Friday, March 25, 2016

Keeping Up with Your Tech Savvy Kids

I recently presented a "Cyber Safety Night" at my school in an evening session for parents.  We offered babysitting, snacks and provided an hour of information for parents.  About 6 weeks later, I was invited to share my cyber safety presentation at the school of one of my School Counselor colleagues for her "Parent University" in two 25 minute sessions.  Although the numbers were lower than I would have liked, the parents who attended were appreciative and reported they learned a lot.

Why a Cyber safety night?
The number of devices children own or have access to has risen dramatically.  When I surveyed parents, there were about 9-10 internet accessible devices in each home (in families with 1-2 children). Gone are the days when there was one computer in the family room where you could see where your child was going and what they were doing.  Now they have smart phones, tablets and handheld games which can access the internet anytime, anywhere there is WiFi.  Gone are days when looking at pornography was done in the woods with a "dirty" magazine provided by some older kid with a bad reputation. Kids with smart phones can view anything, including pornography, in the backseat while parents are driving in the front. They can even view it innocently by mistyping a search or purposefully by typing specific words in Google images, "porn" on Twitter, or any number of seemingly innocent hashtags on Instagram.

I think the best analogy I heard about children and the internet was about 10 years ago at an internet safety program I attended.  The idea was we don't let our children drive without instruction, lots of practice, and a license, yet we allow them to go free wheelin' on the internet, the information superhighway.  I tell parents their kids may be more tech savvy, but we are more experience savvy.  The internet is a wonderful place.  I love being able to connect with friends, plan vacations, look up a " how to" on YouTube or research a new topic or idea.  And kids love to be on the internet too.  But I know NOT to overshare, accept friend requests from strangers, click on pop-ups, and share personal information.  I know to keep my settings on social media private, what to do if I receive creepy or inappropriate posts, not to post anything written, a photo or video I wouldn't want to see on the front page of the newspaper, not to respond to phishing  emails, and more.  But kids are not aware of all the dangers on-line.  They go to a site because their friends said go or they click on a link that offers something for free.  They accept friend requests because it is a friend of a friend or they are trying to raise their "friend" count. They share passwords, their location, and other information that should remain private. They post provocative photos, sext, and are exploring apps that are inappropriate for their age. Our students are placing themselves at risk for damage to their reputation, identify theft, and being approached by a predator.

The Counselor's Response
For the last 9 years, I have been collecting data from my 3rd-5th grade students. I use an anonymous Survey Monkey survey to learn  about their internet usage and bully/cyberbully experiences. The data was surprising and occasionally alarming. The survey results led me to create an annual presentation for parents. My goal was to increase parent awareness of how their students are using the internet and the risks students face on-line.  This presentation takes place at an independent cyber safety night, as part of our Bulldog Bonanza, or at a PTA or SAC meeting. I also use the student survey data to support and guide my classroom lesson plans on internet safety and bullying.

Cyber safety Presentations
Below are links to my 2 cyber safety presentations, both have the same basic information. The longer version  has video clips and contains information on predators and cyber bullying.   Prior to presenting to the parents at your school, I would encourage you to take a quick survey of your own students using Google forms to see where they go and how much time they spend on-line.  The survey below is very basic.  However, it will help you when you present to be able to share relevant information with parents about the students at your school.

Keeping up with your Tech Savvy Kids  (35 minute PowerPoint)
Internet Education for Parents of Tech Savvy Kids (about an 1 hour PowerPoint, maybe more depending on audience)
Google Form for basic data collection about internet usage
CAUTION: This is a live form. After opening this form make a copy.  Go to File on the left side of the form and click. You will see a menu that says make a copy.  Click and rename your copy so it is saved to your personal drive account and all responses will be confidential and relevant to your school.


If you download these presentations, and especially if you do a Parent Cyber Safety night, please leave me feedback here or on my Exploring School Counseling Facebook page.  I am always interested in your and your parents response to my programs. I am interested too in learning ways you think I can make these presentations better.

Have you done a Cyber Safety Night?  I would love to hear about your ideas and programming!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Use of Data in School Counseling : The Book, the Woman, the Workshop!

