How to Help with Middle School STRESS

I recently had a crying student come in that was very frustrated and stressed out (and I only had 20 minutes until my lunch group was coming in – sound familiar?)

Together we identified the many things that were stressing her out (peers, a teacher, her mom, her step-mom, her brother, school work, her iPad) by placing each thing on a sticky note and then we started to try to “fix” some of those issues. I could easily remove the peer problem, school work, teacher & iPad issue to give temporary solutions – which allowed us to take away that sticky note.

Everything else she listed seemed like pretty normal teen stuff…but then everything together was becoming overwhelming. Does this sound like a student you know? This is when I start to wish I had a magic wand…how can I help this poor girl that is crying in my office?

RX For Stress

My first line of defense was my favorite “RX for Stress” in a jar. I split up the cards and told her to find a few that she wanted to try. Together we chose 8 cards that could help her calm down when she is stressed such as “make sure you eat breakfast”, “get enough sleep”, “talk to your school counselor”, “do a tree pose (yoga)”…which then reminded me of another idea! is a FANTASTIC website that “helps kids channel their physical and emotional energy with short desk-side physical activities – brain breaks – to help them with their specific issue” and it can be used individually, small group or even whole group.  So I logged in to the website (I have my own classroom version – its free!) and I let the student choose the activity type – she chose the “calming” category and then she chose the activity called “Flow” (one of my favorites). It talks kids through deep breathing (rainbow breaths) and adds visuals to help entertain. This 7th grade student LOVED IT. She said it really helped her calm down. She wanted to see some more activities so I let her choose one more (they are 1-4 minutes in length). She left my office with a smile on her face.


I left feeling accomplished. I did NOT fix this student’s issue but I helped her add to her own bag of tricks – and that is my goal…having kids learn the skills to adapt to every day issues!

Here is information on how to use it in your classroom or school counseling office – GoNoodle Tutorial Walkthrough

My favorite activities are Stretching Brain Breaks with Maximo, Flow and some of the energizing activities such as learning how to dance to “Move your Body” by Beyonce – let me tell you, its a great workout and my girls loved it!

How do you help a stressed out kid in your office?


Google Form Example for School Counselors

I am blown away at the attention my last blog post has received about data received through google forms!!!! Thank you to everyone who has visited my blog and welcome to The Urban Educator!

Many of you have asked to see the google form that I use…so the easiest way for me to share it with you was to make one especially for you (instead of giving you the link to the one I use everyday). Check out my google form for student notes here – this is the version I use to document my student notes (the live form) *this is just an example – you need to create your own to input student information*

This is what it looks like when I am creating the google form:

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Once you create your google form through your google drive, there will automatically be a (Responses) table created that will show your responses in your google drive. This table will show you all of your responses and you can sort by grade, type or student (it will automatically sort by date). Many of you also asked how to see the graph after you have documented your student notes. This is the EASIEST part of the data collection process.  See photo below…all you have to do is click on FORM – SHOW SUMMARY OF RESPONSES and google creates that pretty little color coded graphs with all of your data 🙂

Summary of Responses

Any suggestions are always welcome! Collecting data is important to prove to everyone that your job is important and I personally find this way super easy. Best of luck and continue to check back often 🙂


Counseling Data

That scary 4 letter word, data. We are told we need it but sometimes have a hard time gathering it. Collecting it is time consuming…a burden for sure. But the end result can blow your mind.

The data doesn’t lie.

And it is certainly amazing to see – especially with pretty little color coded graphs outlining your month’s work! Welcome to my 2nd month counseling at my new school. September was slow because I was getting to know students and make daily schedules…I wasn’t quite impressed with what I had accomplished yet. This month, October, I got into a good groove, made a system for scheduling students and started lunch groups. Below you see my October Counseling Stats, made using Google Forms (my favorite data collection source – totally customizable for my needs and easily changed) which can take the table responses from my “Daily Notes Form” and transform it into the beautiful pictures below that explain what I do so much better than words!

