Sunday, June 5, 2016

Reflect, Review, Research, Revise, and Relax!

In 2 more days students will be out for the summer!  And two days after that, I will be out for the summer!  I am already daydreaming about what those long unstructured days will look like. Travelling, reading, creating, and relaxing are high on my to do list, along with sleeping late, getting more exercise, and hanging-out with friends.  Whether you are out already or still hanging on for a couple of more weeks, there are some things you will want to do to start preparing your program for your best school year yet!

Part of the reading and creating I will be doing has to do with my school counseling program. Summer gives me the opportunity to think more clearly and deeply about what I want to accomplish in the next school year.  Flying by the seat of my pants has served me well as a Mom and many times over my years of being a School Counselor.  However planning as you go, while it can be stimulating and may produce some amazing lessons, can also be frustrating and leave your school colleagues questioning what it is you really do.  Having a well organized and data informed program does much to improve administrative support and increase the understanding of both teachers and administrators of how students are different because of what School Counselors do.

Reflect.  Take a moment and make a list of all you accomplished this year.  Feels a little surreal looking back on it now doesn't it?  Celebrate it!  Congratulate yourself on a job well done!  Look at all the things you did that weren’t even part of your plan, the teacher and administrative requests, ideas you saw on-line or heard about from another School Counselor. These were not things you planned on doing, but you rose to the occasion and handled them all!  There were a number of things I didn't do this year, but a lot more things I did.  Take the time to reflect on it all, feel pride in what you accomplished and make plans for improvements in the coming school year.
Start by asking yourself these questions:
Did I use data to inform my program?
Did I do all I set out to do?  
What did I miss and why? 
What can I do to correct this situation?
What are the things I did that were not part of my original plan for the school year? Were they worthwhile?  
Am I pleased with the impact of my program this year?
Was it the best it could be?
How did my faculty and administration respond to my school counseling program/services?
What can I do to improve on my program for next school year?
What did I do to grow both personally and professionally?

Review.  Start with data. What does your data for the 2015-2016 school year indicate are your school's greatest needs? Not sure what data to review?  Gather year end data in the following areas:
discipline referrals, attendance, students with D's and F's, students with unsatisfactory conduct grades, climate, student, and teacher surveys.

Take some time and look for patterns.  Disaggregate your data to pinpoint specific areas that need your attention.  Share the identified needs with your administration. Discuss your plans to meet those needs on a school wide basis with classroom lessons at Tier 1 and more specific help for students who need small groups at Tier 2. 

Research.   Take some time to research materials that will best meet the needs you have identified for your school population.  There is so much terrific stuff on-line for teaching classes and groups.  A lot of it is free or very inexpensive.  Of course there are great evidenced-based materials out there as well, costing hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars. Choosing what you would like to use or will use, will depend on your budget and your administration.  Do your research and be prepared to make requests or offer informed suggestions for materials to meet the identified needs of your school. If you have demonstrated a school need with data, you may find yourself in a position to make recommendations to your administration for the resources to meet that need.  Be prepared!

Revise.  Look at your School Wide Counseling Curriculum Plan and begin making changes that reflect the needs you saw in the research you did with your school's data. If you don't have a School Wide Counseling Curriculum Plan, it is a great tool for laying out your school counseling program. It is like a calendar of your program for the year.  It gives an overview of all you have planned from groups to classes to parent meetings, professional development, special events, school wide programming, assemblies, committee meetings and more.  It is a great tool for planning with your administration, to lock in dates and venues you will need when implementing your school counseling program. If you are unfamiliar with the School Wide Counseling Curriculum Plan, take a look at the one I created for my school this past year HERE.  I have included a blank template HERE so you can begin your own planning.

Relax.  And now it is time for family, friends, and fun!  School Counselors work hard at taking care of others, but not so much when it comes to taking care of ourselves.  We need this time to rejuvenate our body, mind, and spirit.  It will be much easier to do if you've reflected on your year, reviewed data, researched materials, and revised your School Wide Counseling Curriculum plan.  So whether you are out for the summer or still have days or weeks remaining, take some time to reflect, review, research, and revise in order to have the most relaxing summer possible. You will return to school recharged and ready to launch your best school year yet!

Happy Summer!


  1. Jeannie I have already begun planning for the 2016-2017 school year. I have been reviewing the second step curriculum and am concerned at the number of lessons, teacher follow up of the lessons and completion of the lessons in a school year. Did you teach all of the lessons in this curriculum?

    1. No, I will only teach 16 lessons per grade level in the course of the school year and not all of them are Second Step. My teachers are not involved as they have their own curriculum to implement and I can't ask them to take on another thing. They barely have time to teach the required core subjects. I have the 4th and 5th grade curriculum and am teaching grades 3 and 4 the 4th grade and selected lessons for 5th.