Sunday, July 27, 2014

High School Counselors Can Reach Higher!

Sunday, July 27, 2014




During the ASCA14 Conference in Orlando, I was excited to hear the First Lady share her new initiative to help all students understand the need to complete their education beyond high school. This new initiative, called Reach Higher, is part of the President's goal to put America back in the race as the top producer of college graduates in the world.

The Reach Higher initiative has four goals:

1. Expose students to career and college opportunities;
2. Understand financial aid eligibility that can make college affordable;
3. Encourage academic planning and summer opportunities;
4. Support high school counselors who can help more students get into college.

Reach Higher Initiative

Transcript of the First Lady's Remarks at ASCA

Video of First Lady's Address to ASCA


How Can You Get Involved in the Reach Higher Initiative?


Recently, Dr. Erin Mason of SCOPE asked school counselors in the United States (one special counselor from Canada participated in support of the initiative!) to send in a picture with their Reach Higher goal.  You can see this video below of the over 100 school counselors who submitted their goals.



Tomorrow, July 28th, Dr. Mason asks that school counselors get involved by sending their picture and goal to social media with the hashtag #collegeaccess14.  Also, school counselors can view tomorrow's conference of how stakeholders can strengthen school counseling and college advisement being held at Harvard University. You can view the conference on Harvard's live streaming channel or watch later on You Tube.

My commitment to Reach Higher


This year, I have made a few commitments to reach higher by:

*promoting dual enrollment for juniors and senior;
*assisting with freshmen advisement;
*supporting our school's new involvement in PBIS;
*conducting parent workshops on becoming college/career ready;
*creating a parent and student page with tons of information about post secondary options.

Now, what are some of your ideas of how you can reach higher at your high school? 

 I would love to hear your ideas!!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sharing is Caring!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


One of the best things about being a school counselor is that we are a community of like-minded souls who love to share our ideas, resources, and expertise with one another!  With the explosion of social media, there are lots of ways you can connect with other school counselors across the globe!  Below is a list of just some of the great sites you can join to connect with other school counselor in our awesome field.

Facebook Groups

K-12 Counselor Exchange -  "A place for superhero school counselors who (somehow) manage all grade levels in his or her district. A place to share resources, concerns, and ideas with one another. Please join!"

High School Counselors' Network - "A place for high school counselors to network, share ideas, ask questions, etc."

School Counselors on the Perimeter - "This is a place for those of us in alternative settings/schools to share ideas, resources, frustrations, etc."

The School Counselor Store  - "A place for counselors to share their resources with other counselors" By the way, this group just started last week and is already grown to over 500 counselors!

Peer Program Network  - "Network of former, current, and future peer program coordinators and trainers. The purpose of the group is to share ideas about starting, improving, or expanding school peer helping programs."

Peer Mediation Programs  - "The Peer Mediation Programs site welcomes collaboration, information regarding mediation training, and helpful resources for existing and new peer mediation programs in schools."

Conflict Resolution Education in Teacher Education  - " Site to share information, training, and resources for conflict resolution education!"

Google+ Groups

Professional School Counseling - "The Professional School Counseling community is the first G+ community for all involved with the field of School Counseling."

Counselor Connect - "This is an open community sponsored by the Indiana Online Academy and the Central Indiana Educational Service Center. It is a place for school counselors from across the globe to share resources, collaborate, and learn. All posts should benefit the members of the community. Welcome to Counselor Connect!"

Google Apps for School Counselors  - "This community was created for school counselors to leverage technology resources with school counseling curriculum in order to create enriching lesson plans and enhance what school counselors do for their school."

Peer Programs  - "Community of peer program professionals sharing resources, information, and expertise. All are welcome to join this community whether you are an expert or novice looking for new ideas!"

Peer Mediation Programs  - "This community supports conflict educators who have or want to create a sustainable peer mediation program in their schools. All members are invited to share their resources, ideas, conflict training skills, and creativity with the community."

Twitter

#hscchat - High School Counselor Chat hosted by Amber Shepherd  - chat will be the second Monday of every month.

#scNOTaluxury - New School Counselor Chat hosted by Shujuan Hill Shannon.

#scchat  - School Counseling Chat

#etmooc - Chat about educational technology

#sccrowd - School Counselor Crowd - Q & A Day for school counselors-This is an awesome live chat moderated by Ross Wolfson and Susan Spellman Cann every third Tuesday from 8:30-9:30 EST.  Find resources to help in your school practice; get answers to complex situations; or find out if others are facing the same situations you may face in your school.

