Monday, July 7, 2014

ASCA #14 Reflections

Wow! What an amazing conference. How many newbie ASCA conference attenders can say at their first conference they heard the First Lady speak!!

I am writing this post for 3 reasons:
1) To share with you my highlights and lessons/knowledge learned at the best conference ever.
2) To help ADHD brain remember all the things I want to share with the other counselors in our district.
3) To help me go back and access the information. A online "storage space" for reference if you will.

So let's get started:

Didn't attend? There are many ways to catch up on what you missed.
I didn't take my computer (see notes in my entry on lessons learned), so I couldn't access the ASCA App but you can access all the handouts on the ASCA website here. If you are on Twitter check out #ASCA14 and  #SCChat for lots of great information.

Breakout blurbs:

Olwues Bullying Prevention- If you are looking for sound, data-driven prevention tips you have to start with Olwues. It's the first place I look for up to date prevention information and I always attend a breakout session when the are available. Here are some notes you need to know:

*Prevention is the best intervention. It's not a yearly plan, it's 3-5 years of planning and implementation.  We can get stuck in the making sure that situations fit the definition of bullying. Prevention also means addressing the issue the 1st time and not waiting for the repeated pattern (ask yourself is it likely to be repeated?)

*Small groups for bullies/victims don't work! Don't plan an anger management group for your bullies. Bullying is about a sense of entitlement/power- most aren't angry so anger groups are irrelevant. Victims shouldn't be grouped because they are all victims, but a small group might be a good place for them to meet others. Include them in your self esteem, stress, friendship groups.

*Statistically we aren't intervening: 70% of teachers think they are intervening, but only 25% of students agree.  90% of teachers felt they were intervening at recess, but video studies show 5% were.

*When working with students that have been victimized think of the new "I- Msg": " "I will not (participate) when (you treat me like that.) Saying " I feel sad" then the aggressor thinks "Yes! I got what I wanted."

*Watch your language there is no evidence to support "bullycide" and we shouldn't label kids "victims" or "bullies."

*How are you documenting? How do your students report? One counselor shared with me a Google Doc she uses to track "bullying" reports that come to here. Then she is able to focus in on kids that are over reporting, hot spots, etc. It was also stressed that students should have an anonymous way to report. If you have a method please share in the comments.

*More resources can be found at and

Branding and Marketing Your Program-  For several years know I have been talking about branding your program! So I was thrilled to attend this session. Wow is all I can say about the presenters. Here are my take-aways: 

*Build a brand at the intersection of your perception, process, and outcome data. We are always asking to connect to the school data, so starting here to help think about what your brand will be just makes sense because the connection will be natural. Another school counselor in Knox. County created her brand the year her school implemented the Olweus Bullying Prevention program. Her brand "Go Golden" became a seamless integration of her program goals, her character education program, the bullying prevention program, and the school's positive school climate plan.  She looked at the needs of her school and created a brand based on that need so her "brand" became a part of her plan to close the gap.

*Use your data to address your major themes each year. Now that the brand is developed keep it fresh by changing up the theme. Not sure of your theme- look at your data!

*If you don't have a counseling specific advisory committee/council get one asap.

*4 D's for starting: Define, Design, Deploy, and Determine

*Spread the word about what your doing (aka advocating for your importance) by using fun technology apps such as SMORE (a flyer creator) and PowToon (a presentation creator.)

*Remember the importance of the BCC when sending out communication to your stake holders.

More information: Follow " The Counseling Geek" on Twitter and check out his blog. Read this entry to catch up on everything they shared.

Preventing Bullying By Saying Hi-This was a fun breakout session because it was lead by past ASCA School Counselor of the Year Sandy Austin. 

I am a huge fan and I am proud that I started my own team, you can too!

*It's important to note that this is part of your bullying prevention/counseling program and not the whole thing.

*What does it mean to say "Hi?" It means we teach  children to 1) Get help and 2) Initiate contact.
Students are taught that they should get help by reporting to a safe person in the building and then go back to the person they saw being victimized and initiate contact (i.e. tell them they saw what happened and it was wrong, invite them to play at recess, sit by them at lunch, etc.)

More information: Read about starting a BIONIC team here  and registering your team here.

