Decorating a School Counselor's Office on a Budget

This year, my ultimate dream came true. I moved from a fourth grade teaching position to a middle school counseling job.  I am so excited!  The ideas are swirling around in my head giving me a fun headache.

I've been shopping for my office and wanted to share some of my photos.  I like to use a lot of colors and I rarely think of trying to make things match.  Most of the things that I buy are at least 50% off or from our local thrift shops.  I'm super thrifty (cheap).  

My top 5 places to buy goodies: 

1.  Hobby Lobby (use the 40% off online coupon!)
2.  Goodwill
3.  Garage Sales
4.  Office Depot/Max
5.  Target

The bubble gum machine has erasers in it instead of gum.  I bought most of them during the back-to-school teacher appreciation days when they were just one penny per pack.  The Hobby Lobby finds include the orange chevron table cloth, the mirror, chevron folders, and multiple motivational signs.  The pink chair came from Office Max during a huge sale.  The white chair, gumball machine, and lamp were goodwill finds.  I recently found white baskets at Target in the same "white tree" design as the chair.  I cannot wait to add those to the room.  

One of my favorite all time purchases, was a splurge.  No discount, no sale, BUT oh so cute.  I bought this burlap sign from Etsy.  The quality is so amazing and I will be buying more from her in the future.  Her shop is called "Iloveitdesigns."
Last, but not least, to stay ULTRA organized & in style, I just ordered the Erin Condren Lesson Planner in Paisley! (like the one pictured here) These are certainly an indulgence, but you have to look at it every single day, so it makes sense to spoil yourself in this department.  I have a $10 off coupon for any Erin Condren item for you if you want one too! Get your coupon here:  
or copy and paste this in your browser:

Or, if you want to save money and still have a super cute planner, you can try these:

UPDATE:  2/18/15
Now that half the year is over... my desk is no longer tidy.  I have yet to figure out how to keep my office clean.  There's even more junk UNDER the desk.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

School Counselor Presentation - editable

Stomp Negative Thoughts!

Click Picture to See the Daily Fill'up packet.
One thing that I have noticed as a teacher is that many kids these days are very hard on themselves.  They often dwell on the negative and completely ignore their positive attributes.  It is amazing how hard it can be to convince them that they are smart and fully capable learners.  I use quite a bit of positive reinforcement in my classroom.  I often ignore negative behaviors and overexaggerate positive behaviors.  This has been my preferred method of classroom management.

When I hear my students talk poorly about themselves, I make them repeat something positive about themselves.   I use wall signs in my classroom as a reminder to stay positive.  Once a student is convinced that they are a wonderful, talented individual, they perform so much better for me.  I use the following worksheet to help them visualize a positive thought.
Click Picture to see more.

My Top 10 Favorite Positive Praise Phrases:
1.  Wow, you are really good at that!
2.  What?  Are you a genius?
3.  I LOVE how you did that.
4.  I KNEW you were brilliant!
5.  How did you learn how to do that so quickly?
6.  You are SO creative!  How did you think of that?
7.  I am so PROUD of you and your hard work.
8.  You are really going to be something special when you grow up!
9.  That is an EXCELLENT answer!  Are you sure you are only 10?
10.  Will you remember your teacher one day when you are famous?!!!!

Click Picture to purchase this poster.

Top 3 Reasons to go back to school in your forties or later!

Proud big brothers!
I spent a lot of time in my late thirties thinking that my mind was not as sharp as it was in my younger days.  I had every excuse in the book  NOT to go back to college.  Three kids and a full time job seemed like enough on my plate.  However, I had this nagging sensation to go back to grad school.  Each time I let my mind go there, thoughts of kids and work would send those thoughts packing.  I began reading stories of friends on facebook who were going back to school and living their dreams.  Little by little, I gained confidence.  One day I was talking to a colleague in her late fifties who was working on her doctoral degree.  Doctoral degree in her fifties?  After getting over my initial shock, my mind began to wrap around the idea that going back to school after forty was not the most horrible idea in the world.  Something about talking to a real live person who had actually made that step, makes it all seem real and possible.  (Thank you to all my inspirational friends who do not even know that they influenced my life!!!)   I made a decision to just go for it.  I enrolled in class, and before you know it, I was on my way.  Along the way, I found that there are benefits to going back to school later in life.

