Saturday, August 29, 2015

Why I became a School Counselor Part 2

My journey to become a school counselor happened soon after I became a teacher.  I did not want to become a school counselor because I did not like teaching. I loved being a teacher. I do love learning and wanted to continue my education and plan a career move to administration. I strongly believe that everyone has a story.  My story began when I was six years old (this is the exact time I decided I would be a teacher) and my course changed when a tragedy struck my family (a few years later).  This tragedy did not deter me from my goals. It only pushed me more and more.  I used something so devastating to accomplish my goals and to share my passion for education.  

Anyone who knows me well knows that I was destined to become a teacher. However, I did not know that I wanted to be a school counselor.  Looking back, I did not really connect how much I would be helping students like myself-I LOVE learning- and students like my brother.  My brother was this cool guy that I looked up to and one day he was just gone.  Now, I get to help students who feel alone and be that person that they can count on.  My journey to becoming a school counselor came from making a career move and as the years went it on it became a true calling.

I had the idea that I wanted to become a school leader-administrator.  I wanted to change students’ lives and by being a school leader, I thought that would put me in the exact role to do exactly that. Before I would go back to school to become a school leader, I wanted to get a master’s degree in another area to give me more knowledge. I was interested in a Multicultural Education program because I was working with students from diverse backgrounds and I wanted to learn more about the educational system.  My principal at the time advised me to look into school counseling programs. The school district I worked for hires school leaders who have an expertise in an area such as school counseling. I did some research and applied to a school counseling program at a semi local, well known university. Right before the school year ended, I found out I was accepted to the program. 

I knew that it would take me at least 3 years to complete the school-counseling program because I was a full time teacher. I was ready to learn and put in countless hours of studying, working on group projects and just trying to balance everything.  The program was a good fit. As a teacher I was kind of doing the academic and college counseling and I knew I had to learn more about personal/social counseling. 

I found a job right away at an all girls private high school. Then, I was hired at a public charter high school in Los Angeles. I knew I wanted to work in a public school. That is where my heart is.  I wanted to make a difference and feel a part of a student’s journey.  Over the years I have grown so much in my position, have taken on leadership roles and planned events I was not too excited about.  I am more comfortable with personal/social counseling even though I do not get much time for it. Some days have been rough but most are rewarding.  I look forward to going to work every day.  I am in a career that I am supposed to be in and that is the greatest feeling in the world.  I made the decision to not become a school leader although I completed the master’s program and am currently working on finishing the credential (the program director is reviewing my documents now!).

The year just started this month and I know time will fly by (because it does every year!) so I am going to take in every moment and try not to be too stressed. 

If you’re thinking about becoming a school counselor, I say go for it! Do what you think is best for you. Yes, you probably have already heard that getting a counseling job is a challenge, but it can happen.  Stay passionate about what you want to do and you’ll find a job out there.  Like other advice you’ve read volunteer at a school, read literature about school counseling, look into LPCC or MFT programs, behavior analysis credential can give you an edge, etc. ,etc.  Do what is best for you. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Plum Paper Large Teacher Planner

I am always on the search for the perfect work planner. Often, I get inspiration from blogs and Facebook. Sometimes I am tempted to make my own.  It is so interesting to see how other school counselors use their planners.  Some use an Erin Condren Life Planner or teacher planner, a Plum Paper Planner, a planner from Target, or some other glorious kind of planner.  I'd thought I share how I will use my Plum Paper Larger Teacher Planner from Plum Paper Designs on Etsy.  

Every year I search for the perfect planner to use for school counseling.  Usually, I change my planner mid year and this past year I stayed with the same planner. I love planners!  The only thing missing from my previous planner was a monthly view. I found that I need a large section, each day for lists.  As a high school counselor, I have many tasks.  I think I found what I need in a Plum Paper Large Teacher Planner. 

