Friday, September 28, 2012


Lee Elementary will be participating in the Peer Assistance and Leadership, PAL®, program this 2012-2013 school year.  We will be visited weekly at lunchtime by a group of trained students at McCallum High School, under the supervision of Richard Cowles.
The mission of the PAL® Peer Assistance and Leadership program is to enable young people to use their potential to make a difference in their lives, schools and communities.

The PAL® curriculum recognizes the potential of youth as a resource and catalyst for change in other troubled youth. They provide a critical first line of defense in building resiliency among peers. The PAL® peer helping program philosophy identifies an innate capacity for social understanding, personal well-being and community participation within every person. When participating in positive, productive pursuits with peers, youth can more easily resist negative influences, such as illegal use of addictive substances, excessive school absences and unlawful activities.
The PAL® Program is:
  • an opportunity for positive role models to develop closeness and trusting personal relationships with other younger students
  • a caring, sharing, listening experience for both giver and receiver
  • a helping hand of regular school counseling services
  • something which can address academic as well as other concerns
  • a way for students to develop a greater sense of ownership and responsibility in their school community
  • a tool for preparing students for what lies ahead in school, particularly in the transition between grade levels or buildings
  • an alternative way of reaching students and utilizing student resources
  • a program in which the students themselves play an important role
  • an opportunity to improve self-image and develop more responsible decision-making among participants
  • a path to help students recognize and solve their own problems
  • a chance to have a positive impact on the overall school climate

      Next week I will be sending home permission slips to participate in the 2012-2013 PAL® Program.  PAL® students will spend time with your child weekly during their lunchtime period.  This program will not interfere with their academic schedule. 
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact Richard Cowles, McCallum High School, at (512) 841-2088 or Jaclyn Sepp, Lee Elementary Counselor, at (512) 841-3906.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Austin ISD's New Anti-Bullying Website

Please visit to view resources for parents, students, educators, and bystanders.

Bullying occurs when a student intentionally engages in written, verbal, electronic or physical expression on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity or in a vehicle operated by the district that:
  • has the effect or will have the effect of physically harming a student, damaging a student’s property or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or of damage to the student’s property; or
  • is sufficiently severe, persistent, and pervasive that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment for a student.

Use this flow chart to help determine if an incident is considered bullying by Austin ISD:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

Throughout the grades we have been reading Have You Filled a Bucket Today? written by Carol McCloud.  This book introduces students to an invisible bucket that you carry with you throughout the day.  The bucket fills up with positive thoughts and feelings through the actions and choices you make each day.  You can fill a bucket when you show love to others, say or do something kind, or even something as simple as giving someone a smile.  You dip into a bucket when you make fun of someone, say or do mean things, or by ignoring others.

Students helped me sort different ideas into something a bucket filler would do and something a bucket dipper would do.  In the younger grades we worked on this together as a class. 

Students extended their knowledge of bucket filling by writing and drawing something they've done to fill a bucket.

In the middle grades we cut out the ideas and glued them into the proper bucket.

In the upper grades, this idea was extended through a Bullying Survey.  Students individually went through the survey finding statements to be true or false.  Then I facilitated a whole class discussion on what the truth was.  We formulated a definition of bullying and learned what Austin ISD considers bullying vs just being unkind.  We went through different scenarios using a flowchart to determine if it would be labeled as bullying. 

Finally, we watched Disney's Pixar Short, For the Birds, to examine the different behaviors and classify them as bullying or being unkind.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Personal Space Camp

In second grade we read Personal Space Camp by Julia Cook.  The main character, Louis, loves anything and everything about space.  As he is teaching others about lunar landings, eclipses, etc. he invades others' personal space.  His teacher gives him an invitation to "Personal Space Camp" and Louis is excited.  He soon learns that there is a difference between outer space and personal space through activities he participates in.

As I blew bubbles, students observed how each one is unique in its size and shape.  When bubbles get too close or run into each other they pop.  We discussed how our personal space bubble changes in size and shape when we're around family we're close to or strangers that alert us.  Students drew pictures to represent the different ways our bubble looks on the carpet in class, at our desks, on the playground swinging, and shopping at the grocery store.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue

In 3rd grade we read A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue by Julia Cook.  This story tells the journey of Josh who has tattled so often he has alienated himself from his friends.  His mother explains that if he keeps this up he will develop "tattle tongue."  Haunted by this new information, Josh is visited in his dreams by the "Tattle Prince" who teaches him 4 important rules for when it is important to tell an adult.

