About Rebecca: Rebecca Atkins is a school counselor turned central office cubicle dweller. She has served on the executive board of her state association, received local and state school counselor of the year, and spoken at national and state level school counseling conferences. Rebecca received the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) RAMP award in 2008 and has served as a RAMP reviewer and a Bully Specialist Certification reviewer for ASCA. Her articles on transition and equity have appeared in the School Counselor Magazine and you can follow her blog Counselor Up where she shares ideas and tools for comprehensive school counseling.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] Why did you originally create a blog about school counseling and your experience as a professional?
[Rebecca Atkins] I originally created a blog to share the fun things my students and I were doing at my school. Over time, I realized that I was talking more to other counselors than to the families and friends of my students. I moved my blog to a separate site and began sharing what I was doing with other counselors. Over time, the response I have gotten from other counselors has really inspired me to share even more. Many times Elementary Counselors are alone in their buildings and a virtual Professional Learning Network can help you to feel less alone.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] What do you hope to achieve by maintaining Counselor Up!?
[Rebecca Atkins] I hope to inspire others to make the biggest difference possible by being productive, organized, and effective. The name “Counselor Up” is a play on the phrase “man up.” We say man up when we want someone to step up to the plate and be accountable, and that’s what I always want to do in my work with students.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] As a professional school counselor for over ten years, what strong piece of advice could you provide to other professionals within their first five?
[Rebecca Atkins] It gets easier! It really does. Though the demands stay the same, your toolbox for dealing with them expands. Over time, you grow more confident in different aspects of the job but when you’re first starting, you have to learn everything all at once! Don’t give up, it’s worth it.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] In your most recent post, “Stop Planning and Start Playing: Learning Stations for School Counselors,” you highlight ways in which school counselors can really take advantage of the classroom setting to teach social emotional learning effectively. When creating lesson plans for classrooms, what do you think is imperative to incorporate in terms of classroom management?
[Rebecca Atkins] Kids love structure and do their best when structure is clear and consistent. I spend a lot of time setting up activities so that kids know exactly what is expected. I also really believe the phrase “you get more of what you focus on.” When you focus on the kids doing the right thing, the climate of the class improves.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] You also offer professional development presentations on making the most of a comprehensive school counseling program. What pushed your interest in preparing and speaking at these conferences, webinars, and workshops?
[Rebecca Atkins] This is one of my favorite aspects of my job! Adult learners are the best! Working with adults challenges me to bring my A game and to think about ideas in new contexts all the time. I recently had several counselors visit from another state and talking with them about their challenges made me realize that all systems differ more than we might think and I really had to stretch my concepts to align with the expectations they have. I love that aha feeling that both of us had.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] Can you tell us more on what has influenced you to pursue a career in school counseling and the impact of your successful blog on the school counseling community?
[Rebecca Atkins] I wanted to pursue counseling because I truly believe that skills that kids learn through the school counseling program will help them to be successful in life. By implementing a tiered school counseling program, we can support students where they are in their journey to learn academic, career, and social emotional skills.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] Is there anything else you’d like to add?