New School Counselor – Tips For Your First Month

Read Time:  min |  Counselor Life, Your Program

As a new school counselor you are likely feeling excited and overwhelmed. We've all been there. A few Confident Counselors have some tips about where you should focus your first month. These are definitely things we all wish we knew when we were a new school counselor.

Slow & Steady

It’s so exciting to start your first year as a new school counselor and actually get paid for doing what you love!

Oftentimes new counselors have so many thoughts of things to change, groups to start, programs to implement, and fresh ideas to make the school a better place. Sometimes those changes aren’t easily welcomed by other staff members. Before changing anything, get comfortable in your role and get a feel for the climate of the school.

Also, spend time doing what counselors do best, which is relationship building with staff, parents, and students. I have found that without building rapport, new ideas will be met with resistance.

Lastly, take it slow. Counselor burnout is real, so make self-care a priority.

Little Miss Counselor
Erika > Little Miss Counselor

School counselor with 12+ years of experience, I've worked with elementary and middle school students. Currently, I work with students ages 3 to 1st grade at an early childhood center.

Visit my TPT store, Little Miss Counselor.

Relationships First

Relationships first! This is our mantra as counselors and it’s exceptionally true when you are establishing yourself in your building and with all of your stakeholders.

Einstein’s quote “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious” is the mantra to live by as you are focusing on relationships while simultaneously trying to learn as much as you can.

Spend twice as much time listening as you do speaking. Learn as many names as you can (use silly mnemonics in your head if it helps!). Eat lunch with students in the cafeteria and eat lunch with teachers in the lounge. Be as visible as you can be - in the hallways during arrival, in the car rider lane at dismissal, and in the office when parents are signing in to visit their kiddos at lunch.

Host an “open office” with treats to encourage faculty to stop by your space and become comfortable there. Learn the needs of your students and families, first by observing and then later by conducting needs assessments.

It’s also important to begin subtle establishing your most important boundaries. Be helpful and open and available but don’t volunteer for any tasks that you’re not comfortable being called on to do frequently throughout the year. At first, it seems counterintuitive to develop relationships and boundaries at the same time, but we all know that strong relationships involve appropriate boundaries!

Sara > The Responsive Counselor

6+ years as an elementary school counselor. I’m a Midwesterner turned Southerner, a boy mom, and a plant lady that’s super passionate about evidence-based practices in my social-emotional-behavioral work with students. Visit my TPT store, The Responsive Counselor or read more on my blog.

Make Connections

A first year counselor should spend the first month of school making connections and introducing themselves to students, staff and parents.

They should take the time to build rapport and foster relationships that will help guide the development of their program. Spending the first month working with staff and conducting needs surveys and assessments can help new counselors to develop a program that meets the unique needs of all students.

A new school counselor should spend time introducing themselves to students and explaining their role. It is important for students to learn who you are so that they are comfortable coming to you when they need help.

Ashley > Mrs. Bell The Crafty Counselor

Visit my TPT store, Mrs. Bell The Crafty Counselor or come read more over on my blog.

Check out our other Back to School posts and pin this one for later!

Being a new school counselor is exciting and overwhelming. In the first month as a new school counselor focus on making connections with teachers, parents and students. Listen and understand your school culture. Complete a needs assessment to better understand how to serve your school. Most of all as a school counselor, find time for self care and moments of reflection.