I first heard Trish Hatch speak about 18 months ago.  That day she rocked my School Counseling world and like a new convert, I have been trying to spread the word ever since.  I saw her keynote at the  FSCA conference, attended her  break-out session, bought her book and have never looked back!  That 45 minutes in the ballroom of an Orlando hotel forever changed my view of school counseling.

Even after the "high" of attending the conference and going back to the daily routine of my school day I was eager to make the miracle happen.  I read Trish's book the Use of Data in School Counseling, joined a weekly on-line book club that was studying her book, started experimenting with Google forms for data collection and passionately spoke to my PLC.  My  PLC is full of great counselors I am proud to call colleagues and friends, and they listened to me.  However, I'm not sure they "got it,"  but I would guess  that is because they had not had "the Trish experience!" In March 2015, I had the good fortune to see Trish again in Kentucky at the Evidenced Based School Counseling Conference. After another riveting keynote, I was inspired to create the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge. The idea began to form as I listened to Trish talk about measuring just one thing. I felt empowered as I returned to school and began collecting my own data and challenged myself to do just one thing.

School Counselor Workshop Heaven
In January, the Florida School Counselor Association (FSCA) and Universal Technological Institute (UTI) sent an email announcing they had teamed up to bring Dr. Trish Hatch to Orlando for a one day workshop on her book The Use of Data in School Counseling.  I guess my PLC had heard enough from me about how this book, this woman, this workshop would forever change the way they did school counseling that they were interested enough to see her for themselves.
So this past Monday, 10 members of our Westside PLC  and a high school counselor from our district were granted leave and funded by our administrators to attend this powerful workshop.  From 8:30 to 3:30 we were engaged in truly relevant and exciting School Counselor professional development. Now how often does that happen?

Trish  took us on a rapid fire journey through her book with lots of opportunities for questions and sharing. We covered data, SMART goals, the comprehensive school counseling plan, master calendars, disaggregated data, and discussed the use of a School Counselors time.  In addition to the awesome instruction we received from Trish herself,  we were served a delicious breakfast and lunch by our host UTI, had an informative and fascinating tour of their campus and walked away with an autographed copy of Trish's book.  It was an amazing day!
Volusia County School Counselors represent with Dr. Trish Hatch

The Feedback
As we took our first break, that morning I was eager to learn if my colleagues were as excited about what they were hearing from Trish as I was. You know, sometimes, when someone builds something up for you like a book or a movie then you see it for yourself you go, "Meh, not such a big deal."  I didn't know if my fan girl feelings would have distorted their view of Trish and her message.  But no! During our first break I checked in with each of my colleagues and ALL were really glad they came!
They thought Trish was personable and appreciated her interaction with the audience, her humor, insights, and her understanding of the job we do each day.  Her energy drove the day and our group left feeling inspired and empowered.

On the drive home our heads were literally swimming with possibilities about ways we could begin implementing Trish's practices at our individual schools.  Our car of 4 was brainstorming what we were doing now  that we could begin collecting data on. One of our group who drove separately described herself as "giddy" as she drove home.  It was exciting to see my colleagues catch the vision and passion I had been talking about for the last 18 months!

Our PLC met a few days later and spent some time discussing the things we had learned.  I heard comments like: "She (Trish) gets it!  She gets us!"
 "I never thought of including my data goals in the School Improvement Plan. If I did that I would have to be allowed to do what I need to."
"You all know I'm a dinosaur when it comes to all this technology stuff, but I really think I can do this."
"She (Trish) was speaking my language.  None of this ever made sense before, but now I get it."
"I love how she (Trish)  checked to be sure we were understanding things, and went back and explained things again if we didn't."
"It all seems so doable now."
"I couldn't believe the things we saw when we started disaggregating data!"  Makes me wonder about all the data we are shown each day."

It's a marathon, not a race.
The excitement and the eagerness to make it all happen right now is real.  But, we have to remember it doesn't happen all at once especially for those of our group who are testing coordinators, acting as pseudo-administrators, or work in a school that does not value the role of the School Counselor. Trish told us it is a marathon, not a race. She encouraged us to look at implementing data as a  process over a 3 year period. Measure one thing, show the results and repeat. All the evidence you need is in the data.