1.  You are still the same old you, just NEW and improved!

My little one "helping"
during a study session.
My life experiences have taught me so much more than I thought and I was not afraid of hard work.  Being a working mom has given me endurance and strength to carry on in the face of any challenge.  Endurance is the key word.  College takes a lot of endurance.  As we age, we have the advantage of building our endurance.  Writing a paper is nothing compared to being thrown up on all night and going to work the next day without a wink of sleep.  When my young counterparts complained of missing a night of partying in order to write a paper, I wasn't phased a bit because I have missed countless nights of going out with my friends, due to being a parent. (and I don't regret any of it)  My cousin, who is also in her forties and also in college, came over for many study sessions.   She decided to just "go for it" about the same time that I did.  I believe God had something to do with our adventure because she was a huge source of support during my journey.  As seen in the picture, my daughter even joined in the fun.

2.  Making up your mind to do it is the hardest part.  After that, you are on the road to success.
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Getting past our own negative thoughts about going back to school is the hardest obstacle to overcome. If you can just submit the application and get the ball rolling, the rest will fall into place.  Yes, there will be obstacles (many of them).  Don't let others tell you that you are making a mistake.  You will be your own best advocate or your own worst enemy.  I suggest using a little positive self talk every day to motivate yourself before the negative thoughts come to mind.  If negative thoughts come to mind, replace them with the positive ones.  Be consistent, almost relentless with this.  You'd be surprised how something so simple can be so effective.   Start talking to people who can answer your questions about going back to school.  You will need to stay informed and focused on your dream.

3.  You might be somebody else's inspiration.
Who knows?!  You might inspire somebody else to go back to school!  What a great feeling!!!

Teacher Evaluation Stress - Laugh or Cry?!

Teacher evaluations are not what they used to be.  I remember just a few short years ago when we didn't get all terrified over the thought of an administrator evaluating our performance.   We were confident and prepared.  We had faith that our administrators were fully capable of spotting a good teacher when they saw one.  But this new evaluation system has made everyone crazy.  We have administrators who are no longer allowed to use their own expertise to evaluate our efforts.  We have veteran teachers crying for no reason and seeing therapists for the first time.  Our faculty is more medicated than a psych ward.  It's not because we are afraid that we are not worthy.  It's because the number of indicators that are expected of us in a lesson are insurmountable.  If we hit all those indicators in every lesson, every day, we'd never leave school and we'd never sleep for that matter!  Teachers (at least the ones that I know and love) are, by nature, perfectionists.  We want to be the best that we can be.  This new evaluation system is causing us to set unrealistic expectations of ourselves.  Therefore, we feel like failures and continue to try to live up to something that is physically and mentally impossible.  Some of us work endless hours trying to perfect this new system.  Others give up completely and becoming hopeless and unsatisfied with their once dream career.  Many of us are holding on, merely surviving, hoping for winds of change to blow as they seem to do every few years in education.  If ever teachers needed prayer in school, this would be the time.  Please take a moment of your time to pray for our nation's education system.
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Teacher Time Saver

Click image to get this FREE poster.

One of the biggest pet peeve's of many teachers is the infamous "no name" paper.  Tracking down the owner of these papers takes up valuable time that a teacher simply does not have.  My first four years of teaching was spent tweaking and re-tweaking my classroom procedures.  Although, students interrupting class to sharpen their pencils was high on my list of bothersome distractions to my teaching, ranked even higher was the time spent tracking down "no namers."  This year, I stumbled upon my ultimate time saver on Pinterest.  It has worked so well, that I rarely run across a paper without a name anymore.  

First of all, who doesn't love a highlighter?  My students absolutely jump at the chance to use their highlighters.  (as do many teachers  --- I know I do.)  Even though we are well into the second semester of school, the kids are still joyfully highlighting their names before turning in their work.