School Counseling #Goals

A little over a year ago, I shared some slides from a presentation I gave on SMART goals for school counselors. Goal setting is important to me for three reasons: 1) I gotta practice what I preach and I tell the kiddos to set goals, 2) in a world of Pinterest, blogs, and TpT, goals keep me focused and 3) goals help us make sure our program is effective.

school counseling goals

This year, I made three kinds of goals: personal school counseling goals, program process goals, and student outcome goals. I learn best through example so for those of you that do too, here are mine!

Personal School Counseling Goals

These are goals I have for myself as a counseling professional. 

1. Improve my individual counseling.
Refresh myself on solution-focused strategies, incorporate more art, and bring back some client-centered play therapy. This was my strength but as they say – use it or lose it – and I think I’ve lost some of my non-CBT strategies and skills.

2. Incorporate academics more into whole group lessons.
I want teachers to infuse SEL into their instruction and reinforce my messages – I can model this (and help our schools’ low reading scores) by doing the reverse.

3. Be a Positive Patty.
Our school is undergoing some significant changes. That paired with ever increasing pressures and a shrinking budget is a recipe for negativity. I need to be the light.

4. Apply to Present at Another Conference
Last year, I applied to (and was accepted to) present at a semi-local conference for school counselors and administrators. It was an awesome experience and I caught the ‘presenting bug’. In the spring, I challenged myself to apply to present at a different conference this school year. I submitted my application a couple weeks ago and should hear in 11 days if my proposal was accepted!

Program Process Goals

These are our goals for improving our school counseling program and making it the best it can be. 

1. Rock small groups.
Conduct pre/post surveys (or collect pre/post data) on 50%+ of my small groups. A couple years ago, I tried to collect data on every group I ran – and much of it was meaningless. Last year, the pendulum was too far in the other direction and I collected next to no data. My goal this year is to be more intentional with small group data. I am also going to give myself more grace in small group session planning and remind myself that the consistency and relationships of it are more important than the activities I come up with. If I come up with super cool plans? Great! If I just build strong relationships and model high expectations? Also great.

2. Do more for the teachers.
Morale among faculty dipped too low at the end of last year. While I certainly don’t think positive faculty culture and climate is the responsibility of the school counselor, I think we are in a unique position to assist with it given our training and our broader view of the school.

3. Start an advisory council.
While I don’t think we are willing to devote our time to applying for RAMP yet, my co-counselor and I want our program to be ‘RAMP Ready’ and we realized that an advisory council is one of our only missing pieces. This is a tricky task at a school with super duper low parent involvement and a mostly ELL parent population, but we see value in this and want to give it a go. (Is it a little backwards to make all these goals before the first advisory council meets? Maybe. But I needed goals in place ASAP and we haven’t been able to convene the council yet).

Student Outcome Goals

These are goals that answer the question: How are our students measurably different as a result of the school counseling program?

1. Following the MTSS model, 80% of students will show mastery (as reported by teacher) of newly taught SEL skill set at completion of each unit/theme. 
Our school (and district) values SEL and this is the core of our program. I’ll write more at another time about how we assess social emotional learning.

2. Contribute to the schoolwide goal of each student making 18 months of academic growth.
Talk about a big, hairy, audacious goal! But our new admin is adamant that it can be done and by all means, my co-counselor and I are going to do our part to work towards this.

3. Reduce the number of general education students with 2+ behavior incidents by 33%.
This goal allows us to provided targeted intervention to students identify from last school year as at-risk for behavior difficulties, and to continue to provide quality consultation to teachers at a prevention and early intervention level.

4. Decrease the number of students with 20+ tardies by 20%.
This is our first year making an attendance goal; our school’s attendance is actually one of the best for our quadrant (our district is huge and divided into quadrants and clusters). That said, we hear from teachers all the time about the negative impact these tardies have on students who would otherwise be on grade level academically.

Would I bet money on achieving all of these goals? Nope. I am going to give myself grace. Am I gonna bust it and do my best to remind myself of these goals every day? Yup! For me, this means printing them in a pretty format and having them as the very first page in my planner/binder.

