A Quick Pep Talk for Veteran School Counselors Heading Back to School

Dear Veteran School Counselor: Alright, real talk here. You’re about to enter the back-to-school swing where you’ll be putting out fires right and left and juggling more tasks than are feasible for one human. The beginning of the year can feel pretty thankless and never-ending, more task-oriented rather than student-oriented. But let me remind you of a few things. You’re in the right place. Your work matters. Good, meaningful, life-changing opportunities with students are just around the corner. Take a deep breath with me and remember… this too shall pass.

But before it does, here are a few things that can help reset your mindset and set you up for success as you enter the chaos of a new school year. Keep reading! (And if you’re not a veteran, I have a special word for you new school counselors here.)

1- Identify and call on your veteran school counselor support team

We are all tempted to put our heads down and grind out that list of never-ending tasks without considering who we have around us. Let me encourage you to lift your head and look around. Your coworkers can give you some much-needed motivation! Consider having a back-to-school planning day to catch up, get on the same page, and set team goals. You’ll likely be behind that desk for more hours than you care to admit, so take the opportunity to get off campus, meet at a co-working space, or go out to lunch (or happy hour!).

Your administrators are also key to a healthy support system. Schedule a beginning-of-the-year meeting to sit down and set expectations (my beginning-of-the-year presentation makes this super easy). Go through the ASCA annual template to revisit your role and get on the same page from the start.

Don’t forget the people outside of the school walls who are essential to your personal health. Is it your family or personal therapist? Get ahead of the craziness and put things on your calendar that help you take care of YOU. You know this season is going to be busy, and your students need you to be on your A-game so don’t let this fall by the wayside.

2- Set yourself up for success as a veteran school counselor when things get busy

One of my favorite Lazy Genius principles is “what can I do now to make my life easier later?” You know you’re going to be knee-deep in the craziness soon enough, so let’s be strategic before you start going underwater. Cook some freezer meals ahead of time or pull out some of those favorite crock pot recipes to be ready on deck.

Take control of your calendar because you know it’s about to overflow with parent, student, and team member meetings and you want to have all the kinks worked out. Try a digital booking system that links with your calendar to boost efficiency with parents and students. Get creative with your calendar (more tips on this important skill here) and build in blocks of time to allocate tasks from your to-do list.

3- Remember your “why” in order to change your mindset as a veteran school counselor

This is a uniquely challenging time because let’s be honest, you’re not working in your specific zone of genius. You’re not doing the things that make your heart sing. You’re staring at a computer, shooting emails around the district, and answering the most random questions. Remember, better things are yet to come!

To help you remember why you love your job, keep a folder of student success stories, thank you notes, and kind emails to refer back to when things feel down. If you feel like you’re doing more paperwork than counseling, take a mental health break and walk down the hall to connect with students. Even short, check-in conversations are building rapport and laying a foundation where real fruit can grow later this year.

Sign up for a professional development opportunity that aligns more closely with your hopes and ambitions as a school counselor. There are endless opportunities (if you know the right places to look!). If you’re feeling stuck in some unhelpful patterns of thought, check out this podcast episode to help you reset your mindset. If gifts are your love language, consider signing up for a subscription to the Teacher Care Crate with my affiliate link- you’ll get a fun box of educator surprises mailed to you each month!

While the back-to-school scramble can make for some long, exhausting days and weeks, be encouraged, veteran school counselor. On the horizon are seniors to dream big dreams with, students to connect to community resources, small groups to be had, and meaningful classroom lessons to be taught. You’ll celebrate big wins with students, and you’ll be there on the hard days, too.

When you’re tempted to doubt yourself and the work you’re doing, kick that imposter syndrome to the curb. You can do this, and you will do this! Let me be your cheerleader and supporter on this crazy counselor journey. Be sure to snag a spot on my Clique Collaborative membership waitlist (think more resources, more pep talks, and more counselors who get it). We’re in this thing together!

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