When I first started counseling I felt the least prepared for teaching class lessons. With no teaching experience and little classroom management skills, I found being in the classroom quite challenging. Over the years and through lots of trial and error, I've found success and even joy in teaching guidance lessons. Hopefully, I can share something helpful so you get it right the first time!

So why liven up your guidance lessons?

The content you are delivering in your lessons is super important and you may have a lot to cover. But you don't want it to come across as boring. Not only do you not want to bore your students, but you need to get a handle on classroom behavior management. Preparing an interactive and engaging lesson is the best way to keep the class under control.

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Liven up Your Guidance Lessons with Videos

I LOVE using videos to introduce a concept. They always get the kids' attention. Incorporating some short, fun clips into your guidance lessons can be a great visual aid when teaching a key character word or lesson. This isn't the bread and butter of your lesson, but a short and funny video can be great supplemental material for your lesson. Videos can also serve as a conversation starter. For example, when teaching my 3rd graders about self-regulation, I like to use a short clip from the Disney movie 'Inside Out' to show how quickly Riley's emotions change in different situations.

So how do you actually do it?

I usually create a PowerPoint presentation for my lessons so I'll simply add a link or download the video and embed it in my presentation. (Tips for downloading a video from Youtube are in the blog post listed below.) If I'm not using a full PowerPoint presentation, I'll email the teacher the link and they can pull it up on their computer. Sometimes this is even better because they are already hooked up to the projector. Time saver!

Are you wasting precious time on Youtube and Pinterest looking for the perfect video to show with your lesson? Check out my Youtube Video Resource Guide where I categorize my favorite videos based on counseling topic.

Liven up Your Guidance Lessons with Escape Rooms

Escape rooms have become pretty trendy in education over the last couple of years and for good reason. They are super engaging and fun! I did a real-life escape room with my family a few years ago and it was so entertaining and challenging. The point is to use problem-solving skills and work as a team to find a solution to puzzles.

Why use escape rooms?

Since you are going into classrooms every month, year after year, your content could potentially get a little stale. Even if the kiddos don't seem to notice, you may get tired of teaching it. I know I do! It makes me wonder how secondary teachers do it, teaching the same content for several periods a day. Anyways, escape rooms are a great way to engage your students, manage behaviors, and appeal to different learning styles.

Engage Your Students & Manage Behaviors: These two go hand in hand. As I mentioned before with video, by creating engaging content you are not only entertaining your students, but you are preventing behavior challenges. When students get bored they are more likely to get off task.

Teach to Different Learning Styles: A PowerPoint slideshow and discussion cards may be the most simple lesson for you to put together, but that is probably not the best way for all students to learn. By switching up the delivery of your content with each lesson you have a better chance of resonating with ALL students. Which remember, is why we do tier 1 intervention in the first place!

How to use Escape Rooms

You can create an escape room lesson by having students break into teams to solve an objective through a series of challenges. The first team to complete all of the challenges and "escape" wins! For example, if you are teaching a lesson on friendship one of the challenges could be for students to list or categorize the qualities of a good friend. Another challenge could be for them to write or act out a conflict resolution scenario.

Set-up: I like to set up the room into 5 different stations. At each station there are instructions for that challenge, materials needed for the activity (ex: paper, if drawing), and an indicator that the group has completed their challenge. You can have them hurry to the next station independently once they complete it, but I like to check for understanding throughout the lesson rather than at the end. Think of the process kind of like a scoot game!

Timing: Keeping track of the time is super important for escape rooms. When planning you want to make sure that the students have enough time to get through each challenge in your allotted lesson time slot. I usually only get 30 minutes for guidance lessons so my escape rooms have 5 parts that take about 3-5 minutes each. Don't forget to calculate extra time at the beginning for instructions and there may be a lot of questions. Also, leave time at the end for debriefing and reviewing the concept learned.

Seem like too much work?

The concept is simple, but I'm not going to lie, it takes a lot of time and effort to get all of the materials prepped and organized. The initial setup is time-consuming but once you do it you can easily reproduce the game to use with different classes.

Don't have time to create one on your own? I've got you covered with my pre-made "mission" interactive guidance lessons. Students must solve the mission in time to learn about the role of the school counselor, tattling vs. reporting, self-control, and growth mindset.

Check them all out here.

Liven up Your Guidance Lessons with Role-Play and Charades

The final way I like to spice up my guidance lessons is by using interactive experiences like role play and charades to get students engaged.

What it looks like for charades:

If you're presenting a list of content to students such as stress busters, calm down strategies, or tips for staying organized, have students take turns acting out the strategies rather than hearing you describe them. This makes the delivery more engaging for the participants and the audience and it really helps your information stick!

For example, I would take a few student volunteers and whisper to them their coping strategy (count to 10, take a deep breath, get a drink of water, etc). They would then act out their strategy to for the class to guess. You could even break the class into halves to make it more competitive! Once they act out their strategies, discuss as a class if anyone has tried the strategy and if it was successful or not.

What it looks like for role play:

If you want to practice using a skill such as I-statements, being assertive, or conflict resolution, break students into groups and have them come up with their own example. Or you can always provide them with an example scenario to act out. They then take turns presenting to the rest of the class.

For example, I would pass each group a card with their conflict resolution role-play scenario on it. ("Your friend Jessie starts ignoring you at lunch. Your friend Marta says Jessie is mad at you because you didn't invite her to your house over the weekend.") They would then discuss it with their group, assign parts, and practice for a few minutes. After the group presents to the class, discuss as a class additional solutions for solving the problem.

Why use role-play or charades?

The students are presented the concept in a memorable and meaningful way that they are more likely to retain, while the interactive component doubles as a behavior management strategy. Plus, it gives students ownership of their learning and is a lot of fun!

The best part about using charades or role play? There is little to no prep!

I recently taught this study skills lesson to grades 3-5 and with the charades activity. My responsibility and friendship lessons both have role play opportunities too.

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How to liven up your guidance lesson


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