Much like the school nurse, I am responsible for the well-being of every child in my school regardless of whether or not she is technically on my caseload. Unfortunately, in a school with 500 students I have a lot who are on my caseload, and they keep me very busy. I often worry about those kids who may be quietly having a hard time but don't know who I am, what I do, or that I am available to help them.
So I was very psyched to come across the idea of Minute Meetings on a couple of school counselor websites. I don't know who first thought of them, but I'm giving credit to Andrea Burston and Danielle Schultz.
I e-mailed teachers telling them I'd like to spend 45 minutes or so with each of their classes. The first 5-10 minutes is for me to introduce myself to the class, and the remaining time is for me to sit in the hall and meet individually with students for literally about a minute each to ask a few get-to-know-you questions. In my schedule I set aside two blocks per week for Minute Meetings between now and Thanksgiving. I put an old-school (i.e., paper) sign-up sheet in the teachers' room. Since I'm quite new to the school and the previous counselor was not very visible in the building, the teachers were excited about the idea.
I created a survey form using Google Docs. When I'm done I'll be able to use Google Docs to sort the information I gather (yo, here's a golden opportunity for ever-lovin' DATA COLLECTION). You may notice that I'm asking some different questions than other counselors do in their Minute Meetings. For me, it's hugely important to know how connected kids feel at school, so I chose to focus on that.
This week I started with my first two classes. I took a bag with some of my "tools" (a book about feelings, a stress ball, a magic wand, and---of course---my celebrity sidekick Mr. Squishy). I used the props to explain what my job is in the building. I told them where my office is, as well as how they can request an appointment if they need one. Then I planted myself in the hall with my new tablet to hold the individual Minute Meetings.
A good time was had by all. The kids got a kick out of being able to punch in their answers on the tablet. I enjoyed sharing. And later, at recess time when the classes went by my office on their way to the playground, I heard a few excited voices saying, "There's her room!" and "Hey, I see Mr. Squishy!"
Best of all, I had a few kids who said yes, they have something they'd like to speak to me about. Without a Minute Meeting, I may never have connected with them. I feel good knowing that soon all 500 students will at least know who the heck I am and what I do, and will have the opportunity to ask for help. Awesome!