The saying goes, if you don’t plan your time, someone else will help you waste it. Calendars provide structure to your program and to your day. While unexpected issues will always arise, keeping a detailed calendar will help you to quickly determine what needs to be done when. When looking back at your calendar, you want to be able to see where you used your time and whether it was the most effective way to spend that time.
In the ASCA National Model there are two types of calendars: the annual calendar and the weekly calendar. The annual calendar shows the scope of the program and identifies program priorities. All major activities delivered or coordinated by the school counselor or counselors are included. The annual calendar should be posted in the school or on the website so that all stakeholders can learn about the opportunities available to them. The weekly calendar shows planned activities and then documents other responsive activities as they occur. The weekly calendar will have a public version that includes all scheduled activities, duties, and responsibilities and a private version that will include students’ names and information.
Let’s look at the process for creating calendars. ASCA has an annual calendar template available on their website. This template is not required for RAMP submission. In the template, we can see that there is a section for ongoing services and then each month of the school year. The columns are used to list the different types of activities. What are the activities that you know will happen in August? In December? Other activities like 504 meetings, individual counseling, and crisis response are ongoing services provided throughout the year. Make sure to include parent nights, core curriculum lessons, groups provided, consultations with grade levels or teachers, and any other services typically provided throughout the year. It is helpful to highlight any activities related to your program goals. You can choose to color code these by goal or to literally highlight the services.
Here we have a list of possible activities to be included in your annual calendar. When listing items like groups and classroom lessons, be sure to list by topic and not a blanket “groups” in every month. A comprehensive list of your annual activities is a great tool for sharing your program with stakeholders. Consider how you will share your calendar at your building. Will you post in the office? Link on your website?
Let’s look at the process for the weekly calendar. The weekly calendar shared in the National Model process is intended to be a snapshot of a typical week in the Fall and Spring semesters. For ASCA National Model recognition, you turn in only 2 weekly calendars per counselor. However, keeping a detailed calendar is a best practice for all counselors. When you plan your time, check in on your use of time, and hold your time accountable for productivity, you create space in your day. When thinking about your calendar, it’s best to think of each section of the day as an appointment. ASCA’s Use of Time template has the day broken down into 15 minute increments. You may also decide that 30 minutes works best for you.
In our example, we see an actual calendar from a Middle School counselor. At the beginning of the week, the counselor knows that they have their daily duties, groups, planning tasks, parent meetings, and school based meetings. It looks like the counselor has a lot of “free” time. However, we know that the counselor will be busy during each of these more open blocks.
As the week goes on, the counselor fills in their individual counseling, consultations and discussions with parents. As you can see, their calendar quickly becomes full. In this public version of the calendar the students’ names are omitted but the grade level and topic are included so that stakeholders can get an idea of what types of work the counselor is doing. In the counselor’s personal calendar, they would note the student’s name as a record of their time with that student.
To make the calendar easier to read, ASCA requires that weekly calendars be color coded by category. In our example, the counselor provided the key for color coding and the percentage of time spent in each category at the bottom of her calendar.
An even better option is to create a pie graph showing your use of time. This pie graph can be copied and pasted to informational materials about your program or put on your website. To create a pie graph type the categories of time and their percentages in two columns, highlight the cells and click on the pie chart button found in the insert tab. Excel will automatically make a pie chart with your percentages. Your weekly calendar should align with the recommendation of 80% direct and indirect services to students and 20% or less in system support and program planning. If yours does not, use this as an opportunity to discuss your time as a counseling team or with your administrator.
ASCA has a use of time template that will help you to calculate your time. Thank you for joining us today! As always, if you have any questions, please contact me.