Thursday, March 20, 2014

Friday 5: FIVE AWESOME Teachers Pay Teachers accounts for COUNSELORS to check out!

FRIDAY 5: FIVE AWESOME TpT accounts for COUNSELORS to check out!

So I recently have been utilizing the Teachers Pay Teachers website to help me with my Elementary School Counseling Program. Let me just say...I have been pretty impressed! While I have only been using TPT for about two weeks, I have found some AWESOME accounts on there with great products. Here are my CURRENT TOP 5 (in no particular order) accounts to follow!

The Helpful CounselorThe Helpful Counselor : I LOVE LOVE LOVE THC's products. I have already purchased quite a few including: Social Skills Conversation Game, Bullying Bingo Game, Friendship Definition Card set, and the Anger Management Card set. I have definitely been impressed with the quality of work put into these products and already have some more of the THC products on my WISH LIST!

School Counseling is MagicalSchool Counseling Is Magical This is a NEW TpT creator and after checking out her products I am very impressed. She has created a "Scooping Up I-Messages" activity pack that is already on my wish list! She also has some freebies on there including "A Bug and A Wish" cards and more! Have an idea for something? Let her know through TpT!

One-Stop Counseling ShopOne stop Counseling Shop This counselor has over 87 different products for sale on TpT. The "Coping Skills Card Pack" really caught my eye and it now has a spot on my Wish List as well! There are a lot of different games and activities on the OsCS account. Check it out!

Crazy Days CounselingCrazy Days Counseling: While this counselor only has 11 products so far, they are AWESOME products for Elementary School Counselors! Plus about half of them are free! I really like the "Using Kind Words" packet that has four different lessons to choose from (another FREEBIE!). I look forward to seeing more products from Crazy Days Counseling!

Super Power SpeechSuper Power Speech: This creator has some awesome products and bundles especially focused on Social Skill building and conversation skills. Although her focus is on Speech and Language, I still find a LOT of her products to be applicable for classroom guidance lessons and small groups.

So I want to know, what other COUNSELING related products and creators have YOU found on Teachers Pay Teachers? Let me know and comment below!

Happy Friday!

Monday, March 10, 2014

How I got into the World of International School Counseling...

Usually, I get some strange reactions from people when I say I am a School Counselor in Vietnam, especially as a first-year counselor. Understandably so, many people have a lot of questions. So I decided to help answer some of these! I can already tell this is going to be a long post, so take it as you would like.

