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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Quote :: Needing Love

LoveI found this awesome quote on Pinterest the other day. Unfortunately, it didn't list the author and I couldn't find an author after googling it either. If anyone knows who said it, please let me know! *Update* Thanks to a reader, we now know the author!

It's a great reminder for me as the school year starts.
"Kids who need love the most will ask for it in the most unloving of ways." - Russell A. Barkley

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tips & Tricks :: Anxiety Disorder


This summer, I've been writing a blog series focusing on several different disorders that affect children at school: ADHD, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety Disorder, and ODD. Each entry describes the disorder, gives practical strategies for improving success at school, and also provides a few social-emotional goals and accommodations that might be appropriate for students with special education services!

Next up is Anxiety. Most often in an elementary school setting, I've seen anxiety manifest itself in school avoidance or test anxiety. However, students with anxiety many have many other emotions or behaviors! These are just two of the most common examples.


MP900262788Everybody worries, whether it's about that spider crawling down the wall toward them, or an important test. Please note that anxiety is different from fear. Fear is an appropriate cognitive and emotional response to a perceived threat. Anxiety occurs in situations that seem uncontrollable or unavoidable to the student, but not most people. In addition, when a student is  diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder, it means that their symptoms are extreme and occur often enough that they interfere with their daily life.

  • Excessive, uncontrollable, often irrational worry about everyday things

  • Worry is disproportional to the action source of worry

  • heart palpitations, muscle weakness, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, headaches, stomachaches, tension headaches

  • In children, complaints of headaches or stomachaches are common. I've even seen students who are able to make themselves vomit to avoid anxiety-provoking situations like going to school.

Subtypes of Anxiety Disorders:

- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Phobias
- Social Anxiety
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)


  • Failing Grade on HomeworkContact the child's doctor if medication is to be given at school to make sure you have up-to-date dosage and administration instructions. However, don't tell a parent "your child needs to be on medication." You can encourage them to talk about concerns they may have with their child's doctor, but put your school in a vulnerable position if you start doling out medical advice!

  • Encourage the student to get involved in extra curricular or sports activities in order to boost their confidence and self-esteem

  • Acknowledge a child's view of things as being true for them. Don't tell them they'll "get over it" or minimize their feelings and experiences as being "no big deal." It's a big deal to them!

  • Teach students what different emotions "feel like" to their body to help them identify when they may be feeling anxious

  • Help students to understand that emotions range from mild to intense and improve students' vocabulary of various emotion words to express their feelings to others

  • If parents approve, teach older students facts about what Anxiety is as well as statistics about the disorder to help normalize their experiences and help them feel less "weird" or "different."

  • Provide group or individual counseling-type services to help students learn relaxation and calming strategies to use when faced with an anxiety-provoking situation

  • Establish routines, which will help students know what to expect and feel as though they have more control over what happens to them during a day.

  • Help students identify triggering thoughts which lead to the physical symptoms of anxiety (ex. "I'm going to fail." "My mom will never come back to pick me up." "I'll get trapped in this crowd and suffocate." etc.) Learning the tie between thoughts, feelings, and behavior will help them be able to stop the cycle of anxiety before the physical symptoms take over and become overwhelming.

  • Accommodate students' worries as much as practically possible. For example, allow them to sit close to a door if crowded assemblies bother them, allow breaks or a private location to take tests to allow them to use learned coping strategies, etc.)

  • For school avoidance, behavior incentives which allow students to earn special privileges can be really effective. In addition, having the parent leave school as soon as possible rather than staying around while the child is upset works wonders! Younger kids especially often get into a cycle that teaches that if they cry/scream/hold on to their parent, the parent stays longer. Breaking this cycle is extremely important if the child is ever going to attend school independently!

  • Distraction can be VERY helpful, especially for younger students. It's amazing how quickly students with separation anxiety will calm down once the class begins a fun activity. The same is true for older students. Try reading a funny book as a class or telling funny stories before tests.

  • Don't put unnecessary pressure on anxious students. There's no use telling them how important state standardized tests or a final exam are - they already feel like it's a life or death situation!

Sample Goals

  • Given a real life or story scenario, Shawn will increase his ability to recognize and label emotions in himself from correctly identifying happy, sad, mad, scared to correctly labeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, and panicked.

  • Given relaxation training, Jessie will improve her ability to cope with test anxiety from making herself sick and refusing to take tests to taking deep breaths, relaxing tense muscles, and completing at least 1/2 of the test questions.

  • Given instruction regarding Anxiety, Sarah will increase her knowledge of Anxiety from not knowing any information about it to listing facts regarding prevalence, symptoms, and treatment independently.

  • Given an attendance incentive, Kelsey will increase her school attendance from attending 2 days per week to attending 4 days per week while using learned coping skills (talking to an adult, using positive self-talk, combating negative/irrational thoughts, etc.).

  • For test anxiety specifically, here's a great article by Everyday Family which provides some helpful tips!

Sample Accommodations:

  • Provide a private, quiet place for calming down when stressed or anxious

  • Allow students to use cue cards or other visual tools to express their feelings if they struggle with verbal expression

  • Give breaks or extended time if you can tell the student is having a particularly difficult day

  • Reassure students during times of anxiety with situationally appropriate words, hugs, gestures, etc.

  • Arrange for extended passing periods or alternative seating locations if crowds are an issue

  • For test anxiety, allow alternative testing modes such as giving verbal answers or letting a student present a presentation to demonstrate knowledge when possible.

