Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Brooklyn and Boss Take Over My Program

I had the privilege of going to #ASCA16 this week and boy, oh boy, did I meet some amazing people. Not only did I learn from presenters, I learned from those sitting next to me, the brave wonderful souls that came to my session, and my co-workers who kept up with me as I searched New Orleans to find a dog toy for my pups.

I'll post more about the amazing sessions in a bit (and maybe after a needed nap), but for now I want to share a little about what else: DOGS! Ok stop shaking your head. This is really about infusing your passion into your program. So it doesn't have to be dogs, in fact those that know me know cats are first and foremost my love and are often surprised I have a dog theme. So what is your passion? Sports, cars, food? Infuse your passion in your program and I promise it will ignite a fire.

I met some wonderful women this weekend and gained some new sweet Twitter friends and several asked about how I use my dogs in my program. (Shameless plug : you can also follow them on Instagram). So here is goes:

First, a disclaimer. I use the term "brand" loosely. If are you truly wanting to "brand" your program my I suggest visiting The Counseling Geek site and reading more about my ASCA14 trip. I would say my dogs are a predominant theme/presence  in my program. Here's how they influence what I'm doing:

Brooklyn Barks Newsletter/ Brochures- each month I send out a newsletter about my counseling program affectionately titled "Brooklyn Barks News." In it I have "Brooklyn Bytes" - technology tidbits, "Brooklyn's Blue Ribbon Books"- book suggestions for teachers, etc.

I also send out a bi-annual data newsletter. You can see my end of the year newsletter here.
 There is also a newsletter for NSCW.

Read it here!

The also make an appearance in my program brochures!

Program Services

Meet Your Counselor

Stuffed Brooklyn and Boss:
Brooklyn took over my principals office. Ignore the pills she had just had eye surgery.
Brooklyn and Boss make a yearbook appearance. 
A few years ago I won a "crazy dog mom contest" by this wonderful company, Fuzzy Nation, that sadly isn't around anymore.  Our librarian and her kids wrote a list of ten crazy things I did (always bought them gifts, read the bedtime stories, etc.) and I added #11- "I don't think of of these are crazy." Well I won this larger than life stuffed statue of Brooklyn.  So she started coming to school with me. I put her in the hallway, with large butcher paper or poster board speech bubble cut outs. The speech bubble was changed periodically and said anything from "Welcome new K students" to "Be pawsitive today." I loved it. The kids loved it TOO much and Brooklyn ended up getting scratched and hurt.
So I got a smaller one of Boss (well it's not really Boss but don't tell the kids.) This guys goes with me on the morning news, sits in my window sill to greet the kids coming in, sometimes visits a very lucky and well behaved classroom guidance class, and more. 

Classroom Management: I honestly think getting a dog was the best classroom management "class" I ever had. You can read why here .

I have 3 classroom rules, but we call them "Brooklyn's B's for Best Behavior" I have these signs hanging in the room and we often start class with a picture of Brooklyn and Boss not following each of the rules and discuss what they need to be doing differently. It's a fun, quick way to remind students of our rules. This is going to be a lot of fun when we use these same rules as our school wide PBIS rules next year.
Not respectfully giving our friends personal space!

For positive reinforcement I use several things. Remember, I teach two full days a week so I feel like a part time teacher sometimes. I use Class Dojo, but also the "put your name in a cup" system.
Here's how it works. I have 6 books (and Cosmo) displayed at the back of the room. When a student is being respectful, responsible, and remarkable they can put their name in a cup. The books are numbered and so are the dog cups. At the end of the month I pick one name from each cup and that student wins that book to keep forever. I get books from local used book stores, collaborate with our librarian to use scholastic dollars, and even have had parents donate them. I love books so I don't mind spending some money out of pocket, and it's awesome to see kids work for books!

For classroom "corrections" we have a 3- step system. First, they get a laminated yield sign as a non verbal reminder to slow down and make better choices. Second, they get a laminated stop sign and a reminder to take a break at our relaxation center (which I am totally re thinking after ASCA), and third they fill out a behavior reflection sheet and get a write up. Since I have lots to carry around I use this home depot belt to keep my reminders handy.

*Yes, most of my clothing is dog inspired as well!!

Class Decor: I am in the special area rotation 2 days a week and I use a classroom shared by 2 other art teachers. That's right! 3 teachers, 1 room (and two of them are art!). So to help differentiate my stuff I incorporated my dog theme. Also, throughout the building my displays often have a dog theme, so stake holders know - hey this is school counseling related!
 You can see more here and pictures of my office decor here .

Classroom Guidance: Dogs are everywhere here.  First, if i can I will share a pup story related for to our topic. For example, if we are talking about anger management  and conflict resolution I might start out by sharing this picture.
Brooklyn not respectfully sharing.

The kids love it because it humanizes me. You know the "omg you actually exist out of school" looks and talk. By connecting the lesson to the pups, I am not only making myself approachable, but also making a connection to our kids. Did you know that AVMA says that 69,926,000 dogs are owned in the US?

Of course, if possible I use a dog themed book. So for example, instead of reading If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, we read If You Give A Dog A Cupcake. Instead of The Boy That Cried Wolf we read The Dog That Cried Woof! When we do bucketfilling we read Halle and Tiger with Their Bucketfilling Family.  

Or when we are talking about team work I might share these videos:

Also, I always include a dog safety lesson in my personal safety unit section. I think it's imperative that students get this information and I hope you will consider doing it too!

Cosmo Career Canine: Cosmo (the name of my brothers dog) has joined us for some career adventures. Students win a chance to take Cosmo home with my "name in a cup" classroom management system I talked about above. So, 3-6 students a month take home Cosmo and he goes to work with their parents. Then he comes back and reports what he learned on the news. If possible, the student that babysat him comes on the news with me. The student created posters are displayed in the hallway and a journal of his adventures is created for the next student to see.

Individual Students: Do you ever hear from parents that "their student is embarrassed when you come at get them out of class?" Every heard that from a student? Do teachers ever say "sorry I forgot to send them!" Well I can't say this is a perfect system, but I started using appointment reminder cards. I give to students and teachers beforehand to remind them when I will see them next. For small groups I use the punch cards and put the dates in each square. For students that need to see me throughout the year, but not bi-weekly, etc., they also get a punch card to use throughout the year. For my frequent fliers- they get a punch card. I tell them we have this many punches to solve this problem and so it really makes them think about big deals vs. little deals before they use a punch. Read more about how I use the cards here. 

This was created by a coworker for all those girl drama situations. Five punches and then we call in admin!

Therapy reading dogs-
Two years ago we partnered with the University of TN's H.A.B.I.T. program to introduce therapy reading dogs into our classrooms. It was part of my closing the gap action plan and a great service. We started with 1 dog and a promise to my allergic principal it would be ok, and this year we ended with 4 dogs!! I have given a presentation on how to start your own program and you see some of the handouts here.

You can see our end of the year data here about the therapy dogs here.

Read about our Pawsitive Reading Initiative here

Letter to teachers for teacher appreciation week.
Of course this is just the tip of the ice berg. We also do Flat Stouie!! So read more about him here.

We have dogs visit for reading in the schools day. 

So how are you going to infuse your passion into your program?

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