The beginning of the school year is a time of meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones. How do you as a new or returning counselor introduce yourself and your services to all the kids in the school? My recommendation is to create a standard system that not only can you repeat with minimal effort each year but that teachers and administrators can be familiar with as well. Here are some tips:
- Schedule introductory classes with each classroom where you not only introduce yourself but also make sure students understand the role of the counselor especially concepts like confidentiality, individual, group and classroom sessions as well as typical concerns that you deal with. Give it a reassuring and friendly tone.
- Identify how kids can refer themselves if they need help. Make it easy and accessible for the youngest and the oldest child that you serve.
- Before the school year gets too crazy (and it will) get to know kids in a different setting by dropping in at lunch and breakfast times to visit with individuals and groups. It is a good way to become visible and available to communicate with. This is also a great time to assess social skills and other interactions among classmates.
- Ask for a few minutes in an early staff meeting or visit grade level meetings to share with teachers what is an ideal referral for you. Develop a specific process for teachers to refer kids that identifies what they want you to talk with the child about (the identified problem) and what strategies they have already tried if any. This will give you a place to start the conversation. Identify what the teachers can expect back from you after a referral such as follow up conversations on progress made or additional strategies they can implement in the classroom if needed.