Gearing up for School in the South

The end of summer break is approaching quickly in the south. I think I already hear the silent cries from the teachers and staff mourning how quickly this glorious and much needed vacation passed, on no wait, that is just me. Now, our counseling department is refocusing on the guidance curriculum and data so that our team can have an exceptional department this upcoming school year. Last year was my first year as a school counselor and it was a crazy, whirlwind of emotions. All of the counselors were new to the field so it was challenging to say the least due to everyone's lack of experience in the position. Other school counselor blogs were my lifeline! As challenging as this was, I would not change a thing from last year. This gave our counseling department a unique opportunity to develop our counseling department based on the ASCA model. Like legit, from the very freaking beginning starting with the foundation. IT WAS AWESOME!

I created an electronic curriculum mapping in google sheets to help our program be intentional and data-driven. It turned out so well that I had to share it with everyone else. I am aiming to help others not be in the struggle bus next year! This curriculum mapping allows our team to have everything we need in a central location. At the end of the year, we used it to present to administration what our plan was for next year, how we were going to collect data. It includes our foundation as a department, our goals, and demographics. In addition, it allowed us to create a schedule for the teachers of when we will be in their room to teach classroom lessons.

Foundation: The foundation of our program to me was one of the fun parts in creating our program. I really enjoyed collaborating with my team to think of the vision statement, mission statement, and looking at data to see where our goals need to be for next year. It felt like we were creating a fresh start, like that we were heading the right direction towards being exceptional counselors for these students. The sections to the foundation that we created are as follows:

Beliefs: This section is about what does your counseling department believe about the students and the ability of your department? From this question we came up with answers such as; we believe in a data-driven department (which our admin team appreciates), that all students have the ability to lead by example, and each student has the ability to be resilient when modeled and taught how to use the proper copying tools. We have a couple of more but you get the idea. This section is the literal foundation of your department. It is about what you believe is needed to make your department exceptional.

Vision Statement: This section is dedicated to what you envision your department looking like 10 years from now; also, going into more detail about how you know when this vision is achieved. For example, our teams vision statement is "Be an 11 Leader." We will know that this vision has been accomplished when the students are taking initiative, being a team player, and using the coping skills and techniques provided to them through various forms of curriculum.

Mission Statement: this means what drives your counseling department and duties as a counselor daily? Our mission statement was to empower students to reach their full potential. We know we are working toward our mission statement when we daily do one thing that falls into empowering the students to reach their full potential. Some of the ideas that we came up with are developing more workshops for the parents to help better prepare bridge the communication gap between the school and parents, with the idea that the students will have a better support system. Or we have something as simple as exposing students to various careers.

Program Goals: This was the fun one for me! I have fallen in love with data. It gives us so much important information and it helps us keep our jobs! Can you say job security? I don't know about you but I love my job too much to lose it! Also, this is where your counseling department can see what changes need to be made. Our teams data was collected through our school system (Powerschool) reports, counseling referrals, and needs assessments. Your program goals have to be SMART goals, that is the only way you can measure the success of the program. The picture below gives you an idea of the foundation section that I created to help you organize your program.

The next section that we used was where we kept all of our school data, our school profile. This was handy for us to use because once we established our goals and ran our data reports, we were able to see our strengths and weaknesses. We plug in the data from this school year so at the end of the next school year, we can see how much we have grown, and if our goals were achieved. Below is a small section of the template, this gives you an idea of how the information is organized. Even further down the template there is spots for you to insert your program goal and the data that supports the goal.

The next two sections are about planning, yay! No, that is not sarcastic, I love having a plan! Winging it has never been my strong suit and it is not intentional for the students. The two sections are made up of a small group template and one from classroom lessons. This layout is organized and simple to follow. I just looked in the ASCA Model book to see how they laid out how to properly create and organize small groups as well as lesson plans, and what kind of data needs to be implemented. This is also great for you to show your administration how you are collecting data and what groups/lessons are being taught to the students. I have attached a picture below for you to see what makes up a comprehensive lesson for a classroom. I did NOT attach the one for small groups but they are quite similar. The template below goes over the grade level, lesson/topic, when will it be presented, which ASCA domain and competency does it fulfill, the needed materials, when it starts and ends, process data (how many students are affected, perception data (type of surveys/assessments that will be used, outcome data (achievement, attendance, and/or behavior data), the contact person, and the implications of the group, which is essentially the results. What went well and what needs to change based on the data?

Last, but certainly not least, a schedule for the staff of where the counselor is during classroom lessons. Your teachers, administrators, administrative assistance, and any other staff in the building that are looking for you will greatly appreciate having knowledge of where you are. This allows teachers to plan when you will be in their room to give a lesson. This is a perk because not many people know exactly goes into our career, so its always good to share that you don't just sit at your desk, eat and talk all day. We work our dang butts off! Below is the template that I created that I will be giving to our staff at the very beginning of the year.

Well, that is it! Phew, you hung in there! If you feel like this electronic curriculum would be helpful to you, I have attached a hyperlink on the picture below of where you can get it. It is a great resource to use. I know I will be using it every year moving forward!