  • "How did that happen!?" Well, I have always loved traveling and never had the chance to study abroad in college. I heard about teachers being International Educators but had never heard of International School Counselors. I decided to do some research by asking some of my professors in grad school. Thankfully, one of my professors had a previous student who was at that time a School Counselor in Venezuela. I emailed her and got some awesome feedback from her perspective. After hearing her story, I decided to do some more research and see if it was something I could do myself. 
  • "Where did you start?" I started by researching International School Counseling as much as possible. I found out countries all over the world have School Counselors, mainly in international schools. I emailed some of the leaders in International School Counseling that I could find and just asked them some general questions. I was a bit worried at first, but was very impressed with the feedback I received from them. It really helped shape my understanding of the field and some of the things I could expect. The more research I did, the more I started to realize this was something I wanted to do. 
  • "How did you find that job?" From talking to the contact I had in Venezuela, I found out about the University of Northern Iowa's (UNI) International Education Job Fair. To find out more about the job fair CLICK HERE! I signed up for the fair during my last year of grad school. I was still in my internship and was nervous that I wouldn't even get looked at, but I decided to take a leap of faith. After booking my flight to Cedar Falls, Iowa, finishing my portfolio, practicing interview questions, printing off resumes, and more, I felt anxious that I wouldn't even get an interview. I got to the fair and was surprised by the amount of "mail" I had of schools that wanted to meet with me. The fair itself was overwhelming but I am so grateful I attended. After a few interviews for School Counseling and teaching positions, I decided to accept the offer at the American International School in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. 
  • "Why Vietnam?" I will be honest with you, Vietnam was not my first choice when I attended the fair. I had dreamed about going to Frankfurt or Barcelona or Turkey. However, I was also passionate about working at the elementary level and after meeting with the principal from AIS, I just knew. His idea of what the role of School Counselor was aligned with my own views and that of ASCA. He was familiar with the ASCA model and was willing to give me the trust and support to mold the counseling program at the school. I was offered jobs at two other schools, one for a K-8 Counselor in Myanmar and one as a Kindergarten teacher in Shanghai (I have a teaching license in NC). Vietnam stood out to me because of my conversation with the principal and because of the package they offered me. I am definitely confident I made the right choice. 
  • "How can I do that?" Trust me when I say, you are stronger than you even realize. If being an international School Counselor is something you really want to do then I can confidently say the odds are in your favor. You may not get a job at your first or second or tenth choice but if you are open-minded and are willing to take the chance then there are opportunities out there for you. I am not saying it is easy, but I will say that for me it was worth it. 
  • "Where do I start?" First, do your research, ask questions, email other international School Counselors, and decide if this is something you want to make a commitment to. Discuss it with people you trust and consider their feedback. I had A LOT of people tell me it was an awful idea and that I was crazy and equally as many that told me it was a wonderful opportunity. Your next step is to get a passport. Yes, just go ahead and do it as soon as possible if you do not have one. Make sure your credentials, licenses, and certifications are in check before you go into the process. Research different job fairs and opportunities around you. UNI is NOT the only job fair for international School Counselors. While I had success there, maybe you decide to try some other fairs. Some of the leading search agents for international education jobs aside from UNI are TIE Online and Search Associates. These are some of the top tier search agents for international education.
  • "I don't think I have enough money to do that..." Job fairs can be expensive and yes, there are some upfront costs that you will have to pay. This was challenging for me as I was in still in school and was interning full-time and working as a nanny part-time. However, wherever you decide to go, the MAJORITY of schools will reimburse your flight or book it for you, will give you settling in allowance, and will help set you up with housing and/or accommodations. All of the money I paid after I got the job, I was reimbursed. This includes my flight, my notarization fees, visa applications, etc. If you plan ahead, you will be able to afford it and the pay off can be huge.  
  • "But, I have a wife/husband/child/family/cat/dog/etc! What will they do?!" While it can be more challenging if you have dependents, it is still possible. Many schools will support you and your dependents and give you an extra allowance to help support them. If you have a spouse or partner who teaches then you can sign-up for fairs as a teaching couple. There are a lot of couples at my school that signed contracts together. They may teach at different campuses, but they are here together and quite a few of them have children here as well. If you have a non-teaching spouse, you can also negotiate that sometimes. It really depends on the contract with the school and many schools will state their policy on teaching couples, non-teaching spouses, and dependents up front. For pets, many times you can pay to have them transported over but this can be challenging, still doable...but challenging. 
  • "What are some of the perks?" Again, this is only from MY perspective and my experience. The package here in itself is a great perk for me. My contract allows me to save about half of my earnings (which go towards my student loans) and still allow me to have a very comfortable lifestyle here. My housing is covered as well. I get ample vacations, can travel to many places in South East Asia for cheap, get to experience the awesome Vietnamese culture, meet some wonderful people, make lifelong friends and absolutely love my job. I am very lucky and try to be grateful for every day (even the not-so-good ones). Another perk of the job here is that I can travel to nearby countries and within Vietnam for Professional Development opportunities and meet leaders in the field. 
  • "What do you find the most challenging?" It is by no means easy to be a school counselor, let alone an international school counselor. Your support systems can be compromised, you miss your friends and family, your lifestyle, your comforts, etc. The job may look different then what you are used to (although this is the case when changing jobs in general). It may take longer than you expect to adjust to the new culture, this is completely okay. There are good days and bad days. There may be days when you love your new home and job and feel like you could do this for the rest of your life. There also may be days that you end up in tears or feel like you want to hop on the next flight home. You miss major events that go on back home like weddings, births, birthdays, deaths, changes, and more. They still affect you but you can't always be there in person to support the ones you love, this is very hard. There are people who will judge your lifestyle and your choices and sometimes its from people that you never expect would. You lose some relationships, feel disconnected from people back home, and also realize the ones who will continue to make an effort no matter where you are in the world. You are put in uncomfortable situations on a regular basis and your limits can pushed to the extremes. It is not for the faint of heart, but trust me when I say YOU have it in you if this is something you want to do. 

  • "Don't you miss your family?" Every. Single. Day. I miss them more than I ever thought I would, but I also feel closer to them then I have ever have. I am reminded of them here and even though we don't talk very much, not a day goes by that I don't think about them. I am so grateful for their love and support throughout this. At the end of the day, I knew this was something I had to do for myself. I had to write my own story and live my own life; this is where it has taken me thus far. No matter where I am in the world, my family will ALWAYS be with me in my thoughts, my actions, and my words. Distance doesn't change that for me. 
  • "When will you go back to the states? I have no idea. There is a chance I could finish my contract here and then head back to states, there is also a chance that I end up doing this for the rest of my life and continue being an international school counselor at various schools around the world. I have no clue what is in the cards for me, and I am perfectly okay with that. 

I want to conclude this lengthy post by saying that if you have ANY questions or comments please do not hesitate! I am, by no means, an expert on this... this is just a look into my own experience and I consider myself an open book when it comes to this topic. Please feel free to comment below or email me with questions at

Thank you!