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When it comes to being a rockstar counselor, your school counselor office space is simply a resource in your tool belt. You already have the training and skill set to do this job well. Your office space won’t make or break your success as a counselor; however, thinking intentionally about the space you have can certainly be an asset as you prepare to care for staff, students, and families in all the best ways possible. Keep reading for some office space hacks to make your life easier and more enjoyable as a school counselor.
1- Create a school counselor office space with students at the center
It can be easy to dream about your office space and get wrapped up in the comparison game. Start scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest and in minutes you’re sucked into a vortex of creating the perfect office aesthetic or boho decor scheme. While you want to create a space that is inviting and comfortable for you, remember the most important thing about your office space is providing a safe and confidential space for students.
(Now that you have the goal in focus, you may want to consider removing those rainbow tassel pillows from your Amazon cart.) What you need most is an appropriate space to do your job. This means no sharing your office with others and no hallway pathways running through the middle of your office. These things are non-negotiables for a school counselor office. Proper real estate can be hard to come by; you have to advocate for yourself, and your students, in order to set up your office to best serve students.
2- Make your school counselor office space work for you
Keep in mind that figuring out how your office space can best serve you may take some time. Don’t feel the pressure to glam up your space the moment you move in. Start slow and keep practicality at the center. Yes, filing cabinets are ugly and they take up a lot of square footage. But, let’s be honest, they are beyond useful (and in my opinion, a counselor must-have item.) There’s still room for both pretty and practical items, like these bulletin board designs for your walls.
My standard setup consists of my desk, a comfortable roller chair, and two main chairs on the other side of my desk. One year I added a fun patterned chair, too, but it wobbled and made people uneasy the minute they sat in it (proof that comfort over cuteness goes a long way).
Supply list must-haves include nice pens, sticky notes, washi tape to hang important reference sheets, a quality stapler, tacks, highlighters…you get the idea! Also, a basket of fidgets right by my desk was a huge plus for my students (and me, if I’m being honest. A good fidget can come in handy during a stressful call with a disgruntled parent).
In fact, I have a whole Amazon storefront with my favorite office items, organized by category for easy access. These are just tools in the tool belt; you have to discover what works for you and what your essentials are (here are some of my back-to-school faves).
3- Separate the must-have vs. nice-to-have items for your school counselor office space
Create a strategic list that distinguishes between wants and needs for your office. This will help you avoid impulse buys when sauntering the Target aisles or browsing Amazon. It’s important to direct your efforts toward things you’ll use and need.
It all starts with asking the right questions:
- What will help me be a better counselor?
- What will help me serve my students?
- What would I like to add to my comprehensive program if I had the money?
My school would give counselors a stipend each summer to help with office essentials. Rather than burning through the money with Magnolia Home decor and flowered notebooks you’ll never use, think about what would make you a better counselor. Depending on how your school lets you allocate funds, consider setting aside a portion for professional development opportunities or resources. Episode 29 of my podcast talks about where to find relevant PD resources, and Episode 31 talks about how to get more money for PD opportunities.
If you’re looking for more support now, be sure to check out my TpT store, filled with hundreds of resources for high school counselors of all experience levels. Snag a spot on the Clique Collab membership waitlist for an opportunity to connect with other counselors and receive VIP resources.
What are your high school counselor office space must-haves? Send me a DM on Instagram or shoot me an email; I’d love to hear what’s been most helpful for you!