Working as an elementary school counselor and having office space is essential. Like a teacher we have the freedom to decorate as we please. We can pick a theme, add a beautiful reading nook or maybe some comfy chairs so that as the students are telling us their deep secrets they are able to relax with lavish pillows….doesn’t it sound magical. Open your eyes Soito!
That day is not today and I need to focus on my reality which is a 0$ budget and a closet for an office.
This is how I made my office into a workable counseling office. So lets get to it…
1. Accept your space. My office is VERY narrow and although I really wanted my desk to face to door but when I tried that I would hit my leg on the corner. I tried many different ways to put the furniture but this is the best option.
2. Understand your counseling/ teaching style. Mobility is VERY important to me, I like to move around and my students also need space to move. When my closet was near the entrance, if I wanted something students had to shift their seats to get access and the focus was lost. I moved the closet to the back wall, now I can get up and go into the cabinet for supplies and the students can still stay seated.
3. Storage. When I first moved into this room that large steel closet thing in the back corner was already here. I was going to give it away to another small office staff member and I am so thankful that I didn’t because that is where I keep all my games and my coat, purse, construction paper etc. I also had a small bookshelf that I replaced with a 4 level bookshelf and that helped out a ton.
4. Ask yourself: What are the needs of your school? About 75% of my time is mediations and small group counseling. I currently run on average 17 small group counseling sessions per week, that means instead of super soft comfy chairs, I needed a table. My table can only fit 3 -4 students. I usually pull up my own chair and sometimes will have 4 students but not often because it is just so tight. Because there is lots of learning going on I needed a white board. I use my white board daily and the students use it as well for groups. I also post reminders on it – for me it’s a must!
5. Brighten your space and paint. I asked a parent volunteer if they wouldn’t mind painting and I took some used paint I found from my house to freshen it up. I also bought white spray paint and sprayed the ceiling tiles white so the water stains wouldn’t stand out. I also chose an accent wall to make the room look longer.
My last confession for the day, I love my little office. For the past 7 years that office is mine and over 500 students know where to find me when then need me and I wouldn’t change a thing.