3 Strategies for Stress Free School Counseling

School counseling doesn't have to be stressful! With the right systems in place you can lead a program that has a huge positive impact and allows you to get the recognition you deserve'all while not pulling your hair out!

Focusing on these 3 key areas will help you go from hot mess to no stress in no time!

  • scheduling

  • organization

  • data collection

Is balancing your schedule a struggle for you?

Do you feel like you are constantly putting out fires? Do you spend your days running from one crisis to the next and not having time to teach class lessons and plan engaging activities for your groups? If so, you are not alone! This is a super common problem that a lot of counselors have. Whether you are a first-year counselor or if you've been counseling for over a decade, you may feel like you are in crisis response mode.

schedule struggle

Remember, you want a proactive and preventive school counseling program. And while we can all agree that's the goal, it is easier said than done!

One way to solve this problem? Establish a Crisis Response Team Protocol

A Crisis Response Team Protocol helps rid that feeling of constantly putting out fires, and divies up the responsibility. As the counselor, you are likely skipping scheduled events to deal with unexpected ones. Ex: 'How can I teach a lesson on friendship when a fight is happening?!' Having a Crisis Response Team Protocol respects everyone's time. Preventative class lessons are a part of your job! And you need to prioritize times that you have committed to teachers.

Team Vs. Protocol

  • The Crisis Response Team

The team consists of people who can help when a student is in crisis.

Potential team members include the School Psychologist, Instructional Coach, Behavior Specialist, and the Principal.

  • The Crisis Response Protocol

The protocol determines who is responsible at which time and what actions will be taken.

Start by mapping out the day. Different people are responsible for different times. Color coordinate your calendars to indicate who has each shift. Hopefully, there won’t be a crisis every day, so you can use this time to plan, do observations, or tackle that to-do list!

google calendar

Things to Consider

  • Stay flexible and treat it as a case by case basis. You can sub out different people dependent on who has the best relationship with the child.

  • Get creative with team members. One of my schools even used our custodian!

Want to learn more? Check out these blog posts on controlling your schedule to increase your impact and stress free scheduling strategies.

Also be sure to download my Stress Free Scheduling Freebie so you'll know exactly which action steps to take after listening!

Is staying organized a struggle for you?

Think about your office desk or computer desktop. If you're like most school counselors I know, it could probably use some tidying. I feel like it almost goes with the personality traits of counselors. While most teachers are meticulously organized, counselors tend to be a little more scattered. I think it's because our schedules are ever-evolving, and we are invested in changing so many kids' lives that staying organized takes the back burner. This can leave us feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

One way to solve this problem? Stop using sticky notes and create a digital to-do list.

Who doesn't love the high of checking off a to-do list? I'll admit it, I've even written down a task I've already accomplished on my to-do list just so I can cross it off!

Do you jot down your to-do list on a sticky note or scrap piece of paper? This temporarily works but you may find that you spend more time trying to find the note later than the time it would take to actually cross of the task! Plus if your handwriting is anything like mine, it may be indecipherable by the time you do find it!

When it comes to keeping track of your tasks, digital apps are your friends. They are way better than a clipboard when it comes to creating and managing your to-do list.

The following apps have been instrumental in increasing my efficiency:

  • Trello - Trello is a project management tool that is basically a bunch of visual, digital sticky notes! If you like the layout of Pinterest, you'll love Trello!

  • Todoist - Todoist is a list of simple checkboxes that is likely similar to the pen and paper version you're using now.

  • Notes app - The Notes app is native to Apple products and is included on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. This makes back and forth communication or editing on the go seamless! (I'm sure there is an android equivalent) With Notes, you don't have to download another app because it's already on your phone. I use this for my personal recipes and grocery list too!

school counseling apps

Fore more organization inspiration check out these blog posts on organizing your work life to increase your impact and stress free organization strategies.

Also be sure to download my Stress Free Organization Freebie so you'll know exactly which action steps to take after listening!

Is data collection a struggle for you?

Data collection is a struggle for many school counselors, whether you are brand new or have been counseling for decades. It's not really taught in grad school, so it's up to you to make it happen. The additional effort of putting data collection systems in place can bring an extra edge to transform your counseling program! It may sound a little boring but tracking the results can be really gratifying.

One way to solve this problem? Track progress using self-assessments

Self-assessments show how students have been doing since they've been in counseling with you. By giving students a quick questionnaire before and after each group or set of individual sessions (usually about 6-8 weeks), you can assess if they are improving or not! And yes, even if they are NOT improving this is valuable information to gain so you can modify your sessions to fit their needs.

Which Questions Do I Include on a Self-Assessment?

The questions included depend on the topic (self, control, grief, relational aggression, etc) and can be one of two categories:

  1. Objective learned - This is a right or wrong answer that can be answered objectively. (ex: 'Can you name 5 coping strategies?')

  2. Feelings based - This is answered subjectively and has no definitive correct answer. (ex: 'I feel sad more often than I feel happy.')

You can use one self-assessment with a mix of the two topics or you can separate it by factual and feelings based questions.

How do I send a Self-Assessment?

You can use a paper version or a Google Form. The Google Form is perfect for distance learning, and I believe it's superior in person too so you don't have to re-input information into a digital report later. Plus the Google Form displays the results in an easy to interpret fashion so you can see time-stamped responses. This allows you to see how students changed over the weeks and you can display this information using pretty charts and graphs!

Want to become an expert data collector? Check out these blog posts on how to master data collection and stress free data collection strategies.

Also, be sure to download my Stress Free Data Collection Freebie so you'll know exactly which action steps to take after listening!

I hope you are already feeling less stressed after reading this! If you found these strategies helpful, you won't want to miss out on my Stress Free School Counseling Program. Get on the waitlist here!?

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