ASCA National Model and Data- Here's my biggest take away from this session, which although AMAZING literally hurt my mind: We are all in this together, ask for help from those who are doing it right!! **Update the AMAZING Melissa Beverly spent her valuable time answering some of my data questions. Her insight is invaluable.

* If you start with the data the rest of your program will fall in line. Planning a program and then going back to the data will kill you.
*Why should your administrators care about RAMP? It helps ensure that we are doing our best and following best practices. Not only does it monitor our effectiveness but it also helps us fulfill our evaluation requirements and meet national professional standards.

*Don't hold me to this 4 step closing the gap plan, but here are the 4 steps I took away:
1) Look at your school report card, school profile, and school improvement plan. (If you are not already written into the school improvement plan advocate to be written in.) Melissa added: "You could consider the results of the needs assessment along side the other information listed in section 1 or could develop a specific needs assessment based on the information discovered in section 1.  Also, consider the activities (academic, personal/social and career) currently being done within the program.  Are there any gaps?"
2) Using this information to identify an equity gap that you see.  (SES, Gender, etc.)
3) Give a needs assessment to the school or focused group to help determine your plan and programing. Don't assume you know that they needs are. In an example they gave they focused on students not making post-secondary plans. The counselors assumed it was due to SES and family history of attending college, but a needs assessment showed that a different story. Using the results of the assessment (I believe they said the students simply didn't know how to access the school information) they were able to create a program where 100% of students applied for college.  Hold focus groups if you need more information.
4)Write a SMART goal that cycles back to the vision/mission statements of your counseling program.
5) Added by Melissa- collect the data, determine next steps and share the data.  Was the goal met?  What will be done in the future based on the results?  Let administrators, school board and the SC advisory council know the results and next steps.

*When writing SMART goals start with the identified students you are targeting  and include the words "who received my intervention."

*Don't be scared of "bad data." If you gather data and it doesn't show what you want it it to that's ok! Process not perfection.

*Typically counselors work at a school for 3 years when the apply for RAMP. As Melissa pointed out "It is important to have comparison data."

More information found at and check out the resource center for needs assessments.
Need help with your data? Here's what Melissa suggested: "Share and connect with counselors in your district and your advisory council (we have had some great feedback within our council).  Counselors who have been through the RAMP process would be great resources as well." You can also contact ASCA directly.

Going Google For Gaga-  I learned that Russ Sabella is a Google god. 

*Did you know that you can use the search tools to add filters that allow you to see sites you have/have not visited, sort by reading level, or by most recent articles.

*You can also use the advanced search settings to search for graphics that have usage rights that make them free to use.

* Need to search for specific file types try this: in the search box type in filetype: ____ (file type you want)
ex. cyberbullying filetype:pdf
results are all pdf files
*Search a specific site by typing site: 
For example to only look for information on the ASCA website type in
Example 2: Only want information found on an education site type site:edu

*Expand your search with ". For example, searching ethic" will expand your search to everything ethical and ethics related.

*You can use Google Chrome to sync to all of your devices. This way you can see your school bookmarks at home and vice versa.

*Google Chrome allows you to export all of your bookmarks to html. Who cares? What an easy print out to share of your important book marks and sites.

*Check out an online drag and drop publishing app.
*Google Chrome allows you to highlight text and put it in an email.
*Not sure if a website is safe or not get the WOT button in Google Chrome to allow to you see if it's a trustworthy website.

*Need to download everything on a website, check out the download all button on Google Chrome it will allow you do download all 20 items at once and you can tell it where to save. 

*Feeling sassy? Check out  

*Google has an audio library for all your work music needs and a translator kit that allows your to translate your documents for your ESL students and parents. Tip: Work with your ESL teacher to double check it translated appropriately.

*Google voice allows you to get a number you can give parents/staff/students. It will also let you text them and print our transcripts of conversations. Tip: Use carefully as it's not HIPPA compliant. 

*Sending lots of links? Check out Create safe, short links you can send to staff, parents, etc.
*Google Docs is a must! I use google docs all the time, but I didn't know that you can search for templates of existing docs. Also, my homework to self is to check out the pivot tables and see how they can help me with data.

*Google can do more than you think. Back in 2012 I wrote this entry about Google Education. This breakout session made me want to go back and do it all again.

