|Yes, this is me this week!!|
I wanted my first post for the 2016-17 school year to include gearing up for the school year as a school counselor. Part of gearing up includes preparing your counseling office, communicating with students and parents, educating the school community about your role, making plans for professional development and of course, sharpening your skills.
Each year, it is imperative that we educate our staff, students, and parents about our role as professional school counselors. If you are like me and need some ideas on educating your school community, check out this wonderful resource from the American School Counseling Association.
In addition to informing your school community about your role, it is important to learn how to market your school counseling program. Think about this question…why is it important that the school have a counselor and why should students and parents bother entering your office? Unfortunately, we school counselors, are not always the best at promoting our profession. Do you need help marketing your position? I have a resource for you!!
|Marketing is important as a school counselor|
Check out this marketing guide from the Counseling Geek, Jeff Ream.
Also, Jeff and Jeremy Goldman presented on branding your school counseling program at ASCA14 in Orlando. Here is the link to their presentation.
Brian McMahon High School Counseling Brochure
Another friend, Franciene Sabens, has a blog post with a lot of fantastic ideas on how to promote your school counseling program to your school community.
First, to be effective, make sure you take to the time to organize your time professionally and personally. One way to do this is by using Trello.
Second, create and share your department and individual counseling calendar. Below are some examples from Carol Miller and Kriya Lendzion.
Okay, I can’t say this enough…communicating with parents and students during the year is so important!! However, what are the best methods of communicating?
I am sure there are other methods of communicating, but here are my top picks.
Nothing beats this oldie but goodie. However, did you know you can trick out your email. Yes, it is true! One way to do this by creating canned responses when parents and students email you and you need to get out information right that moment. Check out Jeff Ream’s (aka the Counseling Geek) video on how to set up canned responses for Google Mail.
Remind, a free messaging service, is usually thought of as a tool for teachers; however, it can be helpful for high school counselors. I believe I missed a large number of students by ignoring this mode of communication. You can use Remind to send messages to students and parents regarding events, meetings, registration, class information, and so much more. Need help? Check out this short tutorial!
Here are the basics…
If you are like me and do not have a large budget, Zoom has a free option for conferencing. The free option includes:
- Meeting with up to 50 participants.
- Unlimited meetings
- 40 minutes of conferencing.
- Video recording and sharable links.
- Ability to download and share documents and desktop.
- Options to mute and hide participants.
- Ability for participants to observe without participating in video conferencing.
- Option to call in if participant cannot access the internet or a computer.
How can you use Zoom? Here are some ideas…
1. The school counselor can use it for training students to fill out an application for college, completing scholarship applications, helping parents complete the FASFA, assisting students in calculating their grade point averages, and more.
2. The school counselor can set up small groups when face to face sessions are not available during the day.
3. Pre-recorded sessions can be created when counselors need to share information with teachers, parents or students.
4. Pre-recorded classroom guidance lessons can be created on specific topics (study skills, cyberbullying, etc.).
5. The school counselor can organize and share advisement lessons using students from a remote location.
6. Zoom is great for after hour conferences with parents and students. This is a lifesaver for those parents who work late or have transportation issues.
7. The school counselor can hold parent conferences remotely when attendees are unable to be at one location.
8. The school counselor can collaborate and share ideas with other colleagues!
Here is a tutorial on how to sign for Zoom. The Zoom site has lots of helpful videos!!
I know, I know you have heard it a million times. So, here is a million and one…keep up with how you spend your time. According to ASCA, school counselors should spend 80% of their day in counseling related activities. How do you know if you are meeting this requirement? Use a data tracking system. One tool to analyze your time is EZAnalyze Time Tracker. Here is an overview of how to use this tracker by Jeff Ream.
Want more options? Here are are some free templates by Karl Liedtka from Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
In addition to keeping a calendar and tracking your time, it is a good idea to have a method for arranging and tracking your appointments.Yes, there are ways that you can keep up with meetings, conferences, consultations, and much more. Some effective methods of keeping up with appointments include:
Google Forms – See this form by Ange Bee
Every counselor wants an office that is inviting, comfortable, and interesting. There are several ways to do this…
First, get ideas by exploring Pinterest (my favorite place to get ideas!!). Here is a link to creative ideas for school counseling offices.
Second, get your office ready by putting up posters that send a message to your students. You can gets lots of posters from the School Counselor Blog Store for a minimal fee! Also, there are numerous stores on Face Book for you with great resources. These stores include:
|Bulletin board that gives information to students without them visiting the counseling office|
Need swag??? Make sure you visit Jeff Ream’s post on how to make it rain college swag. Also, invest in some t-shirts! There is no better way of promoting yourself than a t-shirt. Both Carol Miller, The Middle School Counselor Blog, and Jeff Ream, The Counseling Geek, have great offers on school counselor t-shirts.
It is important to begin planning your professional development early. Professional development includes training, conferences, workshops, online groups, online webinar, etc. If you need a place to start, here are some suggestions.
Also, consider joining other school counselors online for year round professional development.
Have you given your yearly needs assessment? Not sure how or even where to start? Check out this post from the Helpful Counselor on how to conduct an effective needs assessment. Also, Karl Liedtka has some examples of parent, faculty, and student needs assessments.
I would love to hear some of your ideas of how you prepare for the new year!! Please feel free to give us your best tips!!