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Exemplarary School Counselor Department Websites

Looking to spruce up your counseling departments website? Check out these exemplary school counselor department websites. Is the following included on your website?

  • How to contact the counselor
  • Role of the school counselor
  • Parent presentations and core curriculum lessons
  • Limits of confidentiality (Example: "What you share with the school counselor, stays with the school counselor. Exceptions: Someone wants to hurt you. You want to hurt someone. You want to hurt yourself.")
  • Mental Health Resources

Around the District

Chula Vista High School Career Fair

Chula Vista High School counselors held a school wide Career Fair on April 11, 2019 during the students lunch. The fair took place on the Big Lawn with the goal of exposing students to various career options requiring various levels of post-secondary education. Some of the careers represented were aligned to the CTE pathways offered such as Engineering & Architecture, Arts, Media & Entertainment, Business & Finance, Health Sciences & Medical Technology, and Manufacturing & Product Development. Other careers represented were our U.S. Military (all branches), Law Enforcement, Homeland Security, Cosmetology & Barbering, Education Studies, Pharmacy, Nursing, Dental Hygiene, Fashion & Design and other vocational programs.

The students shared this was a fun event where they were able to learn about post-secondary options and network with professionals in our community. Thank you to the CVHS staff for helping make this a successful event and an inspiring day for the students.

Eastlake Middle Academic Support Groups

Four academic support counseling groups were held at Eastlake Middle March through May. The target group were 7th and 8th graders who had multiple D’s and F’s with the purpose of teaching skills and growth mindset as a way of changing their attitudes towards school and hopefully their grades. Lessons included teaching students how to use a calendar, study strategies based on their learning style, and how to write an email to their teacher. A growth mindset approach helped students to recognize that they shouldn’t give up and that they can be successful. Out of the groups, 77% of students improved their GPA 1st to 2nd semester and there was an 11% decrease in D’s and F’s. The students truly enjoyed the growth mindset activities and loved group so much they asked if it could continue next year.

The growth mindset video by Khan Academy was used in one of the groups to engage students in discussion on continuing to learn and grow despite setback's in life and in the classroom.

San Ysidro Learning Center

As school counselors, our role becomes overwhelmingly focused only on academic achievement, balancing schedules, and the beast of master schedule. I know this because I was that school counselor trapped in that practice. However, in the last four (4) years at San Ysidro High School Learning Center the team has developed a strong practice in supporting the district and Statewide Priority Initiatives, one of them being reduction in chronic absenteeism and social emotional learning. My team is amazing enough to support my engagement in different professional development opportunities and during our monthly meetings, I am provided the time to present the information. This last semester I was able to host a 2-3 hour training with our Learning Center team on “Trauma Inform Practices in School (TIPS)” and the research on successful urban school.

Our Learning Center team has supported our practice of conducting home visits to address chronic absenteeism and reduce drop-out rates. Our best practice is making sure we provide a school environment that is welcoming to students and where they feel safe. I shared that we held a TIPS training because our center operates as a team and we all need to understand that some of our students enter our classroom doors with some sort of trauma that may or may not be sharing with us. As educators it is our job to understand that our students have different needs and we cannot assume anything. Myself and our lead teacher are conducting home visits with a restorative approach in re-entry to the learning center 3-4 times a semester. We are out in the San Ysidro community knocking on doors and sharing our concerns with our students about their absence. A supportive re-entry approach has been a successful tool to help us retain our students until graduation requirements are met. I have to share that we have one young lady that was struggling with attendance and battling emotionality for most of her time in the learning center is graduating this June. Upon beginning her last credit, she entered my office and shared how much she appreciated our many visits to her home and speaking to her about our mantra of “we are not giving up on you!” and “we want to see you in school!” With tears in her eyes, she said thank you so much for making me feel connected, understanding me and not giving up on me! She is just one of the many for the WHY we do what we do!

-By Elvia Estrella

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Counselor Standards Committee #SUHSDCSC

Standards Google Drive

Sheets

Thank you to those sites who submitted sign in sheet data! It's not too late to submit your Sign-In Sheet data. Most of our time with students' was spent in academic and college/career counseling. Some months were heavier than others in working with students through social and emotional difficulties. Building strong supportive and caring relationships with our students was essential to fostering their academic and personal growth.

Food For Thought

Guidance Counselor or School Counselor

Language matters! Using guidance counselor versus school counselor has an impact on the perceived competence of school counselors. Click on the picture to learn more about the study and the impact of using school counselor as your official tittle.
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Ethical and Legal

Best Practice in Keeping Case Notes

The following question can be found on the ASCA website under Legal and Ethical FAQ's. Dr. Carolyn Stone, the expert on legal and ethical issues for school counselors, provides insight on best practices on keeping notes when you meet with students.

What is best practice regarding case notes? How do I know if my personal notes meet the criteria for case notes?

Parents have a federal right to see anything you write down or record that refers to their child so, as a general rule of thumb, keep your notes in a way you would be comfortable with a parent reading. Personal notes should really be more like memory-joggers for you professionally. Anything that refers to a student, even using initials, ID numbers or personal descriptors if specific enough, is an educational record that belongs primarily to the parent. Other student names can be omitted, but the parents have a right to see all the rest. You can keep personal notes if you feel the need to be more specific, but the law has been clear that if anyone knows they exist they are then covered under the Family Education and Privacy Act (FERPA). According to FERPA, case notes are “sole-possession records” and not educational records if they meet specific criteria. They must: serve as a memory aid, not be accessible or shared in verbal or written form, be a private note created solely by the individual possessing it and include only observations and professional opinions.

Call For Submissions

If you would like to highlight a counseling activity, intervention, lesson, program or article in our newsletter please contact Liliana Silva Diaz at the email below.