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Top 10 Tips for Wrapping Up Your Counseling Year & Building Your Program

Hello Summer Vacay!  This month, I have lots of ideas and tips on wrapping up this school year’s counseling program AND getting prepared for the next school year!  So if you'd like some professional food-for-thought to make your program even better once you start up again, this post is right up your alley!  As always, I've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.  Plus, my Bilingual Learner quarterly counseling newsletter will be coming out in August- sign up in the newsletter box in the right column.    



This time of year brings lots of closure as well as thoughts of what exciting programs to start in the fall!  Here are some tips and resources to help you with ending your sessions, wrapping up your counseling program, and planning a bit for the upcoming year! 

  1. Student Help- During lunch or off-times, enlist your students to help you pack up your office (minus any confidential student files, of course).  Spend an afternoon organizing various jobs for various students, give them a 30 minute training session and let them go!  While your student movers are working, you can use this time to research some dynamic guidance lessons and group sessions for next year!
  2. Make a List- Start writing down any changes and additions you would like to make in your teaching or counseling program on a "Things to Change Next Year" list.  Anytime you have a revelation about something that might work better for you and your students/clients, write it on the list.   Then at the end of your break, spend some time transferring the changes you most want to implement into your planner, smartphone, master counseling calendar (here's ours if you need a template), Outlook calendar, or whatever you use to organize and plan out your year.  Here's a link to a snippet of our "Things to Change Next Year" list.
  3. Terminating Counseling- There are many different ways to effectively wrap up your counseling sessions with students, but all should include discussions throughout counseling of when the final session will be and also discussion about how students can make future contact with the counselor, if needed. 
  4. Evaluations- Have students fill out an evaluation during the last session with you to show what they have learned, how they have grown, and ideas on improving future sessions-here is the evaluation from my newest counseling guide, Relajate - it is the English/Spanish group evaluation from the stress management guide, but it can easily be modified for use with individuals, too. 
  5. Student/Client List- Make a list of those students or clients with whom you didn't quite finish your work  last year; include a note about where you left off with them and what more you can do to support them.  Spend some time checking in with them in the beginning of the year to help them get started on the right foot.  Often just knowing that someone cares and is available is all the support they need.
  6. Data- Principals and administrators love data and data is THE way to get more funding, resources, and staff buy-in to enrich your counseling program.  Collect data on all your groups and guidance lessons through pre-/post-tests, analysis of members academic and discipline records, and student surveys. 
    • For help with the seemingly overwhelming task of compiling group and guidance lesson data tools, just click the “Group and Guidance Lessons Tools” icon link on my homepage.  
    • Present your data to your school leadership team and post your data (with all identifying student info removed!) in hard-to-miss locations like above the copy machine or in the bathroom!  FYI- there’s no rush on this- it is perfectly fine to present your data from this year’s counseling program at the beginning of the next school year in August or September.
    • Have every student on campus complete a counseling program evaluation.
    • Additionally, use all of the data you’ve collected as a sort of needs assessment for future lessons and counseling sessions since we all work with many of the same students from year to year.
  7. Avoid Burnout- Unless you MUST be in your office or classroom during your break, STAY AWAY!  Think of it this way- batteries don't recharge themselves while still in the flashlight.
  8. Compile Your Supplies- Spend some time writing out a list of all the supplies you would like to buy and then shop for them during your break when you have the time to concentrate, take your time, and enjoy your shopping experience. 
  9. Do Your PD (Professional Development) Reading- Use your break to read, highlight, and take notes on whatever it is you want to improve on in your career.  After reading, review your notes, and red star the 5-10 most important ones and then put them in your "Things to Change Next Year" list. Here's a PD (followed by a not-so-PD) reading list to start with if you need some ideas:
  • Lost at School by Ross Green
  • Life Re-imagined by Barbara Bradley Hagerty
  • The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz
  • American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales
  • Mindfulness by Mark Williams
  • Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin
  • Mindset by Carol Dweck
  • The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal

Fiction with Amazing Counseling Themes!

  • The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle
  • Defending Jacob by William Landay
  • The Pact by Jodi Piccoult
  • Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

And Some of the Tried and True, All Time Best Counseling Books Out There (that I mention every year;)

  • Brief Counseling That Works: A Solution-Focused Approach for School Counselors and Administrators, by Gerald B. (Bennett) Sklare
  • The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs (3rd edition), by the American School Counselor Association
  • Making Data Work, by Carol Kaffenberger and Anita Young
  • Brain on Fire, by Susanah Calahan

10.  Decorate- Stop doing #7 and return two to three days before your actual official start date to decorate your office or classroom.  So, knock out this fun and crucial task before the beginning-of-school-year tsunami hits!  Here are a few photos of my decorations below:

That brings me to the end of this month's post.  Check back here again next month for more tips and resources to kickstart your counseling program! As always, you can find out about Bilingual Learner’s latest promotions, free stuff, or my counseling/ESL adventures by following my Facebook PageTwitter Page, or Pinterest Page.  And don’t forget to follow me on my new Instagram Page!


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