Monday, August 26, 2013

(Paperless) Counselor Calendar

Again in my efforts to go paperless here's an idea to consider using for the new school year...a paperless counselor calendar!  I used this paperless calendar idea for part of the year last year to try out and I can happily report that I loved it!  Here's how to create your paperless counselor calendar:

-Go to Google and log in (you'll need to have a gmail account to log in)

-Choose the calendar option and you can begin to create your calendars.

Choose Calendar from Google

-Click "create" to make your calendars (remember you can make multiple calendars)

What I love about this paperless calendar feature is that you can have multiple calendars all in one place that can be shared and viewed by others (you can still have private calendars too).  Work with a team?  Then everyone on your team can make a calendar for the team to see (each person's calendar is a different color).  My counselor intern and I both have a calendar that we share and post info for the other to see.  If I'll be at a meeting, I'll post it on our "shared" calendar together and my intern will see it and vice versa.

Share your calendar with another counselor/team member
-You can synch your calendars to your mobile device (smart phones) and of course it will synch to your iPad!  To synch to your iPad, go to Settings, Mail, Contacts, Calendars and update your calendar settings.

Add your Google Calendar to your iPad or smart phone.
-Another cool feature I like about the paperless calendar is that you can have a reminder before your event (on your iPad/iPhone). On my JYJ Counselor calendar, I like to have an alert 10 mins before any event that I have scheduled so that way, I know I need to get to a stopping point on what I'm doing.  It's been really helpful in keeping me on track especially when things start getting hectic and time slips by.

This calendar has been yet another (paperless) success!  Do you use Google Calendar for your counselor calendar?

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Make A Back to School Counselor Wish List

Of course every school has a meet the teacher/open house event.  This not only is a great time to introduce yourself to parents and students, tell them why the school counselor is so awesome but also a time display your "counselor wish list".  All the teachers at my school have a wish list of items outside of their classroom door that parents can donate to the classroom.  Well this year, I decided to join in and make a "counselor wish list" for counselor things that will be used for students (not to mention that fact that our salaries have been frozen yet again, for a 6th year but that's another post).  On my wish list, I asked for gift cards (in any dollar amount) to stores where I can purchase many counselor goodies from (Target, Walmart, AC Moore & Michael's).

To make my wish list, I typed "JYJ Counselor Wishlist" in Word and made little tags of the items on my wish list, that parents can take off the board.  You could also just write your wish list items on post-it notes (several teachers do this at my school).  I put them on a piece of colored paper right outside of my door.  My office is in the main hallway and gets lots of traffic.

Wish list sign (made in Word)

Wish list take away tags (also made in Word)
Tags on colored paper
Finished Product

Having these wish list items will be a great way to have more supplies for counselor ideas and lessons that myself and the counselor intern can use throughout the school year.  This counselor wish list may or may not be ideal based on your school population (always do what works best for you).  I am very fortunate to work at a school where parents are extremely supportive with providing needed items and supplies for all staff. 

I'm so excited that I was able to have my own "wish list" this year and have the opportunity to bring new supplies to my school counselor program.

Do you use a school counselor wish list at your school?

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Monday, August 12, 2013

My Top 10 Counselor Must Haves

I see this question all the time: "what things are counselor must haves"  well the answer certainly depends on the school counselor (please always do what works best for you and your students) but I'll be glad to share my top 10 counselor must haves (I have more, but keep this post from being super long, I'll keep it to 10).

Here's my list (in no particular order)

-Kimochis:  My favorite cute feelings friends.  My students LOVE these and they are great conversation starters on how students are feeling.  Many students have "multiple feelings" with these fun toys.  I have several sets and also have 2 mini sets for parents to check out and use at home (they are machine washable just in case you're wondering).

-Board Games/Puzzles:  Students love playing games and not to mention it's another way to re-live childhood memories for me (I loved board games as a child).  Games that are very popular with my students are UnoJengaCheckersMancala & Perfection.  As for puzzles, I took an idea from Pinterest and put my puzzles into cloth mesh bags to take up less space.

