Photo of Glenkirk counselorsWhere can students go to cope with the various feelings that go along with being a kid today? At Glenkirk Elementary School, students now have a classroom to go to dedicated exclusively to counseling lessons. Typically, counselors, Beth Anderson and Beth Kunstel, conduct their lessons by visiting their students' classrooms. Anderson shared that a counseling classroom ultimately benefits the students because they have more space to engage in the lessons, helping students find strategies to cope with different levels of stress, anxiety, and worry.

Anderson said, "Having their own classroom allows students the space to relax and feel comfortable, learning important life skills such as listening, kindness, empathy, mindfulness, and practicing breathing exercises. We've seen students more engaged in our lessons both in the classroom and virtually this year. We've seen parents tune in and see what their kids learn about in a counseling encore lesson. Most parents will know what is covered in an art or music lesson, but not what is covered in a counseling lesson. And as counselors, we try to meet kids where they are in any given day."

The idea to have their own space was sparked by the unique set of circumstances brought about by COVID-19.

"We also were excited by the idea because after spending much of the day in their own classroom, it's always nice for students to be able to come to a new space for their encore time, and by having our own classroom we are able to create our own norms and expectations for the students to follow," shared Anderson.

The room is decorated with posters related to topics covered during encore lessons, such as, empathy, growth mindset, skills for learning, mindfulness, and kindness.

"My co-counselor Beth Kunstel, is a master bulletin board creator and covered the boards in the room with colorful paper and border," said Anderson.

The classroom holds 12 desks appropriately spaced apart. Students enter the room for their school counseling or guidance lesson and sit at desks facing the SMART Board. This setup has allowed students to interact with the counselors and their classmates in person as well as their virtual classmates. The camera is positioned so that it can pan the room depending on who is speaking at the time.

Plans to use the classroom next year include small groups of students for collaborative work.

"We are definitely excited about the potential of our new school counseling classroom," concluded Anderson.