Sunday, February 21, 2016

Google Forms and Counseling

This is an exciting entry for me. I am a paper lover and look forward to the moments where I can create files, binders, anything paper for organization. However, it can get overwhelming to have many files to keep track of when I already have hundreds of students on my caseload. I decided to take the plunge after getting inspiration from teachers and fellow school counselors to use an electronic tool to keep track of my counseling notes. 

In past years I have recorded notes with students in two ways. When students wanted to meet about their grades, credit recovery, had a question about college applications, etc. I would have a form where students would sign, date and write down their reason for visiting the counselor. When I met with students regarding personal counseling, crisis counseling, or check ins, I would fill out a paper form and write down a description of what was discussed.  This is a lot of paperwork and keeping track of paperwork. The school I work at has a system where I can log entries but everyone can see them and this is not confidential.  I wanted a system that I could refer to whenever I needed to follow up with a students and to have for my records.

The school I am at uses Google classroom, Google Docs and Google forms.  There’s a lot of Google going on. After seeing how well this was working out with teachers and students, I wanted to give it a try.  When I came across another school counselor who uses Google forms for meeting notes, I was sold.  After the, “how do I do this?” wore off, I went on to Google how to create the form.

The form was easy to create.  I can select why the student wanted to meet or why I want to meet with the student and notes about the meeting. It is super easy to pull up the results page so I can see how many students I’ve met with and also for students I meet with on a weekly basis. I plan to create a form for parent contact information and my academic meetings with students.

Keeping track of student meetings in Google forms will eliminate the paperwork and numerous files.

Do you use Google forms for counseling? Please share!

Monday, February 15, 2016

National Schools Counseling Week 2016

It was National School Counseling Week February 1st through the 5th. This is the time when school counselors advocate for their profession. In some schools everyone knows what a school counselor does and recognizes this and in other schools school counselors need to advocate a little or a lot more about their profession. In a time where the Common Core takes over the teacher’s lives and school counselors are taking care of duties that are not counselor duties, I can understand why not everyone in the school takes the time to learn what school counselors do. Of course, this may be just one reason.

I am at a high school so not only are the school counselors working with their grade level of students, we also have other duties.  Other duties include supervision, organizing the school dances and graduation, sending transcripts to colleges, scheduling and an endless amounts of paperwork. My mother was a secretary for a very long time and I appreciate her work more and more everyday.  I don’t know how she did it. In between all of these extra duties, that I did not endure three years of graduate school for, my grade level happens to be the 11th grade and a third of the 12th grade.  All grade levels are important but the 11th and 12th grades are crucial for college preparation, admissions, and transition.  What keeps me sane is my fellow school counselors.  They provide the best support with helping me with tasks, making me laugh and just listening and understanding my frustrations. They also celebrate with me and inspire me.  As a department we have a lot of accomplishments and as a school counselor I am so grateful to be at the school I’m in with the support of the administrators and teachers and the students that make my job a joy to go to everyday.

Here is what the counseling department did for National School Counseling Week 2016.

Counselor Trivia: Each counselor shared a fact about herself in the Daily Bulletin. The first student to guess the correct counselor won a prize. The students had a fun time guessing.

Counselor Tip: In the Daily Bulletin a counselor tip was shared for the students to read. 
-Self Esteem
-Academic Success
-Dealing with Rejection
-Recognizing the types of bullying

Desserts for the staff: To kick off the week we had a dessert bar for the teachers to thank them for their support of the counseling department.

Staff Awards: During PLC we awarded teachers who went above and beyond to support the counseling department. The counselors came up with fun awards.  The teachers appreciated them.

What counselor’s do posters: We did not have time to print out the posters so we’ll save them for next year. These posters shared what counselor’s do by the counseling domains: Academic, Career and Personal/Social. We will hang them up around the school. 

It was a lot of fun celebrating this year. Please celebrate your school counselor.  If you’re a school counselor reading this, thank you for all that you do for your school. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Work Planner Update

I posted about my work planner in August.  Since then I purchased three planners and ended up in the original planner-The Plum Paper Teacher Planner in the large size. The planner is working out well for me.

  • ·      Month on 2 pages: The boxes are big enough to write multiple things. There is also a couple of spaces to write events and birthdays.
  • ·      Weekly Pages: Since I purchased the large size, there is plenty of room to write lists/tasks. Everyday is different, but I have room to write down meetings, appointments with students, tasks I need to work on and projects that I am currently working on.  There is a never ending list and the space is perfect.
  • ·      To do list: In the weekly pages there is a box for the week’s “To Dos.” I appreciate this because these are big items that I need to get done in the week. 
  • ·      Prep work: I don’t have “prep” work, but here is where I write projects that are coming up. This section reminds me what I need to be working on.  Also, things that I know that won’t get done in the current week, go here so I know to get them done in the following week.

  • ·      Size: I know that I said that I like the size so I can write down my never-ending lists.  However, the planner is very bulky. If I stay with Plum Paper next year, I am going to get the regular planner. No more teacher planner for me.
  • ·      I purchased the large teacher planner for space but also for the features that teacher’s usually use like class checklists.  I was going to use the checklist to track specific tasks or meetings with students, but I track this on the computer in an excel sheet or Google form so this section is not being used.
  • ·      To Do List: I do like this section, but I would prefer it to be a little longer.

I have read on other blogs and seen Youtube videos about others using another type of planner called the Erin Condren Life Planner.  I use an Erin Condren life planner but I use it for personal use. Erin Condren came out with a horizontal version and I am thinking about using this version for work next year. 

If you do not know about Erin Condren, you should! Here is my link in case you are interested. 

Organization is crucial in my job as I imagine it is in many fields.  Staying organized helps keep me sane. Whichever planner or planning system you use, please share. I am always interested in how others are planning and staying organized.