-iPad/VGA Adapter:  This also falls on my counselor tech list, but this combo is great to have.  You can do so much with an iPad in your school counselor program!  The VGA adapter is the perfect addition to take your iPad to another level by connecting to a LCD projector, SMART or Promethan boards.

-Trevor Romain DVD Series:  These are the BEST!!!  Need a video about friendship, bullying, facing fear, organization, healthy eating, grief or even divorce?  These are an absolute must have.  Each time I've shown a video to a class without a doubt someone will ask "can we watch it again" or "where'd you get that movie?"  The students love, love, love these and they have a great way to tie in an important morale and lesson that is completely relatable to children.  I ordered these from Amazon.

-Art Supplies:  What counselor can't function without a good supply of paper, glue, markers, crayons and other craft goodies?  I try to keep all of my counselor craft supplies in a bin so that it's easier for students to find.

-Composition Notebooks: These can be used for any and everything under the sun.  Students having problems communicating with their parents, what to express themselves without actually saying them, want students to keep track of group events/activities or even want to draw positive thoughts a composition notebook is a must!  I've given out so many "fill in the blank" journals to students and they have had such a great effect on them.  My school supplies the composition books, but you if have to purchase your own, wait until back to school time starts and catch them on sale.

-Dry Eraser Boards & Markers:  These are great for so many things, individual sessions, group sessions, notes to yourself, the list goes on and on.  I go all these items from the $1 Spot at Target.

Dry erase markers, glue a pom pom on the cap to add a built in eraser.  

Dry erase boards (these have lines, like notebook paper)
-Counselor Treats:  I always have counselor treats on hand (sometimes for myself too, we need treats too).  I usually have smarties as my candy of choice students (it's not chocolate, no allergies, no gluten, etc).   My personal "counselor treats" include my favorite snack(s) of choice (I have a serious weakness for sweets).  This counselor's treat box was given to me my 1st year as a counselor by the previous counselor.  I've been asked several times where to get one, but I have no idea where she got it from.

-Vista Print Goodies:  Where do I begin with all the awesome counselor goodies you can create via Vista Print?  Banners, posters, note cards, t-shirts, polos, business cards and more!  Sign up to receive notifications so you'll know when they have sales.

-Thank you notes:  Without a doubt, someone (staff member, student or parent) will do something nice for you throughout the year.  Writing a handwritten thank you note is such a personal way of showing your appreciation.  I have several sets of thank you notes (including some created from Vista Print).

-Also worth mentioning: Cleaning Wipes (like Lysol), Room deodorizer, mailing labels (address and mailing sized), storage bins, counselor bag, play dough and books of course!

-Some of you may question where's my sand tray, well I don't have a sand tray and I'm a bit of a germaphobic at times.  Although I work in an elementary school, my education career started out in a high school.  Younger students tend not to wash their hands as well/often as older students and because we've had multiple cases of lice, ring worm, flu, stomach virus, etc. I'll trust my high school teacher intuition and pass on the sand tray, but again do what works for you!

What are some of your school counselor must have items?

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

In Case You Missed It...School Counselor On Air (Back to School Chat)

Just in case you missed's the School Counselor On-Air live chat on...Back to School!  I had a pleasure of being in great school counselor company:

-Andrea Burston:  (JYJ Counselor) @andreajburston
-Rebecca Lallier:  (School Counseling by Heart) @SchCslByHeart

-Tabitha Panariso:  (Scrapbook of a School Counselor) @tpanariso
-Danielle Schultz:  (School Counselor Blog) @sch_counselor

-Jeremy Goldman (Pikesville High School Counseling Department) @MrJGoldman
-Darrell Sampson (From the Counselor’s Office) @CnslrDarrell

Here's the video of the chat:

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Tips for New Counselors (updated)

Here are a few things that I learned going in (some I learned much later AFTER) my 1st year that I'd like to share with our new counselor friends starting out (and may be helpful to veteran counselors too):

-Get rid of the "G word" and don't refer to yourself as it.  The "G word" is Guidance, ugh, I cringe as I type the word.  You ARE the School Counselor.  Don't fret, people still call me the "G word" and I politely correct them.  I don't use the term Classroom Guidance, I use the term Class Visits.  Any school documents that have the "G word" on them, I update.  I even had the "G word" on my envelope for my school keys, guess what I did...made a new envelope with School Counselor on it.  Baby steps my "school counselor" friends, the more you show that the "G word" is extinct the more likely they'll adjust, if not, just keep correcting them.  My name is often mispronounced (it's ANN-dre-a not ON-dre-a) so I'm used to correcting, so just think as if someone was mispronouncing your name and politely correct them.