My counseling program goals are printed on bright green paper and the first page in my planner/binder

Want your own printable to put your AMAZING counseling goals on? I have one for you! I also included a ‘tip sheet’ to help guide you along, plus some example outcome goals. Fill out the form below to join the email list. And then please comment with some of YOUR goals for the year!

Pin for Later:

School Counseling goals for my counseling program.

21 Responses

  1. Thank you for posting this. I’m very interested what you did or how you help with staff morale? Thank you.

    1. Hello! Truthfully, I think one of my biggest roles with staff morale is having open and honest conversations with administration about the stressors of our faculty and gently providing ideas of how they could help. I also did a faculty escape room during one of our in-services that I think was helpful during a particularly stressful time! bit.ly/FacultyEscapeRoom Best, Sara

  2. I would love to learn more about how you collect data or specifically what pre and post data you try to collect from your small groups. Data isn’t one of my strengths but I definitely believe its important to use so that we can make sure we are maintaining forward motion and are able to see where needs are. It’s definitely one of my goals to get better at seeing opportunities to collect and measure what is working, what’s not, and how to be more effective. .

  3. I love everything you share on counseling! I am a new school counselor at a middle school and need all the ideas I can get. Thank you for the goals tips!!!

  4. I have found many of your resources very helpful! I am interning as an early elementary school counselor this semester and having your resources has been so helpful!

    1. Yay, thank you for those kind words! Knowing that my resources are truly helpful is what keeps me pushing along and sharing!


  5. Hi there! I was wondering if you could share more about your 1st student outcome goal? I’m wondering if you ask teachers to assess the students’ mastery of skills and how you do that. Thank you for any help you can provide! You gave me some great ideas for my own student outcome goals!

    1. Hello! I created pre/post surveys to give my teachers for each core curriculum unit. The prompt was always “Which percentage of your students….” followed by things like “understand the difference between a small problem and a big problem” or “use a social filter”. The options are something like 0-25%, 25-50%, 50-80%, 80%+.


      1. Hi! I was wondering if you have more information on this? Also, just on your school’s SEL program as a whole. Do you do a pre-assessment to drive instruction and groups? Who determines the core curriculum unit? Thank you!

  6. I am on a three school circuit, grades p-8, so I am not using the same materials at each school.. We are preparing so submit our Annual Professional Goals, and this post is most helpful in giving me direction and focus. Thank you, Sarah

  7. I would love a copy of your goal data sheet. I am entering my second year as a school counselor and I am finding it very scary to come up with a counseling goal. I have yet to dive into data. We are thinking of focusing on attendance this year to work with our school goal.

    1. Hi Adali! On this blog post, there’s a big box at the end with a photo of the goals sheet on the left and the text “COUNSELING PROGRAM GOALS PRINTABLE + EXAMPLE GOALS” on the right. You will enter your name and email address there to get the sheet!


  8. Responsive Counselor,
    I have entered my email to get the print outs and I have no response from you on my email. I would like to get a copy of the School Counseling Goal Setting. I am a new Counselor and need some help.

    1. Hi Patricia! I just looked you up in our email system and it shows that the email that was sent for you to confirm your email subscription (which has the button to download the goal setting printable) bounced. It also shows the last three emails we sent your way bounced as well.

      Here are some reasons that can happen: the inbox is full, server outages, poor sender reputation due to spam complaints, flagged content in the message content, or a restrictive DMARC record.

      Please try again, and consider using a different email address!


    1. Hi Maria,

      It doesn’t show in the system that you completed the form for it yet. Please put your name, address, and role into the box at the bottom of the post and click “Sign Me Up.” Then you’ll get an email asking you to confirm and once you click the button inside that, the PDF will download automatically for you.


  9. 1. Following the MTSS model, 80% of students will show mastery (as reported by teacher) of newly taught SEL skill set at completion of each unit/theme.
    Our school (and district) values SEL and this is the core of our program. I’ll write more at another time about how we assess social emotional learning.

    Is there a separate blog post about how to assess SEL learning? Thank you!

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Hello, I’m Sara!

With 10 years of experience in
elementary school counseling,
I get to serve in a different way now
– by helping fellow counselors and

I value quality over quantity,
effective practices and resources,
and meeting the unique needs of all
our diverse learners.

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