You know how the internet is teeming with memes about how we're all still waiting for the day we will actually use trigonometry in real life? It makes me look back on my time in grad school with gratitude for the excellent education I received which I get to put to use everyday. But, back then, were you like me oblivious to just how stressful a school counselor's job could be?

Of course we all dreamt of walking into a pretty little office where we would spend the bulk of our time offering ASCA aligned MTSS counseling services to kids. Nobody told us we'd also constantly be putting out fires, running out of sticky notes, trying to figure out the perfect rotation arrangement, working nights and weekends, having to advocate for our role to get the recognition we deserve, and in short, feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

What grad school didn't teach me, my own experience (with much trial and error) as a school counselor has, thankfully! Here are 6 simple but effective ways to combat school counselor stress:

Optimize Your Time

Time is precious and must be spent wisely. If you don't want to have to take work back home and if you want to ensure the time you spend in school is spent seeing and helping more students than on the other mundane yet important tasks that come with your job, you could:

1. Do a Time-Audit

Doing a one-week time audit helped me see for real where I was spending my time on the job. All you need to do is, for one week, track everything you're doing at work down to the minute - from answering emails to grabbing coffee in the staff lounge. This time-audit will help you see areas you are spending the most time on and where you can cut back. This wake-up call will help you streamline your schedule.

school counseling

2. Batch Communication

Is your work email open all the time? Do work email notifications on your phone prompt you to respond immediately? Do you find yourself spending a bulk of your time communicating with parents, teachers, and admin, and then feel like you haven’t quite completed your actual to-do list? How about batching your emails and calls? Set apart a time block on your daily calendar to do just this, maybe at the start and at the end of your school day, and once in between, if needed.

3. Create Buffers

Have you found yourself in and out of sessions with not so much as a five minute breather in between? Have you had a session that went on for a bit longer and then had your next student wait around for you to get done so they could get their turn to see you? As much as you hope and think that a 20-30 minute individual session would be just that, in reality, you know it takes students time to get to your office, and that sometimes a session could go on for an additional five minutes. Try creating a buffer of at least ten minutes between sessions, just to make room for the unforeseen. Also, you need to come up for air, every once in a while!

Utilize Tech Tools

It's crazy to think that despite all the advancement in the digital world over the past decade, it took many of us a global pandemic to start exploring and maximizing our use of tech tools. For stress free school counseling, I suggest using the following Google tools:

4. Google Calendar

I love stationery, especially paper planners and calendars. However, I have found that using a digital one is much more efficient. Google Calendar allows me to schedule all my class, individual, and group sessions, parent meetings, communication batching blocks, lunch breaks (some of us need reminders!), parent meetings, and even planning periods. It comes with timely reminders/notifications so you know what's up next on your schedule for the day.

counseling google calendar

You also have the opportunity of viewing your schedule as a whole week or even a whole month. I suggest color-coding your calendar so you know how many class lessons, individual, and group sessions you have slated for the week. If you are in the virtual or blended format of schooling, you could also add in your Zoom link for students to join your session. If you give access to teachers to view your Google Calendar, they would also know when to sign you up for SEL lessons or where to find you at a particular time of the day. Talk about communicating the need for your position by sharing the services you provide!

5. Google Sheets

These can be used for the bulk of your documentation. Send one out as a sign-up sheet for teachers to block you for Tier 1 lessons with their class. Use one as your Weekly Counseling Log to enter data such as date, student name, area of need, counseling type (individual or group), duration, strategies used, notes, and details of parent communication.

Apart from helping you remember what you did in your previous sessions, a sheet like this gives you the perfect overview especially when you create your End-of-the-Year Report. I also use a Google Spreadsheet to create a Caseload Sheet that shows all of the individual and small group students you see so you can keep track of everyone.

6. Google Forms

This has got to be my favorite tool for gathering data digitally. From Needs Assessment Forms for teachers to fill out to Self-Assessment forms for students to fill out pre and post individual/group counseling, Google Forms has made my job super simple.

Looking for additional time-tested strategies and ready-to-use tools for stress free school counseling? Click here to download my free Stress Free School Counseling Toolkit to increase your impact and get the recognition you deserve.?


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