School counselors, principals, and teachers alike must juggle the many different tasks associated with their daily routine. Trying to find time to meet and engage with students, parents, and other members of the community is critical but often difficult with limited “free” time during day. Here’s why meeting with members of your community (students, parents, etc.) is so important:
- Each meeting is an opportunity to engage with each student to let them know you’re invested in their success.
- Meetings are a great school-wide screening method to help address student needs. Meet with all (or a sampling) of students from different grade levels.
- Observations from the meetings help assess the school counseling program, curriculum, and other social emotional learning initiatives to see what areas might need improvement.
- An opportunity to assist students in planning for their next stages in life — middle school, high school, college and career.
- Most importantly, the meetings would be an opportunity for the person to ask for help. Or if they ever need help in the future, they’ll know you’re always there for them.
We know these kinds of meetings are important. Being open and available to your student is key. Easy scheduling and access to your calendar is one way to make the logistics a tad bit easier.
Free calendar scheduling tools
Our first recommendation is a free online tool called Calendly that syncs with your calendars (including Google Calendars) and lets students, parents, or anyone else schedule a block of time with you. Best of all, Calendly knows when you’re busy because it integrates with your existing calendar(s) so you’ll never be double-booked. Check it out here: https://calendly.com/
You’ll even get a cool custom URL that links directly to your app where anyone can schedule time with you. Here’s an example of what the URL looks like:
There are many other free calendar scheduling tools like https://www.setmore.com/ which appear to have similar features. Find the one that looks and works best to you and grab yourself one of these free tools!
See it in action
School counselor Jeff Ream (find him at http://www.thecounselinggeek.com) uses this kind of scheduling on his school’s counseling page. A simple “Request an Appointment” button links to a webpage where students can select the duration of their appointment (most likely 15-30 minutes) and a date/time that works well for them. Once the appointment is submitted – BINGO! – it will show up on your calendar on the appropriate date and time with the information about the person you’ll be meeting with.
Keep a log of your meetings
With your calendar and appointment booking now fully digitized you have a complete log of all your meetings. Remembering the personal situations and individual needs of hundreds of different student conversations might get difficult so do yourself a favor and keep a log of notes! If you’re dealing with an incident and use an incident or behavior management tool like BRIM to track and respond to incidents, you can easily log your actions and notes. Include any steps you took to resolve the issue and keep a record of the students involved. Here we’ll note a “Student Conversation” that we might have had:
Most tools allow simple note-taking or a comments section where information can be captured. Having this kind of record-keeping is critical to maintaining appropriate records of how an incident was handled. If you ever need to go back to an incident to refresh your memory about what happened it’s nothing more than a quick search away! Hopefully you’ll be able to use these great tools to streamline your process, engage with more students, and remember everything they say (with the help of your notes!).