5 Best Practices in School Counseling Lesson Planning

Saturday, January 13, 2018
This post is part 3 in a series on school counseling core curriculum planning. You can read part 1 on the overall vision here and part 2 on needs assessments here.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I'm particular about my lesson plans. Downright picky. In part, this is because I think the lesson you believe in is the one you'll deliver the best. It's also because I want lessons to be catered to my students. Because I'm picky about my lesson plans, I write almost all of them entirely myself. It's been a bit of trial and error but I'm finally in the sweet spot of feeling like I know what I'm doing when I sit down to plan out a lesson. I've discovered some best practices that make this planning faster but also, more importantly, that lead to engaging and effective lessons. I want my lessons to flow well and be fun, but that's not enough. They need to actually WORK!

Making Study Skills (Learning Skills) Lessons Fun

Tuesday, December 26, 2017
The only real consensus our 2nd grade team had on the needs assessment was that they thought their students needed lessons on...well...how to be better students. People often call this "study skills" but I try to use the term "learning skills" or "learner skills" because I think it better captures what we mean when we're talking about elementary age kids.

Faced with a boring topic and a tricky grade level, my co-counselor and I decided we needed to make these lessons super, extra, engaging. Our students actually have very little screen time during the day (we don't have much technology in our building), so we thought animated and interactive PowerPoints would be fun for them. We wanted to provide as much continuity between the lessons as we could as well (see this post on how we do our core curriculum for more on this) so even though there is some overlap between the skills, we added in a theme as well: Super Students. I give some credit here to my fantastic co-counselor who went to Ron Clark Academy last spring and really convinced me to up our game in "setting the stage to engage."

School Counseling Needs Assessment

Thursday, December 21, 2017
This is the second in a series of posts all on how I map and plan my core curriculum; the first was on my vision for curriculum mapping.

I posted a quick pic on my instastories about my needs assessment this year and got a few requests for more info after. Questions about my needs assessment were also the number one thing I got emails for after I presented at a local conference. I cannot claim to be an expert with them but I am happy to share more about how I create mine, what's on it, what's worked, and what hasn't.


While I'll use google forms for my pre/post surveys regarding less effectiveness, I needed my needs assessment to be hard copy. I was creating it a little last minute this year and could only conceptualize it on paper. Some fast facts about my needs assessment:

Whose Job Is It? Responsibility Lesson Plan

Monday, December 11, 2017
Next up for 4th grade's responsibility unit (part one was choices and consequences) was helping them understand what responsibilities are theirs versus their teachers' versus their parents'. Our teachers had noticed students saying things like "My mom forgot to put my homework in my backpack!" and "You didn't remind me!" It was time to review with them what they were in charge of taking care of!

responsibility lesson plan

Curriculum Mapping for School Counselors: A New Vision

Thursday, November 30, 2017
When I first started as a school counselor, I had no experience teaching. Zero. I didn't even have internship experience because most of my internships had been in school-based therapy positions and one I did while actually employed in my first position. Delivering classroom lessons was TERRIFYING and overwhelming. I saw so much value in it - the prevention/developmental side of the job was what lead me to make the switch from therapist to school counselor - but I wasn't comfortable with it...yet. Now? It's a major passion of mine. I've had the privilege of presenting on this twice now at a local conference. This post is the first of a series based off of my presentation - Effective and Engaging Curriculum Mapping and Lesson Planning (No More Worksheets!)

school counseling curriculum map

My first school counseling position was at a school that didn't have much of an existing program, which meant there was no curriculum map and no lesson plans. I was starting from scratch. Awesome opportunity and major undertaking. There was a needs assessment done right before I got there (I started a couple months into the year) but the results were all over the map. When it came time to make a core curriculum plan for the year, I essentially did a combination of "this is important" paired with "google says I should be doing this." Needless to say, my first year was a hodge podge of lessons. Not awful, not great.
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