Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fall Growth Mindset Bulletin Board

Inspired by School Counselor Blog's integration of the Growth Mindset into her school-wide programming this year, I, too, have gradually begun to introduce the idea throughout my work with students. In fact, the idea of developing a growth mindset has become a hot-topic with educators everywhere. View the transcript from our #escchat on "Exploring the Growth Mindset" here.

A growth mindset suggests that intelligence can be developed.  This is the opposite of a fixed mindset-the idea that intelligence is static. I constantly encourage students to take a closer look at their thoughts-as they fuel their behaviors! 

There are so many fantastic growth mindset bulletin board ideas out there. A simple search of "growth mindset" on Pinterest can provide you with many ideas! This was my fall interpretation. Not perfect, but many teachers have integrated this into class discussions and their own work with students. Hoping to continue promoting the topic throughout the rest of the academic year. :) 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Year 1 In Quotes

I made it! First year as an elementary school counselor in multiple buildings is COMPLETE! Well, the kids are done, anyways. :) 
Many of the great educators in my life frequently utilize quotes.  Over the past year, I have also made frequent attempts to incorporate them into my daily work with students. In fact, I've been tossing around the idea of adding a "Quote of the Week" with our normal "Word of the Week" next year. Wheels are turning...

Needless to say, I decided to do a little self-reflection on the past school year. With quotes as my inspiration!


I learned this pretty darn quick. We have ~8 hours a day to show these kids that someone cares. 
This can be as simple as a hug or a "What's new with you?"

Coming into a district that didn't have elementary school counselors for a very long time, teaching students the concept of empathy was high on my priority list. I even plastered reminders around the school using templates such as this one, courtesy of School Counselor Blog. 

Who are we kidding? There are days where we have 567 other things on our minds, or days that we would have loved to stay curled up in bed for a few more hours. This quote served as my reminder to be completely, 100% present with every student, group, teacher, etc. that I encountered...

We learned this in probably every counseling course we ever had. However, what a great reminder! Our job is to be there for our students in need. To listen, to comfort, to motivate, and again, empathize. One of my fellow 1st year teachers had a similar end-of-the-year reflection: "I wasn't aware that we'd also be a parent, counselor, nurse, podiatrist, etc, etc...." :)

Again with the A.M. motivation. Are there mornings where we want to just do the messy bun and glasses? Absolutely. 
But when we look better, we feel better, and we're more ready to fulfill Quote #3.


There were several instances this year where I was so hard on myself because a lesson could have gone better, or I thought of a prompt for a student 25 minutes after our session. Ugh. This quote reminded me that I'm only human, and that future success isn't possible without beginner's blunders. 

This immediately makes me think of working with parents. One of my biggest fears entering into this job was encountering an irate parent and clamming up. However, it didn't end up to be so bad. Did those parents call/stop in? Definitely. And some really did know what they were talking about! But this quote reminds me to remain calm, and if all else fails-kill 'em with kindness :)

I love this one. This really weighed on me this year due to having three buildings of students. I constantly wanted to attend to every student need that was brought to my attention...which made me feel like I was constantly doggy-paddling. I'm going to focus on the optimist perspective next year.  


There are there lots of other things I'd love to "give" my students to "fix" things for them & ensure they have all they need to succeed and thrive. But realistically, these are the important things that we can "give", and for very little cost.

This should be our end-of-the-day checklist. With data to prove it, of course. :)


I was inspired every day this year! Wish they knew this! 

Hope everyone had a great 2013-2014 school year. 
I am so thankful for a great first year in the most wonderful profession.
I encourage you to utilize quotes to inspire your school counseling practice! 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer & Back-to-School Transitions

I recently wrote an article for the Family section of our local newspaper. 

Away from home

Easing anxiety about the transition to more independence

June 3, 2014
By ERIN REBLING - Elementary School Counselor (Mifflin County School District,Lewistown Sentinel
LEWISTOWN - Summer has arrived! You've survived another academic year! Now it's time for sleeping in, vacationing and relaxing. However, summer can also bring sleep-away camps and anticipation of full-day kindergarten or a new school. These situations may bring about excitement for new experiences or fear of sudden independence.
It is important to note that experiencing separation anxiety is a normal part of early development, and it can relapse in various stages as children develop from infant to school-age. Childrens' levels of parental attachment, self-control and trust among other adults can fluctuate during this time. These changes may result in stress, tears and at times, even tantrums. To help ease both your child's and your own separation worries, we've provided some strategies and tips.
For sleep-away camps, The American Camp Association of New York & New Jersey suggests that parents:

