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A Part Time Program

My first job as a school counselor was within a private school system.  I worked at three different buildings three days a week.  Because of the number of students at each building, I had a half day at one school, a day and a half at another, and a full day at the third building.  Two out of the three had not recently had a school counselor in the building. Basically I was starting my program from scratch.  My current job has me with three different schools, in three different cities, that are not affiliated with each other at all.  I am one day at one school and two days at the other two.  These schools all had previous counselors that I was replacing but the program that had been in place was not up to my standards.  So again, I was basically starting from scratch to create my school counseling program.  I should also note that at each of these buildings I was/am the only school counselor.

I am fairly independent and while it would be nice to have another counselor on staff to bounce ideas off of or help when need be, I do enjoy being on my own.  I can do what I want (within limits of course) in terms of what my program looks like and how it is run.  My current schools are all K-8 and vary in class size but demographically they are similar.  While the politics of the building and the student needs vary greatly.  The position I am currently in and the buildings I am currently at leave the school counseling program up for interpretation based on the counselor (me) currently filling the role.  I try to take the aspects of ASCA that define our role in a K-8 setting and make that work with the time I have at each school.

CLASSROOM GUIDANCE: Once a month I am in each K-5 classroom teaching a guidance lesson.  The topics vary and I try to keep the monthly theme the same throughout the levels.  Teachers are encouraged to let me know of any specific issues they would like me to cover otherwise I have a vast array of lessons I pull from.  For middle school, 6th – 8th grade, I will be meeting on an as needed basis for classroom guidance.

I call my classroom time Guidance but my title is School Counselor.  There has been a lot of change within our job as counselors over the years and while I agree with the title change I still choose to call my classroom time Guidance.  I believe it’s the easiest way for parents to understand what it is I do and it is what I’m doing.  I am providing guidance to their child/ren on friendship, feelings management, careers, etc.

INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS: Students are referred to me by their parents, teachers/staff, or self referred.  If I plan to meet with a student more than one time I need parent permission.  This usually consists of an email home informing the parents that I will be meeting with their child regularly.  I include what the focus of these meetings will be about and encourage them to contact me with any questions or concerns.

SMALL GROUPS: Groups are run as needed depending upon the need of the students and the building.  Groups can be formed because a parent asks for their child to be a part of a group or because teachers see a need.  Any child participating in a group requires parent permission and I use a similar format to my individual counseling students.  The tricky part of running small groups is my limited time in each building and the small numbers I have to work with.  Groups may be needed but unable to run because there is not enough participation.  In that case I try to meet the needs of the student another way.

What does your program look like?


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Guidance Classroom

My ideas for posts usually come to me at the most inopportune time, like when I’m running errands or at the ASCA conference this summer.  By the time I get in front of my computer I have the topic idea with me still but all the rest of my thoughts are gone, they’ve moved onto something else like what’s for dinner?  This post idea came to me while I was at my computer checking my email, I figured I better take advantage and get it written while the ideas are still in there!

If you’ve read the “About Me” section of this blog you may know that I am a part time counselor between three buildings. One of my schools this coming year is new to me so I’m not sure what to expect but the other two I will be returning to for my second year.  I just found out I get my very own classroom at one of the schools!  Now what you might not know about me is that I have always wanted to be in education.  Since I was five years old I wanted to be a teacher.  As I grew up the focus shifted towards school counselor but I do love the teaching aspect of my job. During my internship my supervisor had a classroom of her own.  It was the best thing ever!  Being the intern it meant I had my own space, she was in her office and my office became the classroom. The classroom also allowed her to take the students for classroom lessons to her space.  Much like the students go to art or music class the students went to guidance.  It was awesome!  It allowed the teachers a small break/prep time and the students understood who was in charge.  I am beyond excited to have my own classroom! 

As my husband said when I told him the news “Oh, you get to decorate.”  Yep, I get to decorate and for me that is reason enough to be excited. However, decorating means I can have a bulletin board to go with my monthly themes, I can have a standardized system for classroom management, all my Pinterest ideas will finally have a place to call home : )  My own classroom also means I have room to hold groups bigger than four students at a time, my lessons can be more active, I can have a seating chart that stays the same since the room will be the same each time.  I may actually learn the rest of the students names! (I have about 500 kids at this school and probably know 100 of their names.) 

Do you have your own classroom?  If so, how do you utilize and decorate it?  I’ll post a picture once I have mine all situated and pretty : )

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Spring Break

Working at two different schools means two different spring breaks.  They are opposite weeks which would be more of a problem if I was full time or if I was going anywhere.  This year, due to the nature of life and plans changing my spring break will be a staycation.  I’m ok with that and have already started compiling my to do list.

This is my first year in both schools.  While I am enjoying my time, staff, and students, this break is needed.  I’ve implemented monthly classroom guidance for all of K – 8 (3 sections each), running small groups, and my individual list of students continues to grow.  This is all being done in only two days a week.  My break will consist of some work as the schools don’t coincide with each  other, babysitting my niece and nephews a few days, and some actual down time.  I enjoy scrapbooking, card making, baking, and reading which are all on my list.  My reading list is long with “work” books and I have decided to take advantage of the ASCA Bullying Prevention Specialist certificate while it is still free. (Check out ASCA’s website under professional development to find out more.  It is free until June 30, 2014 after that it is $99 for members. The link is below.)

Today is my first official day of spring break and it is off to a great start.  I slept in, enjoyed my coffee and breakfast and am catching up on a few shows.  The rest of the days plans include some journaling, a little bit of housework, and happy hour with coworkers.  Tomorrow, I have a coffee date with a dear friend and some time in my craft room.  How are you spending your spring break?

ASCA Bullying Prevention Specialist Training