1.  Danger Warnings ONLY! 
Only warn an adult when a person is in danger of getting their body hurt.  

2.  Be a Problem Solver 
If the problem involves you, try to solve the problem yourself first.  

3.  Is this a NOW or LATER problem? 
Can we solve this problem be solved at a private time? 

4.  M.Y.O.B – “Mind your own business”
The problem does not belong to you, don't get involved in it!

We discussed the tattling rules and examined Josh's decisions throughout the story.  Afterward we reviewed the differences between tattling and reporting.  Students were given difference scenario cards and asked to determine what they should do in that situation: report to an adult, do nothing, help, etc.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cyberbullying Awareness

On Thursday, September 13th, staff and parents of Lee Elementary will be joining Highland Park Elementary for a special training on cyberbullying.  Reggie Cajayon, School Safety Specialist at Texas State University, will be presenting.  Cyberbullying is the use of technology - cell phones, texts, computers, emails, chats, etc. - to make someone feel bad or unsafe.  It can include sending mean or threatening messages, spreading rumors, purposely leaving people out, impersonating others to embarrass them, and many more.  It is extremely damaging and harmful with victims suffering from low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and depression.  I created this bulletin board to raise awareness and remind students and parents to T H I N K before they use technology.

Here is a free poster you can download and put by your computer at home: THINK Poster

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Color Your Feelings

In kindergarten and first grade this week, we explored our feelings by associating colors with each feeling.  By helping students identify different feelings they can experience, it helps lower anxiety when strong feelings start to take over.  We also learned that it's possible to feel more than one feeling at a time.

We started by reading Glad Monster Sad Monster by Ed Emerley & Anne Miranda.  On each page there is a different colored monster sharing activities he does that cause him to feel a certain way (happy, silly, sad, etc.).  There is also a fold out page that becomes a mask for the reader to wear, unmasking their emotion!  Students enjoy seeing me put on the funny monster masks that describe his current feeling and can relate to his experiences.

Next, I explained that we can think about feelings through different colors just like the monsters.  We filled in a large chart together that described each color in terms of an emotion.  Most of the students connected to the monsters and could remember every color/emotion combo from the story.

I had students think really hard in their minds which feelings they are currently feeling, then I brought out the The Magic Coloring Book of Feelings by Robert Bowman, Ph.D.  This is a great magic trick to bolster the presentation of feelings and how colorful they can be in each of us.  By holding your thumb at different positions on the book's outside edge, the pages change from uncolored to colored, then to completely blank, then back to uncolored.  I had students "throw" the colors they're feeling into the book, then I shook their feelings back out to them to feel, and needed their help getting my book back to normal. 

Finally, I gave instructions to students that they will get to color in their own body outline, just like the coloring book, with their emotions.  If they were feeling really happy, they would color a lot of yellow.  If they were feeling a little mad, they would color a little mad.  As students were coloring, I circulated around the room to validate and process their feelings that they've colored.  Most of them were feeling VERY happy and VERY silly, and we also had some that were experiencing a little bit of every feeling!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Custodian Appreciation Week

This week is Custodian Appreciate Week at Lee Elementary.  Our custodians are so special and important to us!  To show appreciation, each grade level created large colorful banners to express their gratitude for working hard, helping friends, cleaning the school, smiling in the hallways, etc.  Here are a few of the amazing banners that shared our students appreciation:

Friday, September 7, 2012

The 5 Finger Rule

The 5 Finger Rule is a management technique I used when I was a classroom teacher to get my students attention.  It helps students remember the 5 things I am expecting from them while I'm teaching: their hands are empty, their eyes are watching, their ears are listening, their mouth is quiet, and their body is still.

As a school counselor, I go into classrooms for guidance lessons and every classroom has their own techniques they are used to.  To alleviate the stress of remembering each teacher's individual system for their class, I introduce the kiddos to "Give Me Five."  I tell them that when I come into their classroom to visit, this is my expectation of them.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Tour of My Office

I wanted to create a space that is warm and welcoming for students.  It needed to be an inviting and safe place for kids to come when they need someone to listen, help to solve a problem, or a cool down.  Here is a quick photo tour...

Here is the outside of my office, located on the second floor of our school.

 This is where students can fill out request forms to see me, then place it in the monster mailbox.  There are also counseling brochures and my business cards for parents to pick up.

When my door is closed, students can use this helpful sign to see where I'm at.

 Here is where I sit with students to listen and talk about what is going on in their lives. 

This is where I keep art supplies that we use in individual counseling or small groups.

Bibliotherapy can help students feel that they are not alone or teach them about how to deal with what is going on in their lives.  Different buckets feature common themes I encounter when working with my students.

Play therapy is a great way for students to express their feelings without having to talk directly about them.  Games also open up conversations in a non-threatening way.  I also keep sand tray figurines here.

Puppets are a great way to model social skills and allow students to practice possible scenarios before trying them in real life.

I feature many of the posters we discuss in guidance on my board for students to use as a resource.

Confidentiality is important in the counseling profession.  Students need to be able to trust in your therapeutic relationship.  Here, confidentiality is explained in a developmentally appropriate way for elementary students.

Inspirational quotes line the walls of my office for students to peruse.  My wall of windows brings the outside in.

Here is where the magic happens.  No, not really.  Here is where I check emails, write case notes, and keep in contact with families.

This is where I keep my resources.  I organize my lessons into grade level bins and small group bins.

It's important to have parent resources copied and ready to be handed out at a moments notice.  I have already done much of the research and can easily pick out information for my families for a variety of topics.

This is where I hide my secrets to being an amazing school counselor.  My fridge, more supplies, and important papers are available to grab and go.