If you're looking for activities for your students, check out my Anger and Coping Skills Card DeckPositive Thinking Pack,  and Social Skills Cards: Feelings Pack Freebie! You can also check out my Pinterest Boards for Feelings and Mental Health for even more ideas!

Thanks to Wikipedia for contributing to this article!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sale :: Back to School 2013

Back to School

It's that time of the year again - time to track down the best deals on markers, glue sticks, and pocket folders, and send the kids off with their clean (for the last time this year) lunch boxes. But if you're a teacher, August can be bitter sweet - filled with excitement and anticipation for the new group of students you have the chance to work with in the months ahead, but sadness (maybe) about not being able to spend every day with your own kids and irritation that the alarm will soon be disturbing your sleep MUCH sooner than anyone on Earth could possibly want.

But the good news is that even though you'll soon have to wait until your students are at recess or P.E. to use the bathroom, it's a fresh start and with that comes TpT's annual Back-To-School Sale. It'll give you the chance to earn 28% off thousands of activities, assessments, and resources made BY teachers FOR teachers.

So, from 12:01 am on August 18th through 11:59 pm on August 19, enter the code "BTS13" and get great stuff at a great discount! My store will show sale prices that reflect 20% off regular prices, and by entering the code, you'll be able to earn an extra 10% off from TpT (for a total of 28%: 10% off a discounted price of 20% off = a total of 28% off the regular price).

Enjoy and have a wonderful school year!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Blog Hop :: School Counselors on TpT

Blog Hop

Just in time for the beginning of the school year, I got asked to be a part of my first ever Blog Hop! I'm really excited about this one because it gives me a chance to get to know some of the other counselor/social work-y people on the usually teacher-dominated awesomeness of TeacherspayTeachers. Each of us participating will list some of our favorite paid and free products as well as links to each other's blog where you can find more awesome free and paid products to help you get your school year off to a great start.

Fun Freebies:

School Counselor ActivityMy Counselor Activity Sheet

This product was made by Vanessa, a school counselor and I love it! I always struggle with a way to discuss my role with students and this activity sheet is a fun way to cover that things you should talk to a counselor about, reasons to see them, as well as the difficult topic of confidentiality and "secret keeping." Plus, just look at how adorable it is...and it's FREE!

Bullying Pledge

Bullying Pledge

This freebie comes to us from Heather, also a school counselor. It's a great way to conclude a lesson about bullying with encouraging them to think of practical steps they can do to take an active role in reducing bullying in their school and community. I love that it can be used with small groups in my office, or with an entire classroom if needed!

Awesome Paid Products:

Listening LadybugsListening Ladybugs: Following Directions

This was one of the first products I ever bought on TpT. It's created by Danielle, who's a speech-language pathologist, but I've found that it works wonders for all my social work kiddos that have a hard time following (especially verbal) directions. Basically, I spread all the cards out on the table and let a student pick one. Then, I read it to them and they have to follow the 1, 2, or 3-step direction it describes. Some of the cards are a little tricky, so I'll amend the direction or reduce the number of steps if I need to for that particular student. If they do it correctly, they get to keep the card. The download is only $4 and contains 69 different cards that contain 1, 2, or 3-step directions or game situations such as "your ladybug jar spilled. 2 flew away." The object is to be the person with the most ladybugs at the end. All of the kids love this game and have actually requested it before when I give them free time!

Social Skills LandSocial Skills Land Game

This last product is one of my own. It was actually my first product ever and it's by far my best seller. Quickly after becoming a school social worker, I learned that traditional "therapy" games just didn't grab my students' attention like their familiar favorite board games. So, I started adapting games like Jenga, Connect 4, and Candyland to teacher social and problem-solving skills! This game puts a fun twist on Candyland and features 144 different questions in categories such as Feelings, Friendship, Bullying, and Anger Control. You use the same Candyland game board and pieces your kids love, so you'll naturally grab their attention!

Interested in some other products on TpT that are great for counseling or school social work? Hop on over to these other great blogs and check out some of their favorites!

Heather - The Helpful Counselor
Vanessa - Savvy School Counselor
Tabitha - Scrapbook of a School Counselor
Melanie - Stylish School Counselor


Thursday, August 1, 2013

New(ish) Product :: School Social Work Forms

School Social Work Forms

Happy August! Many of you will be getting back at it this month and with that comes new folders, new markers, and now, new forms! Whether you're a new school social worker just starting out or looking to update the outdated forms you've been using since the mid 90's, the pack is sure to meet your needs. It includes forms commonly needed for school social work practicing, including:

- Social Work Parent Consent Form
- Student Interview Form
- Classroom Observation Form

Observation Form
- Self-Esteem Questionnaire
- Functional Behavior Assessment Survey

FBA Form

- Teacher evaluation form for writing IEP goals (K-5 and 6-12)
- Daily Contact Log
- Social Developmental Study Interview Packet
- Social Work Referral Form

and several more. 13 forms in all!

Forms are presented in Microsoft Word format, so you can adjust them to meet your needs or simply put in your name and title and you're good to go.

So spend less time looking for the notes you scribbled on the back of scrap paper and spend more time helping your students! If you're looking for a bullying/harassment reporting form, check this freebie out!


*UPDATE* I just added a whole bunch of new stuff. There's now 19 forms! Go check it out here.