School Counselor Office Tour
Alternate Title: How to Turn a Kindergarten Boys’ Bathroom into a School Counseling Office
This post will show you around my elementary counseling office and show you how I organize my space! The alternate title is no joke. Back when I first started teaching at my school, my current office used to be the kindergarten boys’ bathroom! A few years ago, we needed extra space, so the counselor’s office was turned into a classroom and a bathroom was turned into the counselor’s office. Truth be told, you would never really know my office used to be a bathroom. It is small and narrow, and in an awkward location in the school, but I love the privacy and it has become a quiet, cozy space to work with kids!
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About My Office
Last year, as a first year counselor, I was given a small supply budget and used some of it to spruce up my office. I also wrote a grant through our local education foundation, so that helped to offset some costs and allow me to make my office an inviting space. I work in the elementary setting and am fortunate to be able to see students individually, in small groups, and in classroom lessons. I conduct individual counseling and small groups in my office, and visit each classroom for whole group lessons.
Three Main Seating Areas
1) Counseling Couch
Although my office is tiny, I have three seating areas that allow a lot of flexibility. The most popular choice for students is my couch! Students love to get comfy on the couch while we chat and I spin my desk chair around to talk with students.
We have VERY strict fire safety and health code policies, so I had to buy a “school couch” that can be easily cleaned… unfortunately, that means the couch is actually not very comfy, but the kids don’t seem to mind! One thing I love about the couch is the flat arm rests and back surface, which allow me to prop up some comfort items and a bin of fidgets.
Find the items you see here:
2) Sand Tray Station
Another favorite area for students to sit and chat is my sand tray station. Students love to sit on the wiggle stools and play with the sand while we talk. The stools are a bit pricey, but they are very durable and allow students get some sensory input while we chat because they gently wobble — I love sitting on them too!
If the student is visiting my office for a check-in or a calm down time, he or she often plays with the sand as a sensory tool while we talk. If the student is visiting me to work on a specific counseling goal, I often will give the student a prompt for the sand tray.
Because my office is small, I don’t have the space to display all of the miniatures as recommended for traditional sand tray therapy. However, the organizer that I use as a sand tray table doubles as a storage unit and all of the miniatures are stored inside. When a student is working on a sand tray prompt, I simply pull out the drawers and place them on my small group table, which is located in the center of my office. This allows the student to easily see all of the miniatures that are available and also allows for quick clean up!
3) Small Group Table
wiggle stools from the sand tray area. I love having a large dry erase board on the wall near the small group table because we can easily write on it during our groups.
Storage, Storage, Storage!
When I was hired as the school counselor, I spent half of the summer arranging my office and figuring out where to store everything! Since the office was a bathroom originally, there is no built in storage. Thankfully, the office came with the two metal cabinets you can see in the photo above.
The double wide filing cabinet actually does not have any files in it! Instead, all of the drawers are used for storage. The bottom two drawers hold school supplies and art supplies that I use for small groups. The third drawer up holds storage containers for my small group folders (I run 8-10 small groups at the same time, so I needed a place to keep the materials for each group separate). The top two drawers hold games and other materials I use with students.
The metal cabinet on the right has two purposes (the above photo shows the cabinet when it is open)! One, it has several shelves that I use for supply and book storage. Two, it holds my coat, purse, and personal items. I put a plastic storage container in the storage cabinet to give me even more places to put stuff!
Another storage space with two purposes is my paper storage unit. This is beside the two metal storage cabinets. It functions as a small table to place a file sorter and supply container, but most importantly, holds all of my 11 X 18 construction paper!
Behind my small group table, I have a small bookshelf that holds some commonly used items. The bottom shelf contains my “grab and go” resources that I keep multiple copies of and can grab quickly when I have a student in need.
The middle shelf holds finger puppets and larger puppets that I use with my younger students. My older students also like to use these to role play friendship issues! Two of my favorite puppets are this set of finger puppets from IKEA and this larger happy monster puppet. The top shelf holds an amazing dollhouse that I found on Amazon. It is the perfect size for a tiny office because the front of the house folds out to make the house bigger!
My K-1 students love putting the dollhouse on the floor to play and talk through issues!
My Desk and Workstation
My desk is directly across from the couch. When students sit on the couch, I spin my desk chair around while we chat. This saves a lot of space by not having a second seating area for me.
The first major decision I made in my office when I got the counseling job was getting rid of the massive, wooden teacher desk. Sure, it had a lot of great storage drawers, but it was simply too big for the space. Instead, I brought this narrow, wooden desk from home that I had purchased in college. It works great for the space, still has storage, and has a much sleeker look than the teacher desk monstrosity. (Disclaimer: I do not typically have fresh flowers on my desk! These were an end of the year gift from a colleague!)
I made the decision to place a metal filing cabinet directly next to my desk, which created a great work station wall. It’s magnetic, so I placed magnets on the back of my building schedules, which allows me to take them off easily to refer to often! I also have a magnetic dry erase board that I use for quick reminders and my to do list.
Another helpful thing I did was stick a notepad and post-it notes directly to the file cabinet, so I can quickly grab a note and jot down stuff before I forget!
An added bonus of having the filing cabinet next to my desk is that it functions as a room divider and blocks my often messy desk from view when you walk into my office!
I love that my desk is extra wide because I can keep my School Counselor Planner open on the left side of my desk under my “work station wall” and frequently refer to it throughout the school day!
Books, Books, and More Books!
I was a classroom teacher before I was a school counselor, and developed a healthy obsession with children’s books. My office has a tiny nook right by the door and I decided that it was the perfect spot to wedge in a tall bookshelf. All of my books are organized by counseling topic. Read more about how I organize my counseling library by visiting this post.
I use books most often during classroom lessons, but also read them during small group lessons, and sometimes with individual students. I also frequently loan books to families when they are dealing with tough situations at home. I love having so many books available because kids respond so well when they can read about someone else going through a similar situation.
On the top shelf of the bookshelf, I keep all of my counseling resource books. I have a lot of great resource books, but my collection does not compare to other counselors’ because most of the ideas I use come from blogs, TPT, and digital resources. The Mrs. Potato Head that I use for my K-1 Meet the Counselor lessons is relaxing by my resource books!
Technology in School Counseling
One final area of my office that students love is my Apple TV. It is mounted above my sand tray, so students can easily see it from my small group table. I can stream digital resources from my computer directly onto the Apple TV. I love showing YouTube clips during my small group lessons because visual media is very engaging to my students. I also love using brain breaks from GoNoodle to get students moving or relaxed. Another great thing about the Apple TV is that I can stream music from iTunes or Pandora to create a relaxing atmosphere in my office.
I hope you enjoyed the tour around my office! As a new counselor, I would have loved a post like this because I was completely overwhelmed with setting up a tiny office. Now that I am in my second year, my space has become the perfect place to work with kids! If you have any questions about my office, please feel free to ask them in the comments!