EOY Reflections, and of course some data

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Less than a week ago, I wrapped up quite an interesting school year. I am still mid-reflection about how my school year went, but I feel ‘interesting’ is a solid word choice to describe it. For lots of reasons…

  1. I started late. 8 weeks late to be exact, due to taking maternity leave. It is the strangest feeling to be just getting started when everyone else is already knee deep in student issues, concerns, schedules, etc. Would I change the time I took? Absolutely not. At the same time, it set me up for a challenge, that’s for sure.
  2. Speaking of maternity leave, this was my first year trying to balance two full-time jobs. When I didn’t have my school counselor hat on, I had my mom hat on. Sometimes, I had both on at the same time. Insert #momguilt here. 
  3. This school year seemed to be filled with crisis experiences, either first hand or second hand. Either way, I had my state’s 24/7 crisis hotline number memorized by about January.
  4. Because of the many hours crisis work takes, I had to make a very difficult decision this year. I am split between schools, and furthermore, I was being split between my proactive, preventative services and my reactive, responsive services. I couldn’t do both effectively, and so, I had to push pause on delivering classroom lessons. This about killed me to do, but I felt I had to in order to handle each crisis with the care it deserved. 
  5. I got to work with some new professionals this year, both in district and out of district. Each added knowledge and expertise that helped me grow as a school counselor.

Along with my reflections, I want to use this post to share my school counselor newsletters I created this year, as well as my end of year report.

School Counselor Newsletters

As in previous years, I like to share my newsletters that I create for staff, parents/guardians, and community members. This year, because I was not able to do as many classroom lessons as preferable, I focused my newsletters on topics relating to common issues I found myself discussing with parents/guardians, students, or colleagues. I had planned to publish two newsletters per trimester; I fell shy of that goal due to reasons #1-3 above.

Anyway, here is what I was able to publish! I am happy to share them to help you create your own. As always, if you use most or all of one of my documents, please be respectful and give credit. Click on each link to see the newsletter.

Trimester 1 (November) – Mindfulness introduction and a blurb about my upcoming school counselor website.

Trimester 2 (January) – Helping children cope with “big” feelings through validation, education about the brain, and self-regulation skills.

Trimester 2 (February) – Importance of connection and understanding the root of behaviors from a new perspective.

Trimester 3 (May) – Media and screen time influences on children and how to set media guidelines.

End of Year Report

I have come to truly love collecting data to put in an EOY report. I love the accountability it provides for what I do each day. I love the validation I get from seeing the actual numbers for services I provide to my students. And what I love the most is when my data  is used for actual change. This year, my mid-year and EOY reports were collected and analyzed to consider INCREASING school counseling services in one of my very needy schools. HOW FREAKING AWESOME IS THAT?!?!

Because I know my reports are being looking at by administrators, among others, I decided to add a couple of things to my EOY report this year. First, I added a section to my google form I use for note taking: scheduled/planned vs unscheduled/unplanned meeting. That means that every time I inputted a new note after meeting with a student, I checked off whether it was a meeting I had planned for or not. I was then able to use this information to see the percentages of my scheduled vs unscheduled time in responsive services (you’ll see these percentages in the report below). 

The second thing I chose to add to my actual EOY report is a summary and take-away section. I realized that I knew exactly what my numbers mean because they are MY numbers; I am immersed in this data all year long. However, others are not. If someone is looking at my data for the first time, they might be impressed or they might not be, especially if they don’t know exactly what the numbers mean for our actual students. This year, I wanted it to be crystal clear what my data is showing as far as the needs in my schools and the vast differences in the services provided. 

Click on the picture to view the full report.

EOY Report 2016-17

Thanks for reading my reflections and viewing my newsletters and EOY report. I hope you have found something useful here for your own important work. 

Enjoy your time! 🙂 

Summer-School

I’m still on last school year

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Plans of blogging and sharing experiences from last school year have gone a bit awry. Please forgive me. I’ve been very busy the last 10 months and this is why:

mombaby

Miss Connelly Ren was born August 1, 2016.

I’ve joined the world of moms and it. seriously. takes. over.

So while you are already well into the new school year, I’m still home with my little nugget. I’m all yoga pants, diaper changes, and baby snuggles. No complaints here!

