Polka Dots

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Vista Print

VistaPrint is such a great resource for counselor. Pretty much all of the school counselor blogs that I check regularly have talked about it. The great thing about VistaPrint is that they are constantly having sales or discounts. If you sign up for their emails, not a week goes by without getting some kind of discount or coupon. I don't think I have every paid full price for any of the items I have created. In fact, I came across a great deal a few weeks ago and only had to pay shipping and handling. I spent a lot of time creating some great posters and tools to use in my counseling office. Here are a few. 

Confidentiality Banner. I ordered a small (3' x 1.6') indoor vinyl banner to explain confidentiality and its limitations. I got the idea from Danielle at School Counselor Blog. She sells posters that she created on her blog if you don't want to make your own. 

 Small group Expectations. Again, I ordered a small indoor vinyl banner, this one going through the expectations I created for my small groups. When I begin meeting with a new group, we go through the expectations and talk about what each one means. We review it regularly to help keep everyone on track. 

 Counselors are... I created this small poster to express the different aspects of a counselor. If I could do it over again, I would change the second "O". Right now it states "offers suggestions", which if you read it as a whole sentence ("Counselors are... offers suggestions") it doesn't really make sense. I got the idea from a tote bag I've had for a few years. If I come across another good sale, I might reprint it, but for right now it will work just fine. 

Classroom Guidance Expectations. I wanted to have a poster to bring along with me when I visit the classroom as a reminder of what I expect from the students and hopefully what they will expect from each other. Visiting each classroom once a month is one of my favorite things, but it can often be a classroom management issue. I wanted to have a visual reminder for the students about how we should be conducting ourselves during classroom guidance lessons. I plan to take this with me to each classroom lesson. 

My school counselor says... stickers. I ordered these cute stickers, which are actually return address labels, to give out to students with little recognitions of their good deeds, hard work, and friendly behaviors. I've seen a lot of idea of using buttons that say things like "Ask me about the good choice I made today!" I couldn't find any inexpensive buttons, so I'm hoping to use these stickers to say "My school counselor says... I made a good choice/ I helped another student/ I showed the virtue of responsibility/ etc". 

To the Parents stamp. I find myself writing over and over again "To the Parents of John Smith" on envelopes or permission slips. I got tired of writing the same thing, so I ordered a return address stamp to do the job for me. I have been using it a lot the past few days as I am sending out small group permission slips. 

Back to School

Welcome to the 2012-2013 school year! We have been in school for about 3 weeks now, so I figured that it was time to update my blog. 

As always, I'm hoping that this school year goes smoothly and that I am able to assist my students in any way that I can. This year will be a little different, though. I am expecting my first child in November, so I will be out on maternity leave for a few months. I have been working very hard to get everything organized for my absence. I have also been combing through my calendar, trying to optimize the time that I will be in school, fitting in as many lessons, groups, and individual meetings as possible. 

My office is virtually the same as last year, with a few additions. Thanks to my nesting sprees, I have been organizing my filing cabinets and shelves. I have also created several great office items on VistaPrint (more on that later).

Here is my door. I still have my "Mrs. Polan" sign that I made last year and my "counselor" window cover. I found some great posters on Pinterest and made a counselor poster on VistaPrint. I'm hoping that my door is inviting and makes the students want to come in. The door is usually open unless I am meeting with students. The younger students love to wave to me if I am at my desk when they walk by and I often get a few drop-ins who just want a check in. My office is in the basement, along with 3rd, 4th, 5th, a computer lab, and the Spanish classroom. All classes have Spanish at least once a week, so I do get the opportunity to see the students as they walk by. I would love a more centrally located office, along with a window, and a drop ceiling, but the office works just fine for me and the students. 

 Here is a view of my desk and one filing cabinet. This is probably the cleanest my desk will ever be. I spent some time right before school started to organize my small filing cabinet attached to my desk as well as both of my larger cabinets. I also found a cute little magnetic chalkboard at a garage sale this summer. It needed a fresh coat of spray paint and a fun ribbon. It holds the school monthly calendar and any notes and reminders. 

 In front of my desk is my group counseling table. I can fit myself and 6 students at the table, although my middle school students make it a pretty tight squeeze. If I am meeting with a middle school group, I usually borrow a classroom so that we have a little more elbow room. You can also see two banners that I created on VistaPrint. I am just about to start my lunch groups in all grades. I am hoping to get one round in before I go on leave and hopefully two rounds when I get back.  

Here is a view of my desk and individual counseling area. Same rug and chair as last year. You can also see my shelves in the background. I would love some hidden storage, but the open shelving helps me to keep everything organized. I keep all of my counseling supplies in bins, baskets, and binders. I am also working on cataloguing all of my counseling books. I'll have another post on that once I get that project underway. 

So that's my 2012-2013 office. I'll go into more detail about my VistaPrint orders, book cataloging, and some counseling documents that I created over the summer to help me stay organized.