Pinterest

School Counseling Pinterest Boards  - Shared by Tracy Jackson
(Truly the mother-lode of all things school counseling!)

School Counseling Blog  by Danielle Schultz

High School Counseling

High School and Middle School Counseling by Jenny Vowell

School Counselors on Pinterest by Susan Spellman Cann

Livebinders

School Counseling Livebinders - A plethora of livebinders shared by Tracy Jackson.

You Tube

School Counseling On Air - Series of school counseling topics hosted by Jeff Ream (aka The Counseling Geek).

The Counseling Geek  - Another great series of videos about technology for school counselors.

One Tool at a Time - A series about different technology tools for school counselors hosted by Erin Mason.

Russ Sabella - Great series of videos about how to use technology in school counseling.













Thursday, July 17, 2014

Starting or Expanding your Reach with Peer Programs

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Do you currently have a peer program or are you interested in starting a peer program?  If so, there are several ways in which you can get resources, training, collaboration with other professionals, or make connections with others at conferences across the country.

Peer helper programs are a great way to extend your professional school counselor services throughout the school.  If you are interested in starting a peer program, there is help available!!  Check out the resources below or feel free to contact me for more information!

Cynthia_Morton@yahoo.com

Peer Program Professionals Website 
Peer Resources  (For our Canadian Friends)
My Peer Toolkit (For our Australian Friends)
Cool Schools (For our New Zealand Friends)
Peer Program Professionals Facebook Page 
Peer Helper Resources (Livebinder)
Peer Program Network Facebook Page
Jennifer Claire Moore Foundation Peer Programs
Peer Resource Training
Training Peer Helpers (Search Institute)

Friday, July 11, 2014

In Cold Blood: The Rampage Shooter

Friday, July 11, 2014



One of the sessions I attended at ASCA14 was Carleton Brown's session regarding School Shooting Implications.  There were several reasons that I decided to attend this session:

1.  I work in a school (enough said...right?)
2.  I work with a lot of potentially violent, hostile students.
3.  I wanted to know more about the phenomenon of the rampage shooter.
4.  I live in a community where a school shooting occurred in May, 1999.

The Event

On May 19, 1999, 15 year old T.J. Solomon came to Heritage High School packing a loaded rifle and a handgun. At the end of his shooting rampage, he wounded six students.  After shooting random classmates, he pulled out his handgun and tried to commit suicide. T.J.'s attempt to kill himself was stopped by one of the assistant principals when he put his hand on his shoulder and told him it would be alright.  Amazingly, T.J. gave up his weapon and fell into his arms sobbing.

The back story on T.J. shows that this wasn't a "good boy gone bad" scenario.  Although T.J. was a quiet young man who lived with his mother and step father in a well kept upper middle class neighborhood, he had some emotional and social issues.  T.J. was medicated for his hyperactivity and had problems in school. Before the event, T.J.'s grades started to fall, his girlfriend had broken up with him, and he started harboring a grudge against one of the school athletes who picked on him regularly (T.J. believed his girlfriend had betrayed him by "taking up" with the jock). Out of his feelings of rejection, T.J. decided to take out his anger on his classmates. Following the shooting, T.J. was arrested, tried, and is now serving 40 years for the shooting.
Heritage High School
  School Shooting at Heritage High School, Georgia

School Shootings

Although school homicides are rare (only 2% occur at school), there are a reality in today's society. Here are some findings about school violence from the 2002 Safe School Initiative Report released by the Secret Service:
1.  They are rare, but often sudden attacks.
2.  Prior to the attack, other students knew about the plan.
3.  Most attackers did not threaten their targets before the attack.
4.  There is no accurate profile to identify a school shooter.
5.  Most attackers engage in some behaviors that cause concern prior to the attack.
6.  Most attackers had difficulty with a loss prior to the incident.
7.  Most attackers felt bullied or picked on.
8.  Most attackers had access to weapons.
9.  Other students were involved in the event to some degree.
10. Although law enforcement was present, the attack was stopped by someone other than law enforcement.

Assessing Threats at School-Handout from AzSCA 14

School Shootings Go "Pop"

One day my kids and I were riding in the car and this catchy song came on the radio. I caught myself singing it and rolling the chorus over and over in my head. One day I was listening to the song by myself and actually listened to the lyrics. The song was called "Pumped Up Kicks" and it detailed the story about a young man who was plotting some violent act.  The young man was portrayed as an outcast who was probably abused and neglected by his dad. Since his dad was not home, he had a lot of time to think about getting even with those who had teased or hurt him.  Here are the lyrics and their meaning.

