Classroom counseling lessons are essential to your comprehensive school counseling program, however many counselors feel overwhelmed by them. Believe me, I've been there! Check out the following strategies to improve your classroom counseling lessons.

1. How to Teach Counseling Lessons when You Have a Huge Caseload

Have you ever thought, "My caseload is too big" I don't have time to do groups, individual sessions, and class lessons!" I've had caseloads from 300-1000+ so I understand the struggle.

Before you get overwhelmed break it down into three areas; scheduling, planning, and teaching.

  • Scheduling: Schedule your class lessons in advance by having teachers sign-up using a scheduling tool like Calendly.

  • Planning: Repurpose content from group and individual sessions to use in your lessons. You can also slightly modify the same lesson to use across grade levels.

  • Teaching: Schedule your class lessons first and then fill in your group and individual sessions. This way you ensure you are teaching ALL students.

2. 7 Ways to Source Classroom Lesson Topics

Once you figure out how to tackle that big caseload, it's time to determine which topics you'll be teaching. Check out these 7 ways to source class lesson topics.

  1. Books: Refer to curriculum provided to you or use a SEL picture book to base your counseling lessons around.

  2. Needs Assessment: Send out a needs assessment to teachers to find out which topics they think their class would benefit most from. Check out my needs assessment template here.

  3. Survey: Send out an informal 3-5 question survey to see which lessons teachers liked and disliked from last year.

  4. Seasonal Trends: Take a look at the calendar and plan your lessons around seasons and holidays. (Ex: Bullying Prevention Month is in October, Teach healthy friendships and relationships around Valentine's Day.)

  5. Referral Data + Deficits: Chat with your admin to see where referrals are coming from and where school-wide problems are (ex: attendance). Then teach lessons to improve these areas of need.

  6. As Needed: Based on your needs assessment responses, offer as needed supplemental lessons to classes based on specific topics you aren't generally covering.

  7. Meet the Counselor: An introductory "meet the counselor" lesson during your first month back is a great way to meet students, clarify your role, and model what future lessons will look like. Check out my favorite meet the counselor lessons here.

3. How to Teach Classroom Lessons When You're Not a Teacher!

You may be thinking, "I have no background or experience teaching, how am I supposed to teach a lesson and manage a classroom full of 20+ kids?!" Try these strategies to help you feel more prepared to teach class lessons.

  • Use a class callback to redirect students

  • Use music and visual timers to aid transitions

  • Prep students with clear directions

  • Observe teachers to find out which teaching style you like

  • Ask for help from teachers so you can best serve their class

  • Use a script or slide deck to help your lesson flow

  • Create an engaging lesson to keep kids on task and focused

Believe me, I've made my fair share of mistakes when it comes to teaching classroom counseling lessons. Hopefully you can learn from mine!

  • Mistake #1: I stretched myself too thin with my schedule causing me to be late and unprepared for classroom lessons.

  • Mistake #2: I stressed myself out by last minute scheduling my lessons every month.

  • Mistake #3: I lost control of the class and didn't know how to redirect or engage them.

  • Mistake #4: I scrambled to plan lessons and didn't feel confident in my content.

So what's the solution to these problems?

I started scheduling my lessons in advance for the entire year and using buffers in my schedule. Plus I adopted classroom management strategies from teachers and created thoughtful lessons to engage students while preventing behaviors.

Through years of research and trail and error I went from feeling stressed to being obsessed with classroom counseling lessons!

  • I wanted to feel more confident and prepared so I started figuring out the process (location, set up, frequency) and getting teacher buy-in.

  • I wanted to stop last minute lesson planning so I started planning engaging lessons and repurposing content.

  • I wanted to feel like I was making a difference so I started collecting data to measure the effectiveness of my lessons.

  • I wanted to feel competent and valued by my colleagues so I started writing scripts and managing behaviors.

I hope you now feel prepared and confident to tackle classroom counseling lessons now that you have these strategies.



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