A Book Review & Giveaway: Julia Cook’s A Flicker of Hope
Julia Cook’s latest social-emotional learning (SEL) picture book is a delight to behold! In keeping true to her form, she knocks another one out of the park with this enchanting story of a little candle that has lost most of her flame due to life pressures. The book opens with the little candle bowing under the stress of various real world problems- both trauma related (“Is my mom leaving us?”) and adolescence related (“I got blasted on Instagram”). These ideas are captured in a lovely color scheme with adorable illustrations grouped, at times, into charming square layouts. The picture of the little candle wearing a backpack and red hair bow will just melt your heart (pun absolutely intended). Even the title font is endearing with its slanty, middle-schoolesque cursive and a candle flame-dotted “i”.
Book Review: Messages
The book has so many teachable moments and memorable quotes such as how to handle situations where people won’t help you:
But what if they say no? Then you ask somebody else. And you keep asking a bunch of different ways,
until you find someone who says, “Yes.” Just don’t ever stop asking! You have to find a way to stay lit no matter what!
I love how the teen candle, who steps in to guide the little candle back to hope, models all of the hope building ideas that she recommends to the little candle- the illustrations show how she says “Stop!” to some teen meanies and then looks sadly at a picture of her own lost grandpa candle. This teen “mentor” candle shares such a wonderful message about how life is what we make it:
I chose to believe the world is better with my light in it.
Book Review: Full Circle
Finally, the story comes full circle with the little candle becoming a hope building “mentor” for a dejected green candle. The book ends with a helpful psychoeducational section that has various tips on how parents and educators can foster hope in children. Overall, this is a delightful nugget of a book! “Can I borrow some light?” might just become the new mantra in my own classroom!
Here is a link to order this book: https://ncyi.org/product/a-flicker-of-hope/
Secondary Traumatic Stress
Kids who struggle during the holidays directly affect school staff. As a result, we all need to protect ourselves from secondary traumatic stress and caregiver burnout. Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) occurs when educators or mental health professionals who work with traumatized children develop their own symptoms of traumatic stress. Alternately, caregiver burnout is a state of physical and mental exhaustion that can occur during and after taking care of someone. Here is a PowerPoint presentation that you can share with your staff to help them avoid the pitfalls of STS. Read on for some tips and resources on how to keep yourself and your staff healthy and positive!
While we are supporting children, especially those struggling with trauma during the holiday season, it is crucial that we also support ourselves. Working with struggling students is often linked to high burnout. However, counselors have their own protective factors! Two main ways we can protect ourselves from burnout involve self-care and strong boundaries.
Avoiding Secondary Traumatic Stress Tip #1: Practice Self-Care
- Keep some pick-me-up’s in your desk for a stressful day such as a Starbucks Via, your favorite type of chocolate, or some kind of protein boost.
- Take a few minutes during the day to calm your mind and body by doing a yoga pose or stretch, taking a walk around the outside of the building for some fresh air and scenery, or having a mindful moment of breath work to center yourself.
- Save up some positives for a rainy day: keep a folder of kind notes from students and/or keep a notebook of inspirational quotes.
- Some other ideas- watch a mindless TV show, spend time with animals, take the scenic route home, get crafty, make time for friends and family, and get your body moving in some way!
Avoiding Secondary Traumatic Stress Tip #2: Work those Boundaries
Many students, especially those who are traumatized, never see the boundary between professional and personal behavior modeled by their parents/guardians. Counselors can help by modeling professional boundaries at all times with students. It is important to monitor and keep a professional boundary between yourself and students. Additionally, by crossing over into the personal realm with students, counselors make themselves vulnerable to secondary traumatic stress. The interactions within the professional realm are still warm and caring, but do not cross over into the personal realm. As a result, you will be less negatively affected by a student’s struggles; this, in turn, prevents burnout and allows you to continue supporting students.
Avoiding Secondary Traumatic Stress Tip #3: Guidelines
Some guidelines to follow in keeping relationships in the professional, not personal realm:
- Be fair, consistent, and keep boundaries clear.
- Behaviors that fall into personal realm include:
- use of the word “love” or “school mom/dad” to a student
- giving out personal contact information such as your cell phone number
- self-disclosure of trauma
- Although well-meaning, these above behaviors can confuse the child of trauma, who often does not have any home experience with clear boundaries.
Winter Season Fun!
The holiday season, while hard for some, is such a joyous time for many of us and our students. So, let’s take a look at some activities to celebrate this time of year!
- One of the highlights of the season is learning about different winter holidays and their traditions. This Winter Holiday Activity teaches students about all the winter holidays while fostering respect and appreciation for the differences between us! It comes in both English and Spanish.
- This is absolutely the coolest Winter Cool-down Space around, a million thanks to Diary of a Working Mom for sharing!
- How about some Snowga– I adore this winter time yoga activity from the Inspired Tree House!
NEWSY & NOTEWORTHY
- I had a blast serving on the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) panel at the NICE Cyber Security conference in San Antonio. Such an privilege to speak alongside these school counseling superstars!
- So honored to be asked to present on group counseling in a spring ASCA webinar- details coming soon!
- 2 of my books are coming out in early 2019: Sending Students Soaring: A Trauma-Informed Group Guide, and a collaborative school counseling project that I’ve been working on with Dr. Russ Sabella. Follow me at the links below for updates on when they hit the presses!
- Last but not least, my first SEL video game will be published with Youthlight- look for it this spring!
This brings me to the end of my December post. Please leave a comment because I’d love to hear about what cool things you are doing with your students this time of year! Catch up with me again in January for my monthly counseling post that I share during the first weekend of every month!