Article Photos

Erin Rebling
Start Small - It's best if your child has successful one-night sleepovers before venturing into an entire week away from home. Overnight visits with grandparents, cousins, or friends can help build this confidence.
Consider different options - Is this a camp which involves one of your child's specific hobbies or interests? Before signing up, call and discuss the camp's philosophy, age groupings, camper expectations, etc.
Don't let them see you sweat - This is as much a transition for them as it is for you. If they see you being nervous, they'll be nervous too. Also, don't offer to pick them up if they hate it, as this suggests that they might. Be as positive as possible!
Remember the big picture - Generally, camp experiences consist of structured environments with trained, nurturing staff. Your child may be challenged to step out of their comfort zone, but they will also likely grow in confidence and make unforgettable memories.
The Parent Institute website offers a variety of tips for the transition to school:
Schedule visits or tours - Visit your child's school together and point out things they can look forward to. Be sure to identify their classroom, bathrooms and other important areas. Many schools offer orientations, bus rides or meet-the-teacher nights before school starts.
Make new friends - Are there other children in your neighborhood who are also starting school? Being able to recognize other students at school can help make your child feel more comfortable.
Provide reassurance - Let your child know that you are proud of them for getting to this point. Remind them that you can't wait to hear all about their great day.
Preparation is key - Establish a routine of laying out clothes and necessary school supplies the night before. Also, leave enough time for a good breakfast in the morning.
Hug and go - The less you linger on the first day, the better! School personnel are professionals at comforting and engaging students on the first day and every day.
There also are some fantastic children's books that address separation anxiety. Reading some of these titles together can help ease some worries and start some great discussions between parent and child. Many of these can be found at your local library!
"The Kissing Hand," by Audrey Penn
"Llama Llama Misses," Mama by Anna Dewdney
"Wemberly Worried," by Kevin Henkes
"First Day Jitters," by Julie Danneberg
Remember, you are providing your child with great academic and extracurricular opportunities. Entering into these experiences may require lots of coaxing and reassurance on your part. However, your child will likely develop valuable coping skills and be on their way to a newfound sense of independence. Best of luck!
Erin Rebling is the elementary school counselor at Indian Valley Elementary School, East Derry Elementary School and Strodes Mills Elementary School.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

End of the Year Self-Esteem Booster

It's the end of the year, a full-moon is approaching, and both teachers' and students' emotions are running rampant. Ah! Tattling has completely resurfaced and I felt that students could use a reminder that we need to show kindness towards others.

I began this lesson by sharing the book Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. This beautifully illustrated book highlights the ripple effect that can occur from one simple act of kindness. The main character, Chloe, learns that she must take advantage of opportunities to show kindness to others, even people that she doesn't know as well.

Prior to the lesson, I acquired enough paper plates for every student in the class, one for myself, and one for the classroom teacher. Next, I punched two small holes along the rim of each paper plate. I then attached a strand of yarn (probably 1.5 feet) from one hole to the other, so that it was a sort of paper plate necklace. If classroom time permits, you could allow students to do the aforementioned steps themselves. Different materials could also be used!

Students were then instructed to put the string around their necks so that the paper plate hung on their back, with the bottom of the plate facing outwards. We then spent approximately ten minutes roaming the classroom writing short compliments on each others' paper plates. I encouraged students to really think about the unique things each person brings to the classroom/school. They were also challenged to write something different on each of their peers' plates. You can see mine below:

The students were so excited to read their plates, and could hardly wait for me to give them the okay to take them off. The whole atmosphere of the classroom changed, and students wanted to wear their plates around school for the remainder of the day. I think classroom teachers enjoyed the little boost, too! Some students attempted to figure who wrote what on their plate, but I encouraged them to not be concerned with this aspect and embrace the kindness shown to them by ALL of their peers. :)

The idea for this came from something similar that I did as a high school student. I still have my paper plate hanging on my bedroom mirror!! Such a simple project that can have long-lasting effects!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Toolbox Tuesday: Feelings Scales

Time for another Toolbox Tuesday! I will use these weekly posts to share both old & new items that are part of my School Counseling toolbox. Today's post is on Feelings Scales. No link to this resource on Amazon, as these are something that I created myself.

Used as Likert-type scales, these scales have a visual component to assist students in identifying their current feeling or anger level. 

