Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Create a Great Group Space: Tips for Setting Up Your School Counseling Office

Setting up a school counseling office can be a daunting task, especially for new school counselors.

I am providing you with a series of tips to help you set up your new school counseling office or revamp the space that you already have.


When you are planning the layout for your school counseling office think of all of the things you want students to be able to do in your office.  Thinking about what students will be doing in your office will help you plan out your space.

I have run many, many groups in my time as a school counselor. When configuring my school counseling space making room for groups was always my top priority.

Below are my recommendations for creating a great group counseling space in your school counseling office.


I will highlight the group spaces I have had over the years and show you how I used the above tips and give you some additional tips along the way.

2011-2012 School Counseling Office
In my most recent office I did not have very much space at all for groups. I had to get crafty about how I would fit students in my office to host a group.  I found a table that could seat six students. I designated this space below for my group counseling sessions.


Towards the end of the year I actually changed the orientation of this table... so that the end of the table was against the wall with the windows.  Moving the table around seemed to provide more space.  I used additional folding chairs and my desk chair for more seating.

I prominently displayed my expectations for my office (located beside the "Feeling Puzzled?" bulletin board) by creating a "Group Rules" banner. You can create a banner like this one using VistaPrint or order one in the School Counselor Blog Store.

The location of this table allowed students to easily access materials and supplies that we used during group.

In the picture to the left you can see that behind the green chair students could access rolling storage containers and my stackable storage containers containing art supplies and paper.

They also had easy access behind them to puppets, books, drums, and other items we frequently used in groups.

Other supplies group materials and supplies were located near the door.

I stored additional books and materials stored in my wooden storage cubbies.

I stored my inflatable dice and beach balls in a green plastic container near my desk.

You can see these items in the picture on the right.

2010-2011 School Counseling Office
My 2010-2011 School Counseling office was a school counselor's dream come true. It was a small classroom so I had tons of space do do everything I could possibly want... including host a whole class!

When I first moved into this office there were no tables only desks. I requested two U-shaped tables so I could create one large group table in the middle of the room to create a designated group counseling space.


Running groups in this space was an amazing experience. There was enough room to host larger groups of students. I would sometimes split classrooms up and do lessons with half the classroom or do specific lessons for girls and specific lessons for boys.

I did a series of three lessons on "boy" bullying and "girl" bullying with 5th grade that went really well. The kids liked being split up and invited with more 5th graders than just their own classroom.

In this space books, materials, and art supplies were easily accesible to students.

My group expectations were prominently displayed and visible to students from the group counseling space.

I have also had my Kid Draw Emotions Bulletin Board Set visible from the group table in all of my school counseling offices. Having examples of emotions visibly displayed helped students come up with feeling words during group activities.

2009-2010 School Counseling Office
My first school counseling office of my very own was a small windowless room.  It was very cramped in my office, but I was determined to create a designated space to facilitate counseling groups.

I requested a U-shaped table... it practically took up my whole office... but I was so excited because I had space to host a group.


It is very hard to see, but I wrote group expectations on construction paper. I displayed the group expectations to the right of the white board where students could easily see and refer to the expectations. (Obviously this was before I was VistaPrint savvy...).


My books, materials, and art supplies were also easily accessible to the group space in this office. It was definitely cramped, but in a cozy way. ;)


I also had my Kid Draw Emotions Bulletin Board Set visible from the group table. 

Where to you facilitate school counseling groups? How do you create a great group counseling space in your school counseling office?

This is the fourth post in a series of Tips for Your School Counseling Office.

Other posts about School Counseling Offices
Comment below, tweetcontact Danielle, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!


Comment below, tweetcontact Danielle, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources. Connect with Danielle via emailTwitterPinterestLinkedInGoogle+, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.



Sunday, August 19, 2012

How I Decked My Walls: Tips for Setting Up Your School Counseling Office

Setting up a school counseling office can be a daunting task, especially for new school counselors.

I am providing you with a series of tips to help you set up your new school counseling office or revamp the space that you already have.


I have received lots of questions about items on the walls in my previous school counseling offices. In this post I will highlight some of the items that are most asked about. 

Confidentiality Banner and Group Banner

In the picture below I have two of the most asked about items in my from my school counseling office.  The "What You Say in Here, Stays in Here" banner and the banner I use for my "rules" in my office.


