You don’t have to


Since I became a blogger almost 10 months ago, my school counseling world has really opened up. What I mean by that is the piles and piles of information, ideas, materials, lesson plans, strategies, tools, etc. that suddenly become available when you join an online Professional Learning Community (PLC). It’s awesome. It’s all the rage. It’s just the thing for lonely counselors stuck in their building(s) with no quick access to other professionals. It’s also completely overwhelming.

to do list

Take, for example, the many Facebook groups for counselors. I’m a part of the Elementary School Counselor Exchange group, and I can post a question to the members, and within an hour, I may have up to 30 or more replies from professional school counselors, all with great input to meet my needs. Sounds great, right? It is, and I’m so thankful.

However, one of the ‘side effects’ of online PLCs is the overwhelming pressure you feel to do more for your students, your school, your teachers, your profession, etc. When you get 30+ school counselors, all sharing different ideas or lessons or materials, it can be a challenge to sort through it all and find what’s right for you. Not every idea or lesson or material will work for your personality, your counseling strengths, your students, or your school.

Personally, I’ve had to fight off the ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) that creep in to tell me I’m not good enough, I’m not doing enough, I’m not creative enough, my lessons are boring, I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m not collecting data in the right ways, etc.

Sometimes I read other blogs or posts, and I want to do every single thing I see, buy every book that’s mentioned, create every craft, teach every lesson. Obviously, this is impossible. I need to take a breath and calm the heck down!

It all comes down to this – you don’t have to.

  • You don’t have to buy every new book just because you like the author – the books you have are fine. Maybe you’ll accumulate the new ones over time. Put them in your budget or on your Christmas list.
  • You don’t have to create brand new lessons for every grade each year. It’s okay to repeat the good ones.
  • Not every lesson you do is “blog-worthy.” Let’s face it, some lessons just don’t go the way you planned, and that’s okay.
  • That craft might look super cute on Pinterest. If you’re not crafty, you don’t have to try it.
  • Some counselors like to use puppets to teach in classes. Some like to use them all the time. If you don’t like using them, you don’t have to. (But I would recommend having some around your office for students to use if they wish.)
  • Some counselors use canned programs for classroom guidance. Some do not. That’s that.
  • Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) is not for everyone. Just sayin’.
  • Creating newsletters for staff and/or parents is great. What you create and how much you create is up to you. You don’t have to overdo it.
  •  If you’re a blogger, write about and post what feels right for you. If you don’t have a lesson for every imaginable topic linked to the ASCA standards and CCSS, don’t fret! Other counselors will love your ideas anyway. (Also, if you aren’t sure what CCSS stands for, don’t worry about it. That’s what Google is for.)
  • What works for one school counselor in one school in one district, may not work for you. Each counseling program is a bit different based on the people it is serving, and based on the strengths of the counselor providing the services (YOU!).

Take a breath. Relax. Know that you are probably doing an amazing job with what you have. And know that the amount of support available to you online is plentiful, if you should need it. Seek what you wish, take what you need, and give what you can.

Most importantly, choose the things that feel right for you. And the rest, you just don’t have to.

4 thoughts on “You don’t have to

  1. I love the facebook groups.. .especially since I am the one that started Caught in the Middle School Counselors and Elementary School Counselor Exchange. But yes, you are right. YOU DON”T HAVE TO. The groups’ purpose is to help gather info, not make one feel inferior. Blogging, pinterest, twitter, are all great sources of info, but all need to be taken in stride. Do what works for you. Want to make a change, take one idea and run with it. Add more than that and you will feel like you are on a sinking ship. A Counseling Program can take years to build. I’ve been a counselor for over 20 years, and I am still working on mine. There is no need to rush.

    Kayla, this was a great post with some important reminders. Well done!

    • Thank you for your reply Carol! And thank you for starting the wonderful groups. I use them all the time, and so do a lot of counselors! You have good advice….try one thing at a time. That’s basically what my post is about, finding one thing that works for you and then go from there. Otherwise, you do feel like you’re sinking. Thanks for reading!

  2. Kayla, this is my favorite blog post I’ve read in a very long time. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! You’ve helped me take a breath and relax. I love the Facebook groups, too, but I’ll never be able to put up every cute bulletin board or make my office look like the pictures I see on Pinterest. I’ll do the best I can for the hundreds of children who simply care about feeling like they belong at school, they’re safe here, and they’re loved. When I go home at the end of the day, if there are children who feel more secure about their place in the world because I helped a little, then it was a pretty great day. Maybe tomorrow I’ll write a fancy, ASCA-referencing lesson plan. (Maybe not.) 🙂

    • Kate, thanks for commenting. I’m glad you can relate to the thoughts in my post! I think it’s a common feeling, especially for newer counselors like myself, so I thought it’d be good to put it out there! And I agree, a cute office or a spectacular lesson plan is great, but truly being there for your students is even better. 😉

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