This one isn't anything fancy, but many of my students love Spongebob and respond well to counseling interventions that incorporate him.  I simply completed a Google Image search for "Spongebob Feelings" and found this assortment of faces. Afterwards, I arranged them so that Spongebob became progressively happier.  I then aligned them with numbers 1-10 (Pictured below is actually a bulletin board border found at the DOLLAR STORE!).

I begin many of my individual sessions by having students "check-in" with Spongebob. This helps me to determine what they are currently feeling/what kind of mood they are in. Once they have identified with a face and the accompanying number, I might ask them things like: "What makes you a ten today?", "Oh, a five? What needs to happen for you to reach a 7 today?" This "check-in" adds a sort of routine and consistency to my meetings with students. 

The scale below is similar to the Spongebob Scale, but it is shaped like a thermometer and students use it to identify their level of anger, frustration, etc. You can modify the sayings that I used, or you could add numbers to various intensifying shades of red. 

If you're in a bit of a time crunch, a simple Google Image search for "feelings scales for kids" will provide you with an assortment of images that you can easily print and utilize with students! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Toolbox Tuesday: Three Bear Family

Time for another Toolbox Tuesday! I will use these weekly posts to share both old & new items that are part of my School Counseling toolbox. Today's post is on the "Three Bear Family". Check them out on Amazon here

You may recognize these small friends from Kindergarten or preschool classrooms. They are typically used to assist students with counting, sorting, and color identification. As I was in school getting organized to start my job this year, many teachers were cleaning and organizing their own classrooms and had various items in a "free" pile. Among a few other things, I chose 60-count box of these colorful bear friends! How do I use them??

1. Group Counseling Behavior Management- I'd love to say that all of my counseling groups go completely smooth with lots of sharing and few behavior concerns. But let's be real. For elementary students, I use the red, yellow, and green bears in particular. If they consistently break one of our group rules or are disruptive, I remove one bear at a time beginning with the green one and working backwards to red. Group members know that they will not earn a sticker for their chart if they have a red bear or zero bears at the conclusion of the group. Do they have an opportunity to earn bears back? Absolutely. This strategy does seem to work well with the younger students, as many of the K, 1st and 2nd grade teachers utilize a similar color behavior management system. 

2. Sand Tray/ Creative Play Manipulatives- These bears can easily be incorporated into sand tray work or other counseling practice where students are telling a story or re-creating a situation where visuals would be helpful. Depending upon the pack that you use, some even include bears of different sizes.

3. Create a Game! - School Counselors are professionals at making things up/fielding things on the fly, right?! When in a pinch, have students "help' you to count or sort these bears, or create a simple game to help re-focus a student! 

The possibilities are endless with these little bear friends! A small and fairly inexpensive tool to have around the office. Some teachers in your building may even have an extra pack or two! 

Have a GREAT week! :) 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Children's Mental Health Awareness

"I believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another."

Lately I have been flying through the Divergent book series. The above quote is one of the lines that inspires the Dauntless faction. I found myself marking this page and going back to re-read its context several times.

As we embark on Children's Mental Health Awareness Month, I feel that this quote adequately represents our role as Professional School Counselors, and as Advocates. On a daily basis, we encounter a range of student concerns. Although not all of our students possess a "diagnosis", per say, they regularly encounter situations, that, if not approached with the proper coping skills, can have a significant effect on their overall "mental health".

It is our job, as the quote states, to stand up for these students. To provide them with personal/social skills & tools that they can utilize. To challenge rules that may deny them access to opportunities or services. To be their voice, a listening ear, and sense of support at all times. Does this require acts of bravery on our part? Absolutely. Will we encounter individuals who consistently come from a place "no"? For sure. But will our unwavering determination inspire others and eventually be recognized? With time. And we will be on our way towards the development of high aspirations & support for every child.

This Thursday, May 8th, SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) encourages you to wear GREEN in support of Children's Mental Health Awareness. "Listen, Don't Label. Ask, Don't Fear." As advocates, let's help them to raise awareness. Visit for more information.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Toolbox Tuesday: Resources for Coping with a Serious Illness

Things have been so busy, but I've decided to start a consistent posting here on the blog entitled: Toolbox Tuesday!

I will use these weekly posts to share both old & new items that are part of my School Counseling toolbox.

