How I Hold Senior Meetings

Sunday, September 22, 2019
I want to tell you about my first week of Senior Meetings.

I only had 2 days of them this week. They're 30 minutes a piece, and I try to do about 6 each morning and catch my breath in the afternoon. I love the conversations that I get to have with 12th graders. Some are decisive, and some have no clue what's next. Both types of meetings are fun for me. I have students applying to 4 year and 2 year colleges, headed to work with a certification of some sort, and joining the military. These meetings are pretty student and parent driven as I answer any questions they might have specific to the student's plan. I let students sign up for a meeting with me first. If they don't sign up for a time, I assign them a time because it's important for me to meet with each of them and make sure they have a plan to be college or career ready.

In my particular meetings, here is how my flow usually goes:
  • I ask where the student sees themselves in 5 years. This usually is not a question they're expecting, but it gives me an idea of the direction they see themselves going in. 
  • Then we talk about where they are in that process. If it's college, where are they in the application process? If it's work, they they already have a certification or a job secured? If it's military, have they taken they ASVAB or met with a recruiter yet?
  • If they're headed to college and we're checking on the status of that process... we look at the schools they are applying to or thinking about applying to. Are they on the Common App, Coalition App, or are they applying directly to the institution? I show them how to send their transcripts to these schools or how to request them from me. I make sure they know how to send their SAT and ACT test scores through the respective testing agencies. 
  • If they qualify for free or reduced lunch, I make sure they know what benefits come with that regarding fee waivers for tests and application fees. 
  • Then, we talk about financial aid. I walk them through our state scholarships, letting them know about where they stand with those at this point when we look at GPA, test scores, and class rank. I show them our school's resources for where we keep our scholarships and how they can access them. 
  • I let them know about important dates coming up like a College Essay Writing Workshop, a district financial aid night, College Application Day, etc. 
  • I give them a copy of their unofficial transcript, a flyer with all upcoming important dates, and a handout with the state scholarship information. Before they leave, they have to complete a digital survey that our district asks for (it has basically a summary of what we talked about and what their plans and interests are). 

I made this Senior Year Planning Sheet for those students headed to college. They can use it to manage their stress, stay organized, and keep everything in one place as they're applying for college.

In this planning guide, they'll get:

7 Tips for Running Small Groups at the High School Level

Thursday, August 29, 2019
I think it can be really easy to ignore small group counseling at the high school level all together... you have to find out how to make it work for you and your school. Once you find some small successes, I think you'll get on a roll and find it's your NEW FAVORITE part of your school counseling program! Small group counseling at the high school level is such a treasure! Here are 7 Tips for Running Small Groups at the High School Level:


Dear New School Counselor

Sunday, May 19, 2019
Dear New School Counselor,

Do you have a job yet? (The question everyone is asking you.) Don't worry if you don't. You might be going from interview to interview wondering where you'll end up. You have so much passion in your heart, but you don't have a lot on your resume. You're beginning to wonder if someone will ever hire you. Your time will come, and you'll find the right fit. Maybe your first job won't even be the right fit... but you'll gain some experience, and you'll better know what you're looking for as time goes on.


A High School Counselor's Year in Review

I blinked and this year flew by! I took a minute to exhale as I was reviewing what we accomplished this year in order to present it at our end-of-the-year School Counseling Advisory Council meeting. Though it felt like we, as school counselors, did a lot of the talking at this meeting, I realize it's because we have to be such vocal advocates for our role and the good things we do. (You can find more about why I'm a big fan of advisory councils HERE.)


How We Hosted a Mindfulness Day at Our School

Monday, April 29, 2019
Last year, we hosted our first Career Fair ("How to Host a Career Fair Without Losing Your Mind"). As a school counseling department, we decided to try an every-other-year approach with these two events because they require a lot of man-power to organize, facilitate, and successfully pull off. 

