Tuesday, October 18, 2011

'Intro to the Counselor' Lesson

For the first classroom guidance lesson each year I share with students what my job is as a SCHOOL counselor, (more details on that later!) ;) procedures/expectations for the 'counseling cottage' that align with the school PBIS motto (that our school R.O.C.K.S.), and most importantly how to request to come and talk. I share with students that I'm an adult that cares and want to hear about good AND not so good things going on in their life. I do this to build rapport and to let students know that I'm not just someone that listens/helps with their problems- I want to hear about their successes too! In every classroom there is an envelope with "I would like to see the Counselor" slips in them. I inform the students that during NON-instructional time they can fill out one of the slips and either 1. give it to their teacher to give to me or 2. put it in the envelope on my office door. I also share with the students that if they have an emergency (that involves safety, them or someone else getting physically hurt) to NOT fill out a note. If they have an emergency, they need to tell their teacher or another adult that they have an emergency and need to see the counselor right away. We then work together to make sure they see me or my co-counselor that day. As you might imagine, the notes certainly pile up but we make sure to get to everyone as soon as we can. It's a great way for students to self monitor their needs and to know they have an objective adult in their life they can trust. It's also a great way to 'advertise' ourselves to students- sharing with them what our role is. Early in the year we also give teachers referral forms to use when they have a student they feel would benefit from seeing us.

At the end of the lesson we do a 'getting to know you' activity with my infamous 'thumb ball' the kids LOVE it and ask to use it often. Some students have even asked where I got it so they can get one! It's a great tool to use to get to know students, as an icebreaker, and even as an incentive for following classroom procedures and finishing the lesson with extra time remaining!

When meeting with the young students we are a bit more creative with our approach and how we share what we do. To do this and keep the students engaged, we compare ourselves to Mrs. Potato Head! We ask the students how we are like Mrs. Potato Head and they certainly give creative responses. :) Then we go into detail about how our job and what we do is comparable to Mrs. Potato Head, for example we have ears to listen to students, hands to 'lend a helping hand' when students are in need of help or to give 'high fives' to celebrate successes with them, the glasses are to help students see more clearly and gain a different perspective to the problem they have, the purse/bag is full of tools and ideas to help students work through their problems, etc. The students really get into it and it also allows students to take turn and celebrate differences (i.e. what one student might select for the hat might be different from another student). I've also heard of counselors using a beach bag of tools that relate to their job, you can even use a beach ball and add questions to the different sections much like the thumb ball.

Another way we advertise our comprehensive program and all the components of our job, while also letting people know where we are is through our "Where is the Counselor" door sign. I made the apple sign my first year as a counselor and used library pockets to demonstrate where I was in the building. Since it's one of the first things I made as a counselor, it means a lot to me and it has traveled with me to every school I've been at. When I was split between two schools I wanted one for my other office so I made a fish and used Velcro to show where I was in that building. It's now in the safe possession of my co-counselor.


  1. Loving your potato head "introduce the counselor" idea!!!!

  2. You have some amazing ideas - thanks for sharing it is much appreciated from a play therapist in the UK just about to set up business :)

  3. Thank you both for the comments. Best of luck in your new practice, Caroline! :)

  4. thank you for the great idea for introducing myself as the counselor. I will also use the Where is the Counselor idea tood