Managing Social Media Before it Manages You

Our last advisement lesson on anxiety was about managing social media. The truth is people of all ages report feeling more anxious these days. While there are many good things about social media, it can also contribute to some of the anxiety we’re feeling.

Here’s our the discussion starter: Managing Social Media.

The students had several thoughts on this subject, and we’d love for you to continue the discussion with your student. Below are the points we made.

Sometimes, what we see and post on social media can cause us (and others) anxiety. Examples:

  • Everyone has more fun than I do.
  • I must not be his/her friend, because I didn’t get invited to a particular event.
  • I’m not as ____ as others because I didn’t get as many Likes, followers, etc.

If you find that you have an emotional reaction (anxiety) when you read social media feeds, remember:

  • Don’t compare your life to others.
  • Most people only post their best days. Everyone has days that aren’t great, and even pretty boring.
  • Don’t let things posted on social media make you feel less worthy as a person.
  • Take a social media break when you need to.

Have an awesome Easter and spring break!!

Dr. Edwards


Taking High School Credit in Middle School

Should my student take the Carnegie credit or not? That’s the question and it’s an important one.idea_teeter_totter_sm_wht

The good news is you don’t have to decide until the end of the school year.

The important points to consider are:

1. Courses that earn a high school Carnegie credit in middle school will not be used in GPA calculations for the HOPE scholarship according to the Georgia Student Finance Commission rules for HOPE.

2. Courses that earn a high school Carnegie credit in middle school will not be used in the grade point average (GPA) calculation for high school, which determines class rank, valedictorian, honor graduate, etc.

3. If a Milestone End of Course assessment is mandated by the State of Georgia, the student will be required to participate in the assessment to earn the Carnegie credit.

4. Both semester grades (not yearly average) will be used to determine credit earned. If the student successfully passes both semesters a ‘P’ will be placed on the transcript and not a grade. A ‘P’ will equal 1.0 unit of credit earned.

5. Parents will be required to sign the Carnegie Unit Credit Decision form at the end of the school year indicating whether the grade for the course(s) taken will be counted for middle school credit or as a Carnegie unit towards high school graduation. Students may not earn 1/2 Carnegie credit for courses.

If a student takes the Carnegie credit, he/she will be placed in the next course. For example, if a student takes the Algebra I credit, he/she will be placed in Geometry in 9th grade. I tell the students that they should take the credit with them to high school if they have truly learned the concepts. We want them to be prepared as best they can to take the next course. If the student doesn’t take the Algebra I credit, he/she will be placed in Alg I in 9th grade. In this case, the student will likely do very well and earn a high grade which will impact his/her GPA. Mr. Herring will also make recommendations for all his Algebra I students.

I’ll give the Carnegie forms to parents on March 29 when you come to the parent meeting. If you miss this meeting, I’ll send them home with students after spring break.  Parents and students can wait to make this decision once the final grades come back. The Carnegie Unit Credit Decision Form must be signed and returned to me before school gets out for summer. If I don’t receive the form, the student will not receive Carnegie credit. Once the form is received and credit is assigned, it can’t be undone.

I hope this clears up any confusion and if you’d like to discuss anything further, please contact me.

Have a great weekend!

Dr. Edwards

Happenings at GOC

In 5th grade, the students and I watched, Breaking the Silence, as the second part of our personal safety lessons. The video told the stories, in a sensitive and age-appropriate way, of four kids who had been abused or neglected. Our students are very caring and we had a great discussion.

In 7th grade, we had a career lesson where the students took two inventories to learn more about their personal interests and styles. Then the program matched their styles with various career clusters. The students have access to the GCIS Junior program and can learn more about occupations outside of class.

I’ll do career lessons with the other grades this month and next.

Have a great weekend! 

Dr. Edwards

How To Talk With Your Child When Bad Things Happen

This post was originally written and posted on February 2, 2014 in response to the tragedy in Paris. Sadly, there’s a need for it again in the wake of the school shooting in Florida where seventeen people were killed. 

Bad things happen in our world from a family member getting hurt in a car accident to people being shot while they’re at work or enjoying an evening out. Sometimes this senseless violence can even happen in a school. It’s a sad reality of the current times in which we live.

Just as adults struggle with making sense out of these events, so do children. Below are a few tips to help parents discuss these types of events with their children.

Limit the media (including social media) coverage of these events, especially if you have young children in the house.

Take your cues from your child. Sometimes adults over-explain a horrific event which can lead to confusion and more fear.  Keep your conversation simple.

Have age appropriate conversations.

Children under 6 are not likely to be aware of events unless it directly affects them or their family. In this case, no conversation is necessary.

For children aged 6-11, let them ask questions and only give enough information that answers their questions. Follow their lead. Avoid going into all the details of the event. Children may ask questions about death and this is a good opportunity to discuss your family’s beliefs in an age-appropriate, understandable manner.

Middle school kids will have more questions. Even if you’ve kept media coverage out of your home, it’s likely kids this age will have heard about the events from other students. Often this information is incorrect or exaggerated. Start by asking, “What have you heard?” or “What do you know?”

High school kids have probably read about the events on social media and have formed opinions about what happened. It’s normal for kids this age to not bring it up with their parents and even act nonchalant since it didn’t directly happen to them. Parents can ask the questions mentioned above and see if their teen will engage in a conversation. Share your own feelings about the event.

Don’t dismiss fears. Fear is a normal reaction to these situations and kids want to know if something bad can happen to them. Explain that these events rarely happen and that you and other caring adults are doing everything you can to keep them safe.

