Before the school year even ends I'm fantasizing about all of the productive things I'm going to accomplish in the summer time. Will I actually accomplish them all? NOPE. Does that mean we should give up and not try to accomplish anything? ALSO NOPE.
I totally respect the need for a mental shift away from work and all of the stress of our jobs. I enjoy getting creative and giving my brain a break, while still doing things that will save me time and give me less to do later on once the year begins. Here are 5 things you can do this summer whether you're in your 15th year in the same position, starting a brand new school, or jobless and praying for luck.
1. Make a Teacher (Counselor) Toolbox
I first became aware of this when I saw teacher blogger Teach Create Motivate post about it on instagram. I used her blog post tutorial to create mine and ended up buying her labels to decorate mine as well. There's just something so satisfying about 1) being able to find what you need quickly and 2) seeing these bright colors and adorable design desk to your desk each day. NO REGRETS!!! You could even make a couple as gifts for other counselors / interns / teacher friends and have on hand for that next occasion.
2. Prep your "Meet the Counselor" Materials
I don't know about you, but this is something I really enjoy. I mean.. who doesn't love talking about themselves and bright colored designs? I love creating a little brief one (or two) pager to allow families to get to know me and feel like they can approach me. My "Meet the Counselor" page changes every single year and I re-distribute it each year because there are always new families coming in and out. I also love taking advantage of this chance to "pre-educate" folks on what our role is and what they can expect from us. You can find an editable template for the Meet the Counselor form as part of my School Counselor Parent Engagement Pack on TPT.
3. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts
This might seem a little silly, but I bet you don't realize exactly how much time you can save by using keyboard shortcuts. Literally HOURS per year can be saved by learning shortcuts. I've mostly focused on GMAIL, MAC, and Google CHROME shortcuts, since that's what I use the most. You can definitely find info on Windows shortcuts as well. "How do I learn them?" you might ask. There are a few options:
4. Unsubscribe from Email Lists
I could probably talk for hours about email organization and productivity- 1) because it's REALLY tough to get a handle on for most people and 2) because I'm a real big nerd. Even if you're not in the mood to revamp your whole email system, one thing that will benefit you in the long run is to spend 2-3 minutes a day looking through your inbox for email lists that you can unsubscribe from. You can likely unsubscribe from 2-3 lists for every minute you spend doing this. So say you spend approximately 3 minutes each night before bed doing this, 5x a week, for the month of July- you will have unsubscribed from 150 email lists. If each of those email lists sends approximately 1 ad per week.. that's SIX HUNDRED LESS EMAILS for you to have to sort or delete during the month of September when you're back at school and swamped.
If you are an email list hoarder and thinking to yourself "but what if a coupon comes through that I might need?" or "but the info in the newsletter is relevant to me!" here's a shoutout to you! First of all, 9/10 you don't need it so just unsubscribe from it. But if you're still struggling.. ask yourself the following questions:
5. Create & Use a Plan for Program Ideas
I don't know about you, but when I'm finally starting to sink in from break and let go of all of those thoughts about last year, my head starts swirling with new ideas about things I want to try in my personal life or in my school counseling program in the future. Minds are meant for having ideas, not for storing them! Whether it's a page in your trusty paper planner, a google doc in your drive, or a list in your task management app (todoist, trello, wunderlist, etc.), you need to store those ideas somewhere you can easily find them when it comes time to plan next year's program. Getting things out of your head and into that system frees you up to 1) focus on your family and enjoy your summer and 2) have the creative energy to create more great ideas! The keys to storing ideas- be consistent (get it down EVERY time), and have a plan for regularly reviewing those lists (if you never touch the list again and forget where it is in August when you go to plan, it won't do you much good!).
I think these 5 things will have a HUGE payout for you once the school year kicks back into action. Your future self will thank you! Have a great summer!
Hi there, I'm Alaina! I am an Elementary School Counselor in Pennsylvania. Prior to moving here, I was a middle school counselor in West Virginia and Florida. In addition to my role as a school counselor and teacher, I am a PRODUCTIVITY and SELF DEVELOPMENT junkie, planner addict, and new wifey!