So where do we go from here?  Each member of our PLC is excited to dig deeper.  Our next PLC meeting is in 4 weeks and we plan to bring in our 3rd quarter data to practice disaggregating it  and writing sample goals and action plans together.  There was discussion of an online book club to encourage one another to read and dig deeper into Trish's book. We also discussed a retreat of sorts for the day after school is out with each of us bringing our end-of- the year data to disaggregate, set SMART goals, make action plans, and create a master calendar for the 2016-2017 school year.

I see our PLC  at the starting line of the marathon now.  We are still getting warmed up but are ready to go!  We  feel empowered  to go the distance with our new knowledge and tools and to make a positive impact in our schools. With a common vision and the encouragement of one another, I have confidence our PLC is going to be leading the way with some exciting changes in the future of our schools and our district.

If Trish Hatch comes anywhere within driving distance of where you live, I strongly encourage you to attend one of her "Hatching Results" workshops! It is real professional development that will re-shape the way you think about School Counseling and empower you to use data to show everyone how students are different because of what YOU do.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Say it Like you Mean It! A Better Way to Say Sorry."

 I recent repetitive swirl of girl drama got me thinking about apologies.  These girls are superstars at hurting one another and amateurs at apologizing.  Picture this,  Girl A  takes a big huffy breath and with an eye roll  says in an exasperated tone, "Sorry." To which Girl B replies without making eye contact in a barely audible voice,  "That's okay."  Well, it's not okay.  Not for me and definitely not for them. They will be back.  You know it and I know it.  It's just that I have several problems with this exchange.  For one, the offender is taking no responsibility for what she did.  Secondly, the whole voice, facial expression, and body language of both parties tells me this is NOT over.  Third, the receiver of this less than academy award winning performance responded with "That's okay."  Actually it's not okay, you were hurt by another human being.  By saying "That's okay," it's like one person is telling the other it's okay that you treated me badly.

 Of course there are other deeper issues here dealing with friendship and self-esteem, but the quick flippant "Sorry," seemed like a good place for me to start. If  students can learn  to have empathy and confidence in  their ability to do something as basic as apologizing,  then maybe this is a foundation I can continue to build on.  Their dramatically negative sorry was not working.  Not for me or for them.  I knew their "apology" was just a band-aid and so the whole exchange really bothered me. A lot. After giving it some thought, I decided learning how to give a sincere apology was such a valuable social skill I would teach it to all my students in grades 3-5, not just my drama girls. Below is the article on which I based my lessons.

Over the summer I read an article called A Better Way to Say Sorry. It is amazing and you will definitely want to take the time to read it. In it blogger Joellen, at Cuppa Cocoa, talks about teaching her class how to apologize after attending a workshop.  I was astounded at the simplicity and impact such a small thing had on her class.  So I thought I would give it a try by creating two classroom lessons around the steps to apologizing from Joellen's blog and the book Sorry, by Trudy Ludwig.

Lesson 1 Involves some partner talk, reading Trudy Ludwig's book Sorry, discussion about the book and a PowerPoint presenting the physical and verbal elements to saying sorry and what that would look and sound like.

Lesson 2 Involves teaching the steps to "A Better way to say Sorry," and some class role playing with their shoulder partners and for the class.

Lesson Plans for How to Say Sorry
How to Say Sorry PowerPoint
How to Say You're Sorry Lesson Plan 1
How to Say You're Sorry Lesson Plan 2
Apology Role plays
 Steps for How to Say You're Sorry poster for school and home

My students seem to "get" this lesson.  They have all either given or received an insincere apology and they understand how powerful it can be to receive a sincere apology from someone who has wronged you. They have also done a masterful job at role playing, especially with the part in the apology where they must take responsibility for their actions.  My next step is to send home the "How to  Say You're Sorry" steps and to share the steps with classroom teachers.

These lessons teach a valuable social emotional skill students are too often missing.  I hope your classes enjoy these lessons as much as we have.

Many thanks to Joellen at Cuppa Cocoa for her permission to share her article and method of teaching children to say sorry.