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New Kids on the Block: Tips for the Rookie Counselor or ESL/EFL Teacher

If you are new to the school environment, the start of the school year is about as overwhelming as it gets!  So our September post is full of tips for helping the rookie counselor or teacher survive and thrive during your first (or fifth) year.  Someone once said that the first year of teaching is just survival....




  • Our newest guide, Get Your Goal On: Academic Achievement Group Counseling Guide is here! Order it or download a free preview to motivate your underachieving students to pass those classes! Check it out @
  • We also just put up our other counseling guide, The Unstressables: Stress Management Group Counseling Guide, on our website.  Check out the free downloadable preview on our homepage @
  • Finally, our latest ESL/EFL lessons guide, ESL in the Middle Volume One, is available with lots of lesson plans for your intermediate English learner.  We hope to start cranking out Volume Two after the December holidays!



The first year of counseling is like the first year of teaching- SURVIVAL!  So our first tip for you is our most simple and most important:

  • Just do your best and go with the flow- you really do need that first full year of school counseling or teaching under your belt before you can have a true understanding of what your job entails.  Unfortunately, you can't get to that understanding until to make it through your first year.  The learning curve is incredibly steep, so as long as your show up everyday, keep a running list of upgrades for your program the following year, and do your best to help kids, you are a shining star!  Which leads us to our next tip...
  • Start a "Things to Do/Modify for Next Year" list right away where you can jot down any ideas or modifications for things you'd like to implement differently the following year.  It is so crucial to jot down your ideas in the moment right as they strike you- trust us, you'll never remember it all if you wait until the end of the year to make your list.
  • Say the serenity prayer or some other form of it often.  Working in schools is truly an experience where you will always see much more need than you can meet.  In addition, you will see things that need to change, but are out of your control.  Just remember to stay positive and change the things you can, accept the things you cannot, and try to know the difference.


  • Get a copy of your state's counselor manual (here's a link to an example- it's our Texas one) and make it your Bible- everything you do in your day should somehow relate back to the duties in that manual.
  • Join ASCA and make time to read their monthly magazine.
  • Meet with your administration (especially your principal or director) and fill out and sign a school counseling annual agreement for planning your program.  Here's a link to ASCA's template for an Annual Agreement. 
  • Find out your district's protocol for handling student crisis (3 hurts) situations and be ready and well-versed in how to follow it.  If you are in a district or school that doesn't have a protocol for this, use ours by following this link.
  • If you are transitioning from being a teacher to being a school counselor (as we did), keep in mind that you are no longer part of the teacher team and this may sting.  Some teachers think that no one works as hard as they do and some can be forgetful or unwelcoming to non-teaching staff.  If this is your campus reality, just hang in there and be friendly- sooner or later you'll make some close ties with the other non-teaching staff (at my school, we call ourselves the No-team Team) and you'll eventually find some teachers that will be thrilled to have you on their "team."



We also had an equally long list of additional tips for new ESL/EFL teachers, but then we realized... why post our tips when the experts say it so much better!  So here some links to the best new teacher tips we found among the top educational organizations.







That brings us to the end of this month's post.  We'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on being a new teacher or counselor (we were all there once!), so comment below!  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in October for our next post on substance abuse prevention in the classroom and Red Ribbon Week activities.  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.



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