School Counseling Office Tour: Round One

Saturday, June 9, 2018
I've been meaning to do a post about my office for five years. I procrastinated because my office was either "too messy" or, when it was clean, I realized it looked crazy blue due to the filters I put on my fluorescent lights (#excuses). So then when it got closer to time for me to pack up and move to a new school and new office, I decided I needed to make it happen before it was too late! I'll go ahead and apologize now for posting an office tour again in August when I'm in my new one.


My office was small, but could have been smaller. I managed to squeeze quite a bit in the 13'x18' space. Because I worked in a fairly old building, I had the luxury of painting and decorating however I saw fit. It's a challenge to create a space that's child friendly, professional enough for meetings (we have a conference room but I hold some meetings in my office if I think the main office may be intimidating/threatening), and also a safe haven for when I'm pulling my hair out during test coordination. I worked in this space for five years, improving on it bit by bit, and I absolutely loved it (minus the nasty chipping wall paint I didn't have time to paint over). The biggest challenge with the space is the complete lack of closed storage - everything is totally out in the open, meaning it looks cluttered very quickly.

Without further adieu...here's the tour!

This is the view walking up to my office; my self-referral board on the wall next to my door and my "inspirational" door interior which I put up in July and kept up all year because...you know. Life.


And this is the view from the door of where I spend my non-teaching time - where much of the counseling magic (ha!) happens:


I have 5 "zones" or areas in my office:
  • My work area
  • Small group space
  • Individual counseling space (on the floor, with rice tray)
  • Individual counseling space (bowl chairs, also used with grown ups)
  • Bookcase storage for #allthethings



I'll share more about my organization in a later post but here's a brief rundown of this area: drawer carts on the left hold current lesson materials, thank you cards, support team (RTI/MTSS) documents, teacher surveys, etc. I don't like filing cabinets but I love this. The little bookcase holds the sort of things that would normally go into (and get lost in) a desk. You can just barely see the yoga ball behind my table - I started sitting on it when pregnant with my first to alleviate back aches, went back to a chair after he was born, then did the same with my second but stuck with the ball. I think it continues to help prevent back pain and prevents some of the literal and figurative afternoon slump that can occur by keeping my body more physically engaged. There's a mini white board above my office supplies; the plan was to do a quote of the week for myself but the truth is I never use it. I also rarely use the whiteboard behind me. The corkboard is where I hang pictures (etc.) students give me. I keep things up about a quarter and then start fresh. It seems to mean a lot to the students to see me hang up what they've given me right away. The empty space above the drawer carts held a character trait poster that I had to take down during state testing.

Onto small groups...



This kidney bean table is where I do the majority of my small groups and lunch bunches. Occasionally I'll work with an individual student here if we're playing a board game with a big setup or if they're more comfortable doing artwork at a traditional table and chair. I realized I needed some storage by the table so I found a super skinny cart that goes next to the HVAC unit. This houses supplies and small games that I like having an arm's length way. I also bought some chair pockets from a teacher friend that makes them. Inside are supplies for students to use during small group sessions. The clothespins hot glued to the wall are for hanging group expectations, group session foci, etc. The crate of yellow seat discs (I've written about them before here) is for any student who needs or wants one for small group. You can also see a little bit of my scale on the wall by the window. I use this for problem size and emotion size scaling with kiddos.




I like to offer my students the option of where they want to sit when they come in. Even though I think the blue bowl chairs are comfier, these bean bag chairs win about 60-75% of the time. I don't love the figurine storage - it's a lot of upkeep because they're constantly falling and the bookcase is really dark. The kitchen spice risers were an awesome find though. This is also where, as you can see, I keep all of my games and my other few toys. To be honest...it's tough having everything out like this (I talked about it in my instatories tour a bit). I want everything out and welcoming and inviting students to engage with things, because that's what you're "supposed to do" in children's counseling spaces. The two problems I encounter with this: 1) students are constantly asking me if they can take figurines home and 2) I often have individual and small group sessions already planned out and I hate having to say "no" when the kiddos ask "Can we play a game today?" Next year I'm either going to try and be super counselor and work the toys and games into my sessions better OR I am going to cover them with fabric that is velcroed on (most likely I'll probably do a combination of the two).


This is where my oldest students come to chat and where I sometimes do teacher consultations. The feelings posters are something I made using clipart I bought. I used to have these posters and while I loved them, I just needed a change for myself. The IKEA cart contains stuffed critters to snuggle, art supplies, the paper shredder, and loooooooots of fidgets (nearly all from Target). The most loved item in my office is that sequin mermaid pillow. The orange thing draped across the other chair is a weighted lap belt. I offer it to students having a tough time physically or emotionally regulating. My mom made it for me!


And this is what I stare at when I receive infuriating emails and have to look away from my computer screen: "organized" bookcases. Ok, the books are legitimately well organized. The bins (with extra supplies, resource books, lesson materials, bulletin boards, etc.) start the year organized and end the year less so. C'est la vie. I wanted to be really authentic and honest with this post and include the area above the bookcases in the picture but I just couldn't. It's just that horrendous. "All the stuff that doesn't go anywhere else and I only need maybe once a year but I don't want to toss."

The informal theme to my office was weather, which came as a result of my using weather-sized problem sizes with all of my grades. I have rainy, storm, and sunny each represented in a corner. Clear umbrella with laminated cardstock raindrops hotglued onto yarn...foamcore with one million cotton balls glued on and a construction paper lightning bolt...and a giant paper lantern with cardstock "rays".


I loved my office. It got better and better every year and while I'm excited for the fresh start, I will certainly miss it. As I was taking everything down and packing up, I thought a bit about the changes I want to make in my new space. Here's what's on the docket:
  • I need a rainbow to hang in the final corner! Hoping my new space has grid ceilings like this that make it easy for hanging things. There's an inflatable one I saw but I think it's too big so I may need to try the pool noodle DIY option.
  • As I mentioned above, I need a new way to store the games and figurines so that it is still inviting and welcoming when the time is right but is not a distraction when the time is wrong. Strongly considering splurging on the IKEA Trofast for my rice tray and just laying out all of the drawers when doing that work. 
  • I'd like to move the rug to the middle of the floor. It will get dirtier faster, but I found myself needing space for 3-4 person mediations and I wanted them to be able to face each other better than they could at my groups table.
  • Thinking about skipping the desk entirely! Some teachers at my school put low bookcases along the wall behind their kidney tables as office/teacher supply storage and just used that as both their group table and personal workspace. 
  • I need to use the zipper style baggies for the chair pockets (so that they actually get used correctly by students more often) and I think I'll switch to community markers for small groups (not enough room for individual sets in the pockets).
  • After I took everything down, I decided I wanted some better and more cohesive visuals (the scale, the self-referral board, etc.) I've got most of it printed and prepped, but there's a few posters I'm waiting on seeing the space to decide which size to use. You can see more details of those things here - I'll post more about them once my new space is up.

That's it folks! A complete tour of my office. Feel free to email me or use the contact me page to ask any questions you have. Anything I could find the exact match of online, I'll link below. (Note: Some of these links are affiliate links.)

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