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Start with Elementary
Elementary school students need guidance in terms of how to behave in a school environment, how to treat their teachers and peers, and how to build their character. Try to coordinate these bulletin board ideas for the school counselor with classroom lessons. Students will be thrilled to share what they’ve learned when they recognize the images on the board. Finally, this group of students require colorful, instructive pictures with simplistic language when creating bulletin boards for some of the following ideas.
- Manners—Include examples for saying “Please" and “Thank you," how to raise a hand before speaking so they don’t interrupt people who are already talking, no name calling, and how to be helpful by cleaning up their own messes. These are but a few suggestions for teaching young students to behave properly. If possible, also include images of improper behaviors.
- Peer Pressure—Often times, school is one of the first opportunities for students to establish solid friendships. A bulletin board on peer pressure should include images and responses for a main heading such as, ‘What Makes a Good Friend?’ Good friends respect differences of opinion, good friends share, and good friends help each other. Build on this concept by demonstrating what good friends do not do, such as good friends do not force you to choose between people you care about, good friends don’t threaten you, and good friends don’t take advantage of your kindness. Since this issue will probably follow students throughout their educational careers, it is best to start while they are young and instill good values while students are still receptive to adult suggestions.
- Building Character—Character building is an extensive enough topic to earn its own bulletin board for the entire year. Perhaps by posting one or two character traits each month, students will gain a stronger impression of what it means to build their character. Work with teachers to plan which character traits to focus on each month. The school counselor bulletin board will then reinforce what they’ve learned in the classroom and instill in students the relevance of each trait. Amongst the important character traits to post are honesty, kindness, responsibility, friendship, and fairness. Building character can take time, but with the help of informative and interesting bulletin boards that reinforce everyday skills, children will be able to master the social skills it takes to become a considerate and compassionate student.
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Middle School and Junior High
Middle school students are truly transitional students. They’re on the threshold of becoming young adults, which is especially significant since these foundational years can shape students for the rest of their teens and into adulthood. A few bulletin board ideas for the school counselor in a middle school or junior high setting can include some of the following topics and items.
- Study Skills—Provide suggestions for how to study on a daily basis and for exams. Flashcards, memory games, using graphic organizers (such as outlines and cause and effect maps to organize thoughts and information), reviewing notes daily, teaching a study buddy, and keeping a journal for self-reflection are but a few suggestions for study skills students will need. Students should also have a quiet place to study with minimal distractions and they should complete their work during a set time each day, such as before or after dinner.
- Time Management—Create a counseling bulletin board just for students to visualize how they’ll manage their time. Include an example of a typical student day from morning to night time. Also include other activities which might take up their time and ideas for juggling responsibilities. This bulletin board would work well in conjunction with a study skills board at the beginning of the school year, but this information would be a great reminder for the entire school year.
- Bullying and Harassment—Many schools now require bullying and harassment education for all students. However, some students will not speak up immediately if they’re being harassed or bullied, even after the training. Make sure to post the definition for bullying and for harassment. Provide examples of how someone might be bullied. A diagram especially helpful to students would be the Bullying Circle, as demonstrated on the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program web site. This diagram shows how other students play a role in bullying, even if they are not directly bothering a student. Finally, include how bullying and harassment might affect a student’s life physically and emotionally. Students need to understand it is wrong to bully or harass another student. Everyone has a right to feel secure and protected at school.
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Many high school students are enthused about their futures, but some are simply lost about how to attain the future goals they have in store for themselves. Students should also understand the circumstances of making wrong choices, like choosing to use drugs or drink and drive. These bulletin board ideas for the school counselor in high school are much more information-based. Counselors should keep the information updated and make reference to the useful bulletin boards during school announcements or through an advertisement or commercial with a school media source. If students are not aware the resource exists, they won’t access the information provided.
- Career Readiness—Ask a student what they’d like to do with their lives and many will say become a doctor, a lawyer, or an astronaut. If you ask how they’re planning to acquire that career, a majority will say they just don’t know. Set up your high school bulletin board with a flow chart explaining career readiness. Studying should lead to good grades which should lead to applying for college, the military, or a technical school, and so forth. You might also include information on top jobs in the current employment market, things to do and not do during a job interview, resume samples, and a list of traits employers look for in potential employees. Help high school students transition into the next facet of their lives with straightforward information they can use immediately.
- Say ‘No’ to Drugs—Life in high school can be difficult enough without giving in to the dangers of casual drug and alcohol use. Most anti-drugs and alcohol campus campaigns take place during the month of October to coincide with Red Ribbon Week, which is the last week of the month. Post positive messages against drugs, but also state the facts clearly in comparison to something they can understand. For example, the number of drug-related deaths in a given year also equals the population of a full stadium, a small town, or a death each day for the next forty-six years. High school students also need to understand how drugs can affect their ability to make good choices, so perhaps provide a list of bad choices someone might make while under the influence, some funny and some not so funny. Let the humor catch their attention and give all the other information a chance to stick.
- Planning for College—With all of the test preparation, extra-curricular activities, partying, and actual studying that goes on in high school, some students might not consider what it takes to get to college until it’s too late to take advantage of college immediately after high school. Also, not every student has a parent who attended college, so preparing to attend might leave students in a cloud of confusion. One of the items to include in your bulletin board ideas for the school counselor is a breakdown of the steps necessary for students to go to college, starting with the importance of studying to keep an elevated GPA, the relevance of participating in school activities, and how to complete volunteer hours. Spell out those pesky acronyms and the college jargon for them as well so they can understand what a FAFSA is and how soon they should submit it, what are SAT and ACT exams and when are they administered, where to acquire copies of a transcript and so forth. Other useful information you could list would be requirements for a few popular and not so popular colleges and universities, college costs and some of the costs they don’t tell you about when you apply, the best specialty campuses, and a resource for locating scholarship sources. A great college readiness bulletin board display with the right information can save a student a lot of hassle and embarrassment when it comes to questions about college.
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Almost all of these suggestions would work well with any age group of students, but be sure to change the material so that it is age appropriate for your campus. Otherwise, a valuable resource will be lost. With a little creativity and these bulletin board ideas for the school counselor, you’ll be sure to provide your students with the best information for building social skills and making better choices for their lives.
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Olweus Bullying Prevention Program: http://www.olweus.org/public/bullying.page
Teaching Manners: http://life.familyeducation.com/manners-and-values/parenting/34452.html
Character Building Thoughts for Children: http://www.kellybear.com/TeacherArticles/TeacherTip52.html
Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics: http://charactercounts.org/sixpillars.html
Free Application for Federal Student Aid: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/
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- Image Credit, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Navy_090320-N-3666S-147_Capt._Ricks_Polk,_commanding_officer_of_Afloat_Training_Group_Middle_Pacific_answers_questions_from_students_during_a_Career_Day_at_Iroquois_Point_Elementary_School.jpg
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- Image Credit, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pyschoactive_Drugs.jpg
- Image Credit, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bully_Free_Zone.jpg