I’m here to talk about the D-word. DOCUMENTATION. School Counselors are tasked to figure out a way to document all kinds of things everyday – student meetings, classroom lessons, contact with parents, SST/IEP meetings, data collection, etc. It’s no easy task! My style of documentation has changed significantly over the years, and I’m proud to have moved into the 21st century when it comes to things like Google docs.
I hear counselors talking a lot about the D-word. It seems all of us are trying to figure out how to keep it all together! The purpose of this post is to share (for FREE) the forms and ways I document different parts of my job. Please use/share what you find useful.
WEEKLY COUNSELOR SCHEDULE
I’ve evolved enough to put what I call my “core weekly schedule” on Google calendar so my secretary and principal know where to find me when needed. My “core weekly schedule” includes things like regularly scheduled classroom lessons, groups, duties, meetings, etc. that are the same time every week (for the most part).
For everything else, I still use a paper and pencil method to record everything I’ve done. On the form I created, I record my classroom lessons, groups, duties, meetings, AND I fill in when I’ve met with students, teachers/staff, parents, as well as when I’ve taken time to document notes or respond to emails/phone calls. I keep all my old weekly schedules in a 3-ring binder so I can refer back to them if I ever need to know where I was when or which students I met with when. I’ve found this method to be very simple but also very necessary so I am accountable each and every day. I write in pencil because we all know a school counselor’s schedule can change faster than we can snap our fingers! I also look at these schedules when I’m recording student counseling notes (see below) so I’m sure not to miss any documentation.
Here’s a link to my form: Weekly Counselor Schedule
STUDENT COUNSELING NOTES
For the first 3 1/2 years in my profession, I took handwritten notes for each individual or small group counseling session I did. I spent HOURS everyday after school writing my notes, and I’d leave with a hand cramp. Enter Google docs (I love you!). The time it takes me to complete my notes now has been cut by about 75%. I create a new Google form for each school year to keep the years separate. Each time I submit a form, it automatically gets sent to a spreadsheet, which I can pull up and sort through by student name, and print if needed. It’s pretty convenient.
Here’s a link to my form: Progress Notes SAMPLE (Please do not submit a form. That’s just not cool. It’s here for looking. Thanks!)
In the past, I’d have sticky notes and random pieces of paper all over the place when I documented parent/guardian contacts. It got confusing and didn’t work for me. I came across a form that I loved, so I created one for myself. Now I keep these sheets in a 3-ring binder and it’s all organized. If there are ever questions about which parent I’ve contacted and when, I can easily access it! I also use these same forms for community agency/DHHS contacts.
Here’s a link to my form: Parent Communication Log
TEACHER REFERRAL FORMS
I’ve always had a form for teachers to fill out if they’re referring a student to see me. The one I used to use was really short and I found that it didn’t give me enough information, so I’d have to track down the teacher and ask questions, which created more work for me. I found a form similar to the one below, so I tweaked it and have used this one for the last couple years. It’s longer but still doesn’t take much time for teachers to fill out, and it gives me the information I need to get started. Win-win!
Here’s a link to my form: Teacher Referral Form
STUDENT REFERRAL FORMS
Last year, I created a referral form that students could fill out if they wanted to meet with me. I really liked using them! I found that some students who wouldn’t necessarily have the courage to ASK to see me, were more comfortable completing a form and slipping it in my mailbox. This way, students can request my time but don’t have to let anyone know about it besides me. However, I did find that the forms were used for things I didn’t intend. For example, some students would fill one out everyday if I let them because they liked coming to my room (and who wouldn’t?!), but that’s just not possible. Another example is the students who would fill out a form and check off “See me as soon as you can” but wouldn’t have much they needed to actually talk about, or the problem they were coming to me about had already been solved.
So for next year, I revamped the form to get the students thinking before they complete one on a whim. I also added a “I want to check-in with you” spot because I found that some students wanted to talk, but it wasn’t necessarily because they were having a problem. This helps endorse the message I say a lot – students who meet with me are NOT there because they have all kinds of problems! I print these, cut them in half, and put a stack in an envelope for each teacher to keep in their classroom. I also keep an envelope of them right outside my door. They’re used mostly by students in grades 2-5, although I did have some 1st graders use them too. Some days I’d receive none, other days I’d get 10! Just the name of the game, my friends.
Here’s a link to my form: Student Referral Form
COUNSELING PROGRAM PAMPHLET
In years past, I created a Counseling Brochure to give to parents at open house night or through out the year. I’ve revised it here and there, but I got bored with it! Soooo, I finally used a pamphlet template in Microsoft Word and I’m so glad I did! It was incredibly easy to create because all the text boxes and photo boxes were already there. I just had to plug in my own stuff and voilà! I added a quick blurb about confidentiality and a super cute section with quotes from students. I’m very happy with it and can’t wait to hand some out to parents!
Here’s a link to my pamphlet: Program Pamphlet
***I’ve been asked a lot which design I used to make my pamphlet. I used the “Edgy Smudge Design” under Brochures in Microsoft Word***
How do you document notes, meetings, contacts, etc? What works for me might not work for you, but I hope my forms have helped inspire some ideas! Thanks for reading. 🙂