10 Back to School Tips for School Counselors

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Back to School Tips for School Counselors

Once we have forgotten how great sleeping in feels, we definitely believe this is the best time of year. The slate is wiped clean. We get to start another year, more experienced and more confident.

So hold your head high, bring those shoulders back, and bookmark these 10 tips with comments from your favorite Confident Counselors.

Start with the Foundation

Meet with your administration and counselors to fill out and sign ASCA’s Annual Agreement — School Counselor Stephanie.

Conduct a Needs Assessment. Your entire program should be built off of the needs of your students, teachers, and parent— Heather, The Helpful Counselor

Set Goals, S.M.A.R.T. Ones

Make a plan for the year and write it down— Rebecca, Counselor Up

Get in the habit of keeping to a schedule. Time can slip away, so be sure to budget your time wisely! Prioritize! — Counselor Traci R. Brown

Everything Has Its Place

Print, laminate, and organize all materials you think you will need during the first semester. When things get hectic, you’ll feel prepared knowing those materials are ready to go! — Keri, Counselor Keri 

As much as I hate spending a summer day (or two) at school prepping, I always feel better starting the year with all of my new supplies & office in order. Permission slips and bulletin boards for new students groups are done before the kids start. Being organized allows me to be available for student issues those first few days — Gretchen, Speckled Moose Counseling

Create caseload list and “frequent fliers”. Organize it by grade/class and issue (e.g., emotional regulation, anxiety, study skills, social skills). This is your jumping off point for creating your first round of counseling groups — Laurie Mendoza,  School Counseling Files

I have craft activities that go along with lessons, but it is a ton of prep work. I have found kids LOVE to help, especially 6th grade girls! Kids sign up to be on the The Helper Squad. They are eager to help and it makes them feel good doing a service for others. Some of my favorite times are being with these kids helping me prepare something fun to add to my lesson — Jodi, The School Counselor Is In


Teachers Are Our Best Friends

One way to build positive relationships is to look at the school calendar monthly and look for big events coming up. Grade level programs are quite stressful for teachers. So, the day of the program, writing a quick good luck note or giving a small treat goes a long way in showing support to others — Jodi, The School Counselor Is In

Build a relationship with new staff in your building. Stop by classrooms. Often new teachers don’t know anybody and will be surprised that you thought to make a visit — Little Miss Counselor

Work on building a positive relationship with school staff right away! This will make your year much easier in the long run — Chelsey, CounselorChelsey

The Boss Calls the Shots

Meet with your administrator to clarify expectations and program goals — Heather, The Helpful Counselor

Meet with administrators/team leaders prior to school to discuss your yearly action plan, goals, and mission statement. They’ll come to you with mission-based issues and seek your guidance when they know what you’re working toward!— Keri, Counselor Keri

It’s All About the Kids

Be ready with a warm smile and a greeting for every child, letting them know you are happy they are here. I give hugs too! — Susan, Counseling Wisdom

Spend time in Kindergarten the first two weeks. Some TLC will support smoother transitions for teachers, students, and parents — Laura, Social Emotional Workshop

The first week of school is when a positive tone is set in the school. Be in the hallways and at car duty with a big smile and helpful attitude. You are kind of like the host of a party, making sure that everyone is happy and getting the help they need during the chaos of a new school year. Modeling a calm and caring attitude will go a long way — Brandy Thompson, The Counseling Teacher

We are Family

Set up a process for how you will communicate with parents. How will you educate them about your role, let them know how they can reach you, and how you will get the word out. This year, I plan to do a email newsletter each trimester, so will use the school’s first parent letter to provide parents with a link to sign-up via a Google Survey — Laurie Mendoza, School Counseling Files

Parent anxiety is contagious! Be prepared for loads of questions, reminders of previous system barriers, and requests for immediate solutions. Take a step back before you try and fix their concerns on the spot. Remind yourself this is not an emergency. Have your contact information and planner available to schedule a brief check in where you can later address their worries in a calm and confident manner. Keep in mind, the sooner you address a parent’s worries by simply acknowledging and validating them, the easier the school year will be for everyone — Robyn, Mental Fills

Sweat the Small Stuff

Write a brief personal note to the families of new students after having students in a New Kids group. I write 1-2 sentences on my group conclusion letter, & this small effort builds relationships with new families — Gretchen, Speckled Moose Counseling

Visit the cafeteria during lunch times-so much can be observed and you are visible to the students — Carla, The DIY Counselor

Remember You? Take Care of Yourself

Establish a self care routine and stick to it — Yanique Chambers, Kiddie Matters

Practice self-care. The first week of school is exhausting. Be sure to balance work and home life — Brandy Thompson, The Counseling Teacher

Say some form of the serenity prayer. Stay positive, change the things you can, accept the things you cannot, and try to know the difference — School Counselor Stephanie

Be Confident

Fake it until you feel it — Confident Counselors

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10 Back to School Tips for School Counselors