School Counselor Space is hosting a linky party for back to school ideas and strategies. This is my first “linky party” and I’m excited to join!!
Well, it depends on what you consider “the office.” Officially, teacher workshops begin August 27th and last 3 days. Students start September 3rd. However, my summer “office” has been a comfy spot on my couch with my lap top warming my legs as I read, research, type, and plan for the upcoming school year. Also, I’ve been logging some serious woman hours launching my first ever blog! 🙂
Since I’ve joined the blogging world, I have discovered SO many awesome ideas, and I want to do ALL of them!! But, I know I can’t realistically do ALL of them (I need to sleep too). So, I’m focusing on bringing in more “kindness” to my school this year. I want to create a kindness bulletin board for staff and students to share kind things that others have done for them on post-its. I also want to create a Kindness Crew/RAK Crew of older students who will anonymously deliver kindness to those in need. (I start shaking with excitement at the very thought of either of these ideas coming to fruition!)
- My calm presence: this might sound corny, but my ability to remain calm no matter what I’m hearing or seeing has served me very well in this job. Even if I’m sweating bullets or swearing like a sailor in my head, I keep it all in until a more appropriate time to let it out!
- Sand tray: my little homemade sand tray is very popular for individual and small group counseling. It is calming and grounding. It also offers a great opportunity to explore fears, dreams, wishes, and trauma in a safe way!
- Talking, Feeling, Doing Game: this board game is so useful for pulling out the ‘real issues’ when working with students! If ever I’m at a loss as to what is going on with a student or what I need to do to help them, I pull out this game and it works like a charm!
Last year, I created a School Counselor Toolbox to share with students about what I do and how I can help them. The students enjoyed it, so I may use that again. I also spend much of my first month in classrooms doing community building activities like circles, share questions, creating a class web, etc.
I create a School Counselor Newsletter every month to share with parents, staff, administration, etc. This has been useful to give information about what I do in classrooms and offer resources and education to teachers and parents. I was very excited when my superintendent (now retired) stopped me in the office last year to tell me he always looks forward to reading my newsletters! It’s great PR!
- Getting into classrooms is SUPER important! That is the only way you can really access the entire student population. Classroom visits also give you great information about the environment in each classroom and which students may need additional support!
- Community Circles: I facilitate circles weekly with my older students (gr. 3, 4, 5). These circles provide them a forum to give meaningful compliments, safely address concerns, give apologies when needed, and help each other problem solve. All the social and emotional skills they’ve learned since kindergarten come into play during Community Circles! The growth I’ve seen in the two short years I’ve been doing circles is amazing! (I plan to write a post dedicated to facilitating circles soon.)
- Lunch Buddy groups are a really easy and useful way to get in contact with many students throughout the year. I always have a “wait list” of students who want to eat with me because we have a lot of fun! We eat, chat, answer would-you-rather questions, play “I spy” among other things! I keep it laid back and the students appreciate that.
Oh em gee. Organized is my middle name (just ask my husband). I have a system for everything in my room – toys, books, paperwork, lessons, etc. The biggest way I stay organized is by having a separate 3-ring notebook for each major thing I do. For example, I have a notebook for scheduling, SST notes, parent communication, safety planning team, and a GIANT notebook for my classroom lessons (which are further organized by labeled dividers). I’m on the run a lot so having these notebooks is a great way to keep all my stuff in the proper place!