5 Easy Ways to Prep for Back to School Season

If there's one thing all of us educators wish for, it is that summer doesn't end! But here we are. It's July already, and a new academic year is perhaps only a month away. If you're anything like me, your summer break is mostly spent with family and friends, traveling, and catching up on your favorite shows. But come August, you're at a loss in terms of school readiness. I know the feeling all too well. Then I would panic about back-to-school (BTS) night, curriculum mapping, lesson planning, and so much more. That's when I realized it's not such a bad idea, after all, to set aside a few days of the summer break to prepare for BTS season. Are you looking to get a little organized before you actually have to go back to school? This quick guide should come in handy.

1. Reflect on Last Year's Data

That's right! If you used this End of the Year (EOTY) Report template or you created your own report, take a look at the stats on it. How many class lessons did you teach? Which were your 'most-wanted'/ popular lessons based on the Needs Assessment Form filled out by teachers at the start of the academic year? What and how many groups did you run? How many students met you on a weekly basis? What topics were addressed the most? This EOTY report should serve as a compass as you plan for the upcoming school year.

2. Organize your Digital Forms

One of the best things about digital forms is that they're there forever. All you need to do is make a copy of the existing ones and delete old data from the new sheets. Your must-have digital organization sheets/forms should include a Needs Assessment Form for teachers to fill out at the start of the year. The information gathered from this form will give you an idea on how to plan and map your counseling curriculum. Make sure to keep your Referral ready for teachers and parents to use in time for BTS Night, if not sooner.

As a school counselor, data collection and assessment is a vital part of your comprehensive school counseling program, therefore, your must-have documents would include Counseling Caseload and Log Spreadsheets. The first few weeks sure fly and soon enough you will be reaching out for your other data collections tools such as these Self Assessments and these Behavior Surveys. Just having all of these templates/documents organized on your device or on your Google Drive will save you a whole lot of time once school reopens!

3. Map out your Counseling Curriculum

If you've been a school counselor for a while now, you are familiar with which lessons to teach and when. And if you're a new counselor or a counselor that finds this challengin, check out this blog post and this free Yearlong School Counseling Curriculum Map that will make things WAY easier for you!

4. Gather resources

Once you've mapped out your curriculum, you will have an idea of the class lessons and small groups you are most likely to run. Looking for and buying supplemental material such as lesson plans or activities, is what a lot of counselors do before they go back to school.

Are there any new SEL books you'd like to add to your counseling library? This is the best time to refurbish it. Have you found new ways to repurpose board games and other indoor games? Do you need a fresh set of UNO cards? Shopping for resources before BTS season also means snagging great deals. That said, remember, don't buy everything! You probably won't use every cute or fancy item you buy. Also, never underestimate the power of DIY!

5. Cozy up your Office

If you like your office the way it is, then leave it as is. In my experience though, I have always found at least one thing to add, remove, or modify each year. Pinterest and Instagram are great platforms to source ideas. Again, do not underestimate the power of DIY. Also, if it helps, read this blog post to know how I set up my counseling office.

Do you also believe in prepping for the new school year toward the end of summer break? What are some of you must-dos before BTS season? Let me know in the comments.

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