Here's What to Expect In This Episode:
While some of you are solo school counselors, I know most of you work with teammates. With everyone having their own unique personalities and values, working in a team can come with some challenges.
The beginning of a semester is the perfect time to push the reset button on team dynamics and improve things that may not be working. One element that can have a big impact on the success of your team is your department meetings!
Today we’re zoning in on the way that you plan your department meetings. I have four things for you to consider in this area that will help to bring structure, direction, and life back into your team. Before you know it, you’ll actually be looking forward to your department meetings instead of dreading them!
If you love the ideas in this episode, you’ll also enjoy my free live workshop, where you’ll learn three practical ideas to bring your high school counseling program back to life in the new year! Learn more, and sign up here.
Have you submitted your Reset for Success Challenge gameboards? Send a picture via Instagram @counselorclique or email: email@example.com. You could be the winner of a Counselor Clique tumbler, $50 TPT gift card, and custom sticker pack!
Topics Covered in This Episode:
Reflecting on how your team meetings are currently going so that you can make appropriate changes
The importance of having a consistent day and time for your department meetings, and my recommendation for meeting length
A simple tip that will allow you to quickly prep for weekly meetings
Establishing, or reestablishing, norms for your department meetings to keep everyone on track and allow everyone to be heard
Important components to include in meetings to make it enjoyable for all teammates
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Sign up for my free, live workshop: Three Practical Ways to Bring your High School Counseling Program Back to Life in the New Year
- Join the Clique Collaborative membership!
- Podcast: Episode 35, Perspectives of a Charter High School Counselor
- Podcast: Episode 34, Private High School Counselor Finds Wellness Passion
- Podcast: Episode 33, Math Teacher Turned First-Year Public School Counselor
- Podcast: Episode 7, Resetting Your School Counseling Team in the New Year
- Podcast: Episode 6, Guest Interview with Emily, a Member of the Clique Collaborative
- Leave your review for High School Counseling Conversations on Apple Podcasts
Other Blog Posts You Might Like:
Read the transcript for this episode:
Hi there. As we get into Episode 58 of high school counseling conversations, I want to make sure you’re signed up for your last opportunities to join us for the live workshop I’m hosting for high school counselors. If you’re enjoying the high school counseling conversations podcast, I’d invite you to join us for a live teaching tonight.
If you’re listening to this the day it comes out Monday, January 23, or this upcoming Wednesday, January 25. I’ll be on live video talking about three practical ideas to bring your high school counseling program back to life in the new year. You’ll leave here with actionable steps to propel you in the right direction with energy as you move into second semester, you’ll get a workbook to take notes with and you’ll get two awesome bonuses just for showing up live.
One of those being a high school counseling curriculum map to help with your annual planning that isn’t available anywhere else. I want to see you there. Save your spot by going to counselorclique.com/workshop. When you’re there, you’ll also hear about the click collaborative my high school counseling membership.
So I’ll tell you about it here too since the doors are currently open, but they closed this Thursday, January 26. At midnight. Inside the clip collaborative, you can expect monthly focus topics to grow yourself and better your high school counseling program. If you love this podcast, you’ll love more of what’s inside of this membership. You get access to all of our teaching on a private podcast for members only.
You’ll join our members only Facebook group and private community and then you’ll also get a counselor bonus resource each month. Sometimes it’s a resource for my TPT store, sometimes as a template or a checklist, something fun and new and exciting. Our monthly topics are driven by our members and upcoming months will include topics like troubleshooting small groups, quick classroom lesson ideas, launching your seniors well, flipping your program from toxic to engaging and much more.
If you want to see all the details of the membership before doors closed this Thursday, head to cliquecollab.com That’s cliquecollab.com. I’ll also link for past podcast episodes in the show notes with high school counselors who are actually in the clique collaborative so you can hear about their experiences in the membership.
Now let’s get to this week’s episode where we’re discussing reestablishing team dynamics, particularly in your department meetings in this new year.