I created both of the banners using VistaPrint. Both banners are also available for purchase in the School Counselor Blog Store.

I love having these posters in my office.  The "What You Say in Here, Stays in Here" banner serves as a great reminder to students about confidentiality.  When a student comes into my office I refer to the banner and explain what confidentiality means. The banner also includes the exceptions or times when a school counselor would have to break confidentially to get a student extra support.

The other banner that says "Be safe..." is a banner I created for norms for my office. I don't like calling them rules. I prefer to explain them as expectations and norms for my office.  I did not title it "rules" on purpose.


Kid Draw Emotions Posters

In the picture below I have feelings posters hanging above the "Feeling Puzzled?" bulletin board.  They are called Kid Drawn Emotions Bulletin Board Set by Carson Dellosa.  I purchased them at a teacher store about four years ago. The good news is they are available on Amazon.com! I laminated them to make them last longer.


Students absolutely love the Kid Drawn Emotions.  They are a great conversation starter and kids often volunteer how they are feeling once they see the posters. 

Below is a larger version of the Kid Drawn Emotions in one of my previous school counseling offices.



I love that the Kid Drawn Emotions are not just a feeling face but are a situation. The scene on each poster gives context to the emotion... you can explore why the child is feeling the particular feeling on the poster.  I have used the Kid Drawn Emotions to have students create a story about the child in the picture.  I have also used the Kid Drawn Emotions to have students describe a time when they felt sad, proud, jealous, shy, etc.

"Children Need to Be Seen, Heard, and Believed" Banner

One of my interns, Courtney, made me the Children need to be seen, heard, and believed poster pictured below under my whiteboard.  She got it for me as a gift at the end of her internship. 



She used VistaPrint to design the banner. I love that the "Children need..." banner it is colorful and has hands on it.  It also complimentary to the colors in my office. It was a really great gift and has a great message.  I had so many people ask me about it that I decided to recreate it for the School Counselor Blog Store.  You can purchase the banner from the School Counselor Blog Store or create your own using VistaPrint.

How do you deck your walls?

This is the third post in a series of Tips for Your School Counseling Office.

Other posts about School Counseling Offices


Comment below, tweetcontact Danielle, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources. Connect with Danielle via emailTwitter, PinterestLinkedInGoogle+, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.





Sunday, August 12, 2012

Add Color with Storage: Tips for Setting Up Your School Counseling Office

Setting up a school counseling office can be a daunting task, especially for new school counselors.

I am providing you with a series of tips to help you set up your new school counseling office or revamp the space that you already have.


If you are like most school counselors, you probably cannot paint your walls. You can brighten up your school counseling office by adding colorful storage and accessories - even if you are stuck with a drab wall color. 

I will recommend some items you can use to add color to your office and highlight some of the storage items I have used specifically.

I recommend sticking with a few bold colors to create a cohesive look for your office.


Colorful baskets and bins are a great way to stay organized and add color to your office.  I do the majority of my shopping at Target, so when I saw a colorful basket or a bin on clearance I snagged it!


In the picture above I used a green plastic basket to store nerf balls, beach balls and my blow-up dice.


In the picture above I use a red plastic basket to store percussion instruments.


In this picture above I used stackable storage baskets from Target in blue, green, and purple to store sand tray items and my "talking" fish.

I purchased a few of these 3 Layer Organizers to store items.

I had a purple one filled with pencils to give away to students for different things, postcards and thank notes, and rubberbands, paperclips, and pushpins. I had green one filled with beads and craft supplies and colored pencils.

You can see the green 3 Layer Organizer I used for art/craft supplies in the picture below in the lower right hand corner.


I love that the containers snap apart. You can customize them to meet your needs if you buy a few. Students also enjoyed using them especially in groups. They made sharing easy because they could just pass around the part of the container that they needed. :)

There are also three storage bins on the windowsill in the picture above that I purchased from Ikea.  Here they are again below in my 2010-2011 school counseling office.


