Before I left the school I worked at for six years, I made sure to take some pictures of my office to show you a little tour. Then, at my new school, I had the MOST AMAZING SCHOOL COUNSELING OFFICE EVER. But in the stressful time of packing it up after the hard choice to not return, I forgot to take some great pictures. It really was a pretty wonderful office though, so I found some shots I had posted on Instagram to out together to try and give you a tour.
BUT, before we dive in, I have to say that this was not the office mapped out for me. It was a brand new building and there were two “guidance offices” in the floor plan. I knew right away they wouldn’t let me be the best school counselor I could be. I asked my principal-to-be if we could talk about my office. My talking points:
- The office was downstairs. All of the students on my caseload were upstairs. In a big school, that could translate to a bit of lost time for me and for students traveling the building.
- The office was teeny. I can work in a tight space, but being able to run groups was an important part of the job, and the office wouldn’t have room for more than two students with me at a time.
- There was a better office space in the upstairs of the school, much closer to my students and much larger. In the building plans, this was an office for two occupational therapists. Our school was only going to have one, part-time, and many of the students on her caseload would be on the first floor.
My principal agreed! I know not all administrators are willing to listen to ideas like this and I know that not all schools have a perfect space for a counselor. That said, I wanted to share that I needed to advocate in order to get this space – I didn’t just get lucky.
I wrote before about the importance of functional decor when you’re setting up your space. Even if you have a lot of room, you want all of your decor – the stuff that looks nice – to also serve a purpose. With my office, that started with the door. I wanted it to look welcoming but also serve as my self-referral station.
I also put my hellos and good-byes signs next to the door. This was part of the routine whenever students entered or exited my office for individual or group counseling.
The first thing you saw when you walked in was my bookcase. I painstakingly cut out letters to spell “everyone is welcome here” above it. While I certainly wanted my students to see and feel that message, it was equally as important to me that my parents knew they were welcome. I had somewhat of a weather theme in my last office and continued that in here. My paper lantern sun didn’t make the move, so I had to get a little crafty again. I used a hollow hemisphere piece of styrofoam, one gazillion little squares of tissue paper, pins, and a few cardstock triangles. I hung it up using command strips.
Next to the bookcase was my main individual counseling zone. I had two dish chairs from Target, a metal cart with fidgets and stuffed animals. Above were some feelings posters I made from some clipart I bought.
Once you turn the rest of the way in, the rest of the space was a large rectangle with a big window at the end. I don’t have any pictures from that view, but I do have one from the window, looking towards the hallway/door:
In front of the that black and white rug in the corner was a Promethean board. Someone at the board office agreed to give us lots of Promethean boards – excellent luck! They were meant just for classrooms, but because we were under capacity the first year, a few of us “bonus” staff got to have one. I admit I didn’t use it to its fullest capacity, mostly just as a projector and a drawing board, but I absolutely loved having it. The space was also great to have lots of room meeting with small groups on the floor or for things like giant Jenga.
You can also see the large kidney bean table. That’s where all the action happened! And by that, I mean it was my workspace (I didn’t use a desk) and where I met with all my small groups. There were lots of incredible cabinets to the right. It was my first time having any sort of enclosed storage.
Also to the right was my peace corner. Each of the classrooms had their own peace corner, but mine got quite a bit of use as well.
Next to that was my rice tray setup. I splurged on the Trofast storage unit from IKEA (shout out to my friend Kate for the inspiration!).
I experimented with having sort of a sensory path on my floor so I used colored painters tape to map one out. It actually stayed pretty well for several months and then came off easily when I moved out. It helped some students regulate and was also just great as a distraction for some kiddos when they needed to get their mind off something tough.
And now we have circled back to the front! The door is on the other side of this wall you see below. The individual counseling zone is right across from that feelings scale. You can see my storm cloud here, too (thank you foamcore and cotton balls).
Oh, and I almost forgot, the prettiest part of the office: the rainbow bulletin board! My husband is a champ and helped execute the vision I had for this with pool noodles.
Bummer that I didn’t remember to take some real office tour pics before we left. Something is better than nothing, though! I do have a little video tour in the highlights on my Instagram if you want to hear more explanations about some of the things.
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