High School Counseling conversations is a podcast where we talk about exactly that a casual potpourri of school counseling topics intended to grow us as school counselors, but also give us space to enjoy each other’s company. I’m Lauren from counselor click and I’m sharing my experiences and perspective as a high school counselor. No topic is off limits and I’m certain we’ll cover it all.
I’m your high school counseling hype girl here to help you energize your school counseling program and remind you of how much you love your job. Whether you’re just getting your feet wet as an intern, or you’re nearing retirement, you’ll feel like you’re just popping in to catch up with your school counseling bestie. Let’s go.
I want to touch base and talk about getting your team in sync and heading in the same direction. You might be on a block schedule and starting a new semester here in January. Or it may just be a generally helpful idea to reestablish some norms with your school counseling team at this point in the year.
Chances are you work with teammates, maybe a part timer, maybe one other counselor or maybe 10 other school counselors. Yes, I know for a fact that there are teams that big out there before you shake your head or pick your jaw up off the floor. If you’re a solo school counselor, I challenge you to listen to this episode and think of how you can creatively bring people in to be on your team.
Maybe that’s by collaborating with your school psych your social workers or your mental health therapists who’s in the school building. Maybe that’s by getting stronger buy in from your admin or your teachers, or by dreaming of starting your first ever Advisory Council if you don’t have one of those already.
All of these people could be considered teammates for you in some way if you don’t have a traditional high school counseling teammate or CO counselor situation. Now I have always appreciated clear direction from leadership as a team member. So whether you are the leader or the director, or you’re a team player, supporting others, other co counselors on your team, you are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to your high school counseling department.
The beginning of the semester is a great time to recalibrate and reestablish those team dynamics. Now let’s look at four places where you can have an impact on reestablishing those team dynamics, specifically around the ways that you plan your team meetings in the new year.
My goal for you after listening to this episode is that you’d have some ideas to bring structure, direction and life back into your department gatherings. That they wouldn’t be just something that you dread going to each week but that you’d actually start looking forward to them.
So starting first with your weekly meeting. Do you have a weekly department meeting? Where are you with this? You can probably give yourself or your team are writing on how you’re doing scale of zero to 10. Let’s say zero, you don’t have a weekly team meeting, it’s not existent. It does not occur. To 10. You don’t ever miss meetings, they are part of your routine. They’re functional, they’re efficient, they’re useful. If you’re somewhere in between those, where are you? And why is that?
Okay, let’s jump into the four things after we’ve established that you need to be having a meeting. Okay, here are four things. Do you have a set day and time for these meetings? I loved having our department meetings while working through lunch, it gave me an excuse to sort of socialize and chat while also finishing my lunch in one sitting usually, which is really winning on all accounts, can we say that?
Do everything you can to protect this time, protect the space in which you’re holding the meeting. Is it in a conference room that you need to reserve, get that on the digital or paper calendar outside of the conference room, go ahead and put that meeting on your own calendar and on your department shared calendar if you have a shared calendar together.
Stick to an hour like carve out an hour and know that it could run a little longer or a little shorter. If you have a decent sized team an hour is probably a good time to plan for. Some weeks, you won’t have as much to talk about or plan and everybody loves when a meeting gets cut short, I don’t think I’m the only one on that opinion.
Bring your computer and your lunch and shut that conference room door. Be prepared to get work done. Next tip prep for your weekly meeting ahead of time without spending a lot of brain energy on it. Because if you’re anything like me, you don’t have extra brain energy to spend on something like this.
Here’s what I want you to do, I want you to create a template like on a Google Doc that you can rinse and repeat each week. You can make a really nice template with a heading and an outline and all that jazz if you’re feeling fancy. And then each week just go to File, make a copy and duplicate it for the upcoming meeting. Take that template, keep it in your Google Drive and just make a new template each week.
