The Importance of Self-Care For Students and For Educators! 

The story of the Tortoise and the Hare comes to mind as the end of the school year approaches. As counselors we can relate to the Hare because school days can feel like a sprint. We hit the ground running and crash on the couch each night completely exhausted, physically and mentally. The days fly by in a blur of meetings, testing, student conferences, peer mediations, transcript auditing, scheduling, goal setting, the list goes on and on. When the scheduled calendar break finally arrives we are so thankful for the much needed time to decompress. The flaw in this system is that self-care and reflection fall to the wayside.

Time carved out to take care of our mind, body, and soul must be a priority, as well as reflection that allows us to contemplate strengths and weaknesses in our programs and life in general. CLICK HERE for a self-care lesson to share with staff and students. The demands of being a school counselor can force us into “Hare-mode” causing us to crash and burn before we reach the finish line. If we take a lesson from the Tortoise and internalize the “slow and steady wins the race” mentality we can sustain ourselves and continue to remain an asset to our campus, while managing to maintain balance at school and home.

If our goal is to be more like the Tortoise next year we should close out this year with gratitude and deliberate reflection. As you begin to assess your counseling program, it is imperative to focus not only on the areas that need improvement (we all have those), but to highlight the things that went well. Look for celebrations no matter how small in all areas of your counseling program. For example, my goal this year was to ensure all my seniors were college, career, or military ready. Now in reality there are some students who have some, but not all of the pieces in place and I am already brainstorming ways to streamline my process for next year. But first, I need to remember the students who have enlisted in a branch of the military and will be ready to ship out to serve their country after graduation. There are those first-generation college students who received their letter of acceptance and will be attending college in the fall. There are those students who have overcome adversity and are prepared to enter the workforce so that they can create a better life than they have experienced thus far.

Once you have basked in the glory of your successes and considered the areas of improvement you feel need attention, it is time to close out this chapter and begin to compose the next. Here are 3 simple ways to channel your “inner tortoise” and prepare for next year:

Numbers Don’t Lie 

Analyze the data you have collected throughout the year. I use Google forms in so many aspects of my program. It has allowed easier access to counseling resources for staff and students, as well as the ability for me to collect data and highlight trends in issues affecting my campus. I will use this information to plan guidance lessons and school culture initiatives for next year. Take a look at this tutorial for using technology in your counseling program.

Never Stop Learning

We all deserve the down time that comes along with summer break. Lay by the pool, go on vacation, sleep in, and binge watch all the shows you have been waiting to watch. With that said, it will serve you well to find time to learn a few new things that might benefit your program next year. Find a way to gain insight through professional development: read a new book, go to a conference, watch a webinar, or peruse through blogs. Feel free to start with the TEEN TRUTH resource list.

If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail

It may be a good idea to get the “bones” of your counseling program mapped out for next year. You cannot foresee every event that will fill your calendar next year, but creating a year-at-a-glance will help you see the big picture. Fill in the non-negotiables that are district mandated and then decide your guidance themes for each month. Use the results of your data analysis to narrow down areas you wish to address.

I would like to leave you with two quotes as you navigate your way through May and the end of another school year.

“Don’t count the days. Make the days count”—Muhammad Ali

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel”—Maya Angelou

Download my free lesson plan and get to it today!

Penny Knight
School Counselor, TEEN TRUTH

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