Environment matters. From the office walls to your desktop, what you put in your school counseling office sets the tone for your relationship with your students. How do you make your students feel welcome? What do you want your students to be doing and thinking when they come into your office? For me, it’s all about feeling calm, trusted, and invited. There are five must-have items in my office. These are the items that I rely on the most when a student walks in my door.
“Tracking school counseling time is my favorite task,” said no counselor ever. (especially not The Counseling Teacher!) I have to admit that keeping a time usage log makes me cringe. From phone calls and emails, to every conversation in the hallway, we are always working towards meeting the recommended time usage percentages posted by the American School Counseling Association (ASCA). When I think of all of the things I could accomplish instead of this tedious task, I squirm. Then I remind myself that this is not about me. This is about the students. This is about providing a data driven, research based, school counseling program for my amazing community. After struggling with spending too much time with various data collection methods, I knew that our current method wasn’t working. Then one fine day, my fellow counselor, Mrs. Carla Christian and I stumbled upon a little gem called SCUTA Pro. To make it even sweeter, we were able to secure a grant to cover the yearly fee. And we were off.
First things first, we do not get any financial gain from SCUTA Pro for this review. We’ve been using it for 2 years for tracking school counseling time and have no complaints. I really wanted to share our journey because it has helped us so much and I hope it will help others as well. Overall, it has been a user-friendly way to analyze the effectiveness of our program.
Top 3 Reasons We Continue to Choose SCUTA Pro for Tracking School Counseling Time
The website is very easy to navigate. Whenever we couldn’t figure something out, we were able to get assistance right away through an email to customer service. Sometimes the owner would email OR CALL us to make sure that we were comfortable with the program. My favorite feature that came out our second year of use is the “repeat” option that allows me to easily fill in a recurring activity that I do on a regular basis. When entering data, categories are already filled so that you can easily choose from a drop down menu without typing it out. Finally, my counseling supervisor can look up my data in real time without asking me to send in a report.
The first thing that drew us to SCUTA was the fact that it followed the ASCA National Model recommendations. The time categories come straight from ASCA. Carla and I are sure that our SCUTA reports were critical in helping us prepare for and obtain RAMP certification for our middle school. After winning RAMP, our district decided to pick up the tab on our SCUTA fees and provide the service to all of the schools in our district.
Colorful, visual graphs help us keep track of percentages for our use of time based on ASCA recommendations. With a quick glance at the colors on the calendar pages, it’s pretty clear instantly if we are making our goals. We use this data to self-reflect and plan our time in a way that helps us maximize the effectiveness of our program. We also use these reports to share our progress with stakeholders. I can look up by student name or type of activity. I can also choose a time period which is helpful when I’m analyzing each quarter.
Advice for First Time Users
One thing I learned from the first two years of using SCUTA Pro is that it would be a good idea to spend some time reading over the categories and subcategories and deciding how to best label certain activities. For instance, some duties that may seem like non-counseling related tasks are actually counseling tasks. If you look at how you perform your daily duties, you could easily turn meaningless tasks into meaningFUL tasks. For instance, early morning car duty could be used as a time when you warmly greet families which falls under the PBIS counseling task.
Finally, I love how the owners are continually getting feedback from counselors to keep the program up to date and as helpful as possible. I’m excited to see next year’s version. I know they are constantly improving and making time-saving additions. If you still have questions, you can leave a comment or contact me directly.
Finding the Words: Bibliotherapy & Diversity
How does one “teach” others to be respectable citizens who appreciate and even celebrate the unique qualities of others? Is it possible to teach that in a lesson? Most would argue that being a model of such behavior is a crucial first step. The way we educators talk about and react to others will have the greatest impact on our youth. They are watching us. They can spot a fake. They will know if we practice what we preach. So, before we even begin trying to teach cultural competency, we have to live it. But, we can do better than live it. We can CELEBRATE it.