More information: Check out Dr. Sabella's website and get all of his handouts here. Also, check out this BuzzFeed article on 21 Google Hacks That Will Change Your Life

From WiFi to Sci-Fi: You know I am obsessed with books so this was a fun session on creating your own book clubs.

*Why book clubs? They teach academic, social, and behavioral skills (i.e. relational aggression)

*Characters can serve as role models for students

*Great for students who need help to improve their reading (think data and test scores) as well as those that just love to read.

*Have jobs! Assign someone to do the following: provide chapter summaries, create character lists, describe settings, describe character traits, create a story timeline, record what page you are on.

* Have a booklet. Not only is this a fun "favor" for students to take with them, you can use solution-focused questions and counseling techniques in the booklet to help students process what they are reading. Here is an example of her booklet:

My Favorite Things Pocket Card

Talking Feet- a page where they can use empathy to gain a characters perspective.

"Recycled" thinking page- a page to identify negative thinking.

Positive thinking sheets.

Inside page where they can write down their group rules to refer to. 

The pré test was page 2. The post test was the last page. You could take these out or copy them.

Reflection sheet after each group meeting.

Character analysis page.

Place to write down chapter summaries.

Page for the page tracker.

Timeline sheet.

What was the character thinking? What were you thinking? If you were the character what would you think? A fun sheet with lots of possibilities.

Love this!

This was used with a bullying book. The students used the book to create cards about how to handle bullying.
Check out Sassy School Counselor on Good Reads for more books.

"Because of Mr. Terupt" cheat sheet/transfer sheet.

* I love having parent book clubs. If you have a techie population try a virtual book club. 

*At the end of the book have at the group use iMovies to create strategies and videos that you can use in your classroom guidance lessons, put on your website, share with teachers, show on the announcements.

*Need cheap books: check out Amazon's buy 4 get 3 program, write a grant on Donor's Choose or Go Fund Me, visit, or visit your local used book store (see my current addiction to McKay's aka my home away from home.)

*Fun websites to create videos, presentations, and messages: Go Animate (create short videos for test taking, icebreakers, bullying, etc.), Animato (present information in a grown up way), Croak It (record 30 second messages), Glogster (digital learning content that is Common Core aligned).

*Idea!! Collaborate with your media specialist to create a Google/QR Scavenger Hunt- perfect for career exploration.

More information: I got a laundry list of books for use in book clubs. I put them all on my Good Reads page and tagged them "small pack books" so you know they are good for groups. Also, visit for books the boys will love and the Cooperative Children's Book Center. Learn more about creating a technology club at your school here.

Gaming and Boys: Rosalind Wiseman and Ashly Burch  were really thought provoking. They also started out the session with a Rock, Paper, Scissors challenge that really got us in the spirit. 

*While this session did focus on boys remember girls game too.

*I asked Ashly for more resources/people to contact that could help my students get information about careers/advocacy in gaming. She gave me great names and an even better tip: Twitter. Twitter was a constant theme of the weekend (see my entry on 1st timer tips). 

*Although we might not understand it games satisfy the criteria for happiness (having meaning beyond oneself, hope of success, social connection, and satisfying work.) We need to appreciate that for our students and children.

*Why should you care about the newest games? It's a point of entry to understanding youth and increase your rapport with students.

*We have strong opinions about things (games) we don't know a lot about and that negative reaction (ie. the face you make when you hear "Call of Duty" or I made this year when a 1st grader told me she wanted to be a "YouTuber" on Career Day) won't let us reach our youth.

*Although most protagonists in major games are white males, gaming is actually a diverse industry. 

* While we have concerns about screen time and violent content we need to ask ourselves how do we talk to youth about this in a credible way?

*Talking tip: "I will value a world that means so much to you, but I want us to talk about______."

*Just like you a loyal to your favorite grocery story students are loyal to their favorite gaming station (ie. XBox vs. Playstation).

*You can actually make a career out of gaming and LOTS of people have. Did you know in some games players can create add on's or MODS and that some are so popular companies have made whole games out of them. So it's not a total waste of time mom!

