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Counselor's Corner

Welcome to the Counselor's Corner!

Maddie BelowHello! I am Madison Below, the Mid School Counselor at MMI. I believe that navigating the world of middle school can be simultaneously a daunting endeavor and an exciting adventure. During these pivotal years of rapid growth and change, students face unique and diverse challenges; therefore, in addition to working with students individually and in small groups, meeting with parents, and collaborating with teachers, I teach the Classroom Guidance course.

In Classroom Guidance, students learn skills to help them grow and develop academically, socially, and personally. Topics covered range from the character education lessons of bullying, decision-making, relationships, and self-esteem to the executive functioning skills of time management, goal-setting, planning, and prioritization. Through both team-building and individual reflection, Classroom Guidance assists students in achieving personal growth while acquiring positive social skills and values.

I am going to use the Counselor's Corner page to give a glimpse into what we're currently studying in Classroom Guidance and to share articles related to mental health in early adolescence. I hope you had an enjoyable, restful summer break and that you check back often for new posts covering our fun-filled week at Bridge Camp as well as tips for a successful 2015-2016 school year!

National School Choice Week

Across the nation, schools celebrated School Choice Week from January 23-27. The goal of this week was to raise public awareness of all the types of effective education options available for children. Here at MMI, we used this week as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on our school and celebrate our wonderful and hard-working students, faculty, and staff.

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Test-Taking Anxiety

With midterm exams around the corner, it is inevitable that many students are beginning to experience a bit of anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. While some anxiety is beneficial and spurs students to act (or in this case, to study), some students experience an unhealthy level of anxiety. Anxiety can distort a student’s view of reality. Some symptoms of anxiety include racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating, a quickened heartbeat, sweating, and tensed muscles. Everyone experiences anxiety differently, and some students may experience more mental than physical symptoms.

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Rocky the Therapy Dog

A furry 107-pound visitor trotted through the halls of MMI on October 17, bringing smiles to students’ and teachers’ faces. We were privileged to have a visit from MMI parent and alum Mrs. Debbie Walko and her therapy dog, Rocky. A 6-year-old German Shepherd, Rocky became a registered member of the Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD) after doing extensive obedience training, dog socialization and testing. The objective of ATD is to form a network of caring individuals willing to share their special dogs to bring happiness and cheer to people, young and old.

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Decision Making

You make hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions every day. You begin making decisions from the moment you wake up in the morning. Will you hit the snooze button? What will you wear for school? What will you have for breakfast, if you choose to have breakfast at all? You may also have to make bigger decisions, such as deciding what middle school, high school, and college to attend, what activities to get involved in, and what to do when you’re inevitably faced with peer pressure.

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Bridge Camp 2016

Welcome back! I hope both MMI students and their families are excited for another school year filled with gaining knowledge, having fun, building relationships and growing personally, socially and academically. To help aid new students in the transition to attending MMI, all new Mid School students were invited to attend MMI's Bridge Camp from August 8 to 11.

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Yoga

On Wednesday, April 13, certified yoga teacher Judy Zenier joined my Classroom Guidance class to teach the sixth grade girls about the ancient practice of yoga. The students learned that yoga is over 5,000 years old and originated in India. It is a form of exercising both the mind and body that encourages movement through meditation with the ultimate goal of finding enlightenment. Those who originally practiced yoga wanted to imitate nature, and poses that replicate mountains and trees continue to be practiced today.

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Test-Taking Strategies

Although finals are several weeks away, it is never too early to practice effective test-taking strategies. These tips can be utilized on quizzes, tests, and in-class assignments.

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Read Across America Day

Read Across America Day, also known as Dr. Seuss Day, took place on Wednesday, March 2. In my sixth and seventh grade Classroom Guidance classes, we celebrated throughout the week by reading the classic Dr. Seuss story “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”.

I told the students that they are never too old for Dr. Seuss, and in fact the copy of the book that I read to them was a gift from my cousin when I graduated high school. In the story, which was Dr. Seuss’s final published work before his death in 1991, the main character experiences the highs and lows that come along with life. He contemplates going down scary, dark paths that represent the decisions we must face. He experiences “bang-ups,” “hang-ups,” and “slumps,” all of which represent the challenges and difficulties that we all inevitably go through.

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Study Space

Creating a study space at home that promotes learning may improve students’ focus, retention, and mastery of material. When students are not working in an ideal study space, they may be easily distracted, disorganized, and nonproductive. In each of my Classroom Guidance classes, we discussed what factors make an ideal study space and how students can create such a space in their own home.

Students needs vary widely when it comes to choosing and creating a study environment. Some students find listening to music to aid their productivity, while others find it highly distracting. Some students choose to change out of their school attire and into comfortable clothes to study, while others said that wearing pajamas to study makes them prone to fall asleep. Although students may have different preferences when it comes to studying, they agreed that choosing a location free from distractions, having an organized space, and creating a comfortable atmosphere all promote learning outside of the classroom.

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