Keep your routine normal. Continue your child’s school and after-school activities, and especially keep their bed time the same.

For some kids, it’s difficult to have a “sit down, eye-to-eye” conversation. Instead, engage in an activity together. You can play legos, work a puzzle, shoot hoops, or drive in the car.

Put fear and/or discomfort into action. Find an organization that’s helping the victims and participate by donating time or money. Participating in any type of service with non-related organizations is just as helpful. Point out that there are many good people who care about others in our world.

I’m reminded of the wise words from Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers).

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so may helpers—so many caring people in this world.”

Please let me know if I can help.

Dr. Edwards

Upcoming at GOC

There are two important events coming up for 8th grade students and parents, and they both have to do with getting ready for high school.

March 22 – During Learning Labs, I’ll talk with students about the course requirements and options for 9th grade. Students will receive their course plan (made by their current teachers.) They’ll take these home to discuss with their parents.

March 29 – 9:00-10:00 am Dr. Brown, GOC’s high school counselor, will meet with 8th grade parents to discuss all things related to high school (AP courses, Dual Enrollment, graduation requirements, etc.)

All 6th-8th grade students will get to explore the world of work in March. Stay tuned to hear about their discoveries.

I hope to “see” everyone during Virtual Week next week! You’ll log in to all your courses and attend class virtually.

Have a great weekend!

We may get to see the sun!

Dr. Edwards



Stop Awfulizing!

This week, the 7th and 8th grade students had another advisement lesson on managing anxiety. You can view the video discussion starter here.

Awfulizing*, or thinking an outcome will always be negative, is a major source of anxiety. Sometimes, the anxiety is so bad that students (and adults) will avoid situations that they feel anxious about. This can prevent students from taking the necessary risks that lead to living a full life. Examples of this is a student not entering a talent show for fear of being embarrassed, or not attending a social event because of a fear of crowds and new places, or refusing to take a more advanced course due to a fear of failure.

We discussed the three steps to help you stop awfulizing.

    1. RECONGNIZE when you’re thinking negatively.
    2. ASK yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” When you do this, you’ll often realize that you could handle it.
    3. THINK what’s the likelihood of that bad (awful) thing happening? Researchers tell us that most of the stuff we worry about won’t ever happen or has already happened and there’s nothing that can be done about it.

I challenged the students to use this three-step approach the next time they have a worry.

The 6th grade students will get the lesson next week. Please talk with your students about our lesson and partner with us to help all our students grow academically, socially and emotionally.

You can read about our previous lessons on this topic here and here.

Have a great weekend!

Dr. Edwards

*Psychologist, Albert Ellis, is the originator of the term, awfulizing.


7th Grade Lifelines Lessons

In 7th grade, Coach Blair and I taught the Lifelines lessons, promoting suicide prevention. These lessons are taught to all GCPS 7th grade students. Because kids tend to tell other kids if they’re contemplating hurting themselves, it’s important that students are equipped with what to say and do if they’re ever in this situation.

We discussed the Warning Signs of suicide.

  • F – feelings
  • A – actions
  • C – changes
  • T – threats
  • S – situations

We also talked about the importance of:

  • showing you care,
  • asking if the person is considering suicide,
  • and getting adult help

if someone tells you they are thinking about suicide.

The main points we emphasized were to show you care and get adult help. Ask your students about these lessons.

I reminded the students that they can always talk to me if someone they know is or if they are in distress. Please let me know if your student would like to discuss this topic with me further.

Have a great weekend!

Dr Edwards

Happy 2018!

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Happy New Year!

Wow…2018!  Don’t you just love starting fresh? The new year is full of opportunities for each of us.

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? Some people avoid making them for fear that they won’t keep them. Thinking of things you’d like to try or change is a great way to begin a new chapter.

I’d like to challenge you to think about 2017–its triumphs and challenges. Perhaps you made really good grades first semester. Or you struggled with attending all your Learning Labs, live and virtual. Maybe you didn’t spend as much time being physically active as you would have liked.

Set one goal that can help you overcome any challenges you had and one goal that will help you increase an opportunity for success.

I hope you have a successful start to Semester 2 and as always, let me know if I can help in any way! Let’s make it a great year!

Dr. Edwards

Conquering Test Anxiety

This week we tackled test anxiety in Middle Grades Advisement. Ms. Sotolongo also shared the lesson with the 4th and 5th grade students.

Almost every student has experienced some form of test anxiety at one time or another. You can view the discussion starter video here. The signs of test anxiety are:

  • Physical symptoms: headache, stomachache, sweating, rapid heartbeat, and feeling faint;
  • Emotional symptoms: feelings of fear, helplessness, anger/irritability; and
  • Other symptoms: difficulty concentrating, thinking negatively, comparing yourself to others.

There are several things students can do to prevent and mange test anxiety.

Before the test:

  • Be prepared; don’t cram; make a study schedule and avoid time-drains (TV, video games, etc).
  • Practice calm breathing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Get a good night’s sleep, at least 9-10 hours.

The day of the test:

  • Recognize you’re feeling anxious.
  • Eat a nutritious breakfast – nothing too sugary that causes an energy crash later.
  • Get to class a little early (feeling rushed makes you anxious).
  • Think positive thoughts – “I know this stuff.”, “I can do this.”, “I’ve studied for this.”, “I don’t have to get every question right.”
  • Don’t pay attention to what others are doing in the testing room.
  • Use calm breathing.

We hope you’ll discuss these strategies with your student so they’ll have a stress-free or almost stress-free exam period.

Have a great weekend!

Dr. Edwards