15 School Counselor Must Haves To Start The New Year

Because I work in a school, for me, the “New Year” begins September 1st. But, if you are in literally any other field of work the New Year actually begins January 1st, which I obviously know, yet I still refer to the “end of the year” as June and the “beginning of the year” as September. Because of this I purchase my “new” items in September, but as we all know a lot can happen between September 1st and January 1st and those “new” items are now a thing of the past. Some grow legs and walk off, some get icky or overused and need to be retired and replaced, and some just need a little freshening up. So if you’re like me and need to replace those icky, sticky, ripped, worn used and exhausted, and want some ideas for must-haves for the New Year then this blog post is for you!

1. Manipulatives
I like variety, but I also like a good deal. Want to keep small hands (and sometimes big hands) occupied? Check this out! A variety pack of 22 sensory fidget toys. Stress balls. Things that stretch. Things that bend. Things that peek at you (I mean, honestly, look at that little peas in a pod keychain, too adorable. I can’t even). Things that reduce stress. Things that make noise (I apologize in advance). And one of those water drip timers that are irresistible and everyone picks up immediately. Sometimes these items grow legs and walk away. Sometimes they get icky. Having a small stockpile to pull from is a must!

2. Post-it Notes/Sticky Notes

We’re all friends here, right? Can we be honest for a minute and talk about how not all districts are created equal? By that I mean that not all districts provide seemingly essential office supplies such as Post-It/ Sticky Notes. Some districts don’t believe these 3”x3” gems are genuinely your best friend. Unbelievable, I know. 

Post-it/Sticky Notes typically sell themselves. I know I don’t need to list all the ways I use them, but I will because I can’t stress enough how much I use them. 

  1. In student files for quick, brief notes and reminders.
  2. To tab pages in my contact notebook, indicating necessary follow up.  
  3. For messages of inspiration that get posted in the bathrooms, on my door, on teacher mailboxes, on lockers, or in some instances on the foreheads of students. 
  4. In therapy sessions with students to help organize their stresses and thoughts by physically moving around the note.  
  5. In group counseling, as a team building lesson, I have students work together to completely cover another team member in Post-It/Sticky Notes. Yay for hilarious teamwork!
  6. In classroom lessons, Post-It/Sticky Notes become exit slips to gauge student understanding before they walk out the door. This allows me to get a quick check to see if my objectives were met.

Side note: I love this Morris The Donkey Note Holder. Do yourself a favor and watch the 1 min video Amazon has blessed us with, you’ll thank me later…and probably be left with as many questions as I now have. Like, what’s with the whole carrot situation? And why is this woman so mean to the donkey, he’s just trying to help?
3. Planner/Agenda/Calendar
You’re probably reading this and thinking “I’m not getting a new planner…I already bought one at the beginning of the year.” Well to that I say: see, I told you the year begins in September…

Anyway, obviously you don’t need a NEW planner, but perhaps a refreshed planner? Maybe some new stickers or fun paperclips? Spruce up what you already have, keep it interesting and feeling new because who doesn’t love a brand new planner?  
If you’re anything like me when it comes to an agenda/planner/calendar then you need it to survive. I put everything into my planner. Parent phone calls. Meetings. Appointments. Free lunches provided by administration (which doesn’t happen often, so this is where those new stickers come into play!). Classroom lessons. Counseling sessions. You name it, I write it down.

4. Hand Sanitizer & Disinfectant Wipes

Little known fact, hand sanitizer doesn’t last forever *gasp*. I know. Okay, so maybe industry standards claim it’s good for 2-3 years, but are we really to believe that? Are we really to believe that the pump itself is self-sanitizing, you know, the part that EVERYONE has to touch in order to get the sanitizer? Well, my friends, this is where Lysol picks up the slack. Do students eat breakfast or lunch in your office? Do they sneeze all over you toys (of course they do, that’s rhetorical)? Do you ever just walk into your office and sense the germs? Okay, I’ll stop because I know you know what I’m saying. The long and short of it is if I’m sick then I’m not at work. If I’m not at work then students aren’t being supported. 

