I like to organize my organizational tools into one organized list. Ha! Okay, so I am a little crazy about organization but I swear it helps reduce my stress. When I organize my office and/or desk I immediately feel better…like Hey I can do these 3,000 tasks now that everything is neat and orderly…alright onto my list of 10 must-haves for your school counseling office or classroom.
This cart is so useful! Sometimes my classroom lessons have multiple pieces to them or different supplies and I struggle to balance them all in my arms getting to the class. Not anymore, with this handy little cart that I discovered while on maternity leave (I use one at home as a diaper and feeding caddy). I have also seen it used as a coffee station, which is a welcoming addition to an office for parents and staff.
These are so colorful and make my life easier. I can’t tell you how many times my principal or a teacher has asked for a lesson on a specific topic, and I need to be able to find the book I use quickly. The different tabs are labeled by general topic of the book, such as bullying, character education, families, anxiety/stress, grief, self-esteem, feelings, health/sickness, manners, and friendship. These save me time and let’s be honest, every second of our day matters.
One of the many hats I wear as a counselor is RTI coordinator and 504 liaison. With these roles comes a lot of paperwork. Teachers sometimes do not feel comfortable leaving papers with student information on in my mailbox, because so many people are in and out of the mailroom. I labeled these baskets so that they can drop their RTI graphs in or 504 teacher questionnaires that they need to get to me. It keeps it so much more organized than just throwing it on my desk.
I live by my agenda, it holds important info and acts as my memory. I keep mine right in front of me and open to the weekly section. When a parent calls, I write down the info on the date of the call. When a teacher or admin comes in and make a request, I write it on the day too. I also write little-to-do reminders. If I can’t get to one of my tasks, I either highlight it or write it in tomorrow’s area. It saves me every time my principal comes in and says “Did you talk to so and so’s parent recently?”, a quick scan of my planner will remind me when/if I did. Otherwise, with 1,380 students there is no way I would remember. My favorite planners (and there are so many good ones out there) are by Erin Condren and The Happy Planner and Bloom Daily Planners.
This colorful cart is a game-changer. You have to have it, trust me. It is like an OCD organizer’s DREAM. It is adorable and helps me organize my lesson plans by topic. You can easily label them and if you are wondering where I got my labels from, I bought them on TpT (of course) from Miss West Best, you can also create your own. Plus I mean it’s on wheels, need I say more?
Another of the must-haves for your school counseling office is storage bins. I have a TON of sensory toys, stuffed animals, and fidget toys in my office. I keep them all in one place with these little mini crates, you can usually find similar ones at Dollar Tree. When we are done using the items in the crates, I have the student help me clean up and the crates make it easier for them to do so. I have one student that comes to see me every day during his lunchtime because the cafeteria is too overwhelming for him (noise and amount of people). Once he finishes his lunch, he knows right where to get his crate with his dinosaur squishy toys.
One of my biggest pet peeves is having a bunch of post-it notes on my desk. Sometimes it’s notes I quickly wrote down, or front office staff writing down a message from a parent. It piles up quickly and it looks like a mess, I noticed it also causes me stress when I see a ton of them all around. So I found this really fantastic-looking post-it organizer. It is originally meant to be used as a weekly planner but I changed it to be by topic, just works better for my brain. At the top instead of Mon/Tues/Wed etc., I put the main concerns that come my way. Such as parent messages, 504 plan requests, RTI meeting requests, Parent conference requests, classroom lesson requests. It sits on the side of my desk so I can easily place all those post-it notes underneath their designated topic….organization happiness!!
Continuing on with my pet peeve about having a bunch of stuff on my desk, this wall organizer not only saves space but keeps those papers off my desk. Just say no to random paper pile-ups, they make you more stressed and overwhelmed, not to mention your office looks like a tornado hit it.
9. Computer Organizers: Google Calendar & Desktop Organizer
Our school district recently started using Outlook which has a similar calendar to Google, but before that, we had an old school system and I used my personal Google email account to utilize the calendar. This calendar will make you so organized in every aspect of your life. You can sync it with your phone’s calendar or use the Google Calendar app. I color code every event (Purple= 504 meeting, Pink=RTI meeting, Green=Off campus training, etc.)so I can see my day/week/month at a glance and know what I have coming up. I also utilize the reminders so my computer makes a noise and a pop-up tells me that I have a classroom lesson scheduled in 30 minutes. This has saved me a couple of times from my terrible memory.
One of the many must-haves for your school counseling office is a desktop organizer for your computer. I was helping a teacher with some data graphs and she clicked to her desktop and my OCD mind went BANANAS because she had like 3,000 icons covering the whole screen. I had to fix that madness immediately and luckily she knows my craziness and let me organize it for her. One wallpaper organizer, and a couple of desktop folders later, and viola! Life is better with an organized desktop, less digital clutter makes you more productive 😉
10. Wall Decor
If you want kids to feel welcome in your office, it has to look the part. White walls make a place feel cold and do not make it feel like an inviting place. You want kids to walk in and be reading the posters on your walls and feel like it’s a cool place to be. One thing I pride myself on is that my office looks like a rainbow of color exploded in it, every wall is covered with art and inspirational posters. The tables had fidget and sensory items. Books were everywhere. Kids love my office and I love that they love it. Looking for some awesome inspirational decor items? Check out these posters:
Check out these FREE posters to help create a welcoming and inviting office:
Another version available: Social Worker Poster FREE
11. Books and more Books! (Surprise! 10 items is just not enough)
There are so many amazing counseling and social-emotional learning-themed books out there. Here are my top favorites:
–The Rabbit Listened: This book is amazing, teaches empathy and talks all about being a listener. Great way to introduce what a Counselor does.
Where is the chocolate pudding? A story for little kids about Divorce: A great way to open up discussions about divorce, I pair it with this Divorce and Family Separation Workbook.
Preston’s Positive Thoughts: I love teaching positive thinking because it can really impact your life in just about every area. I pair this amazing book with a lesson an Getting rid of A.N.T.S (Automatic Negative Thinking).
Looking for more books on counseling-related topics? Check out these blog posts that feature book reviews:
I hope this list helps you get must-haves for your school counseling office and make your office sparkle!
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