4 Ways to Make Use of Your “Extra” Counselor Time at Home

Are you home? Spending a lot of time at home? Maybe getting slightly bored at home? Helping your students the best you can but have a little time left over? Wanting to do “counselory” things with this time?

Here are four ideas:

1. Get your PD on!

This is an awesome time to dive into some of those PD books you’ve been wanting to read, watch some webinars, or finally finish those ASCA U specialist things you bought and maybe started.

I have my favorites all on an Amazon list, but these are my three absolute must haves (affiliate links):

An excellent training I’ve done before is this trauma-focused CBT one. Most school counselors aren’t providing this type of ongoing counseling, but there is a lot of this that is still super helpful. It USED to be free, but I’m learning now that once you create an account, they say it costs $35. Sad face. If I find a free one, I’ll share it.

ASCA has a ton of “ASCA U” Specialist Trainings AND they are super duper mega discounted right now (though you do have to buy some books as some of the required readings).

ASCA also has tons of live and recorder webinars (free for ASCA members). One is actually mine, from my ASCA presentation on core curriculum! Click here to get straight to it and check out the others on there.

Trish Hatch, the counselor author behind the “Hatching Results” books, has made her self-paced courses FREE right now as well!  (I think I’m going to do the Intentional Guidance/Tier 2 one)

2. Start planning for 2020-2021!

Even without COVID-19 changing the game, I always loved starting planning for the next year during the spring. Everything is still fresh in your mind, but you’re mostly just riding out the rest of the year with groups and lessons you’ve already planned out, so you’ve got the mental power left to look forward to the new year. I’m not sure if we’re going back to school this school year, but I am holding out hope that we’ll be back August/September and I think we all want it to be a strong return.

Curriculum Maps

You can totally start drafting out a curriculum map for next school year. Think about: what you covered this year, what you didn’t get to this year, data from this year so far, specific needs they may need after a looooong time out, etc. If you’re looking for more info on curriculum mapping (AKA one of my favorite things ever), I wrote a lot about it here.

Program Goals

What do you want to focus on in your counseling program next year? What will be your program goals? You may not have access to all the data, but there’s a pretty good chance you know the areas your school needs your help with next year – either because it’s super obvious to you, or because they are district foci. I wrote more about school counseling goals (personal and professional) which might be helpful for you. And while you’re at it…if you don’t already have an annual agreement, you might wanna get drafting on that, too.


Thinking about dates may be overwhelming right now, but you can think about your 20-21 school year in terms of just months or quarters. When will you send out your needs assessment? When do you want to do your career day? When will the first round of groups start? Are there specific times you can plan to collect and analyze data? Even if you change it a million times, going into the year with a program calendar is incredibly helpful!

3. Prep All That Stuff You Bought on TPT

Sometimes…oftentimes…I share things I’ve created on FB or IG and have someone message to say they love it. And then they message again to say they realize they actually already bought it but never prepped it! I get it. My computer desktop is always littered with a million and one “things I’ll get to later”. But maybe right now IS “later”? If you have a printer at home, go ahead and print and cut those task cards. Make a master copy of any worksheets. Group curriculums and escape rooms can be particularly time consuming to prep. Or if you can’t do physical prep at home right now, take some time to organize your files so it’s easier when you get back. And speaking of organizing…

4. New Organization System for…Something

I strongly believe that an organized counselor is an effective counselor. This is because being organized saves you a ton of time, allowing you to spend your time on the good stuff: lessons and groups and individuals! What is a part of your job that you feel like you’re a “mess” about? For me, it was groups and attendance initiatives/contacts/interventions. I devoted some time to creating some new systems and documents for each of these and it made a huge difference the following year. A couple months ago I wrote all about organization which may help get your brain going in that direction.

These are weird and uncertain times. Maybe you just want to watch a lot of Netflix or play games with your own kids. That’s okay, too! But if you’re needing a sense of normalcy, I hope this list helps you find some fun and “counselory” things to do right now.


One Response

  1. This post was much appreciated from a counselor at an independent school trying to find balance in this new normal. 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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