5. Plastic Folders
Listen, I like a hardy folder that I can see through so that I don’t have to commit to a labeling it. I like that I can use them for pretty much anything, like meeting notes, lesson plans, games, etc. And I like that they come in a rainbow of colors. Mostly I use these because they have closed sides and they expand, they are perfect for lesson plans because nothing falls out. They are quick to grab and go when running from your counseling office into a classroom.

6. Snacks

I know we’re not the only school with hungry students. While we provide breakfast and lunch, that doesn’t always fill their empty bellies. I always have snacks in my office. My goal is to stock up on snacks that are healthy and filling. I stay away from empty calories or anything that can cause a carb crash! So frequently students don’t even realize they are hungry until they offered something to eat, so if a bag of animal crackers can fill a tummy and de-escalate a behavior, the money spent is well worth it!

7. Laminator
I’d like to ask you to lean in for this one. Come on in close because I don’t want everyone hearing…

Prep once, use year after year. I laminate everything I possibly can. If I’m using worksheets for a lesson, I make a class set and laminate them, they bring some whiteboard markers and a few tissues, and viola–a reusable worksheet for years to come! I even laminate game cards to give them extra durability. So, perhaps you are lucky enough to work in a building with a district provided laminator that you have access to whenever you want, but let’s face it. . .we all know that every time you go to use it there are no lamination rolls or it’s broken. Every. Time! 
Yes, a personal laminator is a godsend. Not only can you get one on the cheap here, but you can also get 600 of these lamination sheets for a little over $.10/sheet whereas most will cost you between $.25/sheet.

BONUS must-haves that aren’t really must-haves, but are more like nice-to-haves

8. Electric Pencil Sharpener
I was lucky enough to have inherited an electric pencil sharpener from the previous occupant of my current office and honestly it’s awesome. Again though, it’s another item that tends to bring all the teachers to the yard, so to speak. Once word gets out that you have one, everyone will be stopping by to use it…especially the students! At this current moment mine is full of colored pencil shavings from a lunch group that decided they needed to sharpen all of my colored pencils (about 50 in total).

9. Markers, Crayons and Colored Pencils
You can never have enough of these supplies.  I also like to pick up the Target Dollar Spot mini tin buckets to store them in.  
10.  Copy Paper
You can do so many things with a piece of paper.  From printing your favorite resources, to the emergency coloring for the wee little love toddler that visits with their parent who happens to just drop in and ask about their child who you have in school.  That piece of paper and a marker give you about 3 minutes of quality talking time.  You can also use the paper to write down worries and shred them in your mini paper shredder, or used to talk about replacing negative thoughts with positive ones to, well you name it, the paper is important.  Hopefully you’re lucky enough to get this from your school and don’t have to purchase your own.  I do, however, always buy a pack of bright colored copy paper for lessons where I need a way to differentiate various sections.  
11.  Games

I have a variety of games.  Store bought games like Candy Land, Don’t Break The Ice, Chutes and Ladders, and Connect 4 are games you can easily turn into counseling games by adding task cards to.  In addition, I made card games that play somewhat like Uno but are great for talking about Coping Skills, Grit, Conflict Resolution, and Feelings to name a few.  These games get pretty intense and time passes quickly when playing.  My other favorite game is Yikerz, a magnet game I was given by my friend, Jan, a counselor I met several years ago through blogging and my Facebook groups.  Besides the “I Know” card games, this game is played a lot with individual students, and is a great way to keep student hands busy as they chat away.  

Now these next few don’t need a lot of explanation. . .

12.  K  Cups, Tea Bags or Diet Coke.  
Enough said.

13.  Binders.  
I have a binder for EVERYTHING!  The keep everything organized and add a little label and they look so pretty.  Plus a binder makes things grab and go.

14.  Tissues, Tissues, and well, more tissues

15.  Being Present.
You must be present.  If you’re tired, sick, miserable, pouty, anxious, or off thinking about other things, you are missing out and so are the kids.  Watch this video.  It’s one of my favorites and it explains this so well.

And just because I like you guys so much, I made these cute simple posters that I’ll share with you if you sign up for my newsletter.  They will be in the free resource library.

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