Here's a quick summary of how I've started the 2014-2015 school year at my building:
Our staff decorated our building with a "Surfing into a New School Year" theme. Here's a sample bulletin board introducing our staff to students and parents.
Very similar to last year's office. Here are some pictures and a video of my space.
I used a LEGO theme to introduce/reintroduce myself to my students. The students loved it, especially because of The LEGO Movie. Check out additional beginning of the year lessons here. Make your custom LEGO icon here.
I don't know about you, but in my school counseling program, we had to analyze films that had counseling scenes in them and reflect on the techniques and level of success that the counselor had with his or her client. It's easy to critique someone else's performance than create your own. If I watched 50/50 (above) during grad school, I probably would have laughed at how Anna Kendrick's character handled her first counseling session. She looks uncomfortable and follows the basic script we all learn when we start our counseling programs. In essence, it's fake.
However, I watched 50/50 post grade school, so my reaction was a little different. In many ways, I saw myself in Kendrick's character. I remember my first school counseling session, trying to figure out what to do and say. This feels awkward, should I say something? They are being really quiet, what should I do? How long should I let them talk before I wrap things up and send them back to class? It's funny how quickly things change.
Now, I feel like I can handle most of what comes my way. I am learning the fine art of listening and guiding, being supportive and firm. I know which students just need to vent and which need more advice. I know which teachers need time to talk about their difficult students and which ones need some space. I am certainly not perfect, but each day I am becoming a better version of Marissa 1.0, the newbie who had no idea what she was getting herself into.
I say this not to scare you, but in fact, to help you feel less alone. It's okay to be scared out of your mind sometimes. It's okay to not know all of the answers. I am only going into my 5th year of school counseling, but I can say each year is better than the last. You grow more than you ever could have imagined and soon become a strong, self-sufficient machine, in the best of ways.
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I went back to school today and let's be honest, I was a little nervous about my summer vacation officially ending. While I feel more confident with each passing year, I am still a bit apprehensive about jumping back into the countless demands placed on a school counselor's shoulders.
To top it off, we decided to have a Pinterest craft party this Thursday. We'll be making some of our favorite Pinterest projects together so we are ready to start the year. In order to keep my lovely web followers in the loop, I'll be taking some video of the party so you can see how everything turns out. I hope we don't end up with items suitable for "Pinterest Projects Gone Wrong." Stay tuned!
Recently, I have been receiving a lot of questions from my readers regarding the start of the school year. Whether you are getting ready for your very first year as a school counselor or are just starting at a new building, it can feel overwhelming. Where do you begin? What should you focus on? Well, here are a few of my ideas:
Without positive relationships with your students, staff, and parents, you will not be able to accomplish much. School counselors are a resource for EVERYONE. Your school family must feel comfortable coming to you with their concerns and should look to you for support.
Organizing Counseling Materials
I have found it helpful to have a routine, especially with my individual and small group counseling sessions. Students know the expectations, but have some freedom to choose how they wish to express themselves. Here are a few of my favorite and most used materials:
Documenting can be one of the most stressful parts of the job, simply because we often must push it aside to handle more pressing concerns. Then, we may let it go until there is a huge pile of paperwork to manage.
My name is Marissa Rex and I am a 1st Grade teacher and an elementary school counselor from Ohio. I hope you enjoy my site!