Saturday, September 10, 2016

Senior ISP Quick Tips

I'm meeting with all of my seniors for ISP starting on Monday so I thought I'd share a few quick tips.

It may seem a little late to be starting these meetings, but I have found over the years that it's best to meet with them after state articulation and after we've been in school for a few weeks. I've been able to meet with the students in the classroom and address some of the beginning of the year social/emotional concerns--and a few crises. And I literally enrolled two new students last week and changed one senior's schedule. Hopefully by now we're in a good spot to take care of the seniors, right?!

So, now on to the tips...

1. Print off your schedule and highlight the kids that have free/reduced lunch. This will help you remember who needs an application fee waiver and who you can really push to dream big considering the financial supports that have a good chance of receiving.

2. Make enough copies of application fee waivers (with your basic info completed) so all you have to do is write in the students' personal info & you're ready to go.

3. Streamline what you say and how many times you say it by "flipping" the basics. I mean think about it, how many times do you explain how to request a transcript?! Create a video for students and parents to watch prior to the meeting.

4. Create an online SMORE flyer with all of the important details, links and documents you want to share with your students so they always have a one stop shop. Link it to your school webpage, discuss it on your video and share it with your students often.

5. Create a Remind text messaging group for your senior class (and their families) so you can send announcements to them quickly.

6. Keep it quick & informative. These meetings should be 10 minutes tops. The students need to be back in class. Give them what they need to get the ball rolling and put the burden back on them-remember, THEY are going to college, not YOU. If they need further assistance urge them to make a follow up appointment (teach them responsibility). Of course if they don't make that appointment, chase them down and get them back in the office before it's too late. :) 

7. Use Calendly to make it easy for them (and you) to schedule follow up appointments.

Have more tips to share? Please share them with us in the comments.

Previous posts about working with seniors that may interest you:

Monday, August 29, 2016

Freshman-SMART Goals-Data Driven Practices-Oh My


If you follow my blog you know I'm a huge supporter of the growth mindset theory. In previous years I have set SMART goals around fostering a growth mindset and used the Short Grit Scale as my measurement tool.

This year however, I decided to fuse my ideals and practices together as I work with this freshman class. I went to an incredible session at #ASCA16 focused on raising college aspirations and I felt like all of the stars aligned in my world.

This year I will be working on increasing the freshman classes' college going self-efficacy; or their college aspirations, as a class. My SMART goal is to: Increase the college-going self-efficacy of the class of 2020 by 10% by April 30, 2017. To assess this goal I am using the College-Going Self-Efficacy Scale. This tool measures two important factors in terms of college aspirations: Attendance and Persistence.

I administered the "College-Going Self-Efficacy Scale" to each of my freshman last week to get baseline data. In the coming weeks I will provide a number of services for them, for example:

  • minute meetings
  • school counseling core curriculum
  • College Funding Night
  • ISP Sessions (4-year plans)
I will also run at least 2 small groups during RTI time: Organizational Skills Bootcamp and a Test Anxiety Group. I may also bring my Vision Board group back if there is a need.

At the end of this semester I will assess them again. Programming will continue into the second semester and I will assess them a final time in April.

Data from each interval will be shared with my administration as we assess my SMART goal progress.

I also pulled a couple of questions from the tool to analyze individually at each interval:




1. I can make an educational plan that will prepare me for college
2. I can choose the high school classes needed to get into a good college
3. I can go to college after high school
4. I could finish college and receive a college degree
5. I could be smart enough to finish college



I will be looking specifically at each of these questions on a student level as we complete programming and re-administer the assessment. This will not only help me identify growth, but also help me identify students who need more than what I have outlined in my action plan.

When it comes to preparing students for college/career success, it is important to reach the freshman--to help them build a strong foundation.

I'm excited to further review the data gathered with the assessment & looking forward to identifying those who need additional assistance and charting their growth as a class.

If you plan to use this tool as well, I recommend you add a few items to the back of the assessment:

  1. Students Name (a spot for them to write their name)
  2. Do you plan to graduate from high school with your class?
  3. What are your plans for after high school (2 yr/4yr/Military/Workforce/Apprentice Program)
  4. How sure are you about your ability to graduate from college? (same likert scale as front)
  5. Have either of your parents/guardians attended any college at all?
A few data points that should improve I your school as you implement your programming:

-Freshman On Track rate (IL School Report Card)
-Average freshman class gpa

Please share your tips for working with freshman and your assessment tools in the comments below.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Data-Driven Method to Foster a College-Going Identity for Students

I've been (slowly) reading Ready, Willing, and Able: A Developmental Approach to College Access and Success by Mandy Savitz-Romer and Suzanne M. Bouffard and when I came across "college-going identity statuses" I knew I had an incredible, new way to categorize my students so I could streamline and better prioritize my efforts.

