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School Counselor Minute Meetings
The first time I heard about Minute Meetings my immediate reaction was “OMG that sounds impossible, this lady is crazy!” About 30 seconds later I thought “But it is pretty awesome.” And then every so often the thought would come back and I’d wonder if I could figure out how to do minute meetings at my school. Minute Meetings floated around in my head for about 2 months before I decided to just dive in!! Y’all know sometimes the best ideas are the crazy ones!
What are Minute Meetings
A Minute Meetings is where I meet with every new/incoming student for 1-2 minutes. The purpose is to set the groundwork for the rest of the school year and to create a positive relationship with the students. My hope is that as the year progresses, they’ll feel more comfortable coming to talk to me if needed.
When to Meet with Students
Determining when to meet with students has been the trickiest part for me. I’ve thought about asking the PE teachers to let me sit in the corner for a day pulling one kid after another. The majority of school counselors do their Minute Meetings in the hallway, calling one student out of class at a time. But something about that process just doesn’t seem personable to me. It also doesn’t show them where my office is and how to check in at the counseling center. I want my students to learn how easy it is to access a counselor and to feel comfortable coming to me in the future. These meetings have a purpose and if I’m doing it in the hallway/corner, then I’m not sure that’s really accomplishing my purpose.
I honestly don’t have a great plan for completing my Minute Meetings right now. Remember it’s my first year doing Minute Meetings so I’m still learning. My current plan is to be creative and just keep on going! Don’t give up! Every advisory/homeroom period I’m going to go down my list and call 20 kids down. Then throughout the day I plan to meet with 10-15 students during their elective classes. I know it’s not well planned but I’m gonna figure it out and get it done! Sometimes keeping things simple is the best way to get them done. If I meet with 30 students a day, then I’ll be done in 2 weeks (10 working days). So for the next two weeks I’m just going to randomly call kids down until I finish the list.
Topics to Discuss
A lot of counselors use their Minute Meetings to gather data, similar to my student needs assessment. My Minute Meetings, however, are kind of like a follow up to my student needs assessment. So I’m not focused on the data, I’m focused on building the relationship. Here are some topics I discuss in my Minute Meetings:
- How was your summer?
- On a scale of 1-5, how are you liking school so far?
- What’s your favorite class so far?
- Have you made any new friends?
- Where did you go to school last year?
- Did you ever talk to your last school counselor?
- What’s one of your greatest strengths?
- Describe yourself in 3 words.
- I also like to bring up whatever they wrote in their student needs assessment (specifically the last question). They love knowing that I took the time to read their comment and that I remembered (when in reality I read it right before they came in).
Determining Which Students to Meet with First
I started with a list of students who were 504/SPED for anxiety and other mental health concerns. I focused on meeting with these students first because they are most likely some of my “high need” students. Also my hope is to help lessen their anxiety by knowing they have supports in place; I want to focus on being proactive with these students instead of reactive!
I then moved on to a list of students who were new to our district or transferred into our school from another school (within district). These students are likely to struggle because not only are they in a new school but they’re also trying to navigate making an entire new group of friends. It’s a lot for them! I moved at their age so I know it can be hard at times. I’m super passionate about checking in on these kids, asking how they’re transition has been, and seeing if I need to set up a lunch group to help them make some friends.
Once I’ve finished those two groups of students, then I meet with the rest of the students at random. No specific order, just focus on getting it done!
One of my goals for this school year is to communicate with parents more about the services I provide. I don’t typically call parents after I meet with their student, unless I’m concerned about their student. So basically parents don’t know about 90% of the work I’m doing, which isn’t good! We need to advocate for our jobs, which means people need to start recognizing all of the work we do. I’ve decided to start doing exit tickets as I work with students. Today’s exit tickets simply states “I met my school counselor today. She meets with every 6th grader to welcome us to middle school.” I want parents to know I’m meeting with their kid but also there’s no need to call me. Yes I’m assuming 80% of these exit tickets will end up in the trash. But if 20% make it home, then that’s 20% more parents who know and appreciate the work I’m doing.