For my first Toolbox Tuesday I decided to share two books that, unfortunately, I look to quite often. Being in three buildings, I work with a number of students who have a friend or loved one that is currently battling cancer or other serious illness. This is a situation that is viewed/approached many different ways depending on the family. When students first bring up this topic, I like to speak with parents and/or guardians to identify the language/descriptions they are using with the child at home. Afterwards, I like to use pages from the following two resources to help students 1) Identify feelings associated with the illness 2) Talk about the changes that are occurring through drawings and writing  3) Share concerns about hospitals, doctors, etc. Both books use language that is concrete for younger students. The "Life Isn't Always a Day at the Beach" book also has a cute penguin friend on each page. Many students enjoy this consistency throughout the workbook.

While I understand that workbooks aren't effective for all students, I have found these two to be very helpful in my discussions with students. In fact, I am working through the "Life Isn't Always..." book with a younger student, and the Intermediate School Counselor is completing the same workbook pages with the older sibling. This has helped the family become more comfortable about talking through the changes they are going through.

Find this book on Amazon here.

By: Pam Ganz & Tobi Scofield. Find it on Amazon here.

I would love to hear more about similar resources that you use with individual students and/or groups! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Good Friday at Good Will! #thriftyschoolcounselor

I thoroughly enjoyed this much needed three day break! The weather was beautiful and it was wonderful to spend time with family and friends. On Friday, I visited some local thrift stores (we are lucky to have some great ones in our area) to look for "hidden treasures". When I visit these stores, my eyes are peeled for items to use within my school counseling program. After all, it's not like we're given lots of extra cash to buy new tools! With the exception of earlier this year...view my post on resources found at Wal*Mart. I was so pleased with my finds that it truly was Good Friday! 

Play-Doh is one of my go-to tools in my counseling offices. Many of my students choose to manipulate it while we talk together. *I am continuously amazed at how much students will share while their hands are occupied!* Lately, many of my students have been bugging me to get some cookie
cutters or other Play-Doh tools to use in their creations. Originally, I had planned to check out summer yard sales for these. Little did I know that I'd come across the mother load!

Pictured above is the tub I came across and some of the contents! Included are boy and girl shaped cut-outs, some number stamps, rolling tools, etc.! It also included 6 containers of fresh, un-used Play-Doh! I paid....$1.97!! A similar version retails at $25.00.

Savings of $23.03!

At another local thrift store I came across a gently used Chutes & Ladders game. After securing this one, I have one at each of my three buildings. It's so nice to not have to lug all of my materials home everyday! I use Chutes & Ladders a lot to discuss good and bad choices. The images on the board are great for this. An added plus is that it gives younger students practice in counting to 100! This cost me a whopping...$1.99. This same version retails at Wal* Mart for $12.28.

 Savings of $10.29! 

I am so excited to utilize my new counseling tools with my students, and I know they will be just as excited! Be sure to check out your local thrift stores, yard sales, etc. for great school counseling tools at little cost!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Our 3 Words

I was intrigued by a lesson shared on JYJ Counselor Blog entitled: "Your 3 Words". You can read her post on the lesson here. This was originally modified from the "Your 3 Words" effort on Good Morning America where people were allotted three words to make a lasting impression. I thought that this would be a great lesson to really get my third graders thinking!

GMA did the 3-Word Project for several years, so there are lots of great YouTube clips out there! Here's one of the ones I shared with my students:

After convincing students that they, too, could make an impression with just 3 words, they got to work. Some even did multiple!

What 3 words would you choose? :)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

What Does the Fox Say? State Testing Motivation

    In addition to Kid President, another craze this year has been the infamous "What Does the Fox Say?" song with silly lyrics and a techno beat. If you must, you can watch the video here. :)

I decided I needed to have a theme for the test-prep lessons and materials that I provided to our 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students. Much to others' dismay, it just so happens that "say" and "PSSA" rhyme. We have to get their attention somehow, right? So why not use something that they enjoy to help motivate them to put effort into something that they aren't looking forward to?

Below is a simple bulletin board that I put up at one of my buildings to reinforce the test-taking strategies that I was reviewing with students:

The speech bubbles are filled with simple strategies that I modified from reading the "Be A Super Test-Taker" book that's been released by Scholastic. Overall, a solid resource for both teachers and students. You can find it on Amazon here.

