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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

How School Counselors Use Habit 6: Synergize

Habit 6: Synergize means to work together.

School counselors use Habit 6: Synergize by participating in:

  • Child Study Team: When school counselors work together with the school psychologist, principal, and teachers in order to assist students that are struggling academically or behaviorally, they are synergizing. You are all bouncing ideas off each other for what strategies may help the student succeed or what accommodations they may need. Everyone gets assigned a job. The school psychologist may test the student. The school counselor may do observations or an FBA and come up with a positive behavior support plan. The teacher will have to try different strategies and accommodations and report back on progress within a few weeks. When staff synergize, students benefit!
  • Collaboration of any kind: Maybe you're a member of the SAP team, which works together to help students with drug and alcohol and mental health issues. Maybe you are an advisor to an after-school activity like a peer mentoring group. Maybe you run a staff support group on the stress involved in teaching. Think of your school counseling advisory committee. Any time you work with a teacher or group of teachers, students, parents, or stakeholders, you are synergizing. 
School counselors teach students to use Habit 6: Synergize through:
  • Activities: Any activities you do in your lessons or small groups that require students to work together is teamwork. Any events that students and staff participate in school-wide involve synergizing. For Unity Day last year, each student wrote on an orange link, "Be _____" with whatever word or phrase they chose. Each teacher completed one too and stapled the links together. Then I connected each class so that it formed a chain. If you run an after school activity or club that involves working together toward a common goal, you and your students are synergizing. 
  • Core Curriculum: School counselors may dedicate one of their lessons to teamwork/ synergizing. I taught a first grade lesson using Julia Cook's Teamwork Isn't My Thing and I Don't like to Share. Students were asked to put a puzzle together as a team with their table-mates. The trick was, one of the pieces were mixed from another puzzle. Not only did they have to work as a table, but as a whole class. It was awesome. I saw the idea in a Leader in Me Video on the website. For more information about my lesson, click here. Another idea for a teamwork lesson is to "team" up with the gym teacher to teach a lesson on sportsmanship and following the rules. When I used to be a teacher assistant and I covered recess, kids would always make up new rules to cheat. It never hurts to remind them how to play fair!
  • Small Groups: Besides addressing teamwork in lessons, school counselors can talk about synergizing in small groups. The social skills involved in working as a team compliment a friendship or social skills group. For students who get easily mad or upset, you might discuss teamwork in an anger or coping skills group. 
  • Individual Counseling: Sometimes we have a kiddo who struggles to work or play well with others. They often get referred to us by their teacher or peers and it's probably a friend that's in one of your small groups. Take an opportunity to observe them at recess or in the classroom so you can use a teachable moment. Remind them about the social skills involved in being a good friend, i.e., taking turns, sharing, sportsmanship, being kind and considerate, etc. Sometimes we have to remind them that they don't just synergize while they play, they have to do it to clean up after recess too. 

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