Although I will say it is SO weird not to be at school. The beginning of the school year is one of my favorites, so I harbor a tiny bit of sadness to be missing it.

Anywho…

If you follow my blog, you may know that last year, I joined two new schools. Being split is something new for me, so I spent a fair amount of the year trying to figure out how to balance my role in each school. It wasn’t easy. It was busy and hectic and not ideal. But I did my best to be fully present in the school I was at while I was there and offer what I could. Many days that didn’t quite feel like enough (because it’s not).

You probably know that I’m a big fan of doing End of Year School Counseling Reports to showcase how I’ve spent my time and what the School Counseling Program provided over the course of the school year. Well, since I had two schools, both of which held very different needs, I decided to do a  comparative report that would show numbers from various parts of my comprehensive program side by side.

I wanted to take the time to share this report here because the more we document and share what we do, the more likely we are to increase understanding and support for our roles. In my case of split schools, the report also serves as a means to advocate for being where I’m needed most. When you have data to back up what you’re saying, it makes those conversations a little more powerful. 🙂

Take a look! (Click the link to see the full report.)

End of Year School Counseling Report 2015-2016

Summer, please stay for a while

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It was exactly one year ago today that I posted my End of Year Report for 2014. It was also one year ago today that I shared that my fourth year as a Professional School Counselor was the hardest of my short career thus far. Well, I think my fifth year was in competition for that title. And, it may have won. The jury’s still out.

The added challenge for me this year was that I left a school I adored in April to join a vastly different one. I was expecting a challenge, but joining a new school mid-year is not for the faint of heart! I knew within the first week at my new school that it wasn’t a good fit, but I had to finish what I started.

And I did. I officially finished there today, and while I will miss certain things about it, I am so glad it’s over. Now I’m free to focus on finding my “just right” school again.

Before I walked away, though, I spent some time looking at my data from my short April-June stretch to complete a report for the year 2015. It’s a basic look at the raw numbers of what I did in the three months I was there. Click on the picture for a PDF version.

EOY_2015

 

I’ve come to really enjoy putting together an EOY Report. It keeps me accountable and allows me to feel good about what I accomplished.

Now, onto my summer. 😎

End of year four & back for more

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Celebrate good times, come on!!!

Without a doubt, my fourth year as a school counselor has been my most challenging. Stress doesn’t even begin to cover what I felt this year as I battled never ending changes – I had my confidence rocked so many times that a part of me considered this to be my last year in this profession. But I’m happy to say that I’m not throwing in the towel; I’m using it to wipe off the parts of me that have been wounded and I’m carrying on…

It’s easy to reflect on a school year and go, “huh, look at everything I didn’t get done.” I went into the year with so many ideas and so much enthusiasm, but sadly both dwindled away with each “no” I received and each additional responsibility I was handed. Sigh.

What’s a counselor to do? Well, this counselor is going to hold her head high because this counselor deserves to feel good about the work she did get done! She’s also going to smile because she knows she tried her best and she knows her students love her anyway. And she’s going to carry on as a professional school counselor because she refuses to let one year of seemingly insurmountable obstacles stop her from doing what she loves!

This counselor is also going to CELEBRATE making it to the end of the school year by sharing a few things with her readers.

First, I was so touched by these thank you letters I received by some of my amazing first graders, that I knew I had to share. The detail in their drawings is pretty remarkable as well!

ThankYou1

“Thank you for helping me when I needed help.”

“Thank you for giving us erasers.”

“Thank you for letting my friend and I eat in your room.”

Second, I want to share something new I did this year to show accountability and advocacy for my role within my district. I created a School Counseling Report, modeled after the lovely annual report at Elementary School Counseling (thank you, Marissa!).

The purpose of my report is to show how I used my time and how I served students this year. My goal was a concise, one page report that others could read quickly while perhaps opening their eyes to what I do. I used data from the documentation that I complete all year – numbers are powerful, so I let them speak for themselves! I uploaded the document to my district’s email system so anyone in my district could take a look. I’ve already gotten some great feedback about it!

Here’s a snapshot of my report. Click on the image to see the document.

EOY_2014

Now for some much needed rest and relaxation! Have a lovely and quiet summer, my fellow counselor friends and readers! 🙂