Your first year as a school counselor can be intimidating. Having a plan in place can help reduce the overwhelm. Use this road map to navigate your first 30, 60, and 90 days as a school counselor.

Download the checklist here so you can follow along!

What to do during your first 30 days as a new school counselor: identifying a need + showing face

Create a Needs Assessment

This is a great way to assess the needs of your student population. Send a few questions out to teachers and staff to assess student needs and determine which topics to base your small groups and SEL class lessons around. You can use Google Forms to create a quick questionnaire. Check out my needs assessment template here.

Meet with your principal

Meet with your admin to discuss your expectations and role as the school counselor. Remember, it's never too early to start advocating for your position. You can even bring this 30, 60, 90 day plan to the meeting as a discussion guide.

If you're able to contact the previous counselor, they can provide you with a wealth of information about previous students, programs they implemented, etc. Just be sure to take it with a grain of salt and get to know students yourself rather than judge them based on what the previous counselor shares.

Introduce yourself to students and staff using a Meet the Counselor lesson

Presenting a 'Meet the Counselor' lesson achieves 3 things:

  1. Advocates for your role as a school counselor so it is very clear what duties you are and are not supposed to do.

  2. Helps all students get to know you in a fun, positive way. This sets a good foundation instead of the first time someone meets you is during a crisis.

  3. Shows the students how the monthly counseling lessons will look.

You can play a fun game show like this one to make the content engaging.

Attend or host a Back to School Night

If your school has a Back to School Night or Open House set up a table. You can explain the program, what preventative services you'll be offering, and introduce yourself to parents. This is a great way to share what the role of the school counselor is, further advocating for your position.If your school doesn't have one consider hosting your own!

Establish a referral process

You will determine which students to see based on referrals from teachers, parents, or possibly the students themselves! Check out the referral form I use here. You will need to clearly communicate how people can make referrals. You can have a digital form on your website or a paper based system.

Map out SEL Class Lessons

Figure out if your school has a curriculum and what you're going to use to teach lessons. Determine how often you will be teaching lessons, which topics you'll cover, and when you will teach each topic.

Decorate your office

This is the fun part! The work you do as a school counselor is so valuable and while decorating your school counseling office is definitely not a top priority, it is a fun, simple way to make students feel welcome and accepted.

counseling office tour.JPG

What to do during your first 60 days as a new school counselor: forming a plan + setting up systems

Establish your counseling caseload

Remember, you want to create a proactive and preventative comprehensive school counseling program.

So in addition to collecting parent, teacher, and student self-referrals, try the following methods when forming your caseload to ensure no one slips through the cracks.

  • Meet with your admin to discuss high needs students

  • Email teachers and ask directly which students they think would benefit from counseling

  • Compile a check-in list of students seen last year

You can organize all of this information using a caseload spreadsheet. See this post for an example.

Schedule class lessons

I set up this system of teacher sign-ups and love it! I have used it at multiple schools for multiple years. Taking the time to do the legwork upfront helps you avoid the back and forth yo-yo and eliminate the logistical nightmare of trying to plan everything individually.

Tech Tools for Teacher Sign-Ups

  • Google Sheets: List available times and share the sheet with teachers so they can fill in their ideal times. Set this up in August and have them sign up for the entire year!

  • Google Calendar: Use a Google Calendar (or Outlook) to create an event for the class lessons. This sends the teacher an invitation. Simplify the process further by using a recurring calendar invite. Note: Keep holidays in mind when scheduling to avoid confusion.

  • Calendly: This is a free website where teachers can sign up for appointments with you. It is super user friendly on both ends. You write in your available times and it does the rest for you! It syncs with your calendar to keep consistent scheduling.

tech tools for teacher sign ups

The initial set-up for teacher sign-ups can be time-consuming, but it’s way better than feeling stressed and crunched for time throughout the year. Plus you are likely seeing less kids in August so it’s a good time to get your systems in place before referrals start coming in.

Prepare data collection tools

Determine how you will be collecting pre and post counseling services data so you can measure your program’s effectiveness and later advocate for your position. Read this post to see my favorite data collection methods.

Plan small group curriculum

Figure out which groups you plan on leading based on referrals you have received. Ask your school to purchase a curriculum, work with what you have, or create your own! Check out my small group curriculum here.

Organize school wide activities

Decide if you’re going to help organize any school wide activities. These school wide initiatives can be a lot of fun but do require some planning. For example, a bullying prevention fun run is best done in October, Bullying Prevention Month! Discover more school wide activity ideas here.

What to do during your first 90 days as a new school counselor: implementing services + analyzing data

Teach SEL class lessons

Now that you have planned and scheduled your class lessons, it’s time to start teaching! Read this post for everything you need to know about tier 1 interventions.

Facilitate small groups

You’ve selected curriculum and received referrals, now you get to start group counseling. This is my favorite part of the job! Learn all of the ins and outs of leading a group here.

Meet with individual students

Like small groups, after you’ve received referrals and scheduled students it’s time for boots on the ground intervention! Check out this guide for everything you need to know about individual counseling.

Conduct pre-counseling self-assessments

Self-assessments are a simple way to measure your program's effectiveness. Now, at the beginning of each group or individual session ask students to fill out a pre-counseling self-assessment on the topic you will be working on with them. During their last session, have them complete the same self-assessment. You’ll then compare the results to see where progress has been made. Simple as that! Check out my self-assessment templates here.

Send out behavior surveys

Behavior Progress Monitoring Surveys have a long name, but they are really quite simple. You send these surveys to parents and teachers now, before services have started so they can rate how their child/student is doing. Just like the self-assessments, you’ll send them again after counseling services have ended. You can also send one mid-services to ensure your counseling methods are on the right track. Use this feedback to adjust and tweak your program to best serve students’ needs. These are the behavior surveys I use.

Now that you have a 3 month plan to get started, you can stress less and focus on helping as many students as possible! You’ve got this!

Click here to sign up for my free School Counselor Bootcamp so you can be confident and prepared going into your first year!


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