*Warning for all those parents/teachers who are playing "Clash of Clans"! While the game looks innocent many students/players use the game for anti-Semitic agendas and it strongly encourages exclusion. Also, it is always inciting students back to play, so it takes a strong will not to get back on when you hear the game say "we need you." Also, to succeed in the game you will need a good ole credit card which teaches our youth that you don't really need to work hard in life to succeed all you need is money.  It also encourages clans to attack clans so while the graphics might not be as 'violent' as a first person shooter game it is teaching students the same violent social ideas. What are our students really learning when playing this innocent game?! 

*This was an important point I was thrilled they made. When a students plays a first person shooter game (FPS) like "Call of Duty" we are worried it's encouraging violent behavior. However, for the MAJORITY of players (and I really mean majority including myself who plays it often) kills don't really represent kills, they nearly stand for points and signify process. I know last night as I was blasting away aliens I wasn't thinking of death so much as I was thinking of getting to rank up and go to the next round. Think of it like getting coins in Mario!

*Did you know that 'League of Legends' is leading in the gaming industry? If you are like me and thought nope never really hear anyway talk about it, here's a possibility of why. When you ask students questions like "What is your favorite music/band?" during icebreaker activities their answer really can make them or break them in different social circles. Asking that question and "What games do you like to play?" are highly personal and they may feel judged based on their answer. So although they are all playing 'League of Legends' they may never admit that aloud. 

*Connect with students- ask them to compete going into a conflict resolution situation much like they would be going into a battle on their game. See SEAL below:

More information found at: your local library =) Seriously go get her books.

Promoting Positive School Culture/ Promote Success with Solution Focused Skills: I got a few cute ideas to incorporate into my program.

*Celebrate those H.O.T. students- students who are "here on time everyday!"

*Create a special pledge for the students to say everyday.

*Create a AAA card (how cute would that be with a car/driving theme) to celebrate students who are showing growth and excelling in 3 areas (academics, attitude, and attendance). Students can get points under each heading and with 6 points total (at least one from each area) they can redeem their card for a special activity (possibly a game show day during special areas, collaborate with your media specialist for a special book fair kick off activity). AAA members also get their picture taken for the year book.

* Need a good parenting program? Check out the Love and Logic Parenting Curriculum.

*Remember everyday you are dealing with PTSD! (Parents, Teachers, Students, and Data).

* Why do we focus on school climate? It's in our school and counseling mission statement (ex. create a positive and safe environment).

*Make sure you are included in the School Improvement Plan!

*Have monthly teacher recognition. (For example PBIS teacher of the month- picture on bulletin board, special parking spot, coupon to cover car duty for the day, etc.)

*You can't avoid technology, embrace it and use it.

*I am finally embracing Twitter so here are some twitter pics from other sessions I didn't get to attend:

*Solution focused strategy techniques:

*Have a Whine and Cheese Day- work with your sunshine committee's to host a day for teachers to mingle. Just be careful to make sure there isn't too much whining.

*I love the ideas of using buttons to celebrate students that are doing a great job. I used them in my C.I.A. program. but they are expensive and not alway easy to make. Instead use paper bracelets- teachers can write the students name, date, and a special message on them. Use the bracelets for VIP status for the day (ex. free seat at lunch that day only). Have students put brackets in a box for a monthly drawing.*Remember if a student earns something/gets a reward it CAN NOT be taken away. I see my teachers make this mistake all the time. If he earns a free seat at lunch, but by the time he get's to lunch he's had an awful day just remember he has already earned it. We don't take away your paychecks after the fact do we?!

Bored is not how one describes the ASCA 2014 conference. Just check out the key note speakers below.

More information: Find other counselors on Twitter and Pinterest.

Keynote notes:

First Lady- I mean does it get better than Michelle Obama speaking. NO! She is more beautiful than you can imagine and you can tell her love and drive for education is sincere and close to her heart. I still have goosebumps from hearing her speak. 

*There is so much to say about her speech and you can read the entire speech here. Biggest take aways: The White House knows how important we are and they are going to recognize it. She also made many call to actions to help our profession, read about it here. Also, being a ASCA School Counselor of the Year has a whole new meaning now that it will be recognized by the White House (hint hint to all my teacher friends who have a cute sassy counselor they want to nominate).

