As a school counselor, being organized and efficient can make your days run smoothly and your program run stronger. School counselor planners designed specifically for you will make it easier to maintain a comprehensive school counseling program. We asked a few of our Confident Counselors to share their planning tips and planner recommendations. Check out these tips to stay organized each school year.
Paws-itive School Counselor
This year, my goal was to save money and start heading towards more digital options to become environmentally friendly. I put together two notebooks - one is a date planner with monthly calendars and the other is a program planner that allows me to plan and track the responsive services and class lessons I provide.
I used Counselor Up!’s Solution Focused Counseling on a Clipboard and EduKate & Inspire’s School Counselor Planner and Documentation Bundle as the base of my notebooks.
My date planner is a slimmer version of what I have used in the past and it is a good transition as I move online using Google, Outlook, and our countywide time tracking software.
My program notebook helps me plan ahead and track data and includes a section for small groups, classroom lessons, and individual student sessions.
The section for individual students includes a student schedule page, intake and session forms, and a place for meeting notes about that student.
I also included a classroom lesson section, which includes a yearly curriculum map, the state standards, a monthly breakdown by grade, and a page to write down ideas I hear at professional development sessions.
I use my calendar as a productivity tool. All of my appointments, classes, etc. go into my Google calendar. I use my paper planner to maximize my effectiveness.
In my Google calendar, I make sure to put in everything I do during the day. Yes, everything. By documenting your time, you are creating accountability for yourself to use your time wisely. I know that if I have 30 minutes or an hour where I ‘know I was busy’ but can’t write what I was actually doing, I could use my time more wisely.
In my paper planner, I jot my main calendar items down but I use most of my paper for to-do lists. I am a big fan of the “Top 5” technique. Each day before I leave work, I write down the top five things I need to do the next day. It can be big or small but these are the things I absolutely must get done.
I also like to have my program goals, group lists, school calendar, and other reminders available in my planner. I put those in the front so it’s easy to reference when needed.
Finally, I add some notes pages in the back and I’m set! You can check out my planner, and download a *free* color-coded school calendar over on my blog.
The Counseling Teacher Brandy
There's just something wonderful about a paper and pen planner. I enjoy carrying it around and decorating each page. After 5 years of editing and adding requests, I have finally created school counselor planners that include the elements I need for our Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP). The digital calendar on my phone helps me to remember events with the alarm feature. I'm lost without those alarms!
The yearly, monthly, and weekly planning pages are critical in seeing the big picture, as well as the small. It helps me with my long term and short term goals for the school year.
At the beginning of the school year, the year-at-a-glance page gets put right to use. We plan out the usual yearly events in pencil. After that, everything else seems to fall into place.
As school counselors, we often find ourselves in meetings that don't pertain to us. Like the time I spent an hour learning new math concepts because there was not a break out session for counselors. This is when the planner comes in handy. With plenty of note pages and zen coloring elements, you will have plenty to keep you busy and on task during faculty meetings.
I have recently fallen in love with the idea of a dashboard for keeping me on track each day. I started having the first page of my planner thickly laminated and use the back side of it to keep a to do list. There’s something satisfying about erasing things from the list. I use “wet erase” markers because they don’t smudge when the planner is closed.
Check out my blog post about setting up your planner with a few printing tips and a free zen doodle notes pages.
EduKate & Inspire
My planning style is a blend of digital and printed. For my day-to-day planning, I use my School Counselor Planner to keep track of individual sessions, small groups, classroom lessons, meetings, and more. I use a color coding system that helps me peek at my week and see my schedule at a glance.
Purple: Meetings - Blue: Small Groups - Green: Classroom Lessons - Pink: Special Events - Pencil: Individual student sessions (I always write these in pencil because they are most frequently re-scheduled!
When I bind my planner, I also include our building schedule, phone call logs, blank notes pages, yearly goals, to do list pages, and a year-at-a-glance page. I always take my planner to meetings with me, so is helpful to have all of my organization pages together in the same place. To see how I organize my planner, check out this post on my blog.
When I am working on curriculum mapping and school-wide programming, I prefer to go digital because it is easier for me to see the big picture in a digital format.
I can also save my templates from year to year and easily tweak them for the following year. I created a Digital Counseling Binder using Google Slides to keep me organized throughout the school year. I keep my binder in my bookmark bar in Safari, so that it is easy to access throughout the school day.
To get started using Google Docs for digital organization, check out this post on my blog with FREE, editable Google Docs.
Do you have any planning tips or planner recommendations? We would love to hear from you in the comments below! We hope you have an organized and efficient school year!