National School Counseling Week is coming up next week. I can't wait to celebrate. I plan to keep up with ASCA's Photo Challenge. You can also read about what I've done in my schools or laugh at some funny memes. What are some meaningful ways you celebrate school counseling week?
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of incoming practicum students at a local university. I asked the counselors in my district to tell me what they wish they had known about being a school counselor. I also shared some tips on a successful internship year. We ended up having a great discussion and I realized (remembered) how little I knew about school counseling when I was first starting out too.
I wish I had known…
Top 3 tips for a successful internship year:
Be On Time
Schools run like clockwork. When you're late or you don't arrive when expected, you can really throw off everyone's day. Be there when you say you will and stay until you're done.
School counselors are incredibly busy - don't wait for your supervisor to tell you to do something. Think ahead and start making plans for what you can be doing to stay ahead of the game.
Act Like You Work There
Dress professionally, be courteous, help others out - do what great employees and coworkers do. You really aren't volunteering, the school is generously offering to give you job experience.
What are your top tips for interns? If you are hosting an intern this year, check out my 5 tips for hosting an intern.
You finally finished grad school and find your first job. Everything is going great and then you get your first student loan payment. Womp Womp. Educators are certainly pretty low on the salary totem pole and yet we are required as school counselors to hold a masters degree. Luckily, there are a few programs that might help you out.
Before we get started, you need to know what type of loans you have: private, federal, Perkins, Stafford, etc. It's also helpful to know how many payments you've made and whether you school is classified as a low-income school.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness is probably the most well known loan forgiveness program. In this program, you make 120 payments on your loan and then the remaining balance is forgiven. It covers a broad range of loan types and is especially good for people who couldn't make their full loan payments and participated in something like anIncome-Based Plan (a plan where you make smaller payments capped at 10-15% of your income) so that they have a balance after 10 years. This program is available for public employees and 501(c)(3) non-profit employees.
The teacher cancellation program is for those who have Perkins Loans (for low income students). All kinds of school personnel, including school counselors, can have their loans cancelled through this program. The program cancels a portion of your loan for each year that you work in a low-income school or a non-profit private school, up to 100 percent.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Teacher Loan Forgiveness does not include school counselors in their definition of teacher (oh, politics), however, I am including in case you might have been a teacher before you became a school counselor. There are parameters on the type of loan you can have and the years that you received the loan but can add up to $17,500 in loans cancelled. You can check out the website here.
So there it is! Rules and availability of funds change quickly so make sure to check out studentaid.ed.gov for the latest. If it seems overwhelming, it can be helpful to contact the Student Aid number, email, or chat to talk about your situation. I have heard that they are very helpful!
Good luck in your pursuit of student loan peace and...
Happy school counseling week! Thank you for everything that you do to help kids, schools, and parents. You truly make a difference. In keeping with tradition, I have created some fun memes. Feel free to pin, share, text them around to your friends. If you do, please link back to this post.
P.S. There's a FREEBIE at the bottom of this post - Happy School Counseling Week!
One of my favorite ways to celebrate school counseling week is to give out stickers! You can read a whole post on how I do that here. You can also download some super cute stickers for FREE on my TPT store.
I have hosted 5 interns in my time as a school counselor. Mentoring someone new to the field is a way to reflect on your own practice and become even better at what you love to do. That said, hosting an intern can be stressful. There's always someone (else) there needing your attention. If you have to share a small space, you may be tripping over each other all day. There's a chance that your intern will be, well, difficult or struggle greatly with fulfilling your expectations. This can be hard to handle on top of our already busy jobs. To help, I've created 5 tips for hosting an intern.
1. Meet before the first day.
I like to invite my interns to come by the school to see the space. We have a candid conversation about what they are hoping, what I am expecting, and the requirements of their program. I have hosted interns from three different schools so their requirements can vary. This can also help with their nerves on the first day because they have met you and seen the school.
2. Start with a job.
Whether your intern starts on your first teacher workday or after the year has already started, you are going to have tasks that are uninteresting or not applicable to them. I like to assign my interns a big job to keep them busy in that downtime (and to give me a break to get some things done quickly). My interns have made my amazing "Be" wall on my old school website and the Facebook wall to introduce the counselors. I love this because I would probably never take the time to make these displays and it gives my intern something to feel proud about.
3. Be honest from the start.
We don't learn when we don't know. It's important to be honest with your intern. I start by letting them know my plan for the year (or semester) and a few tips about me. My pet peeve is when interns sit and do nothing. If you have some free time- go walk around the school, observe a classroom, or look at my materials to get ideas. Never sit staring at the wall! I avoid many annoyances by laying this out at the beginning.
4. Ask for feedback.
Not them- you! I always ask my interns the following questions: Are you getting what you need? Do you feel like I am involved enough? Involved too much? How are you feeling about your internship? I don't wait for evaluation time, I ask these questions each and every day. I am passionate about helping the future of my profession and I can do that with each intern I work with.
5. Have a plan and follow it.
I create a plan for my interns after I get to know them. They begin by following me around and observing for the first few weeks. As they gain independence, I start assigning them tasks with students then teachers then parents to implement while I am there to support. When ready, we move to the intern taking on classes, a caseload, and parent contacts independently. Finally, in the last quarter of their internship, I assign them a few days where they are completely the acting school counselor. I am in the building if there is an emergency, but they are the person who is called upon throughout the day. This aligns with the student teaching experience where the student teacher has a week or two completely by themselves in the classroom. I often become the teachers' best friend during this time because I offer to make them copies, watch their classes, and make phone calls to keep busy!
What are your favorite internship tips? Please share in the comments.
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