It’s that time of year for SMART goals, so I’ve been reflecting on areas in which I need to improve. While there are so many to choose from, I’ve decided that this year I’ll be focusing on improving my communication with parents. It’s a big goal, so I’ve broken it down into some very actionable steps. In fact, I can already check most of them off my to-do list!
Step 1: Parents need to know who I am and why I’m here. So I spent a ridiculous amount of time updating my School Counseling brochure and making a tri-board.
At Open House, instead of putting up a few signs pointing to my office and waiting there for people to show up (or not), I set up a table right in the foyer. I had the tri-board, copies of the brochure, a stack of my business cards, some of my “self-calming and mindfulness tools” for people to take (pool noodle stress fidgets and Starburst candies), and a sign-up sheet for my parent e-newsletter. Which brings us to...
Step 2: Parents might like to hear about what I’m up to at our school: what concepts and strategies I’m teaching in different classes, what kind of groups I’m running, and what school-wide initiatives I’m helping to organize.
I decided I’ll write a parent e-newsletter they can subscribe to. I’ll also include tips and resources for them to help their children develop social-emotional skills. I’m planning on publishing the newsletter once a trimester. That’s not as overwhelming as a monthly commitment, and I can always do more than that if I'm so inclined (I won't be). I haven’t sent the first one out yet because I’m still trying to figure out Mailchimp, but I have set up a link for people to subscribe on my Google Drive. Don't sign up there, but if you want to get a copies of the newsletter when they go out, e-mail me and I'll put you on a non-school list.
Step 3: For some parents, even signing up for my e-newsletter might feel risky. So I’ve set up a professional Facebook page and Pinterest account, which allows them to “lurk” without interaction or commitment if that's what they're comfortable with.
Finally, Step 4, which is related but not directly: I’m collecting data to assess how I’m coming on my SMART goal. I’ll track the number of followers I have on my FB and Pinterest accounts on the last day of every month, as well as note how many posts or pins I made that month. I also, of course, will track the number of people who subscribe to my e-newsletter. At the end of the year it will take about 10 seconds to compile that data into a sweet little line graph to upload to Teachpoint.
Having a goal this public is either going to be really motivating or really embarrassing. We’ll have to wait until June to see which!
Ahhh, thirteen and a half days until summer vacation. Not that I'm counting or anything!
This week I was composing e-mails to a couple of parents who'd asked me for some suggestions about how to work with their kids over the summer, and it occurred to me that a letter to all my kiddos' parents with some pointers might be a really useful thing to send home.
Now I must note here that I've been working as a school counselor since 1999, and this is the first time that this admittedly brilliant idea has ever occurred to me. I may be old, but I'm also slow on the uptake.
Anyway, I wrote the letter, which is general enough to send home with all the students on my caseload yet I hope still helpful. Here's the link to a PDF of the letter. As always, help yourself!