Driving Elementary Counseling with Google Drive
My name is Emily Hansen and I am an elementary school counselor in New Melle, Missouri. I am in my 17th year in education with the past 7 as a school counselor. I am currently finishing the requirements for LPC. I also have a blog called Hanselor the Counselor. I absolutely love what I do and equally love to support other counselors. There is often only one counselor per school so it is nice to connect with other counselors and share ideas and support one another.
Elementary school counseling is the very best job in the world, but can also be very taxing and stressful. One of the most important things a counselor at any level can do is to find quick and easy ways to organize a comprehensive school counseling program. Staying organized can reduce stress levels and increase productivity and efficiency.
Technology gives us access to information without the bulk of papers and binders. Google Drive, specifically, is a platform that can be used to stay organized and sane while juggling the many facets of a school counseling program. With Google Drive, all counseling related materials can be kept in one place for easy access. There are an infinite number of ways to use Google Drive and several will be explored here.
Keeping counseling notes can be cumbersome and time consuming when done on paper. Using Google Drive can reduce the amount of paper while also giving immediate access to notes and lessening the time to collect notes. Within Google Drive is a feature called “forms” that can be created to keep counseling notes. After the form is created, it is very simple to input the notes needed for any given student. Once the form has been filled out and submitted, Google Drive automatically creates a spreadsheet with the information collected. The spreadsheet can then be manipulated to view information in a variety of ways (one child at a time, how many individual counseling sessions conducted, classroom lessons delivered, etc.). The spreadsheet can be accessed from any computer at any time. While in a meeting about a student, notes can be easily pulled up if needed. Caution: since this is on google, it is recommended to use a code instead of the student’s name. A student number could be used or a code such as JD 3T (Jane Doe, 3rd grade Teacher initial).
Needs Assessments and Surveys
It is common for counselors to conduct Needs Assessments as well as surveying various things, such as the counseling program. Many still use paper pencil to collect this information. Using a Google Form streamlines this process and lessens the time consuming process of going through each paper to collect the data. Data is instantly organized into a spreadsheet for easy access and analysis. Needs Assessments can drive a counseling program specifically for the needs of the building as well as each grade level.
Students request to see the counselor often. Unfortunately this means leaving classroom instruction to do so. Creating a counseling referral or request form will help reduce the amount of time students are out of the classroom and gives the counselor immediate notification that a student is requesting to see the counselor. A link to the form can be sent to teachers to save on classroom devices. Students can fill out a counseling referral at any time while staying in the classroom. The spreadsheet can be set up to send an email notification to the counselor that there is a student in need. Typically, students would leave notes on the counselor’s door. The counselor may not return to their office for quite some time, thus, missing a student who may have an immediate need. As long as the counselor has a device with them (iPad, laptop, etc.), an immediate notification would alert him/her to a student need. This helps the counselor support students in a much quicker and more efficient way. Online referrals also provide counselors data on students who have requested counseling services.
Rating scales (self and teacher)
Working with children in the capacity that counselors do, it is often difficult to measure student progress. Creating rating scales with Google Forms offers counselors the opportunity to gather data from teachers as well as students. Rating scales are not a perfect science; however, they provide valuable information as to the effectiveness of an intervention or therapeutic strategy. Using a Google form as opposed to paper/pencil rating scales has many benefits, such as: data is collected in a format that is easy to read and manipulate, gives immediate feedback (no more waiting for papers to be returned), reduces the likelihood of papers getting lost, increases confidentiality since there are no papers with student names laying around, data may be shared with more than one person working with the same student, etc.
Counseling reference list
There are so many wonderful resources available for counselors to work with children. It is often hard to keep track of all of the materials, books, games, etc. that counselors have in their repertoire. Google forms or sheets can be used to organize counseling materials for easy access. Creating therapy plans can be cumbersome especially when not in the office with counseling materials. Having items listed in a Google spreadsheet gives counselors the freedom to plan anywhere. If working with a child on anger management, one could simply organize the spreadsheet to see only the materials that are available for that specific topic, thus, making planning much more efficient. Counseling reference lists can also be shared among colleagues and new counselors broadening knowledge of available resources.
As you can see, there are a vast number of ways to use Google and Google forms to drive your counseling program. It is a bit of trial and error to see what works best for your program. Using Google Drive can be so helpful when running a busy school counseling program. Give it a shot and see what you think!