Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Office Tour

Welcome to my office tour!! I am always curious about what school counsellors do with the space that they have. I thought I'd share with you what I've done with my space. When you walk into my room this is what you see! 

I love that I have a couch and 4 chairs, which comfortably fits at least 8 kids or 6 adults. I am also really lucky to have windows that let in lots of natural light (when the sun decides to come out in England). I hold Student Support Team meetings in my office (they rotate and I meet with a different grade level each week), parent meetings, small groups and lots of individual sessions. 
You can also see my sand tray (under the little wooden table) which is new this year. Some of my students that have a hard time talking will open up more if they are talking while playing in the sand box or drawing, playing with clay...
I have started my thank you card collection on my back windowsill. If I am having a tough day at work, seeing appreciation from others usually makes me smile. :)
You can also see my small fan/space heater under the printer. I need white noise to sleep at night and find that sound very comforting and relaxing. The fan runs all day and helps keep our conversations private and drowns out background noises. I don't think I could comfortably work without that sound.

This is the view of my office from my desk. I pretty much always have 'to do' piles on the right. As you can clearly see I have lots to do. I still handwrite my schedule in a planner, I'm not quite ready to make the jump to my calendar on my iPad. Maybe next year? What do you use to keep track of your schedule?

In a previous post I mentioned this large world velcro map. I had my eye on it for a while and wrote a grant to get funding for it. I am so thankful that I was able to get it through our GIFT grant program. We ended up getting a thin wood board to nail it to. Whenever students come into my office they almost always first notice this beautiful map (some see my free hug bear and think it's someone else in the room). Students love to find places they have lived or have traveled to. The map also comes up with velcro pieces that are flags, animals and landmarks from all over the world. They love to move the pieces around.
International schools by nature are a very transient community. We constantly have students coming and students leaving, all year long. One of the many things I do with students before they prepare to leave our school is have them write their name on a small piece of cardstock. I attach a piece of velcro and they get to put their name up on the map wherever it is that they are heading. Throughout the school year as their friends come to my office they always look at the map and see the names of their friends and take a moment to think about them.
Yes, that's my red and white polka dot tea pot! I do live in England, and a meeting is so much more comfortable and relaxing with a cup of tea in hand.

I was overwhelmed with the number of my 'go to' books. I decided I will need to dedicate an entire post just to my favorites. My filing cabinet is sorted alphabetically. Most of my notes and records are typed on my computer and are backed up to my time machine. Another post for more details on my system.
I collect seashells and have them all around my room. My collection continues to grow thanks to my students. They know how much I love shells and always remember to bring some back from me when they go on holiday! 
The teal and green boxes are filled with candy. This comes out at grade level meetings, specials meetings and they are there for when a co-worker or I need a pick me up! One box is filled with sugary, sweet, sour candies the other is filled with chocolates. You never know when someone needs a little treat!

I am so lucky to share this space with the middle years counsellor. Her office is the second green door on the right. It is wonderful to have a counsellor to chat with, run ideas past, get/give advice throughout the day. We work very closely together so being a shout away is wonderful. We constantly share this space and I am always using it for lunch bunches, small groups, meetings, etc. We almost always have freshly brewed coffee and snacks so it is a nice place for teachers and staff to come by and chat too.

And I have saved the best for last. My school is absolutely beautiful. Every single day that I pull up to this view I feel like I am dreaming. I am one lucky school counsellor to work in a school that is so beautiful on the inside and outside.

Thanks for joining me on my office tour. Cheers!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

A few of my favorite things in and around my office...

Is anyone else wondering where the time goes? Seriously, how is it October already?? My school year is off to a great start and I hope yours is too! I thought I should take some time to share a few of my favorite things...

I worked with the middle years counsellor to figure out a good way to decorate our shared bulletin board that was appropriate for both lower and middle school students. I got the idea and .pdf files to decorate our board from entirely elementary! Thank you, Susan, for your inspiration and for making it so easy to make our own version. Here are the signs and here are the words. Now all you have to do is pick fun paper colors, print, laminate and get creative in your display! Here is how ours turned out:

 I have decorated the door to my office thanks to some other school counsellor blog ideas.

I have seen this on so many blogs and decided to make one myself. Right after I put it up I changed the dial any time I left my office. Now I have fallen out of the habit and keep forgetting to change it. Don't worry though, my students are always fixing it for me. Really, they do! They love to tell me that I forgot, again, and then they move the dial to the right spot. So lucky to have them help me keep track of my whereabouts!

Behind my door you may have noticed some of these letter magnets. My husband gave them to me a week ago and I put them right up on my magnetic wall. Later that same day this is what I found! My students are loving these magnetic letters, which makes me so happy. During a quick conversation with a parent the other day, one of my students walked over to the magnets and put up the words 'teamwork' and 'smile'. In character education this week we had been talking about working together and being bucket fillers. I think it stuck! I love that this wall and the words on it are constantly changing. All of my students (and teachers too) seem to be attracted to it. :)

Some other must haves in and around my office:
- Soft tissues and sanitizer are a must and are always out.
- My students love playing with this wooden world. Inside are little wooden people that come from all around the world. They line them up, move them around, make them talk and always have fun with this one.
- This timer is the greatest thing ever. I think I may have 'borrowed' it from my brother (thanks MJ). They love watching it ooze from one side to another. Lots of students ask to borrow it for their cool down kit to help them set a time limit on taking time to relax and cool off.
- Another thing worth mentioning is the book my students helped me to create, "While you are at ACS Hillingdon be sure to..." Last year, students that were leaving our school to move to a different school, got to leave their advice behind. Each student decorated a page to put in this book. Their advice is for new students that join us. Lots of time during a new student welcome lunch bunch group we pull out this book to hear the words of wisdom that students left behind for them. It's the gift that keeps on giving. Some advice is serious and other advice makes us smile or laugh. The pictures and uniqueness of each and every page make it so special. I love keeping this out for anyone to pick up and browse through!
- Post-its are there for students that come by when I'm not in my office (and may or may not have forgot to change the dial on my Where Is Mrs. Seaberg sign). Only fifth graders pop in on their own so they know to write their name on a post-it and to put it on my chair so I see it in case my desk is messy right away!

I could go on and on, but I am only picking a few of my favorite things. Last thing to share for now are my Kimochis, which in Japanese means feelings. These are beautiful stuffed animals, each with a story. For example meet Bug (on the left). Bug is a caterpillar that is afraid of change. At the end of the school year when we are talking about transitions (moving, changing grades, new teacher, things happening over the summer) I bring Bug in to my grade 1 and 2 classes during character education. Students come up with advice to offer Bug and encourage him to change because change can be a good thing. They try to convince him and say things like, it might be scary at first but you will discover new and exciting things come with change. I take Bug into the hallway to think over their advice (which always works) and pull out Bugs wings (which are tucked into little pockets behind his back) and he enters the classroom as a beautiful butterfly! Another great thing about my Kimochis is they have stomach pockets that we fill with feeling faces. These are often incorporated into individual and small group counselling sessions when we are discussing our feelings. The kids love them and if you want your own, you can find them here.

Next up is a picture tour of my office!