I came across Plum Paper Designs in one of my Erin Condren Facebook groups.  I did not want to spend money on an Erin Condren Teacher planner so after researching Plum Paper Designs, I decided to go with that company. Next, was deciding which planner I wanted.  Plum Paper Designs has various options such as the regular planner with options of four layouts, family planner, monthly planner, student planner and much much more.  I almost went with the regular planner with the all lines option.  However, I like the size of the Large Teacher Planner.  There’s more room for all of my lists and it has the monthly view. 
Monthly View
I use the monthly view to write down school events, school professional development days, off campus professional development days, holidays, and track sick days. 

Weekly View
Our principal asks us quite frequently what our highlight of the week was.  Since the days, weeks and months blur together at various points thoroughout the year, I’d like to remember what I did.  I am trying to be in the moment more instead of going going going. 

I am going to divide the days by the school day schedule. We have a block schedule so each period will have two squares.  I plan to use this planner for personal use as well since having two planners will be too much for me so I am going to leave a section on the bottom just for that. 

The weekly checklist and prep work sections will be used to be a running list of things to do for week.  They will be things I need to do sometime during the week and not on a particular day. 

Year at a Glance

I cannot wait to put down all of the counseling events, college visits, bulltetin board themes, and other events I need to know for the year. 


These are supposed to be for grading but since I do not grade, I am going to use this section for tracking different tasks that my students complete throughout the year.  Also, I may have a small case load of students I will meet with for personal counseling and the checklist can be a place where I can track the meetings. 

Notes Section

There’s a note page before and after each month and I plan to use these pages as more notes for the month. 

I paid a couple of dollars more to put a notes sections at the back of the planner for professional developments notes, conference notes and any meeting notes. 

The planner is definitely large and bulky, but I love the quality and the space.  The colors are sophisticated and there is so much room for all of my planning. What planner are you using this school year?  

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Back to School...What's in my school counselor bag?

It is back to work for me tomorrow.  I have a week of professional development meetings and then the students’ first day is August 3rd.  I want to share some of the items that I carry to and from work.  It is always neat to learn what others carry in their bag.

Here I go…


Fossil Crossbody Messenger Bag Keyper style

This Fossil bag was available years ago and I remember thinking, “Oh, I will just get it later.”  Later came and the style was discontinued.  I found it on ebay for half of the retail price.  The bag is big enough and structured, with pockets, to fit my needs.  I am able to carry my work lap top, a notebook, work planner, wallet, pouch with essentials, and other small items.  It is not heavy with all of these things either, which is great for me. 

Here is a link, but you can find used ones as well.  I did not pay this much, but that is a good price for a new one since the retail is about $120.

What I Carry Inside?

Of course I carry my work lap top.  I carry it with me in case I need to answer emails from home, but I really do not work from home all that much. 

1).  Planner

This year, I decided to go with a Plum Paper Plannr-Large Teacher Planner.
As a high school counselor I have a lost of tasks and this planner will help me stayed organized with my tasks.  There’s enough room for me to write and organize. I love personalization so having my name on the planner is a bonus.

2). Notebook

I always have to have some kind of note book to write notes or lists.  These notes would be the ones that do not fit in my planner or do not belong there.  Ideas pop into my head all of the time so this is a great way to keep track of all of them.  I used this notebook a couple of years ago. Instead of buying a brand new notebook, I took out the pages I did not need.  Plus, it is purple and metallic. Cute!

3). File Folders

Yes, I do not take work home all that often but sometimes I do have projects that I need to work on at home.  I carry this information in these folders.  Right now, I am not sure how I am going to organize these folders (besides what I just mentioned) but as the year goes on they will have a purpose. 

4). Wallet

This is the perfect wallet for work. Instead of carrying a work bag and purse, I have this wallet. The wallet also holds my cell phone! A wonderful co worker gifted me the wallet and it is still available at Target and in so many different colors and patterns.

5). Pouch

I subscribe to IPSY, which provides small sample or travel size beauty products for $10 a month.  I have been subscribed for over a year and have collected many bags.  I use this bag to carry some items I may need while I am at work.  These small bags are great to carry medication, gum, lip gloss, pens, post its…The list can go on and on. The bag also helps with not letting small items go 
“missing” in my bag. 

Inside of my bag 

That is everything that I carry in my work bag.  What is in your work bag?