Keep Calm and Counsel On

15575925446_77cbfd6e29_b.jpgBy Sabrina Bartels – As exciting as it is to get closer to the end of a school year, I am also learning about the complete and utter chaos that happens as we inch closer to June. In addition to helping my 8th grade students get ready for graduation, I am also preparing to welcome my new 6th graders to the school. With the hellos, goodbyes, and everything in between, I’ve come up with five tips to help you keep your sanity before summer begins.

  1. Stay organized. I made a HUGE mistake when I started getting disorganized in March. My desk began looking more and more like a disaster, and I remember shaking it off and thinking, “I’ll have plenty of time to take care of it before June.” Wrong! Now, I find myself tearing my desk apart to find that one, crucial piece of paper that I had haphazardly tossed into one of several “important” piles on my desk. When you find that perfect organization system – file folders, boxes, or binders – be sure to keep up with it!
  1. Make time for yourself … As things get crazier, it’s easier for you to keep running full-steam ahead without any thought for yourself. While it feels helpful in the moment, it can lead to you burning out very quickly, and sometimes sooner than you expect. I know that there are always nights where you could do work at home; I am more than guilty of pulling out my laptop and trying to squeeze in another hour or two of work after I leave the school building. However, we as educators also need time to decompress. Take a walk, watch a movie, eat some ice cream, or spend some time with your kids. You’ll thank yourself later.
  1. … but also stick to a schedule. When things become more unstructured, that’s when you need the routine of a schedule the most. What does this mean? Take your lunch break (don’t skip out!) and stick with anything that is part of your weekly routine. If you go to bed at ten every night, shut your laptop off and go to bed. Yoga lesson? Go to it. Visit a classroom every 4th hour to check in with a student? Walk up there and check in. Now is not the time to change up your routine; this will leave you feeling exhausted, confused, and out of control.
  1. Write everything down. I have about five deadlines going through my head at the moment: when our PBIS application needs to be submitted, when I need to finish my PDP, when I need to finalize my SLO and get it to my principal. And, of course, this is in addition to all the meetings, students, and parents that come up on an as-needed basis! The only way I get through everything is by writing it down in my planner. Whatever your system is to remember all of your appointments, keep it up to date. This not only reminds you of when everything is, but also serves as a gentle reminder that you can only accomplish so much in one day!
  1. Don’t panic. Easy to say, but hard to do. As I write this, I am surrounded by papers that I need to complete for my transition meeting tomorrow morning. For this transition meeting, I need to note which students I need to talk about to the high school counselors. With 42 students down, and 35 more to go, I’m definitely experiencing a little panic! And then when I get to work, I panic about whether or not I will be able to see every student who wants to see me. But I’ve learned that I just need to take a deep breath sometimes. By staying calm, you feel more in control and have more faith in yourself to accomplish the task at hand.  And your students will always appreciate when their counselor is calm!

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