This spring, we hosted our first ever Mindfulness Day. (Ours, specifically, was called "Mindful Generals Day" after our school mascot.) We got the idea for this event after our beginning-of-the-year needs assessment overwhelmingly showed our students needed and wanted help with mental health resources; they were stressed and anxious. The goals of this event were to promote positive mental health awareness and encourage positive stress relief strategies. We had almost 900 students come through our gym doors to check out what we had going on. Before the event, we advertised on social media channels, school announcements, and our cafeteria announcement screen. The day before and the day of, we danced in the hall with the silent disco headphones (let me tell you-- that drew in some looks. Have I mentioned I don't mind embarrassing myself in front of students?).


How to Use a Mindfulness Bulletin Board in Your School

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Our needs assessment this year showed that our high school students are majorly stressed out (no surprises here). They need help with soft skills like time management, study skills, and stress management. Mindfulness seems like a buzz word in the counseling world, but it's because it's something our students are really needing help with.

I'm always looking to create new, visually appealing bulletin boards for our main hallway. THIS ONE has 8 mindfulness techniques (positive self-talk, guided imagery, journaling, affirmations, desk stretches, progressive muscle relaxation, mindful meditation, breathing techniques) that a student could learn about and immediately practice in their classroom. Each of these coping strategies have cardstock take-aways that students can take out of a pocket and bring back to a classroom with them or bring home with them.


5 Characteristics of A Principal Who Supports School Counselors

Sunday, March 10, 2019
(This is written TO school counselors but would be beneficial for both school counselors AND principals to hear/read.)

If you DO already have a good working relationship with your principal, you already know how valuable this is. If you don't, maybe it's something you wish you had. Maybe you're thinking... SURE, that sounds wonderful, but you don't know my administration. I will admit... I think I've had it good for the past 5 years. If you have the opportunity to find a principal to work for who supports school counselors, you've truly found a treasured gem!

I want to let you know 5 characteristics I've noticed of a principal who supports and understands school counselors.


40+ Games, Mixers, & Ice Breakers That Your Students Will Love

Friday, March 8, 2019
I have spent so much time working with high schoolers and middle schoolers over the years. I've been a camp counselor, a school counselor, a Young Life leader, and a church small group leader... not to mention just a fun person who likes playing games (ha!). Through all of these, I've kept an ongoing list of games I've collected, made up, and made work for me and my groups... and I'd encourage you to do the same. 

My "Games, Mixers, and Ice Breakers Pack" has more than 40 games on 17 pages. I've played ALL of them before. I've tweaked things to make them work better for me in different settings, with different amounts of students, or with limited materials.

This resource is divided into a few categories:

4 Things I Pack in My Crisis Bucket

Tuesday, February 19, 2019
I hate that I even have to have a crisis bucket. But when I saw Simply Imperfect Counselor's post on Instagram and her blog of her "Grief Tub," I knew I needed one on my shelf a long time ago.

Since I've been at my school, I have encountered too many student deaths. (ANY is too many- let's be real.) Unfortunately and fortunately, we have a pretty solid crisis plan that works well for us at our school.

In my crisis bucket, I have:
1- 2 boxes of tissues
2- a few sweet and salty snacks
3- 2 packs of colorful Papermate Flair pens
4- the crisis plan for our school printed out, so any school counselor can take the lead on the day if needed


Why I Love Coffee with the Counselors

Friday, February 1, 2019
Once a quarter, we host "Coffee with the Counselors" for our parents. Maybe we could have thought of a more creative name for this, but let's just call it what it is... We pick up coffee and doughnuts and have an interactive, conversational morning with parents of all grade levels.

We offer social/emotional topics that they're not going to find at an evening open house, parent info night, curriculum night, or a PTSA meeting. We've found that quarterly hosting doesn't wear us out too much, and we always have parents show up.

3 Reasons You Need to Start a School Counseling Advisory Council

Saturday, January 26, 2019
Each year, our 3 advisory councils prove to be one of my most favorite parts of our comprehensive school counseling program. It's definitely easier to make excuses than like "Doesn't my School Improvement Council or PTSA count as our advisory council, too?" NO! You want real input from real stakeholders who can help you actually make real improvements for your program. If I haven't convinced you yet, here are 3 reasons I think you should start a school counseling advisory council.