4 Tips for Getting Started with Interactive Notebooks in School Counseling

When I first started doing classroom guidance, I often had handouts or small crafts for students to complement my lessons, but where did they end up afterward? On a bulletin board for a while? Shoved in a backpack? Maybe a desk or *cringe* even the floor? I wanted a better way for students to have the materials I was spending lots of time creating in an organized place so they could reference them anytime with ease. Enter school counseling interactive notebooks! You may have read my post on common hold-ups for counselors who aren’t quite sure they’re ready to get started. If you are now convinced that you can do school counseling interactive notebooks, check out these 4 tips for getting started!

Are you interested in getting started with school counseling interactive notebooks? This post has 4 tips to implement before your first lesson or session to start you on the right foot!
Interactive notebooks are one of my all-time favorite tools for school counseling because they allow students to be creative, engage their senses, and keep everything in one easy place. Sometimes we go a week or more without seeing our students, and it’s easy for papers to get lost in that time. Keeping everything glued in a composition book creates an easy reference for students when they need to quickly look back at those conflict resolution steps you taught them last week or practice the anger reduction strategies they chose during your last small group. Nobody has time to dig for papers!
I watched classroom teachers use these with ease as a way to not only enhance learning and promote creativity but also to stop the loose paper madness. If you’ve also seen the teachers in your building using clutter-free, creative interactive notebooks and wondered how you could use them as a school counselor, you’re in the right place! Read below to find 4 tips for getting started with school counseling interactive notebooks in your program!

Getting Started with School Counseling Interactive Notebooks

1. Start Small

While I am typically a go-big-or-go-home person, I definitely do not recommend going full force with your first interactive notebook on a school-wide level! Start with a small group to figure out a system that works for you. Get feedback from your small group about what they liked, what was difficult, and what they wish their interactive notebooks would have. Make modifications and try again with another small group before moving to a grade level. Bonus: at the end of group, the INB makes a great take-away and doubles as a journal.
If you are in the classroom for a good portion of your day and are not getting to spend much time in small groups, choose one class or one grade level to pilot your interactive notebook. If possible, choose a class/grade that is already used to doing interactive notebooks with their classroom teacher. They’ll love knowing they’re helping you learn about INBs too!

2. Start Simple

Are you interested in getting started with school counseling interactive notebooks? This post has 4 tips to implement before your first lesson or session to start you on the right foot!
Begin your first INB with simple shapes that are easy to cut and simple for students to glue and use. There are so many fun shapes and templates out there for interactive notebooks! You can find hearts, accordion books, flower petal foldable papers, pockets, and so much more. These are great and really do make for fun, interactive elements, but if it’s your first time, I recommend starting with rectangles and circles that have simple flaps or folds rather than more difficult shapes. This will allow you time to figure out (a) how long it will take students to complete their notebook pages and (b) how much help they will need with folding and figuring out the spatial aspects of the shapes.

3. Have a Plan for Storage

Figure out ahead of time where your students will store their interactive notebooks. In the past, I’ve had classroom teachers who were willing to keep a small crate in a classroom cabinet with our counseling notebooks, and that worked well. I was able to get the crate out when I arrived, and we put it away before I left. At the end of the year, students took their notebooks home with a year’s worth of counseling materials to show! If you’re using INBs in a small group, decide if students will take the notebooks home each week to use for journaling, reflecting, or recording skill practice or if the notebooks will stay in your counseling room.

4. Get Organized

Are you interested in getting started with school counseling interactive notebooks? This post has 4 tips to implement before your first lesson or session to start you on the right foot!
Lastly, get your supplies organized from the beginning. I like to put together caddies for tables (if I’m in the classroom) or have a caddy for the small group that contains all of the necessary supplies in one place. You’ll need scissors, glue, coloring utensils, and writing utensils. I know most counselors spend about 30-40 minutes in the classroom, so there’s no time to spare for students to dig for supplies!  Put a caddy in the middle of each table/desk group so students can easily reach everything they need.
Another tip for promoting organization is to create a system for discarding trash. Have all students gather their paper scraps and assign one student in each group to throw away trash or use the classroom teacher’s designated system. It even helps to move all of the classroom trashcans close to the tables! Your classroom teachers will love you for not leaving behind scrap paper 🙂
So are you ready to give interactive notebooks a try? I really think you’ll love them! I love seeing students use their creativity to create something that is personally meaningful, and I love that they essentially have a counseling book full of tools and strategies that they can keep forever!
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out these {interactive notebooks} in my TpT store by clicking the images below:
    
Happy Counseling! -Counselor Keri

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