People ask me all the time what is the difference between being a high school counselor and an elementary counselor? Sometimes they add that it must be so much easier now I am in elementary ed (I don't know about that!).
It's a question I dread worse than "when are you getting married?" so much like my answer to that ("when I can afford tickets to Vegas") I came up with a one line answer- "We face the same problems, we just deal with it in different ways."
Grief, death, fear, academics, behavior...the problems I tackle at my current school aren't that much different than my last, but it's true I approach them from a completely different place and with different tools. I don't think there is any bigger "tool" for an elementary school counselor than a book! It's true I have about a hundred books, from parental substance abuse to cooperation there is truly a book for everything. (The books pictured above are several of my favorites.) When a student comes into my office I often find myself reaching for a book.
One problem I faced when starting out was coming up with a library system for all of my books. In fact, I am still tweaking my system. First, I was letting students and parents borrow them whenever they wanted, but I was never getting them back. Second, I couldn't always remember what books I had so I was loosing them all time or forgetting which ones hadn't been returned. Do you have this problem? What do you do? Here is what I have done in the last two years (it's still a work in progress of course.)
First, if you are a Mac user you may enjoy Delicious Library. It allows you to "scan" each of your books and it will place it on a virtual book case. I was first introduced to it by a dear teaching friend Angela Bunyi, who has a sensational blog on Scholastic. I encourage you to visit her blog and to pass it along to all of your teachers.
I used this system my first year, but last year I was encouraged by the amazing Elizabeth Shepherd to try out Shelfari. Like, Delicious Library, it allows you to create a virtual book library with various shelves, but you don't actually have to scan or own the book. Working with Amazon it allows you to search for book titles and in the click of button add it to your library. It also allows you to make notes on your books, let viewers know if you have read it, are reading it, or plan to, and it allows them to see other Amazon reviews. I have used it to add books I want to purchase, have been recommended to me, or that I currently have. Check out my virtual library.
Lastly, I used a good ole fashioned library system- library cards. You can find them at your local parent-teacher store and pay about $2.50 for 50 cards. I found some wonderful bright pockets that allow you to stick them into book easily. I love the paw prints! I put them in my books and have students/parents check the books out by filling out the card with his/her name and e-mail. I keep the cards in a file box for easy storage- it's ole fashioned, by it works the best for me.
So what works for you? How do you organize your counseling library?