4 Things I Pack in My Crisis Bucket

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

This is how I use these items: 
1 and 2- Self explanatory. We have these wherever we are doing grief counseling. We also grab some bottles of water or a pitcher and fill it with water and have cups in the room where we station ourselves. When we huddle with our team, we decide where we are going to be stationed for the day to welcome students to talk. When students walk in, we have them sign a sheet with their name saying they were there. This way, we can follow back up with individual counseling or know names to invite to a grief small group if necessary.

3- Our school librarian prints a giant poster for the student who has died saying the student's name at the top. Sometimes it has a yearbook picture of the student if that is available. We make this poster available in our lobby, in our conference room, or in a secluded room that we are doing more intense grief counseling. Students use the nice, Papermate flair pens to sign the poster. We also use these pens for students to write letters to the family or their friends if they want. When an administrator or counselor visit the family or attend the funeral, we bring this with us.

4- My crisis plan includes what to do if you are notified of a student death OUTSIDE of the school day and a second for what to do if you are notified of a student death DURING the school day. Your school may choose to do things differently, or you may already have a great plan in place... this is just what seems to work for us.

CLICK HERE to download my school's crisis plan along with the printable you see on the top of my bucket.


Why I Love Coffee with the Counselors

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.

It's always a small setting. Usually 5-25 parents come to hear about the topics we or a guest speaker present on. Our main ways we advertise the event are email, text message, phone blast, and social media.

If I go back in the archives, I can share with you most all of the topics we've ever done. We are always open to suggestions from parents or staff, but we've found that most people "don't know what they don't know" and often have trouble pinpointing what specifically they'd like to hear about!

  • Teen Mental Health (a pretty general presentation by our school counselors)
  • Growing Independent Young Adults (presented by our school counselors)
  • Parents as Allies: Recognizing Early Onset Mental Health Illness in Children and Adolescents (presented by our local NAMI chapter)
  • Commerce 101: Navigating the College and Career Landscape (presented by a regional workforce advisor)
  • How to Communicate with Your Teen (presented by a local LPC, our school's former school mental health counselor)
  • Trends in School Safety and Q&A with the School Resource Officer

I love that parents feel supported here. I think every time we finish it up, parents feel like "hey, I'm not the only one" dealing with this issue or need help relating to my teenager in this way. Parents share anecdotes and experiences, connect with one another, chat informally with school counselors, and actually learn something they can take away. 

Do you host something like this at your school? What topics have been helpful or most popular for your parents?

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