In This Issue:
A Message from Your Executive Director
A Message from the WSCA Board
Keys to Collaboration: Teaming Up with Teachers and Integrating Mindfulness
Legislative Update- ESSA Funding
Digital Equity – Internet Discount Finder
Upcoming Events and Committee Updates
Office of School Safety Grants
The Department of Justice, Office of School Safety released information on a second round of grants last week. School Counselor participation is required in this grant opportunity.
School Safety Intervention Team & Mental Health Training Grants
July 24, 2018: Attorney General Brad Schimel today announced plans for a second round of grant funding. This second round of grant funding, utilizing the remaining $45 million, will advance baseline mental health and physical security improvements made in the first round of grant funding through advanced training for teachers on mental health; the creation of local teams of educators, counselors, and law enforcement to develop School Safety Intervention Teams that will assess threats and identify students in need of support; and additional physical security upgrades. Schools interested in applying for the second round of grant funding must submit a mandatory “intent to apply” to the OSS by August 13, 2018 (please see link below). K-12 schools-public, private, charter, and tribal-are encouraged to apply for this next round of grants, which will be awarded starting in October.
Welcome to the start of the 2018-2019 school year! It is amazing to me how quickly these precious summer months go in Wisconsin. It’s time to gear up for new notebooks and crayons, sharpened pencils, fresh planners, apples, fall colors, and all things pumpkin. While we treasure our months of summer sun and fun, it is a great feeling to kick off a fresh school year and reconnect with our students and professional families.
I am excited and humbled to be serving as Chair of our Board of Directors. I first became a member of this amazing organization when I was a graduate student. Now, 14 years later, I continue to learn each year from all of the wonderful school counselors we have throughout our state. This year I am privileged to be working alongside Alissa Darin, my fantastic Assistant Chair, and an amazing group of Directors as we strategically focus on driving the mission of our organization forward.
At the end of July, our Board of Directors, along with many of our Directors of Operations, joined school counselors for learning at our Leadership Development Institute (LDI) in Wisconsin Dells. Opportunities to learn and network throughout the year are an integral part of the work of the Directors of Operations, and they always do a tremendous job of putting this learning together.
In addition to attending LDI, the Board of Directors also held our first board meeting of the fiscal year. During this time together, we welcomed our new directors as they joined us for the first time as official board members since their election last winter. Our time was dedicated to investigating and identifying preliminary action items in several areas: connecting with our members, leadership and advocacy in school counseling, and mentoring for our new board directors. In addition, we received important updates on counseling and trends throughout the state and nation. Our board will reconvene in September for another meeting, and in the meantime, our subcommittee work will be taking off.
I look forward to meeting as many of our members as possible, and wish you all a healthy, peaceful, and enjoyable beginning to your school year!
Keys to Collaboration: Teaming Up with Teachers and Integrating Mindfulness
As school counselors, collaboration comes as second nature to many of us. We often work collaboratively not only with students, but also with the other people in our students’ lives, including teachers. Like many school counselors, I often find myself on the reactive side of collaboration, stepping in and providing support after the fact. However, by teaming up with teachers and integrating mindfulness into the daily routine of our school, I have grown in my ability to collaborate in a way that is thoughtful, supportive, and effective.Finding time to sit down and have meaningful discussions about students is often the first hurdle that educators encounter. One way we facilitate collaboration between the school counselor and the classroom teachers is to utilize PLC (Professional Learning Community) meetings. Our district created a schedule with 60-minute PLC blocks for each grade level. Based on the grade level PLC days and times, I’ve adapted my own schedule to meet with each grade level PLC team at least 30 minutes a month. If your district doesn’t have set times for teachers to collaborate, or your schedule as the counselor doesn’t allow for frequent PLC meetings, perhaps you can start small by setting up a PLC pilot with one interested grade level.
At these meetings, be deliberate with your time. Set ground rules for what and how you want your meetings to function. Have an agenda so you stay on track and can come prepared. Lastly, keep it positive and supportive. Always come back to the common goal of working together to support all students.