"Robert's got a quick hand
He'll look around the room
He won't tell you his plan
He's got a rolled cigarette hanging out his mouth"
--This plays out like a movie. This is what is currently happening. He's walking into the room, he has a "quick hand", he's getting ready to shoot people with a "cigarette" hanging out of his mouth. We'll get back to the "cigarette" in a moment.

[Flash back in Robert's minds eye]
He's a cowboy kid
Yeah, he found a six-shooter gun
In his dad's closet hidden in a box of fun [He's home alone with nothing better to do but go through his father's stuff. Probably a social outcast at school and abused at home]

And I don't even know what [drug paraphernalia?]

But he's coming for you, yeah, he's coming for you

Daddy works a long day [It appears as his dad's days are long, but he probably gets off work and heads right to the bar, which would make a long day.]

He be coming home late, yeah, he's coming home late [again... from the bar]

And he's bringing me a surprise [A beating? Physical abuse?]

Because dinner's in the kitchen and it's packed in ice [More alcohol-- beer, liquor, etc.?]

I've waited for a long time [this has been building up over a long time and has finally reached a boiling point]

Yeah, the slight of my hand is now a quick pull trigger [he's practicing his quick draw while he waits?]

I reason with my cigarette [Back to the "cigarette". I believe that this is a joint that he found in his father's box with the gun. The "I don't know what..." stuff. Now he's high and trying to reason with the joint, justifying to himself what he is about to do]

And say your hair's on fire [The end of the lit joint burning]
You must have lost your wits, yeah [He's high. He's personified a joint, he MUST have lost his wits]

As I was listening to the song, I thought about how many students I had in my caseload that probably have a similar situation: isolated, abused, substance abuse, teased or picked on, and odd behavior. I began to think about the 1999 shooting and how schools fail to take proactive measures to prevent school violence. As a school counselor, I feel that is important to know how to intervene with potentially violent students.  Maybe, you are concerned about violence in your school.  So, I have attached the notes from Mr. Brown's presentation for you to view and share with your counseling colleagues. I hope you get something useful out of his presentation.

ASCA14 School Shooter Presentation

If you have any resources to share, please email me so I can share them with others.

cynthia_morton@yahoo.com 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A New Role for the School Counselor: Conflict Coach

Saturday, July 5, 2014


One of my passions, besides being a professional school counselor, is coaching students in their conflict conversations.  I know, I know...who wants to get involved in drama?  Well, I don't like getting involved in "drama", but I love helping students develop the skills to sit down and actually have a constructive conversation.  They may not become friends or even solve the problem, but they begin to learn the skills to have a constructive conversation.  To me, it is exciting to watch!!

Unfortunately, our culture does not hold constructive conversations as very important.  Look at youth athletics. Better yet, let me show you what I mean.  One parent called it "a dad moment".


And what about television? You cannot turn on the television without watching a conflict ridden reality tv drama.  Again, let me show you what I mean. This is a special from ABC News which shows how reality tv is making violence and watching violence socially acceptable.


What is unfortunate about reality tv shows is the influence that the producers have on creating drama to orchestrate high levels of conflict. In today's entertainment world, the "need to be bad" has proven to be very lucrative in our culture.

Now let's move on to schools.  This video below shows a fight set up by, wait for it, the bus driver!  The video shows two students fighting on the bus and...get this quote from the bus driver..."what happens on the bus, stays on the bus."


With all these messages being sent to our families and students, it is not unusual that we have so much drama in our schools. Currently, violent responses to conflict have become the acceptable behavior being taught, modeled, and practiced in our culture. Daily I see bad behaviors practiced by our students and their parents.

One example that comes to mind was during the last week of school.  One of our students graduated early and her diploma was not ordered by mistake. So, we placed a letter in her diploma case indicating that there had been a mistake and we were in the process of ordering her diploma.  Well, that letter did not sit well with the parent.  The day after the ceremony, the parent called school and blasted the first person who happened to answer the phone.  That person did her best to apologize and explain that it was an unfortunate oversight, but the parent would not listen to her explanation.  Immediately,  the parent began to yell and curse on the phone.  In fact, the situation became so bad that the parent threatened to come to the school and beat a certain anatomical part of our staff member's body. Good grief!    

