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Top Ten Tips: Summer Counseling/Teaching To-Do's & Attending Counseling/Teaching Conferences

Hello, Summer, my old friend!  This month, I have lots of ideas on getting your counseling or teaching program ready 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!  Also, summer is the time that a lot of us counselors and teachers attend professional development conferences!  So, read on for my tips on making the best of your summer conferences. 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. 



This time of year brings lots of thoughts of what exciting programs to start in the fall!  Here are some tips and resources to help you plan a dynamic counseling or teaching program for the upcoming year! 


  1. Make a List- Start writing down any changes and additions you would like to make in your counseling/teaching 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, 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.
  2. Student Concerns- Make a note of those students with whom you didn't quite finish your work  last year as well as the ones that need a check in at the start of the school year; include a note about where you left off with them and/or what 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.
  3. Needs Assessments: Start Planning Those Groups and Lessons- Create counseling needs assessments to give staff, students, and parents in September.  Here is an example of my student needs assessment.  You can also use Survey Monkey for an easy way to make and analyze the data of an electronic needs assessment.  Use the results of the needs assessment (along with your district or state school counseling objectives) to pick your post-September guidance lesson topics and your support group topics. In the meantime, plan your August/September guidance lessons now; excellent August/September guidance topics include:  introductions, how to see the counselor, how to handle an emergency, and success in school.  If you are a teacher, use the summer break to start planning your lessons for the first few weeks of school. Here are some great ideas from to kick off your beginning-of-the school year lessons: games&activities, first day of class, and ice breakers.   For counselors, summer is also a good time to start reviewing resources to plan for your counseling support groups; click on the green links below to see a few of my faves:
  4. Compile Your Supplies and Decorate- 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. Then, return to school two to three days before your actual official start date to decorate your office or classroom.  Knock out this fun and crucial task before the beginning-of-school-year tsunami hits!  Below are a few photos of my space...                             
  5. Do Your PD (Professional Development) Reading and Attend Those Summer Conferences- 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 reading list (including some fiction with counseling/teaching themes) to start with if you need some ideas:
    • Brief Counseling That Works: A Solution-Focused Approach for School Counselors and Administrators, by Gerald B. Sklare
    • The First Days of School, by Harry Wong
    • The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs (3rd edition), by the American School Counselor Association
    • Mentoring and Supervising, by the American School Counselor Association
    • Making Data Work, by Carol Kaffenberger and Anita Young
    • Brain on Fire, by Susanah Calahan
    • The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle
    • Defending Jacob by William Landay
    • The Pact by Jodi Piccoult
    • Mindset by Carol Dweck
    • The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal
    • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

And Speaking of Summer PD…  


  1. Just Do it!  If you have the opportunity to attend a counseling or teaching conference this summer, YOU MUST GO!  They are so fun, motivating and rich in professional development! Summer conferences are absolutely worth any planning or money necessary to make the trip happen!
  2. Get to Sessions Early- Once you decide to attend the conference, spend some time planning out the sessions you want to attend and then arrive to your desired sessions early since the best ones often fill up with standing (or no) room only.
  3. Dress in Layers, and Pack your Conference Bag- you don’t want to have to waste your session or networking time by running around looking for something to eat or heading back to your hotel room for a change of clothes! Pack a conference day bag to include a sweater, water, a snack or two, technology to take notes, your business cards, a notepad, a pencil, and your phone/technology charger.
  4. Network!  Even for introverts like me who love their alone time, the summer conference experience is so enriched when you meet new professionals and trade tips and experiences.  Don’t worry about showing up alone- so many others will be there in the same boat!  Many conferences nowadays let you download an app that gives you session info as well as networking opportunities while attending the conference. Go to the conference Meet and Greet, share a meal with a colleague or just strike up a convo with the counselor or teacher sitting next to you in your session.  You won’t regret it!
  5. Don’t Expect Handouts- It is best to have your own technology (small laptop, ipad, tablet, or even phone) to take electronic notes so that you can revise them later and send them to your colleagues.  Many conferences nowadays encourage their presenters to Go Green, download their PPT to the conference website and avoid paper handouts.

That brings me to the end of this month's post.  I'd love to hear your ideas on how your build your counseling or ESL teaching program over the summer, so leave a comment below!  Check back here again next month for more tips and resources to kickstart your counseling or ESL/EFL program! As always, you can find out about Bilingual Learner’s latest promotions, free stuff, or my counseling and teaching adventures by following my Facebook PageTwitter Page, or Pinterest Page.  And don’t forget to follow me on my Instagram Page!



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