Take the data and run.

After realizing that a lot of my students come in for peer related issues, I want to dig a little deeper. What are my most popular topics when students come to me to discuss peers? For November, I’m breaking it down into 3 additional sections:

  • Conflict resolution
  • “bullying”
  • Friend support

Hopefully I’ll gain additional insight into our peer issues to start new groups with those topics in mind.

October Student Data_Page_1

October Student Data_Page_2

Using iTunes U for School-Wide Counseling Support

Have you heard of iTunes U?

Surviving Middle School

If you have an iPad or iPhone you can download iTunes U which is basically an online course that your students and teachers can subscribe to and have all of your documents/materials and lessons at your fingertips.

This year, I’ve created our Middle School online course, “Surviving Middle School” (click here with your iOS devise) that gives students information from “How to Make Friends”, “What is a Bully?”, “How to Prepare for BIG Tests” and many more topics under the umbrella of School Counseling. Updates happen often so keep checking back for new information and links to helpful websites and apps to use for your School Counseling Program. Hope you find my course helpful for you and your students!!

Using Video to get in to EVERY SINGLE CLASSROOM

I can get in to EVERY SINGLE CLASSROOM in one day without leaving my office.

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Yes, that’s right, I was seen by every student on my caseload in one day. Now, some of you may not feel comfortable being video taped or even audio taped…well than this idea just isn’t for you, sorry!! I have done so many school-wide presentations that the thought of speaking in from of 400 students at the same time doesn’t phase me so speaking in to my computer is no big deal. I have had at least 20 students say, “Hi Mrs. Mecaughey! I saw your video, super cool!” so this has been totally worth it for me and I will continue to do at least 1 video a month for our school-wide character traits.

So, heres the deal.

  • First, I create a keynote presentation (I am slowly transitioning over from powerpoint) with the information I want to show.
  • Then, I click PLAY and RECORD SLIDESHOW
  • The slideshow will start and the red light will be on, during this time you talk…just as if you were presenting in front of a room of students (yes, I probably did 20 different takes until I got it right)
  • When you are ready to go to the next slide, click the arrow button and continue on with the presentation until you finish the slides
  • Once you are sure everything is ready and you are done, SAVE and then click EXPORT
  • You can share this as a quicktime video or .key document with teachers via email (compress the file if it is too large or send via googledrive or post to your online course in iTunes U)
  • Teachers can play this in the classroom on a smart board or TV…or even large screen computer
  • Students can watch this video anytime with your course on iTunes U on their iPad (if applicable)

It is important to note that the person watching the slideshow will NOT be able to pause it at anytime…so keep that in mind when creating the video.

Interested in seeing a video in action? Check out my iTunes U course Surviving Middle School and click on October Character Trait and watch my “Responsibility Video” (you must have iTunes U on your IOS devise to watch). Feel free to ask me any questions about this process and best of luck!

Using “Love Notes” in Friendship Groups


This week in my girls friendship lunch group, I gave each student an envelope printed with their name on the outside (and a little red heart for added love). Inside the envelope, I wrote each student a positive love note such as, “your smile fills any room you are in” or “thank you for your honesty and participation in our group, we are so thankful to have you!”.

The girls LOVED this activity. After they read their special note, I gave them 3 minutes to write their own notes to other group members or themselves. I played some inspirational songs during this time and the girls used markers and small index cards. This special note above was one of the first student notes I received this year and it made me smile 🙂 These positive words of encouragement also came in handy for our next activity which involved a “I’m Special and Unique” Board to help boost self-esteem.



Bright and Cheery Chevron Digital Backgrounds by Melissa Dalton

School Counseling Office Design

My office is small, I have to use an unoccupied classroom if I need more space for groups. Here are some pictures of my active workspace – viewer BEWARE! This picture is taken in the middle of the day and the middle of the week…so please no judgements 🙂

I will add more photos when I clean up because I’ve moved the bookcase recently which has added a lot more room – it has really transformed the space!!

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