Stedman Graham!- Ok I'll be the first one to admit that I was joking about him being "Oprah's boyfriend," so when he made a joke about it I almost hit the floor laughing. He's actually so much more, seriously check out his biography. He was a great speaker and I would love to hear him again.

*When you don't know who you are the world defines you (insert Oprah's boyfriend joke here). 

*It's not about how the world defines you, it's about how you define yourself to the world.

*Do you have the tools to define yourself?

*What are you going to do in 24 hours?

*You must help yourself before you can help the world.

*You can't go from a follower to a leader without love!!!!!

*Inequality comes from a lack of vision.

*You don't pick mentors, mentors pick you.

Pat Williams- I mean when you have 16 kids I trust that you know how to be a good leader, father, mentor, coach. His recipe for being a great leader was wonderful, in fact I bought his book to read more later. 

Ingredients of a great leader:

1) Vision- vision gives you drive, fuel, and passion. It helps you inspire those around you and gives you the "stick-to-it-ivity" you need to be successful.

2) Communication- leaders communicate their vision, hope, optimism, and inspiration. A leader is a public speaker.

3) People Skills- leaders care for, are interested in, have empathy for others. Their hearts are based in love; you can't coach 'em if you don't love em.

4) Character- character counts in leadership. You have to have honesty, integrity, responsibility, and humility. Integrity means your walk and talk match that the tongue in your mouth faces the same direction as the tongue in your shoe.

5) Competence- leaders are good at what they do. So are they born or made? Both- all the great leaders were born (ba da dum) but all have to be developed. Leaders are life long leaders and teachers. They surround themselves with smart people, the have formal education, and they continue to learn.

6) Boldness- leaders are not afraid to make decisions. There are 3 legs on the 'boldness stool'- seeing yourself as a leader, preparing yourself for leadership, and stepping up to the plate.

7) Serving heart- it's not always about the leader. Leaders what to know how they can help and assist.

Whose going to lead today? Whose leading your school?

Rosalind Wiseman- If you don't already have her books, go buy them all immediately. If you have kids/teens, work with kids/teens, have friends with kids/teens go buy them. Her books are amazing to read because they are the closest thing to a young adult manual ever created. You can read them little by little or by section. She knows her stuff and I have been a fan for a long time!

* Boys need a language to talk about their lives, we need to help them develop it.

* As parents we need to stop saying "boys are easy"- boys should be allowed complicated, complex, emotional lives and adults must be mindful about how we talk and interact with them.

*When we talk about bullying we often talk about their being one person who is %100 guilty and another whom is %100 innocent. The reality is we often see the second strike.

*We need to be aware that adults often abuse their own power and bully, so they don't see us as advocates, they see us as people asking us to do thing we aren't willing to do ourselves.

*Take time to model apologies and take responsibility for our mistakes especially after the fact! This shows that we are not only ethical , but we see them as people that we think and care about. This can take them from disengaged to engaged.

*STOP saying "that's enough"- you have basically given them permission for all of their activity up to that point.

*Ignorant teasing- is often followed by "you're a baby"

 *Don't be afraid to preface talking to students about conflict resolution by saying "I understand this may feel weird or cheesy."

*We must look into the entire story when it comes to bullying to ensure that even those who are spreading it/encouraging it have consequences. Usually the person who started it has higher social skills and often gets away with it, so by not disciplining them we are reinforcing their abuse of power.

*SEAL- help students define ok/not ok friendship traits. What does loyalty mean to them? True loyalty is speaking truth to power.

*When addressing conflict resolution address the pushback (what will they say or do when …).

*Helping/encouraging bystanders: thank them for telling, praise their strength, identify they character education trait/skill they showed, encourage their respect of self, school, and others.

* Goals when working with the perpetrator: make them aware of his/her behavior, allow for self reflective time especially about how their behaviors on others (remind them they aren't allowed to tell others how an experience felt), honor the impact of their actions, make amends (personally.)

Other important implications and things to know for the future:

Good Bye student standards, Hello Mindsets!!!!!!! Keep up to date on major changes, especially if you are wanting to RAMP up.
Download a handout about the change here, read about the mindsets on the ASCA website and then provide feedback here.

Check out my tips for conference 1st timers here.

Ok ASCA 14 attendees what was your biggest take away???

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