-To learn students and staff, see if you can get your hands on a copy of the school's yearbook from the previous year (I did this when I started working at a new school, it helped me tremendously).  When I had to see a new student and I wasn't for sure who they were the yearbook gave me a little idea of what the student looked like (they do change within a year, but you get the idea).

 JYJ yearbook, a great counselor resource.

-Make yourself visible to students so that they know who you are:  great common areas to see students include hallways during arrival, carpool during dismissal, and the cafeteria.

-If you're moving to a new area: Learn more than one route to get to work.  This may also depend on where you live/work.  Some of you may have much shorter commutes.  I don't live in the same area as I work, but I have multiple ways to get to work, just in case I run into traffic, need to stop at the store, etc (my commute is short though, about 15 mins).

-Invest in Get Well Cards:  Without a doubt a someone at school (staff, students or parents) will have an illness during the school year.  Be sure to send a get well card to let them know that you're thinking about them.  This also lets students, staff and parents know that you care and are thinking of them. 

-Invest in Thank You cards:  Without a doubt someone at school (staff, students or parents) will do something very nice for you.  To show your appreciation, take the time to write them a thank you note. I actually made my own note cards.   You can create your own note cards like the ones shown from Vista Print
Front view of personalized note cards

Back view of note cards

-Mark your items:  In education, we borrow and loan out all types of things.  I've found that writing your name or labeling things that belong to you increases your chances of them being returned.  What I've found the easiest to do is make labels using easy peel address labels (1" X 2 5/8").  I type either "JYJ Counselor" or my name on them. The labels are super easy to place on all types of items.  I have a label template to share so all you have to do is type in your name, print and stick onto your items.

-Connect with other counselors:  especially if you're the only counselor at your school.  If you have the opportunity to meet with other counselors in your district to connect, share ideas and vent by all means do so.  In my district we have PLT (Professional Learning Team) meetings once a month.  Because I work in a large district our PLT's are divided into smaller regions based on where our schools are located.  I LOVE my PLT group and was so happy that when I switched schools that I got to stay in the same PLT group. 

-There are also other means of connecting with school counselors virtually!  The ASCA SCENE is great to connect with counselors all over the country.  There's a discussion forum section where you can post questions and someone will surely respond.  Using social media sites such as Twitter to follow other counselors is also great.  You can follow and participate in monthly #scchat tweet chats.  Blogs are a another good way to connect and get ideas from other school counselors.  My list of counselor blogs that I follow is on the right hand side of this blog.  You can also can find a list of many other counselor blogs on the SCOPE counselor wiki

School Counselor Bloggers at ASCA conference this year.

-Join a professional organization:  Great ones to join are ASCA (of course) and it's also great to join your state's counselor association.  Attending school counselor conferences, workshops professional development is also a good way to network with other counselors and get ideas. 

-Don't reinvent the wheel:  There is a wealth of counselor resources available to us.  Thanks to the wonderful world of social media (#scchat) there is a wealth of school counselor resources.  Some you may have to adjust to your liking but at least you'll have a start.

-Take your time to get comfy with your role:  don't volunteer to head up every committee or project.  Take my advice this is NOT a good choice.  Yes, you certainly will head up several committees and projects just because you're the counselor, but you'll see that in some places it's the same people that head up everything or people assume because you've done so much in the past that "one more little thing" won't hurt (wrong).  A great friend once told me "don't show them all the cards in your hand at once" meaning that you can showcase some of your talents during your 1st year but not ALL of your talents.  Reveal your talents slowly, then you can build up & learn your counseling program. 

Each and every school counselor has had a first year and you are about to embark upon a fun, exciting and sometimes frustrating experience.  You are not alone in this endeavor!  If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.  I'd love to hear about your progress in your 1st year. Pin It