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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

How School Counselors Use Habit 3: Put First Things First

Habit 3: Put First Things First means to do the most important things first, OR do the things you have to before want to do.

School counselors use Habit 3: Put First Things First by:
  • Making To-Do Lists: I try to start each week by making my to-do list. This is part of Habit 1: Be Proactive. As students leave me notes that they need to see me or teachers request that I see students, I add that to my list. All the 504s and observations I need to complete are added to my list, as well as lesson and group planning, etc. Unless a student is in crisis or there is a safety issue, I see students and complete 504 plans and observations in the order I receive them. 
  • Putting Crises First: We've all been there. You had a lesson planned or were in the middle of one, only to be called to deal with a crisis. When a student is in crisis, it's our job to drop what we're doing to help them. Yes, that means you'll need to reschedule whatever you had planned, but that's part of the job. You need to be flexible. That's why they make t-shirts about school counselors being multi-tasking ninjas
  • Scheduling Our Days: We need to plan our days. Whether you do it old-fashioned with a planner and pencil (because things always change) OR you go high-tech (Google or scheduling apps), you should have a tentative schedule planned, which is Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind. You can't just show up to a second grade classroom to do a  lesson because you're free. You have to schedule your lessons and groups by talking to your teachers. The same is true for meetings with parents, staff, administration, etc. So you schedule these things first and the rest of the stuff you need to get done is scheduled around these events. You can't schedule a crisis though, so if one comes up, your schedule is subject to change. 
School counselors use Habit 3: Put First Things First with students by: 
  • Teaching Students about Time Management: School counselors may dedicate one of their academic lessons to time management. As students get older, they will be expected to become more independent and manage their time on their own. This includes juggling homework, extracurriculars, and time with family and friends. Besides addressing time management through core curriculum, counselors may also hit on this topic in small groups. Whether it's an academic/ study skills group or a "transition" group, time management is an important skill for students to master. 
  • Teaching Students about Prioritization: School counselors may also teach students how to put first things first during class lessons or small groups. I have asked students to prioritize tasks in groups and explain why they chose the order they did. Make sure when you tell the students the "right" order, you explain why. I have found that some students, especially those with autism or Asperger's, get fixated on their reasoning. 
  • Academic Counseling: Besides class lessons and groups, school counselors can teach Habit 3 to students through one-on-one counseling. If you have a student who never turns in homework and is failing a bunch of classes, you will likely have a conversation with them about what's going on in their life that is contributing to their academic difficulties. You may need to work on time management and prioritization with them in order to see an improvement in their grades. Also think of students you have that are anxious. Maybe they focus so much on academics that they leave time for nothing else. You may have to talk to them about the importance of self-care and managing their time wisely so they can take time to relax. Help them understand which tasks can wait until tomorrow. 
🙋 How do you use Habit 3: Put First Things First as a school counselor? How do you use or demonstrate this habit with your students? Let me know in the comments section!

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