Someone on your team can be in charge of prepping this document and then letting everybody add to it leading up to the meeting. This way you can keep track of upcoming programs you need to plan. Talk about that email that came from your district supervisors. Discuss things that are sneaking up on the calendar that you need to nail down like the lesson plans for the English classes you’re visiting in two weeks.
Keep these past present and future documents organized by date in a Google folder so that everybody in your department knows where to find them. These are so helpful for going back to get important links or checking to see what action items you were in charge of or that you needed to take care of. I also love being able to reference last week’s meeting in this week’s meeting just by quickly opening up the document just to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. This is an incredibly efficient and effective yet simple tool.
Doors to the Clique Collaborative, my high school counseling membership are now officially open through Thursday, January 26. The Clique Collaborative is a monthly membership for high school counselors to engage in practical professional development and feel equipped, encouraged and connected with their community.
This membership is one of a kind and focused on teaching and training. I want to invite you inside to experience the upcoming member driven topics from high school counselors just like you like troubleshooting small groups, quick classroom ideas and needs assessments.
If you’d like to learn more about what it would feel like to be equipped, encouraged and connected to other high school counselors, check out click collab.com for more details on The Clique Collaborative.
Next, reestablish or establish in the first place, norms for your department meetings. Other than that templated document to prep and take notes on you can also re establish how people will act during these meetings. I don’t know if that sounds silly to do this with adults. But I think doing it can make a huge difference.
You know this from sharing norms when you run small groups with high schoolers. They’re older, but they also need direction of how the meeting or how the group is going to run. We all need these reminders from time to time. They’re going to be different depending on the setting that we’re in, right?
Maybe these expectations are first decided by everybody all together. Maybe they’re not. I think that that gives some buy in from everybody. And it shows that this is important. And it’s important to all of us. Here’s some examples of what I mean…
No being on your phone during the meeting. I am raising my hand right now. I am a major culprit of this one. This rule is for me. How many times do I check something real quick and zone out because I don’t think that what they’re talking to relates to me and then somebody turns and asked me something and I’m like, wait, what? Because I miss something that actually did pertain to me or someone asked me my opinion on something they were in charge of or something they were sharing about.
We are a team. And if I’m not fully present in the meeting because I’m on my phone, I am not helping move this meeting forward. Here are a couple other helpful ideas to consider that can add some focus to your meeting. If you have a clerk or registrar or a secretary who can protect your meeting time, inform them and ask for their help doing this.
I always thought it was very helpful for our registrar to know that our meeting time was 12 o’clock on Wednesdays. And, you know, we didn’t have to really tell her we’re going into the meeting we did. But she knew that that is what we would all be doing during that time. Students who don’t have an appointment can make one or stop by later.
The little interruptions add up and really take away from those few focus minutes that you have all together of getting things done for your department. And think about it, if you protect that time, you are preparing and coming up with ways to serve students once you’re able to actually sit down and get that done.
So if you’re tempted to feel guilty about not being able to see them during that time, don’t! You will get to see them. And maybe this will even train them to set up an appointment with you so that they can see you when they need to. I’ll add a side note here. You can kind of train your registrar or secretary to know if something is an emergency.
They probably are pretty good at this anyway, from being able to filter people like you know, when you already have a student in your office that they can say, hey, this is an emergency. And those will happen from time to time. But really try and use anybody else in your office that you have to protect your group department meeting times.
Another idea to keep the focus happening in your meeting. If you have a particularly volatile or opinionated group, remind people not to interrupt or speak over each other. This will allow every voice to be heard. This definitely can be tough to manage. And just like when you lead a small group, personalities may need to be nurtured outside of the meeting time, like a follow up conversation with an individual. You can do this tactfully, whether you’re the leader, or department head, or you’re just part of the team.
Lastly, here’s a fourth tip to keep your meetings enjoyable for all. I’ve learned this over many years of working with all different types of people and personalities. Everyone honestly wants something different out of a meeting. And as you get to know your teammates and ask questions and see their responses in group settings, you’ll be able to determine what works for you.