The storage bins are great because they fold down which is great for packing them up if needed.  They are no longer available but Ikea has similar ones here

If you are lucky enough to have an IKEA near you I HIGHLY recommend checking out their the IKEA children's section (and the rest of the store) for inexpensive, fun, and colorful items for your school counseling office.  IKEA is definitely one of the perks of moving back to Pittsburgh! I am actually headed there tomorrow! :)

Speaking of IKEA items, this KUSINER Wall pockets hanging storage, pictured below hanging near the door, is also colorful and functional. I actually wrote about the wall pocket in another post about IKEA finds. I used it to store applications for different high school programs and for career items. 


You can also see a storage cubby that I stole borrowed from my husband. We were using it in one of our previous dwellings. He was using it for something with electronics... then at one point it was in the hallway... When we moved we really didn't have a place for it. So I commandeered it and took it into school. I purchased some red canvas bins for it and voilĂ  - colorful storage!  I used it in the picture above to store books and career items.

You can also see it here in my 2010-2011 school counseling office.


I loved this storage cubby. It is versatile and can be used vertically or horizontally.  I had lots more built in storage space in my 2010-2011 school counseling office which is why these shelves are so bare in this picture!


As I mentioned above, my 2011-2012 school counseling office did not have any built-in storage. I was accustomed to having cabinets and shelves... I definitely took them for granted. I had to get creative about maximizing my space so I added lots of free standing storage.

To add more storage space to my office I brought two Sterilite 3 Drawer Carts I purchased in college to store clothing in to school.

They are pictured below in the lower left hand corner.


I used purple construction paper and Crayola Slick Sticks*  to label the drawers.  It is hard to see in the picture, but they are labeled "art supplies," "paper," "games," bulletin boards," "prizes," and "paint." The purple paper added a pop of color and helped to make my office appear cleaner by concealing the drawer contents.

*I must go on a rant about Crayola Slick Sticks at a later time because they are AMAZING!

Target and other places sell Sterilite carts in fun colors like blue, green, and pink too! :)



I used colorful Milk Crates make great stackable storage.  I have used milk crates to store books, organize my school counseling resources, and as shelving.  I even had a few under my desk!

You can see some here in the lower right corner.

Also here on the windowsill on the left.

Target currently has Sterilite Milk Crates on sale in stores for $3.49.  
You can also purchase a pack of 6 Sterilite Milk Crates (below) from Amazon for about $35.00 and Free Shipping. 



Storage items can be functional and FUN! Also, you do not have to purchase new items for your office! Check out thrift stores, yard sales, and ask family and friends for their unwanted furniture and storage items!

What storage items do you use to add color to your school counseling office?


This is the second post in a series of Tips for Your School Counseling Office.

Other posts about School Counseling Offices
Comment below, tweetcontact Danielle, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources. Connect with Danielle via emailTwitterPinterestLinkedInGoogle+, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.












Saturday, August 11, 2012

Maximize Your Space!: Tips for Setting Up a School Counseling Office

Setting up a school counseling office can be a daunting task, especially for new school counselors.

I am going to provide you with a series of tips to help you set up your new school counseling office or revamp the space that you already have.


I have had multiple school counseling offices of varying sizes - everything from a windowless room to a small classroom!  Whether you are lucky to have lots of room or are squeezed in to a few square feet, the space you have is precious.

I believe in maximizing every inch of it! :)

*Note: The pictures you see below are a combination from different offices that I have had over the years... they are not all pictures of the same space.

Windows
Windows and window coverings are underutilized office spaces.  In my school counseling office I made the most of both.  Windows can be used to display student work like in the picture below.

I showcased my Children of Incarcerated Parents group's Goal Mountain and my Grief and Loss group's Healing Heart on the windows.  You could see the back of the mountain and the heart from on the playground which was pretty cool.  When driving to work in the morning I could see it from the road, which made me smile.


Having student work on the window added color and interest to my office.  Displaying student work is also a great way to "advertise" the work you do with students.  When people stopped by my office they couldn't help but notice the gigantic mountain and heart on my window.  They were definitely conversation starters.

Window Coverings
I also used the window coverings in my office to showcase student work and for a "How Can I 'Chill Out' When I'm Feeling Upset?" display seen in the picture below.


Window Ledges
Window ledges are a great place to put items on display.  In the picture above I had stress balls and other items on the window ledge.  I also used window ledges to display books and my puppet tree.

Windows can also be used for drawing!  In the picture above I used Crayola Window Markers to write a "Thank You" to donors from Donors Choose.


