From North to South/Del Norte al Sur Review

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
In the five years I've been at my school, I've had a handful of students face the deportation of a parent or sibling and even more who had loved ones that didn't 'have papers' AKA they were undocumented and thus at risk of deportation.

From a counseling level (and a human level!), I could feel their pain and help them process the situation. Though each situation is unique, there almost always seems to be some combination of trauma/grief/loss/stigma/financial instability. Despite these understandings, I really wanted to find some specific resources to use with my students on the topic.

Imagine my excitement then when I stumbled upon the book From North to South/Del Norte al Sur, about a boy whose mom is deported! I've debated whether or not to write about it however, because it is not a slam dunk by any means. On the one hand, I don't want to post about things negatively. On the other hand, I do want to prevent people wasting their money on things they are disappointed by because I know most counselors/teachers/therapists have very limited budgets.




Pros: Each page is filled with beautiful illustrations, the text is also in Spanish, and the existence of the book (as well as it's treatment of deportation) can remove the stigma from this scary situation.

Cons: The child gets to go visit his mom!!! Perhaps in TX or CA this is more common, but in my experience, the most my students can hope for is FaceTime or a phone call. For me, this makes the book less of a candidate for bibliotherapy. While the first part is relatable, the whole piece about the boy going to see his mom doesn't feel realistic and may bring false hope. It also doesn't delve into the emotional and social experience the main character faces either which was a major bummer.



The Verdict: Good book, would be great to have in school libraries...but not great bibliotherapy for deportation and not a must have for counselors.

Career Day - Bonus Benefits

Saturday, June 10, 2017
Last month was my 4th annual Career Day and for some reason, I've found myself reflecting even more than usual.


Despite working in an elementary school, my brain sometimes veers more middle. I used to be hyper focused on our career speakers talking about the career aspects of their job - the training, the pros and cons of the position, what it takes to be successful, etc. It stressed me out when speakers veered off course and talked to the students about their field more broadly. I think this may have been due in part to the fact that I always spent the morning running around and making sure things ran smoothly as opposed to listening in. The stars aligned this year though, and I found myself sitting in on some of the presentations and having my eyes opened a little more. With some newfound clarity, I'm embarrassed to admit I finally realized there are some additional bonuses to career day beyond students learning about new professions - bonuses that I think may actually be more important than career awareness:

1. Seeing people of color in exciting careers with college degrees

2. Observing how professionals present themselves

3. Learning about ideas they're not normally exposed to. For example:


I'm so glad to have gotten to watch some of this year's presentations so that I could witness the incredibly speakers in action and see career day from some new perspectives. Looking forward to next year's program even more now!

Have you ever noticed unexpected take-aways from your lessons or programs?

Reputation - Lesson Plan

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The 'end of the year' lesson is always a tricky one for me. My goals for my lessons are usually for students to learn and start using a specific SEL skill. I could do this in May, but with only a short amount of time remaining in the year, the timing isn't ideal. This leaves me with doing a reflective lesson, a warm fuzzy lesson, or a 'next year...' lesson. My 4th grade group this year wasn't the warm fuzzy type and one of their teachers recommended something about reputations - which I thought was a great idea!

School Counseling/SEL Awards

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Each May I have the pleasure of attending (and sometimes facilitating) the end of the year awards for each of my grade levels. Getting to see my students celebrated for their growth and greatness is incredible, and I also love the chance to see and meet many of their parents. A few years ago, some of our related arts teachers began giving awards as well which got me thinking...could I give awards too? I worried at first that it would look like favoritism and that it could in some way damage the relationships I've built with the students and the role I play in their lives. With some more reflection though, I realized the opportunity to honor social-emotional growth was worth the risk, and that having teachers nominate (and physically hand) the awards to the students put the focus back on the kiddos and off of me.

Enter: School Counseling/SEL Student Awards!

The Invisible String - End of the Year Lesson

Saturday, May 13, 2017

That time has come...the time for my final lesson of the year in my classes. My 3rd grade homerooms are pretty tight knit and family like, with many students feeling sadness and anxiety about leaving their homerooms for the great unknown of 4th grade. Enter: The Invisible String and a web of warm fuzzies.

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