By: Neeti Sarkar

It's here. A new school year. While I wish summer lasted longer, I am also excited to see what this year will be like. That said, it can be overwhelming to resume work after this period of rest. So if you need a to-do list of sorts for your first month back at school, this blog post is for you.

1. Send out a Needs Assessment Form

While you know the potential topics/mandatory lessons you will be teaching in the classrooms, it certainly helps to have teachers give you a better idea of what their students need based on which you can create your curriculum map and start lesson planning. This is the template I use every year. Often, teachers take a bit to get back to me because they would like some time to better gauge the needs of their students, but that is understandable.

2. Teach/Facilitate your Meet the Counselor Lesson

Your first month back at school should be about familiarizing yourself with all students, not just when on recess duty or in the hallway, but by going into each class to teach/facilitate a Meet the Counselor lesson, where students get to know you better and can understand what your role is at school and how you are there to support them. This lesson needn't be monotonous. I use this fun Jeopardy-themed Game Show as an MTC lesson with my upper elementary students and they love it. With younger grades, I usually do a relatable read-aloud that helps students understand what I do at school. The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld is my go-to each year.

3. Prepare for BTS Night

While your students need to get to know you, it's imperative for their parents to also get acquainted with you. Use a Back-to-School night event/Open House to your advantage. Prep handouts and brochures with details about the services you provide, the referral process, and other FAQs you usually get. Don't forget to interact with the parent community at this event. They need to see that you are approachable and eager to support them and their children.

4. Set goals for the year

I'm not sure if your school requires you to do this, but mine does. Initially, I used to take a lot of time to think of what my goals should be but something that's helped me with this exercise is a reflection on my previous year's End of the Year Report (this is the template I use). I try to look at where my program could improve and set my yearly goals accordingly. I make sure to add a personal goal too.

5. Plan your New Students Transition Groups

I work at an international school and that means we have a large number of new students every academic year. Helping families settle in is one of my top priorities in August. I prefer to host New Student Groups over four weeks, grade-wise. If you're looking for ideas on how to go about planning and running such groups, check out this blog post.

6. Decorate your office

Although I've listed this at the bottom, decorating your office is among the first things you will end up doing before the kids return to school. Setting up my Calm Corner with all its necessities, my 'mailbox' on the door, and adding fairy lights and plants to make my office more warm and welcoming, are what I prioritize. I also make sure to visit the school library to check out SEL books to add to the bookcase in my office to use with students throughout the year.


What are some things on your to-do list for BTS season?

Here's wishing you a successful school year ahead!

About the author: Neeti Sarkar is a Primary School Counselor at an IB school in Bangalore, India. Over the span of almost 10 years, she's worked with students aged 3-18, but enjoys working with the littles the most. Neeti's also a seasoned journalist, so when she isn't making behaviour plans, teaching guidance lessons, and supporting her school community in various other ways, she makes time for her other passion- writing.


Please note, comments must be approved before they are published