Looking Back to Move Ahead
Written by: Lizette Baumann
Take a deep breath … you made it! After you have taken some time to relax this summer, I hope that you build in some time before the first day of school to reflect upon and organize your counseling program before you dive back into another school year.
With School Counselors being pulled in so many different directions during the past few years, I believe it has become even more important for schools to implement comprehensive school counseling programs. While the term “comprehensive school counseling programs” can feel overwhelming when you already see your daily to-do list as unattainable, I think that you can create ways to reflect upon your program to build in aspects of comprehensive school counseling.
In the summer, I think it is important to reflect on three main parts of your comprehensive school counseling program: small group counseling groups, classroom guidance lessons, and individual sessions. In each of these areas, it is important to celebrate your successes, determine how your program needs to move forward differently, and decide what aspects need to be eliminated based on your evolving student needs. As Counselors we know our student needs have changed over the past few years, and it is important to determine if your school counseling program meets these new and unique needs. I created some reflection sheets to help you reflect as a department or as an individual School Counselor.
It is important to celebrate your successes, determine how your program needs to move forward differently, and decide what aspects need to be eliminated based on your evolving student needs.
Another barrier to comprehensive school counseling is the topic of data. I know … I know … who has time for data when you are drinking from a fire hose all day?! As a person who has always loved getting new school supplies each year, it isn’t a surprise that I like to start the school year with an organized student information spreadsheet that I build on throughout the year. This spreadsheet allows you to develop a data mindset to review, reflect upon and determine student needs throughout the year. Before the first day of school, I create a spreadsheet where I can access, store and update essential information throughout the year. I’ve included a sample spreadsheet you can copy and use.
As Counselors we know our student needs have changed over the past few years, and it is important to determine if your school counseling program meets these new and unique needs.
My caseload consists of students grades 9-12 so I start by separating each grade into different tabs. Then, I reflect on the previous year and recall some of the data that was most important for me to access quickly. Sometimes it is helpful to recall moments of frustration in trying to locate a specific piece of information at an opportune time. For example, remembering a student’s diploma type or a student’s first desired college choice while meeting with a parent. Perhaps NWEA scores for incoming students? 504 status and accommodations? Managing an exceptionally large and complex caseload, it is so vital to be able to recall and access information quickly.
What other information could you add to this spreadsheet to maximize it for your organizational benefit? Much of this information can be found using data mining from your student software program (Skyward, PowerSchool, etc.). If you are not familiar with data mining, contact your district IT staff and ask for a quick tutorial or ask if they can help you set up a data mining report that you can use. Your spreadsheet can also be a terrific way to track completed grade level check-in or minute meetings, scheduling meetings, completion of 4-year plans, and completion of other guidance activities.
I hope that these resources allow you to feel ready to conquer the 2022-2023 school year and help you support your students through a comprehensive school counseling program.