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BOY School Counselor Checklist
As the new school year dawns, middle school counselors find themselves embarking on a thrilling adventure—one filled with the promise of growth, learning, and transformation for their students. To ensure a smooth and successful journey, it’s essential to have a well-organized beginning-of-the-year (BOY) school counselor checklist. Here’s my BOY School Counselor Checklist to help middle school counselors kick off the school year on the right foot:
1. Set Goals for the Year
Define clear and achievable goals for your counseling program for the upcoming school year. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, but I recommend focusing on something you’re passionate about. Perhaps you want to start a grief group or you want to begin a parent newsletter or you want to do minute meetings. Center your goals around your passions to avoid burnout.
2. Create Self-Care Plan
Throughout the school year it’s important to remember to prioritize your own well-being. The demands of being a middle school counselor can be intense, so make self-care a part of your routine.
3. Plan for Open House/Meet the Teacher Night
Prepare for Open House/Meet the Teacher Night by creating an informational flyer that provide parents with an overview of your counseling services and resources. We print a QR Code linking to our google classroom, where parents can find a variety of resources.
We also create a QR Code that links to a google form for parents to tell us about their student’s needs. The google form helps us keep track of all of the parents who stop by our table to make a counseling request for their student.
4. Create A Procedure for Counseling Referrals
Develop a clear and streamlined process for teachers and staff to refer students to your counseling services when needed. Ensure that this procedure is well-communicated to teachers and staff prior to the first day of school.
5. Create Teacher Professional Development
We focus our beginning of the year teacher professional development on educating teachers about the variety of counseling services we provide and how teachers/students can request our services. We also go over the “How Big is My Problem?” chart with teachers and explain how it can help keep students in the classroom. On our campus, counselors only see students during a core class if it’s an emergency. If it’s not an emergency, then we make the student wait until an elective class to meet with their counselor. Teachers love this process because it limits the amount of students requesting to leave class during valuable instruction time.
6. Create Note-Taking System
Establish an efficient and organized system for taking notes during meetings with students, parents, and colleagues. Personally, I create a google form and save it to my desktop. My google form is very short; it just asks for student name, period, and notes. I’ve found that the simpler the form, the better.
7. Update Referrals List
Review and update your list of external resources and referral options for students and families who may require specialized assistance beyond the scope of your counseling services. Every year I’m surprised that a counselor/organization has shut down, so it’s worth the time to confirm the information you provide parents is accurate.
8. Create Yearly Calendar
Set aside time to update your calendar with important dates, such as standardized testing, staff meetings, and school-wide events. Having a well-organized schedule will help you stay on top of your responsibilities.
9. Meet Your Counselor Lesson
Plan an introductory lesson or activity for students at the beginning of the school year to help them get to know you, your role, and the services you provide. I provide a slide for each of the following: fun facts about your counselor, what does a school counselor do, where can I find the counselor, and how can I access my school counselor (we teach the How Big is My Problem? chart at this time as well).
10. Create & Distribute Needs Assessment:
Conduct a comprehensive needs assessment to identify the specific needs and challenges faced by students in your school. Use this data to inform and direct your counseling program.
11. Complete Minute Meetings with New/Incoming Students
Schedule and conduct brief, one on one meetings with new and incoming students. Typically counselors refer to these meetings as “Minute Meetings” because they are very short (1-2 minutes per student). The purpose is to set the groundwork for the rest of the school year and to create a positive relationship with the students.
12. Meet with SPED/504 Students with Anxiety
Identify and meet with students who may struggle with anxiety or stress-related issues. Introduce yourself and explain to the student how you plan to support them at school.
13. Update Counseling Website:
Ensure that your counseling website is up-to-date with relevant resources, contact information, and announcements. Make it a valuable tool for students, parents, and staff.
14. What is Bullying Lesson
Plan and deliver an anti-bullying lesson or program to raise awareness and promote a positive and respectful school culture.
15. Sign Up for Professional Development
Research and enroll in professional development opportunities that will enhance your counseling skills and keep you informed about the latest trends and best practices in the field. I consider professional development days a form of self care as I’m taking a mental health break from work and I’m finding inspirational ideas to add to my counseling practice.
By following this BOY School Counselor Checklist, middle school counselors can start the school year with confidence and enthusiasm. Your dedication and guidance will play a crucial role in helping students navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. So, gear up for another exciting year of counseling adventures!