In this picture I used Crayola Window Markers to write a message on my window for a group.  I also kept a container of window markers available for students to use. Many students enjoyed drawing on the windows.  Many were shocked that they were allowed to write on a window in school... what can I say... the school counselor's office is a pretty cool place to be! ;)

Cabinets
I used cabinets to host my Nerf Basketball hoop and inspirational posters I downloaded for FREE from Fablevision.



Dual Purpose Items
This past school year I was really struggling to adapt to a smaller space from a much larger space. I needed to make sure every item in my office had a purpose.

I stumbled upon storage ottomans at Target one day at the beginning of last school year.  They were on clearance so I got them to try out.  They are pushed under the table in the picture below. (This is the same picture I earlier in this post...)


I loved that I could use the ottomans as a comfy seat and for storage.  

When I was at Target the other day, I noticed they had the same ottoman I purchased for my office last year but in TONS of fun colors! 


So jealous... The storage ottomans are currently on sale in stores for $15. You can view them in the Target weekly ad here. I am not sure how long that will last. Unfortunately, you cannot purchase them online. You can view them on Target's website, but you cannot purchase them. (I got mine on clearance for about $7 so watch for end of season clearance on these!)
*Note since writing this post the storage ottomans are now on sale in stores for $14 from 8/12/12 until 8/18/12. 

Any Other Surface You Have Available
Pretty much any surface is fair game... 

I used white boards, the area underneath the white board, bulletin boards, the front of my desk, the floor, my door... 


... and wall space. I guess I was just considering that a given!

How do you maximize space in your school counseling office? 

This is the first post in a series of Tips for Your School Counseling Office.


Other posts about School Counseling Offices
Comment below, tweetcontact Danielle, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources. Connect with Danielle via emailTwitterPinterestLinkedInGoogle+, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.


Friday, August 10, 2012

FREE "One World" Posters from Teaching Tolerance

I have shared many times how much I absolutely love the Teaching Tolerance website.  They have soooo many great activities and lessons, many of which I have used in my work as a school counselor.

One of my favorite parts of theTeaching Tolerance Magazine (that educators can receive for FREE) is the "One World" poster at the back.  The "One World" posters are always so beautiful and have such a great message.  I was so excited to learn yesterday that Teaching Tolerance has select "One World" posters available for you to download on their website for FREE!  The image quality is great so you can get them printed to up to 11" x 17" size to hang in your school counseling office or somewhere in your school! 

You can also do a search and find other smaller "One World" posters available to download for FREE!

This "One World" poster below reminded me of the work we do as school counselors.


Which Teaching Tolerance "One World" poster is your favorite?  Where will you hang your FREE "One World" Posters?

Comment below, tweetcontact Danielle, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources. Connect with Danielle via emailTwitter, PinterestLinkedInGoogle+, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

DIY Chalkboard Career Messages Idea

This is my first post in my effort to share more ideas with you! You didn't think MORE ideas were possible, right? ;)

School Counselor Blog Facebook Page fan asked me about an image I shared awhile back. It was a picture of students holding up a chalkboard sign with what they want to be when they grow up.

I can't remember where I first saw this. I swear I saw it on Scholastic's Facebook page... but regardless I pinned it because I totally loved this picture and this idea!

This idea would be great as a bulletin board or display at your school! If I was working in a school this year I would love do to this... but as most of you know I am going back to graduate school to pursue a Ph.D.

So....

To create a DIY version of this you could take pictures of students holding a chalkboard, whiteboard, or even a piece of paper with their future career choice written on it.

To make your own chalkboard speech bubble you could use chalkboard contact paper and on a black foam board like Jordan at Oh Happy Day! did.
You could also use Rust-Olium Chalkboard Spray or another kind of chalkboard spray paint on cardboard or foam board.

I personally use my iPhone to take pictures of everything. It would be super easy to use the FREE Instagram App to take pictures of students and to make the photos black and white.  Instagram also formats pictures as a square so that would be great too!

How would you use this Chalkboard Career Message idea at your school? Have you ever made a DIY chalkboard?

Comment below, tweetcontact Danielle, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources. Connect with Danielle via emailTwitter, PinterestLinkedInGoogle+, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

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