But I think that meetings need to include a variety of components for people to feel like they’re worthwhile and meaningful. Now, it’s your job, since you’re listening to this, to figure out what you and the others in your group value and then craft your weekly meetings with intention and purpose around that.
Maybe every meeting will have these things that I mentioned, but maybe they won’t. And in that case, I would figure out how to make the most of these that you can a priority at some point. I think and maybe you know, this is something that I value. But since you’re part of a team, I think that most meetings should have some sort of relational or connecting point like you’re wanting to facilitate relationships, and keep everyone gelling and moving forward together.
So I’m not saying you have to go into full game mode and facilitate a Family Feud game show or a mad gab icebreaker. Unless you want to do that, of course, it can be a simple check in or would you rather question or a rosebuds the word situation, I know some will roll their eyes at this and maybe even you as you’re listening to this, but I think it’s a quick and easy way to hear from a teammate besides those bullet points of work topics that you’re about to get into.
I think another funny way to start a meeting is with laughter. So if somebody sees a funny video, a meme, a real a tick tock, share a link with it in those department meeting minutes and add it there before the meeting gets started. And before everyone gets there, I actually think this is a really funny thing to do in your Google Doc. Because unless someone goes into the editing history, and pokes around, they don’t immediately see who added something funny there.
And that always got me when someone unexpected in the group added something funny that we were all laughing at as soon as we sat down. This always kept everyone laughing and on their toes in my department. Okay, so we talked about humor and the relational piece of gathering that people may want. I am people so I am that person who wants that in there. And I’m sure a lot of you are too.
Now let’s talk about the meat of the meeting in terms of things that people may value. Some will value efficiency, the faster the better. If we can sit down, get through the points and get out they’re going to be happy. So that’s where those meeting minutes are important. Many people want to see the list of topics ahead of time so they can mentally process before they get there and think of their ideas.
Those people might value preparation over everything else they want to be prepared for the meeting. They don’t want to be caught off guard. Some will sit quietly and won’t need to do a lot of sharing in order to get a lot from the meeting. But some counselors want their ideas heard or they’ll love brainstorming with others really valuing a creative space that a group meeting provides. Heading into a new year gives you and your team an opportunity to figure out what you value in a meeting and make sure you’re including those things.
And listen, it’s okay to change the structure by adding or taking things away. If you realize the meeting isn’t serving you in the way that it once was. Feel the freedom to shake things Up, can you imagine actually looking forward to gathering together to plan for your high school counseling program.
To recap, here are the four ways you can reestablish or initially establish if this is a new concept, your department team meetings to bring structure, direction and life back into them. Number one, set a consistent day in time for your department meetings, stick to it and honor that number to prep your meeting minutes ahead of time using a template. This will help gather timely ideas before you’re even sitting around together around the table.
Number three, establish norms for your department meetings. It doesn’t hurt to revisit these if you’ve already created them or see if anything needs to be changed or updated with them if they’re not serving you. And number four, keep these meetings enjoyable by pinpointing what your team values in a meeting and including that whether it’s fun and laughter a creative think tank for ideas are a safe place to consult with each other.
What are your people need as they come together? And how can the department meeting space provide that for them? Don’t forget to submit your completed game boards if you’re playing along in our reset for success challenge, send me a DM or an email with a picture of your completed board after you listen to the first three January podcast episodes.
Those are episodes 5556 and 57. I’ll see you at the last live workshops this week so that you can start the second half of your year with a renewed energy and confidence. Go to counselorclique.com/workshop. And if the Clique Collaborative High School membership is right for you. I’d love to see you inside before doors closed on Thursday. Cliquecollab.com for more info on that. I’ll see you next week.
Thanks for listening to today’s episode of high school counseling conversations. All of the links I talked about today can be found in the show notes and also at counselorclique.com/podcast. Be sure to hit follow or subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast so that you never miss a new episode. Connect with me over on Instagram send me a DM at counselor click that c li qu e thanks so much for hanging out with me. I’ll see you next time.
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