Look for the Silver Lining (and watch your spelling!) (#9)

Inspiring School Counselors
Inspiring School Counselors
Look for the Silver Lining (and watch your spelling!) (#9)

What is the connection between battleships, bitmojis and the importance of good spelling skills? Find out in this humorous story from South Dakota School Counseling and Career Development Specialist Andrea Diehm.

South Dakota School Counseling & Career Development Specialist Andrea Diehm

Resources from this Episode

From (and with our thanks to) Sara Holmberg, MS, NCC, NCSC
National Certified School Counselor
Dell Rapids Middle School



Matt Fleck:
Hello again and welcome to this week’s Encouraging Words for School Counselors, I’m Matt Fleck with Inspire Success. Today we’re in South Dakota with Andre Diehm who is the School Counseling and Career Development Specialist at the South Dakota Department of Education. 

We began our conversation with Andrea asking about — of course, what else? — COVID-19. 

How, how have you been coping?

Andrea Diehm:
I’ve been doing great. So, I’ve been working from home and — which is awesome. I sleep in an extra half hour than I would if I drive into work, fitness has been taking more of a priority and I love that. And I mean, I’m coping very well. So, one of my things I did since the end of March is I’ve been making homemade cards — like pop-up cards, just random. And then I’ve been sending them to friends or family that I don’t see all the time. And so not only do they get something in the mail, which we all love, but it has that homemade touch. So obviously I hope they feel good, but then for me, I feel just as good about doing that.  

I love that idea! That is really creative. What creative ideas have you heard about from schools who are doing virtual counseling or any kind of different things with COVID?

The most creative ideas that I’ve been hearing about is really trying to get more of the game focus in there for activities. And it’s not necessarily like, Hey, I’m programming filler, but it’s really to help put some normalcy in the lives for these kids so that they feel more like I’ve got someone that’s here for me. And we know that home lives are all different for all of our kiddos. So some of them need to feel like they have that ally, even if they’re not in person with them. 

And so I saw a lot of cool activities and games people are using virtually. There’s a really, really good one. If it takes any Google sheet and they’re already formatted, they turn them into like Mad Libs, Bingo, all different kinds of types of activities and that’s called Flippity. So that one I think would be phenomenal. So you could use that, not just for games, but also as part of your classroom instruction.

I have some school counselors that are looking into the Bitmoji slides. So one of them she’s a middle school counselor actually made a Bitmoji Google slide that has links to all of these resources over the summer for students and parents.  

We have three links to Sarah Holmberg’s virtual middle school lesson plans all done with Bitmojis via Google slides on our website inspiresuccess.org/podcast, and also a link to Flippity, which if you haven’t checked it out is another one of those amazing apps for all things virtual.

Andrea of course, is well known and well respected in South Dakota and is always the ultimate professional with just a few exceptions… 

As part of my job, I want to support school counselors throughout the state of South Dakota. And so one way I thought, you know, trying to wing it to try to give support when schools just close, we’re all in kind of panic mode. And so I decided, Hey, I’ll have collaboration meetings virtually for any full counselors that want to join in. And I’ll just type notes as we go on a Google doc, but I’ll share my screen so they can see that and follow along. And so we started talking about games that you can do virtually with students to give more interaction and kind of relationship building, de-stressing. So they’re naming off all these games. Someone said, Battleship, I started typing it and I didn’t realize it for awhile, but I actually put in a T instead of a P and so it just hung out there on the screen for a bit. And I think I provided a lot of comic relief for all the viewers.  

It’s a great story. We all have to find the humor among all that we’re called to do each day as counselors, especially in this very stressful year. I have to say, I’ve never followed social media too closely, but I’ve actually been uplifted by some of the stories and memes on various social media platforms this fall, especially Instagram on which you can find us, by the way, at inspired4students. I saw one yesterday that read, quote, if a teacher or counselor falls in a forest and there is no one else around to hear, can they just stay there awhile? And finally get some rest? I like that. Andrea says we all have to keep looking for the positives, even if they’re not always apparent.

Definitely some silver linings coming out of this pandemic. I think in some ways it’s helped people maybe root in a little bit more into themselves, tap into their creativity, maybe do some things that they’ve been wanting to do and never had the time to do. I hear that people are spending way more time with family or like their kids than they ever have been able to. So there’s a silver lining to everything. We just have to look for it.  Matt:
And with those words of wisdom, we bid you a good week, and — once again — remind you that we’d love to hear YOUR humorous or touching stories from your counseling experiences. Simply drop us a short note that says “I have a story to share” at info@inspiresuccess.org – or find us online at inspiresuccess.org/podcast. So long for now and have a great week!