The Spirited School Counselor

Leave a comment

Freshman Orientation

Freshman Orientation

Last week I attended freshman orientation and the high school open house for my internship placement. I got such a good feeling from the staff and administrators. While listening to them I heard several themes repeated throughout:

*The number 1 goal of the school is to create the best, safe learning environment possible.

*The staff really stressed a partnership between home & school. They were encouraging relationships with their child as well as with the staff at the school.

*There is a commitment for each freshman to graduate high school in 4 years.

This school holds a freshman orientation starting at 5:30. Parents and students are in two separate areas. The parents were listening to the administrators & counselors present information about the school and high school, in general. The staff was very honest with parents about the differences between high school and middle school including tough topics like alcohol, drugs, sexting, cyber bullying, and new relationships. They balanced these topics with more approachable topics like attendance,  This may be a scary realization for parents, but I think its important to stress how parents can help guide their children. The principle suggested having an hour a night that is internet free. He suggested that having one hour free of cell phones, computers, and other mobile devices could benefit the parent-child relationship in the long-term (although initially the child may be upset about it).

At the same time, the incoming freshman also listened to a brief presentation. Then the students are sent on a scavenger hunt. I love love love this idea. The scavenger hunt involved doing crayon rubbings of each classroom number on their schedule, identifying their school counselor, getting a signature of one teacher, and getting a paper towel found in a bathroom. The students seemed to really be enjoying themselves. It was a time for them to explore the school, get familiar with their schedule, and find a bathroom without the upperclassman being present and the pressure of being on time for class.

Following the presentations and scavenger hunt students and parents came together to have a meal before the open house began at 7. The open house consisted of a short presentation, including teacher introductions, in the gym. Then families followed a shortened bell schedule to meet the teachers.

How do you help students get acclimated to high school?

What does your freshman orientation look like?

Thanks for stopping by!



Back to School-Back to Connecting

ImageI recently came across Franciene Sabens blog post for a linky party. I have never participated in something like this but thought I would join in on the fun. I am new to the school counseling world – half way through my masters. I did 100 practicum hours this spring in an elementary school and am heading into my 600 hour internship (300 – Fall/High school; 300 – Spring/Middle School), so I may not be able to answer every question….

When do you head back to the office? 

I am going in tomorrow to meet with my supervisor! I am excited and nervous at the same time. I officially start on August 26, which will be the high school students’ second week of school.

Share 1 thing you want to accomplish this year.

This year I want to soak in as much as I can. I know that I have so much to learn so I am sure I will be asking a LOT of questions. I hope to participate in as many aspects of life as a high school and middle school counselor. I also hope to continue with professional development, stay active on twitter, and continue to blog about graduate school and my internships.

Top 3 School Counseling tools I can’t live without

I cant fully answer this question yet, but I can guess…

1. My Planner – as a preschool teacher and a student I rely heavily on my planner to keep my schedule straight. In practicum last semester I would also schedule out my day when I arrived at the elementary school (with pencil, of course). I imagine I will do something similar in internship.

2. My computer/technology – I am learning so much through school counselors blogs, pinterest posts, and twitter. Twitter chats have also been so beneficial to me as a new school counselor. As a teacher I also relied heavily on technology. I loved using my smartboard to engage students. Email allowed me to send a quick note to parents letting them know how I caught their child doing well (not a daily thing, but I know it was appreciated).

3. Other professionals – professors, teachers, school counselors, classmates – all of these great people are helping me become a school counselor. Thank YOU for helping me and being a great tool in my developing school counselor tool box.

How do you introduce your program to students at the beginning of the year?

I am actually attending freshman orientation tomorrow night and am hoping to get a peak at how a high school might do this. I imagine that any orientation would be a great way to introduce the program to new students. I also imagine in the future going around to each class (in elementary school), gym class (middle school), or English class (high school) to introduce the program.

What has been your most successful method of sharing information with parents & other stakeholders?

Although I do not have much experience in this realm as a school counselor I do as a preschool teacher. As a teacher my number 1 priority was building relationships. I knew if I could build a relationship then parents would be receptive to the information I have to share. I tried to remember little trips they were taking as a family or remembering to ask if someone was feeling better after getting over a cold. These little things add up. Its like putting change into a bank. Eventually I am able to “cash out” when I ask for volunteers or need to address a concern with a family.

I also maintained a classroom website that included up-to-date information. I imagine doing something similar with my future school counseling program. I am a big fan of writing so I created a newsletter template and then replaced the information every month.

Share 3 tips for delivering school counseling curriculum

1. Again – lacking experience – but I imagine that relationships will again be very important. By building relationships with teachers, staff, and administrators I imagine it will be easier to deliver school counseling curriculum. Relationships with teachers also open up doors to work together on a lesson.

2. Going along with my love of technology, using a website it a great way to display what your school counseling curriculum is and how you are delivering it. This can be done through a blog or a general website. I imagine that I could also display my GRIPS there to show how the program is being helpful to students.

3. When thinking about the delivery in front of students I think an important question to ask is “Is this interesting?” All topics can be presented from an engaging angle. Topics can also presented in a dry or boring way. Make sure that if you were your student you would be engaged in the lesson.

How do you stay organized? 

Pencil & paper is how. I have tried using the calendar on my phone as well as google’s calender, but I am a little old fashioned, I suppose. When I actually write something down it sticks with me so I buy myself a nice planner each year and get my pencils ready to fill it in.

I am also a big fan of the label maker. As a teacher I labeled everything and each “thing” in my room had a home. I created specific files that may only hold a couple of papers instead of lumping them together. This helped me minimize misplacing items. I do this with my computer files, as well. It makes finding that random website or form I only use once a year easier to find.

I loved participating in my first linky party! I hope to join some more in the future.


Thanks for stopping by!


Leave a comment

Making Pinterest Work for You

PinterestI began the task of organizing my pins on Pinterest today. While doing this I thought it would make a great blog post. Technology is a great tool if used well.

To be honest, I haven’t used pinterest well in my professional life. So I am on a mission to correct that, but you do not need to make the same mistake I did. Just learn from it.

If you do not know what Pinterest is, let me explain and then you need to join right away. Pinterest is a social website where people “pin” items to “boards.” The ideas is your online “boards” are like cork boards which you fill with ideas (aka “pins”). You can “follow” people’s boards. For example, I have a strong interest in school counseling so many of the people and boards I follow are related to that. Pinterest is also hooked into facebook & twitter so that you can follow your friends. You do not need to know someone to follow their board though.

Making Pinterest work for you is easy as long as you are a little organized.

When I started graduate school last summer I just made a “school counseling” board and starting pinning… everything. This is easy to do since there are so many ideas on pinterest for school counselors. The problem: it is difficult to find pins once they are on a board with 200 other pins. Do not make the same mistake I did

Instead, make multiple boards that focus on more specific topics. Some of the boards I created today in hopes of de-cluttering my school counseling board include:

School Counseling Office

School Counseling – Middle School

School Counseling Groups

By creating more specific boards it will make finding that brilliant idea you pinned 2 months ago much easier to find. Once I get my boards re-organized I will be able to find that great picture on ways to Get to Know a Middle Schooler quickly.

I believe either Andrea Burston, from, or Danielle Schultz, from, said in one of their youtube videos to think of Pinterest as a filing cabinet. This is a perfect way to think of Pinterest.You want to keep it as organized as you would keep your school files. If you don’t you can quickly misplace something or worse, it becomes useless because it is a mess. Pinterest is an awesome resource for school counselors and if used well, it can become your favorite place to brainstorm new ideas.

Thanks for stopping by!