Shifting to a Virtual School Counseling Environment

school guidance counselorShifting to a virtual environment for school counseling can present its own challenges, from students not being required to meet with a school counselor, to trying not to overwhelm students and families by yet another person wanting to connect with them. Yet, this is a critical time for school counselors and related student support staff to engage with students. Social-emotional learning is extremely important to continue at this time. Students and their families are overwhelmed with this new way of doing school, may also be facing job losses, and going through their own grief with the possible loss of a loved one or caring for a loved one with coronavirus. 

School counselors have stepped up to this challenge of staying connected with students synchronously and asynchronous by providing check-ins with students, lessons for social-emotional learning, and helping students and families prepare for college and career after graduation. To help further support school counselors, I’ve compiled a helpful set of tips and resources to help school counselors shift to a virtual school counseling practice. 

Counseling Tips
Gathering information from students, families, & staff Use Google Forms or Survey Monkey
Creating a Google Voice number (With Google Voice, you can call or text parents/guardians and have them call you without sharing your personal phone number.)
Find out from teachers what students have not responded to remote learning or who may need extra support that can be provided from the school counselor.
Create a simple survey for students and/or families to determine needs. 
Sharing information with students, families, and staff Padlet - view this sample Padlet

Google Sites

Smore: Free platform to make professional-looking newsletters

Learning Management System (LMS)

Use a tool such as Padlet, Google Sites, or LMS to share information categorized for students, families, staff.
  • Provide information about  the local food pantry. 
  • Provide information and resources to students and families for depression or students with thoughts of suicide.
    • What are the steps the family should take? Who do they call? Where should they go?  
  • Share free resources for social-emotional learning that families and teachers can access.
  • Keep students engaged with college and career planning with resources they usually access at school.
    • Are there colleges holding virtual visits or meetings? 

Hold regular office hours and share the information with students, families, and staff. 

Ask teachers who are using Google Classroom or Seesaw if you can be added as a co-teacher to share lessons and resources with families and students. 

Scheduling Tools Use a tool such as Calendly, SignUpGenius or Doodle. This will create an invitation for you and send directly to your own calendar.   View the screencast here for Calendly.

Share on Google Classroom, Seesaw, Padlet or LMS so families and students have access so they can schedule a meeting.

Send calendar invite If you aren’t using scheduling software, create a Google Calendar invite. 

In the invite, be sure to set it up with a link to the video communications tool such as, Google Hangouts, Zoom or Skype.

View the screencast to create a calendar invite with a video conferencing. 
Prep Prep for counseling session This is where you can use the feedback from the survey to plan for the counseling session. 

Gather resources to meet the needs of the student/family. 

Counseling Session/Lessons Use a video conferencing tool such as Zoom, Google Hangouts Meet, Microsoft Teams or Skype to meet with students and families. 

During the counseling session, use a collaborative document such as Google Docs to document the counseling session.

Have a backup plan for technology not working. 
  • Give students a number to call or an email address 

Lessons can be used to develop social-emotional learning skills, check-ins with students, college/career planning, academic planning, other counseling sessions. 

Record a lesson using Screencastify, Zoom or Loom, and share with students. Engage students through a discussion prompt on your digital platform using a link to a Padlet (students type or record their answers,), Flipgrid (students video record their answers), or Discussion Post through your LMS. 

Counseling Log How will you log virtual counseling sessions? 

Create a Google Form to log each meeting with students and families. 

Use data gathered from meetings to plan additional counseling sessions. Where are your highest needs? How can you plan ahead with this information? 
Follow-Up Complete agreed upon activities  Stay connected with students and families!

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