Even though we do not live in a perfect society, as a school counselor, you have a great influence in changing the school culture.  I want to introduce a new role for you to try out--the role of conflict coach.  What is a conflict coach?  Robin Amadei defines a conflict coach as someone who provides strategies and skills to help people actively engage in conflict and productively resolve their own disputes. 

Check out the article on Conflict Coaching by Robin Amadei.

As a coach, you don't solve the conflict for the students; however, you empower them with the skills and strategies they can use to solve their own conflicts.

The art of conflict coaching is fairly new as a conflict resolution strategy.  Currently, conflict coaching is used in the workplace, family disputes, special education disputes, interpersonal conflicts, higher education, and many other types of conflicts.  Currently, there are three conflict coaches that I follow and read their research.  Also, you may be interested in following them as well!!

#1  Tricia Jones from Temple University-Trish is not only a good friend, but she is a brilliant practitioner in conflict coaching particularly in special education. I will be taking her conflict coaching session in October at the Association for Conflict Resolution Conference in Cincinnati!

If you live in the Ohio area, you may want to bring your students to the ACR Youth Day Conference!

#2 Pattie Porter, The Texas Conflict Coach-Pattie has a weekly radio blog where she features the top conflict experts in the nation.  You can access her radio blog on my blog home page.

#3 Cinnie Noble, Cinergy Conflict Coaching Model-Cinnie is a well respected conflict coach in Canada who has created her own conflict coaching model called Cinergy. 

As school counselors, we too have the ability and training to help our students learn conflict strategies and skills to use in their own conflicts.  In order to be a conflict coach in your school, you must teach students how to resolve conflict competently.  In order to do this effectively, I have provided four suggestions of how to be a conflict coach in your school.

1. Conduct classroom guidance lessons on resolving conflicts competently.

The earlier you can start teaching lessons about conflicts skills the better.  We normally start our classroom guidance lessons two weeks after school begins by introducing ourselves and our services.  Following our introductory lessons, I make plans to go into the 9th grade classrooms to talk about issues that students may face while in high school. To help with these lessons,  I use my peer helpers to demonstrate or talk about these issues (bullying, sexual harassment, student conflicts, disagreements with teachers) and strategies they can use.

Here are some conflict lessons you can use in your school:

Ten Conflict Lessons for Students
Using peer mediators to teach conflict skills to students
Conflict Lessons for Students
Conflict Resolution Game

2. Coach students on how to handle conflicts constructively.

When working with students who are in conflict with others, it is important to coach students on how to improve their skills. I have provided one practical lesson on coaching a student who is in a conflict.

Stop the Drama Coaching Activity

3. Create a peer mediation program to assist students in resolving their conflicts before they become intractable.

 If you have a current peer mediation program or want to create one, there are a few things you should consider:
  • Does your program or will your program follow the peer mediation standards from the Association for Conflict Resolution?
  • Does the trainer meet the qualifications for training students in peer mediation per the standards?
  • Does your training meet the required hours as set by the standards?  All high school peer mediation programs must meet 15-20 hours of training.
  • Does your program have a coordinator who has a commitment to overseeing the program?
  • Does your faculty, staff, and students understand how to refer conflicts to your program?
  • When your mediators do not have cases to mediate, are they educating students about conflict skills? It is important to keep conflict resolvers visible!
4.  Promote conflict resolution skills in your school throughout the school year--don't let it be a once a year assembly or guidance lesson!

Here is a calendar of campaigns your students can coordinate.

January - No Name Calling Week

February - Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
Love Is Respect-Conflict Resolution Handout

April - Youth Violence Prevention
See the list of activities

SeptemberWorld Peace Day

October - Bullying Prevention Month
Conflict Resolution Day
National SAVE Day
Mix It Up

Are you truly interested in becoming a certified conflict coach?  Check out the websites for Dr. Jones, Pattie Porter, or Cinnie Noble.   

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Go Gaga for Google

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


I attended Dr. Russell Sabella's workshop titled "Going Gaga for Google" at ASCA14. Dr. Sabella is a Google god and I could not wait to share the contents of his workshop with you.  Here is the link to the workshop content from Google Docs and I have attached some additional resources from Dr. Sabella.


I got to sit in the tweet seat!!

Resources from Dr. Sabella:

Dr. Sabella's Website
Ask Dr. Sabella
Google Cheat Sheet