Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A "first-timer's" view of ASCA#14

Registered and ready to go!
It's been a few weeks since ASCA, and I am still trying to process the experience!  So often in school we use an acrostic to help our students communicate about themselves or an experience.  What better way to share with you the jumble of positive thoughts and feelings I have about attending ASCA for the first time.

A  is for AWESOME  
Everything about ASCA was awesome!  The facilities, the speakers, sessions,  and networking!  We stayed  in the Swan of the beautiful Swan and Dolphin hotel and were able to easily move back and forth between the daily sessions.  A delicious buffet lunch was provided on Monday with Greek salad, pasta, chicken and fish, sauteed veggies and assorted rolls. On Tuesday, a yummy box lunch was served with a sandwich, chips, potato salad, cookie, and apple.  These lunches were thoughtfully provided on site in the exhibit hall so shopping the vendors, networking, eating, and easy access to the next session was all super convenient.

The speakers for this year's convention were absolutely sensational.  From senior vice president of the Magic Pat Williams, to Steadman Graham "Oprah's Man" as he referred to himself at one point in his speech, to our  incredible supporter in the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama, to educator and author of gender studies of both girls and boys, Rosalind Wiseman.  Their words and ideas were new and old, educational, inspiring, motivating and uplifting.

Pat Williams talked about great leaders.  He said great leaders have vision, they're about the results, they persevere and communicate their vision.  He said great leaders have an absence of arrogance, are competent, solve problems, recognize good talent and have a serving heart. (Sounds like a lot of counselors I know and respect) One quote that really stood out for me was, "Not all readers will be leaders, but all leaders will be readers."

Steadman Graham inspired us with  his story of growing up and never giving up.  He encouraged us to have vision and to organize the things we love, our passions and our skills, around our vision.  Mr. Graham also reminded us it is not what happens to you that matters, but how you respond.  How many times have we said that to a student?  He quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. saying., "Be the best you can be at whatever you do every single day." To conclude his speech he shared the poem The Race by Dr. D.H. Groberg and repeated this phrase from the final stanza. "For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all.  And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall."

First Lady Michelle Obama was larger than life.  Her presence even on the jumbotron was electric.  Her personality was warm and gracious and she had an easy smile and laugh.  Even as people were "woo hooing" in the audience she would give a smile, a little chuckle and acknowledge the shouters.  Her speech was right on and for the first time in all my years of counseling I felt as if someone really understood the importance of what we do.  It wasn't us telling our administrators or school boards or legislators how important our job is, but the First Lady of the United States telling us how important we are.  I was captivated!  To see a YouTube video of her speech, click here.

Rosalind Wiseman,  educator and author of Queen Bees and Wannabes  closed the conference with her session describing her recent work with boys.  In her latest book, Masterminds and Wingmen:  Helping Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker Room Tests, Girlfriends and the New Rules of Boy World she tells us boys are not easy, they are complex. She also told us about a free ebook she has written with the boys who she worked with over the 2 year period of writing Wingmen  called The Guide:  Managing Douchebags, Recruiting Wingman, and Attracting Who You Want.  She found that the boys needed a boy friendly guide to help them with problems they faced daily about friendship, girls, teasing and parents.  Go to her webpage for for your free download.

 C is for Creative Colleagues  
The professional development I received in the 2 1/2 days I was at ASCA far outweighs anything I have participated in for a very long time.  The ideas presented by my counseling colleagues from around the country were just what I needed to give my school counseling program and myself a boost.
Below are just a few of the great sessions I attended.

Branding and Marketing your School Counseling Program presented by Jeremy Goldman and Jeff Ream. These guys are tech savvy and shared marketing ideas using the ASCA national model and their data to drive their decision making to establish their brand and market their school counseling programs.  Jeremy and Jeff told us, "Branding is what people say about your program when you are not in the room."  Hmmm, that gives me lots to consider!  Build your brand at the intersection of perception, process and outcome data.   Marketing awareness increases the use of your school services and promotes a strong curriculum.  It advocates your program goals to parents, students and other stakeholders like administration and the district office.  And isn't that what we all need?

I also loved the session Wi-Fi to Sci-Fi presented by Angela Poovey who talked with us about her book clubs; how she selects the students, the books, runs the meetings and uses technology.  She provided a wealth of information and you can see her blog entry and a link to her presentation by clicking on her blog Life on the Fly Counselor.

Work Smarter, Not Harder was the title of the session by my new friend Barbara Micucci.  Barb is a bundle of energy who encouraged us to reflect on the program we have and expand on it, to think outside the box,  and ask what can I do to add one more piece to what I already do?  She shared about her various programs to engage parents:  homework workshops with parents and students, book clubs focusing on needs of boys with parents blogging online about the book,  mother/daughter activities to build self esteem in girls,  a cyber safety book club and workshop for parents and my favorite,  a great program  she has been using for 4 years called Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students).  What a phenomenal way to get Dads on campus volunteering and participating in their child's education.  For more information about Watch D.O.G.S. click here or go to Barb's website to find a copy of her ASCA powerpoint.  So many great ideas, I can't wait to get started!!!

A is for Amazing
Besides the amazing things I learned in the break out sessions, I also met some amazing new friends who helped me learn how to "tweet".  Meet  blogger Franciene Sabens of School Counselor Space and Lindsay Moore from Alaska who were my "Twitter Tutors."  These ladies were wonderful, with tons of twitter knowledge and the patience of saints!  They spent more than an hour with me answering my questions, helping me get rid of an "inappropriate" follower,  and showing  me how to set up both a professional account and a school account.  I had never really considered the need for two separate accounts, but questions about protecting the privacy of my students when using Twitter confirmed the need for the "strictly school" account.   In the coming school year, I am planning to start implementing Twitter with my parents and "tweeting" things about our students and school throughout the week.
Lindsay, me and Franciene

ASCA 2015 anyone?
You may have been to your state conference before and found it to be a great experience, I know I have.   However, as someone who has now attended both state and national conferences I can tell you there is nothing quite like it.  While it is an expensive venture paying for membership, conference fees, travel, hotel and food, it is more than worth it!  Luckily for me Orlando was a convenient drive and I was able to get my principal to cover the cost of the conference.  But next year,  since Phoenix is a cross country excursion,  I am already saving, scouting plane fares, and corralling roommates in order to be sure I  can  attend.  Start saving now, the professional development, networking and personal growth are priceless!  Hope to see you all in Phoenix in 2015!


  1. Hi Jeannie- Great review of ASCA! It was so nice to meet you, and I appreciate the mention of my blog in your post. I hope you have a great start to your school year! :) Angela

  2. Thanks Angela! It was nice to meet you too. Thank you for an informative and inspiring session. I feel confident to start my own book clubs this year.