According to the text, there are 4 "statuses" that indicate the degree to which a person has explored and committed to a particular element of identity. I believe these statuses are a great way for us to categorize our students at the beginning of the school year, and then set goals to make positive change throughout the school year.

The 4 stages are:

  1. Identity diffused, and not yet resolved whether or not they are college-going
  2. Foreclosured, by “prematurely” deciding college is not for them
  3. Moratorium, “trying on the possibility of going to college”
  4. Identity achieved, having explored the options, talked to peers and others, and on the path to college (p. 70-71).

According to the authors, you want your students to fall into the moratorium status to really take advantage of the programs and services you will provide as their school counselor.

So how can you use this without creating extra work for yourself?

Each fall I meet one-on-one with all of my seniors and juniors. During this meeting they have to complete a one page survey with various questions about their post-secondary plans prior to meeting with me. During our meeting I make additional notes on the paper and as they leave I hand it to my assistant for data entry purposes.

My thought was to add one more data point to the form that I can record (not the student) based on our conversation. Then I can categorize the students and see those that are at the lower end of the college-going identity scale for follow-up first and then move down the line; creating a goal to increase the percentage of those that are in the moratorium status, or even the identity achieved status.

I created a Google Form to illustrate my idea, you can see how easily it creates the data points and spreadsheets for you!



Let me know what you think in the comments below!


Thursday, July 7, 2016

It's time for #ASCA16 Tips

As I sit here procrastinating when I should be packing, I can't help but get super excited about getting to New Orleans to see so many of you and recharge my school counselor batteries!!

Every year I usually share tips on how to afford to go to conference, but this year that was not an issue for me since I started my own business last year, so I am going to share a few tips on how you can make the most of your time at #ASCA16! Of course if you can't make it, be sure to follow #NotAtASCA16 on Twitter and download the conference app to grab the handouts from the sessions you are interested in, or become a virtual attendee here!

Ok, so let's focus in on those of us that are able to make the trip...

1. Print your registration email with your QR code so you can register and get your name tag and welcome bag quickly.

2. Download the conference app on your smartphone or tablet or write out your schedule the old fashion way so you know where you need to be at a quick glance.

3. Be sure to stop at the NOLA locals table to get tips on where to eat and what to check out while you're in town. I know I want to ride in a streetcar for sure!

...here are so more tips from ASCA...

New Orleans is a city rich with culture and plenty of tourist attractions. The Washington Post even names it a"great destination for families." Once you've planned your conference schedule, be sure to set aside time to take in all that our host city has to offer. Here are a few links to learn more about what you can do during your visit:


4. Visit the exhibit hall and complete the scavenger hunt! There are some really awesome prizes and you get to meet so many helpful vendors that may solve all of your school counselor quandaries. :)

Seriously, Aveda is going to be there!! 

...from ASCA...

AT&T: Charging stations in registration lobby and meeting room lobbies.
Aveda Institutes: Massages, cosmetic touch ups and beauty advice in the exhibit hall.

5. Meet the Board of Director candidates and ASCA staff, then be sure to vote at the voting station.

6. Make time to be social. The sessions are incredible and you will learn so much, but the connections you make are also valuable, so be sure to connect with people in person and on Twitter before you leave so you can stay connected throughout the year as you're applying what you've learned.

7. Attend the Tweet up Meet up, even if you're not on Twitter, we will help you get connected to a PLN that you will wonder how you ever lived without. We are a fun group, trust me! :)

8. Go to Opening Session and sit with your state, this is a super fun experience, trust me! Check the message board if you're wondering where your state will meet. 

9. Attend each Keynote. Every year I walk away from a keynote with a new vision and direction for my program, they are always inspiring and good for your school counselor spirit.

10. Take notes digitally while you're in session (I use GoogleDrive) and Tweet your takeaways using #ASCA16 #SCCHAT and #NotAtASCA16

11. Summarize how you will apply what you've learned, you know, action plan. I also use GoogleDrive for this so I can access them later and share them with others that are #NotAtASCA16

12. Have fun, laugh a lot, make memories and remind yourself that this opportunity is as much for you as it is for those you serve. 

I am looking forward to seeing you all in NOLA and elated to have the opportunity to connect with you in person as we learn and grow together. Safe travels.

Share your tips below in the comments!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Springfield, IL is Getting Ready to Promote School Counseling Programs

Tomorrow I will be headed to Springfield to share my presentation on promoting school counseling programs. This is an especially pivotal topic for the area school counselors as more and more school counselors are being replaced by Deans of Students.



I am looking forward to discussing this topic and how we can best promote school counseling in the region to stop this trend and bring back those positions.

Want to learn more about Public Relations and how it relates to school counseling?

Check out my presentation and the Top 10 Tips for PR in School Counseling created by Chris Wood and I (based on our Tweet Chat), complete with resources to help you improve your PR efforts.

Please share how you are promoting your school counseling program in the comments below.