Collaboration between school counselors and classroom teachers, especially in a PLC, can open the door to endless possibilities. Some ideas include tiered systems of support, creative problem solving, and teacher-led professional development. Through the planning and collaboration that occurs in PLC meetings, I’ve also been able to start team teaching lessons with classroom teachers. We work together to select a specific social, emotional, or behavioral standard or skill on which to focus, based on the needs of the students as well as the grade level scope and sequence. We then create a 30-minute lesson utilizing both teachers (i.e. smaller groups, centers, stations, individual support, or different roles within a whole group setting). After the lesson is implemented, we meet again to reflect on the lesson itself, the strengths and challenges of the class as well as individual students, and the next lessons and systems of support needed for all students to achieve their goals. To begin, our process wasn’t this elaborate or refined. If you’re just getting started, give it a try! Connect with classroom or specials teachers to see who is interested or already has experience with team teaching and start creating a system that works for you.
In addition to teacher collaboration, we have found that the practice of mindfulness has taken our ability to support our students and one another to the next level. We now begin every staff meeting at our school with guided meditation. We encourage staff members to participate in whatever way feels comfortable to them. We also offer hour long, monthly professional development sessions for staff on a variety of topics within the realm of mindfulness. Even if your school hasn’t delved deeply into mindfulness, just taking 3 collective deep breaths at the beginning of a meeting is a great place to start.
Collaboration is a powerful tool both within and across schools and districts. We love learning how other schools and districts are facilitating collaboration between staff members, between students and staff, and within a greater community. Please feel welcome to reach out to us to share your own experiences and stories or with questions and ideas!
Rachel Pufall and Ivy Meierotto are educators at Washburn Elementary in Washburn, Wisconsin. Rachel is the school counselor and Ivy is a kindergarten teacher and instructional coach. Both are passionate about supporting educators to become the best version of themselves, which they believe is a key factor in student achievement and wellbeing.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides funding through a formula to school districts across the United States. At this moment in time (as we know things can quickly change at the federal level) there is a significant increase in proposed funding for ESSA. These funds must be released to states by September 30, 2018 (the end of the federal fiscal year).
What does this mean for you as a school counselor? In ESSA, Title IVa funds are required to be used to provide (1) Safe and Supportive Schools, (2) a Well Rounded Education or (3) Technology. A minimum of 20% of Title IVa funds must be spent in each of the following areas, Safe and Supportive Schools and a Well Rounded Education. Schools may not spend more than 15% of the funds on technology devices.
For most schools in Wisconsin this will not be a huge infusion of funds (minimum of $10,000 per school). School Counselors are encouraged to advocate with your administrators to use the Titlle IVa funds to support your school counseling program and professional development. There are approximately 50 school districts that are currently expected to receive in excess of $30,000 in Title IVa funds, note these funds can be used to HIRE additional school counselors!
From DPI…Digital equity has become an urgent issue as schools provide more and more of their students with mobile devices to take home, while 20 percent of Wisconsin households do not have access to the internet. For many children and adults, the public library is the only source of internet access.
The Internet Discount Finder, created by the Wisconsin Public Services Commission, can help low-income households find discounted internet service. Discounts are as deep as 80%. Schools and public libraries can play a critical role in promoting the Internet Discount Finder, to help all of their students and library users get internet access at home.
School Counselor Summer To-Do List:
- Relax & Unwind
- Save the Date for the 2019 WSCA Annual Conference: February 5-7th, 2019
- Read the bios for conference Keynote Speakers: Kevin J. Fleming, Ph.D. and Karen Gannon Griffith, PhD, LPC
- Submit a sectional proposal to share your expertise on a school counseling hot topic at the conference. Proposals are due by November 9th.
- Consider nominating a fellow colleague or friend of school counseling for one of the eight professional recognition awards that are presented at conference.
- Think about how you can promote the WSCA Scholarship and the Educators Credit Union Scholarship to high school students in the fall.
- Make the most of the remaining summer days!
Don’t miss out on this school year’s amazing professional development opportunity!
SAVE THE DATE for the 2019 WSCA Annual Conference.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5 – THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2019
Publications Committee Update
Looking for Volunteers!
Do you have an hour every other month to edit and proofread a WSCAlink article? Are you interested in finding a way to give back to the School Counselor community?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more!
Professional Recognition and Scholarship Committee
The Professional Recognition and Scholarship Committee is looking for individuals to join our committee! The committee is in charge of reading the WSCA scholarships and professional recognition award nominations and in turn selecting the award winners! The committee needs individuals to help read applications, write press releases, create marketing and promotional materials, and so much more! Interested in joining the committee? Fill out this form!
Additionally, the Professional Recognition and Scholarship Committee is in search of Co-Coordinator for the position. Are you interested in a leadership position within WSCA? Contact Katie Nechodom for more information. email@example.com.