During test-prep lessons, I also provided students with a blank, lined speech bubble to write their own "What does the Fox Say?" test prep advice. If time permitted, students shared some of their advice to the class. I wrapped up by playing the song for students and gave them a short "pep-talk". :) 

This theme may seem silly or a lot of extra work when I could have just gone in and reminded students of the usual "Get enough sleep, eat a good breakfast, sharpen your pencils, yada yada...". But as I mentioned earlier, if we want to show students that we value their time and effort on these tests, why not put a little extra effort in on our part to make it fun and motivational?? Check out this AWESOME video by Spicer Elementary students in Texas! So awesome! They're definitely motivated! :)

Good luck to everyone during testing season!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

We LOVE you, Kid President!!

   I have been utilizing Kid President videos at various times throughout this school year because I LOVE him and the messages he shares. Through his videos, he provides a variety of "pep-talks" with themes that sometimes resemble the "pep-talks" we give to our students: don't be a bully, be more awesome, getting your "learn' on, etc! Needless to say, I have gotten many of my students hooked as well. I have shared these videos:
             - In e-mails to staff
             -As a motivation tool prior to state testing
             -As part of classroom guidance lessons
             -At the beginning of group sessions

Here are a few of my favorite videos:

I also found this AWESOME Kid President Writing Activity via the Owl-ways Be Inspired Blog. The link to her post can be found here. She is AMAZING for offering this for FREE!

Through the pages of this book, students have the opportunity to be their own "Kid President" and give advice to a variety of community members including teachers, moms, babies, waiters, etc! There are 25 different options to utilize-OR you can choose just a few and make multiple copies!

If you haven't already, I encourage you to take some time and watch some of Kid President's other videos! Prepare to be inspired!! :) 

Read Across America Recap

I always utilize Read Across America Week/Month to visit classrooms: emphasizing the importance of reading AND tying in a lesson that meets ASCA standards? Score. Here are the two lessons I presented this year: 

1. Gertrude McFuzz (K-Grade 2)

     One of my absolute favorite Dr. Seuss pieces. Gertrude's story can be found in the book Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss. In this story, Gertrude is a young bird who only has one lonely tail. She desperately wants to be like her friend Lolla-Lee-Lou, who has two long, beautiful tails. Gertrude gets very jealous of Lolla and goes to extreme measures to find special berries that will help her grow another tail. However, Gertrude isn't happy with just two tails. She continues to eat all of the berries until "she had eaten three dozen-that's all that there was!"  The story continues to show how Gertrude's many tails don't allow her to be as great of a bird as she once was. She learns that she must appreciate the things that make her individually unique.

    Following the book, I spent some time processing the story with students and discussing the things that make them unique, just like Gertrude's one tail made her unique. I also had a simple worksheet for students to write a few sentences about what makes them unique. This activity really got them thinking about the special things about themselves that are different from others. 

   For an added touch, I purchased a blue boa and a green boa, and attached them as my own "tails". This helped to draw the students in when I entered the classroom and definitely started some discussion. :) I also had this wonderful hand-painted shirt from my friend Tif to wear during the week! (Visit Tiffany's Box of Tricks

2. Horton Hatches the Egg (Grades 3-5)
    I found the idea for this lesson by visiting Steve Sandman's Guidance Lessons page via the the Cane Creek MS Counseling Website. First, I asked for a few volunteers to join me at the front of the classroom. Next, I handed them a few Warhead Jellybeans (you could substitute any other initially-sour candy), and asked them to eat a few. While they did this, I asked for the other students to pay particular attention to their classmates' faces. Once the students had laughed and finished eating the jelly beans, we took some time to process the experience-What are some words that described the initial experience? How was it at the end? Was it worth getting through the sour part? Hopefully, their responses go from sour, painful, etc. to sweet, chewy, yummy.

   Afterwards, I read Horton Hatches the Egg to the class, and asked them to be thinking about how Horton's experience was similar to the Warhead Jellybeans. Another Dr. Seuss story, this book really emphasizes the character trait, perseverance. Horton agrees to sit on the egg of a bird-friend who promises to return quickly. However, the lazy bird doesn't ever return to the nest, and yet Horton remains faithful and sits on the egg through wind, rain, hunters, and is even sold off to a circus! At the end of the story, the egg hatches and the end result of Horton's commitment is an elephant-bird!

   I chose this story for the older students, as they often lack motivation to work hard and get through the school day. They can also struggle to see a connection between the things they are learning and their futures. (State Tests, Middle School and beyond)...

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant. 

An elephant's faithful one-hundred percent!”

I have already started thinking about what books/lessons I want to share with the students next year! What are some Dr. Seuss lessons that you have implemented?