Are you hoping I’m just going to tell you to play “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to decide who gets what responsibilities for the year in your school counseling program? (Spoiler alert: that’s not what this blog post is going to tell you though it is just as simple!)
Even if you didn’t have a Department Planning Day for your school counseling team before this school year started (did anyone have time for that this year?!), did you ever sit down and decide who was going to do what this year? How do you do this when you have a big team? When do you make time for this when you are a solo counselor? If you are solo, do you make a huge calendar for your year, so you’re not blindsided by everything that’s thrown your way?
1- Fairly distribute responsibilities for your school counseling program.
We always allowed time to do this as a fair way to distribute responsibilities for the year. Maybe you took on something new last year, but it turned out NOT to be your favorite. Maybe it could be someone ELSE’S favorite!
As I learn more and more about myself, become more self-aware, and understand my strengths and weaknesses, I realize how important it is to constantly be reevaluating. It’s okay to say, “I thought I might be good at this, but I’m not.” OR “I thought I’d really enjoy this… turns out, I’m not a details person.” Sure, I CAN perform all of my job responsibilities, but… if I’m a part of a team, and someone else is better at that role than me, I want them to shine there!
A practical way to get through this quickly is to create a shared spreadsheet with all of your shared responsibilities for your school counseling program in the first column on the left. Label the next three columns: “I’d love to do this,” “I wouldn’t mind doing this,” and “I prefer not to do this.”
Have each school counselor on the team go through this spreadsheet and put their name in one of the three columns for the task. Once your team sits down to divide the tasks, it will more much more quickly!
If there’s a task no one seems to be wanting, you can always table that one and come back to it later. Also, this ensures not one person gets “stuck” with all of the tasks that NO ONE wants.
2- Organize your dates and claim the spaces in the school that you need to hold events for your school counseling program.
We try to brain dump everything out ahead of time, put some organization to it, and mentally prepare to distribute all of the tasks/programs/events for the entire year. Planning for the year is also helpful for reserving space in the school to hold events. We always say, “If you don’t have a place at the table, you’re on the menu.”
If we don’t show up ready to take up space in the school, there will BE NO SPACE for us. We show up to the department head “calendar planning meeting” with everything from our department ready to go. This is a major advocacy tool for our school counseling program within our school walls.
3- Lay out your entire year all at once for your school counseling program.
You can ALWAYS make edits later. (You WILL make edits later.) This idea of a yearly calendar did not happen over night for us. Once we decided this was an important part of our yearly planning, we got something on (hypothetical) paper- a Google Sheet. If you don’t have it already, snag this free, editable Responsibilities Matrix freebie! You can see right there what we work with and how our framework begins.
All of this will also help you if you ever plan on applying to RAMP. When you are intentional about your calendar (and taking it back to best suit you and care for your students) and the way you plan for the year, you’ll better be able to answer the question, “How/why are students different because of what you do?” You’ll start to see gaps on your own calendar and places you need to fill in in order to reach and serve ALL students.
I’m certain these 3 practical tips will help you plan for your school counseling program this year… even if it’s mid-year that you decide to do it! It’s never too late to be more efficient!
Join my Counselor Clique and receive this free, editable Responsibilities Matrix spreadsheet to get a basic framework for ideas of high school counseling tasks that you may run into or need to consider dividing up between your counselors.