While you deliver services to all students through SEL lessons, at the beginning of the school year it is essential to figure out which students you want to see in individual and group counseling sessions.

A referral based system is a great way to do this. That being said, you don't want to relax on a beanbag in your calm down corner until referrals start trickling in months later as people continue to ask "What does she do again?".

Remember, you want to create a proactive and preventative comprehensive school counseling program.

So in addition to collecting parent, teacher, and student self-referrals, try the following methods when forming your caseload to ensure no one slips through the cracks.

  • Meet with your admin

  • Email teachers and ask directly

  • Compile a check-in list

  • Confirm your role in IEPs

Meet with your admin

Schedule a meeting with your principal to see which students should be on your radar. This is especially important if you are new to your school site. It is also a good way to touch base after summer for returning counselors. Your principal may be aware of family changes that happened over summer and have more background info on newly enrolled students.

Email teachers and ask directly

Once you have a list of students from your admin meeting. Reach out to individual teachers and ask them to give you a heads up if they have any concerns regarding these students. Sometimes teachers aren't clear on what your role is and they may not know what an awesome resource you provide. They know the kids the best and will be relieved for your support!

send email

Compile a check-in list

Next, start compiling a check-in list based on students you gathered from the previous two methods. You will use this later to form groups and individual sessions. As you see these students on campus you can briefly check-in to see how the start of their year is going or you can bring them into your office for quick minute meetings.

With middle and high school students you can ask directly if they want to start seeing you for weekly sessions. You're not necessarily trying to recruit students, but you are letting them know the services you provide are available. For the students you aren't going to schedule right away, keep a pulse on their progress. Remember, just because they saw the counselor last year doesn't mean they need to again. Give each student the opportunity for a fresh start to be independently successful, but keep an eye out to make sure you are ready to swoop in with support as needed.

Confirm your role in IEPs

Find out if you are responsible for any social emotional goals on student IEPs. Likely you would already know, but it doesn't hurt to double-check. You don't want to get in the way between these kids and their goals.

Now that you have these methods to gather student information and form your caseload, you can start the year off right with a proactive, preventative approach to meet the needs of all students.

For more information on first of the year to-dos, read this post.

How do you decide which students you will provide services too? Comment below!


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