P.S. There's a FREEBIE at the bottom of this post - Happy School Counseling Week!
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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1. Get out of your office
It might be tempting to be in your office and set up your space. However, you probably won't meet many new people that way either. Get out and walk around!
2. Share what you love about your job
Excitement is contagious- when you talk to your new coworkers, share what excites you about being a counselor. A great counseling program needs support from your stakeholders in order to be successful. Start building that support day one.
3. Offer to help
See someone setting up their room and struggling with those huge sheets of bulletin board paper? Offer to help. Someone bringing in boxes from their car? Offer to help. As counselors, we want to be known as the helpful type!
4. Spend some time in the work room.
This is where the action happens. Laminate something, make some copies, whatever it takes. Lots happens in the work room and you'll get a good feel for how the school works.
5. Make a plan to start.
Elementary counselors are often the only one at their school. If you wait for others to fill your to-do list, they will. Make sure you make a plan about what you want to accomplish in the first few weeks so you don't lose sight of your goals for the year.
Ever feel overwhelmed by trying to keep track of all your data? You can definitely collect so much data that it ceases to have value because you can't possibly use it all to inform your program. I'm here to share how I've been managing my data for the last few years. Before we begin, I think it's important to stop and reflect on the types of "systems" that you actually keep up with. For me, I do best with a mix of electronic and paper/pencil systems that I keep up with along the way. If I have to hole-punch it or do anything that is going to require an extra step, I will put it off and then it becomes lost. We gotta be honest right?
Make a Plan
The biggest mistake I see if people collecting data all along without making a plan. They end up with so much data, they don't know what to do with it so they give up. Imagine you are going on a long walk and you want to collect some items to share when you return. If you start randomly picking up items that catch your attention, you will get to the point where you can't carry all the stuff and you have so much that you don't even know what's best to share.
I think about what I want to be able to share with stakeholders and start from there. For me, I like to keep track of the students I see, the groups I run, the classes I teach, and then create 3-4 closing the gap action plans that I plan to implement based on schoolwide data. That's it. I don't do pre/post tests for every group, class, or contact I make. That's not manageable for me. The purpose of collecting data for me is to see that what I do is effective and to share my successes (or not) with my stakeholders.
Process Data: Who, What, When, Where
The ASCA National Model calls the "who, what, when, where" process data. The purpose of this data is to share how I spent my time and the scope and sequence of topics I covered. For individual counsleing, I use a google form a la my friend Andrea Burston. She has a great description of what she does here. I will only add that the key to this is keeping up with it every day. As I've gotten (ahem) older, I can't keep things in my mind like I used to be able to so I like being able to put in some memory aids on the form. Before I used google forms, I used my outlook calendar and would label individual counseling a certain color and could easily just pull up a list of all individual counseling students.
For group counseling, I have a very complex system (not really). I always start groups in waves. I will do a fall, winter, and spring groups. That way I can plan out what I am planning to do all at once. I make a chart with all the students listed by day. I keep it all on one page so I can grab and go quickly. I then file these lists yearly. That simple. The only data that I keep for groups is the data I use for closing the gap action plans which I discuss below.
I can't be the only one who runs around like a chicken with my head cut off. Right? For my own sanity, I create a yearlong curriculum plan for every class and topic I am going to teach for the year. Most recently, I have taught 11 classes per year (per classroom) but I have done this for as many as 30 classes per year. It's more work at first, but once you do it once, you will love yourself forever. I also made a lesson plan notebook with all my lesson plans in one place. It's one of my goals to get this notebook on my TPT store one day! You can see an example of my yearlong plan here. You can also see how I manage my schedule here.
And that's it for process data. See? It's not so hard. I think the biggest thing is that the way I keep the data is also the way that I use the data. I use the individual tracking form as a memory aid, I use the group list as a reminder of who to pick up for each group, and I use the year long plan to keep me on track with my lessons. Because the data captures are used as tools, they are easy to keep up.
Closing the Gap Plans
Each year I choose 2-3 Closing the Gap action plans based on schoolwide data. As you can see in my examples above, I usually pick areas that are a part of our school improvement plan and then share the data in user friendly language. For these topics only, I create spreadsheets to keep up with the data. I collect perception data (pre/post tests typically), and results data (test scores, attendance). I then share this data with my advisory council.
As the end of the school year nears, jobs are being posted and resumes are being polished. I have had the pleasure of reading many resumes recently. I've gathered some frequently asked questions I thought I would share with you! Get your resume out of the pile and onto someone's "to-call" list!
How long should my resume be?
If you are new to the profession, your resume should be able to fit on a single page. If you have years of experience, two pages is completely acceptable. After 12 years of experience, I have two resumes: one that is 2 pages long and a vitae-style resume that lists all of my speaking engagements and publications in 3 pages.
How should I organize my resume?
Imagine that the standard interviewer will take about 2 minutes to scan your resume as you are being called into the room. What do you want them to see most? If you are a new graduate, it's probably helpful to have your education listed at the top of the page. However, if you have real-world experience, you want that at the top. I once interviewed a person who is fluent in Spanish and she had that buried at the bottom of her resume! If you have a very marketable skill, make sure that gets top billing.
What do I do if I've had many different jobs?
If you have worked at several jobs with the same duties (three different elementary school counselor positions), it's OK to list the jobs together and then list bullet points underneath. This will help free up some space and reduce redundancy.
But what if some of my jobs are unrelated to my desired position?
You have two options if you have jobs that are unrelated to your desired position 1) leave off completely or 2) list the job with no related description. If you had a job doing data entry while you were in college, it's not necessary to include that job in your resume. If you are worried that there will be large holes in your resume without listing a particular job (you worked data entry for 5 years before you went back to grad school), just list the job with the dates you worked and offer no further description.
Should I include my references?
If you can include references without cutting other material, I think it's helpful to include. It saves time for the person who is calling your references and that is always a good thing. In addition, if you have any standout references (someone well known or in a prestigious position), listing visibly on your resume may get you interviewed.
What about online applications, do I still include my resume?
Yes! The online application system in my district sometimes prints things strangely. I really like to have a resume to look at as well because it can be easier to read.
What if an online application asks for my supervisor's contact information but they've moved on?
This is a tricky one! If you have to list your former employment and include your supervisors name who is no longer there, it's OK to list the main line for the school and who was your supervisor. If you can, write "former" before their title. Typically, prospective employers don't call all your places of employment but simply the references that you provide.
Should I submit my online application before it's complete so I can get my name in?
No! How many times can I say no? This is important- if you submit a partial application and the employer passes you over, they will not look at you again. They'll think they've already reviewed your information and found it lacking. Don't submit until everything is final!
What about a cover letter?
I always email my resume in addition to completing the online application. I use the body of my email as I would a cover letter and introduce myself. The employer is probably going to get many emails so I try to be brief and quickly introduce myself. I always include some data and what makes me unique. I make sure to include my website in the signature line so they can easily click to see more.
I hope I've answered all your questions! If you have more, please leave your questions in the comments. Also check out my post on interview tips!
Welcome to my blog where I talk about all things school counselor and encourage others to Counselor Up!
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