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  • Whole Child Counseling

Organization Tips for School Counselor's Offices and Classrooms

Updated: Jul 13

If you're a school counselor, school social worker, school psychologist, or educator, you know how difficult it can be to juggle everything from student meetings to planning for group sessions or SEL lessons. Being organized is a total game-changer—it's not just about keeping your desk tidy, but about making your whole day run smoother. Without a good system in place, you end up spending way too much time digging through piles of papers or searching through your emails or files for that one activity or freebie you know you downloaded, but you just can't find.

When you can't find what you need, it’s more than just a little frustrating—it’s a massive time-suck and stressful too! That's why I put together this blog post. I want to share some of the most useful tools I've

found for organizing, plus some straightforward and practical tips to help you organize everything in your school counselor office. 

These tricks will help you streamline all that chaos, lower your stress levels, and give you back more time to focus on what really matters: helping your students! Trust me, a little organization goes a long way in making your job a whole lot easier.  I’m sharing my favorite organization supplies and some tips that work for me, but I’d love to hear your organizational strategies and hacks so be sure to share them with me here

One of the most important parts of organizing is to label everything so I am sharing these free labels with you. To get these labels, just subscribe to my free resource library. If you're already an email member, just head to the SEL library here to get your free labels today.

How to Organize Lesson Plans and TPT Activities with Binders

First, let's start with how to organize all the TPT activities you've downloaded, printed, laminated, and cut. I’ve tried file folders, accordion folders, plastic bins, and so many different ways to organize all my activities I’ve made and bought from teachers pay teachers (TPT.)  The thing I’ve found that works best for me is using binders! I am a little picky about my binders because I want them to last, and I like the ones with a plastic sleeve for the cover and spine because I make cute covers for them so they look nice on my shelf. I have tried a bunch of different binders and I really like the avery binders the most. I like how you can get them in different widths and they even have "heavy duty" options as well.

Sometimes you can get binders on sale

when it's back to school season too!

I have my binders arranged on my shelf in alphabetical order by topics like Anger, Anxiety, Self-Esteem, Social Filter, etc.  And some binders I keep together by the whole curriculum such as my Skills for Big Feelings Binder or my Social Skills Treasury Binder.  

Inside the binders I use these 3 hole punched PVC clear zipper pockets to put most of my activities in. If you want to use binders, this is the #1 tool I recommend to get your activities organized! I love that the zipper closure is on the long side, and it's so easy to slide and open up to put items in and pull them out. These ones are really heavy duty and will last years as well.

If it’s not a lot of papers or cards for one activity, instead of the PVC zipper pockets, I also use these heavy duty clear sheet protectors.  These are great for putting visuals or posters in! I have tried a lot of brands and different kinds, and these ones are the best!

If an activity has a bunch of cards (like my feelings puzzles), then I use these rainbow photo cases. I can usually put multiple card sets into one of the task card boxes, so I put a rubber band around the set and at the front of the box I write (or type) on a post-it what is inside the box. Here is a reel I did on instagram that shows the task card boxes.

I keep similar sets together so for example, my Halloween Dough and Drawing Mat feelings and scenarios card set are in a rubber band in the same task box case as my Halloween Yoga Cards.

I try to use organizational tools that are transparent, if possible, that way things don't become out of sight/out of mind.

How to Organize TPT Activities Digitally

I use a Google Spreadsheet as the ULTIMATE database to organize and keep track of everything that’s inside my binders (and just about every other thing in my counseling office too!)  In full transparency, it took me a long time to log all my activities into my spreadsheet because I have so many activities from a long career in the schools.

Every time I log an activity, I take a permanent marker and place a small check in the bottom corner of the PVC zippered pocket so I would know it was logged. 

Then, when I pull out an activity to use for a group or lesson, and need to put it away, I just look up on the spreadsheet what binder it belongs too. For TPT products or other activities I've downloaded online, I include a link to the product listing, and

also a link if there is a digital version of the activity (like a Google slides games.) This is very useful to keep all organized and ready to plan my sessions!!!

If you travel and see kids in different locations like I do (Mindful Moment Room, my office, classrooms, etc.) then I do recommend making a separate Google account that you use just for school (and you aren't logged into any accounts where you make purchases.) I have a school Google account where my spreadsheet lives in that drive, and the Google slides resources are also housed in there too.

It’s a big commitment to organize everything into binders AND log them all on a spreadsheet but let me tell you, creating this spreadsheet has been an ABSOLUTE game-changer for planning my counselings sessions and interventions as well!! Even if you work on it for just 10-15 minutes a week, plugging away at this slowly over time, you’ll eventually catch up and you will be thrilled at the effort you put in. It took me almost 2 years to finish mine but I am so thrilled that it is complete because it's a tool I use every week in my planning and I benefit from it daily!

Get a copy of my digital SEL activities database at a discount in the counselor organization tools growing bundle!

How to Organize Your Teachers Pay Teachers Purchases within TPT

Great news! You can now organize your purchases directly on TPT itself! Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Log into your teachers pay teachers account.

  2. Click the circle with your name.

  3. Click “my purchases.”

  4. Click “My Collections.”

  5. Click “+ Create a Collection”

From there you can start adding items into that collection or group.  At the time of this writing you can only put 100 resources at a time in a collection, so if you have a lot of resources (like me 😅), then make sure you are specific with your collection titles. For example, don't just name something "feelings" instead make a category for "anger" and "sadness" and "anxiety." I encourage you to come up with categories and use them across all areas. Let's talk about that next!

Organizing and Categorizing all the Stuff in Your Counseling Office

I suggest categorizing ALL of your resources (your TPT purchases, your SEL activities database, your printed activities, your reference books, your picture books, your Google drive, your computer files, your Pinterest boards, etc.) with the same topic categories.  I then log everything in my searchable SEL activities database, and you can get it at a discount in this growing organization bundle now! You can watch this video to see how I use the searchable SEL database.

Here is a list of topics I use as a School Adjustment Counselor/School Social Worker. I hope this will give you a good starting place to reference for creating your own categories:

  • Anger

  • Anxiety (worrying, separation anxiety)

  • Apologizing

  • Basic Social Skills (Lower Elementary, Pre-K, K, Special Ed, etc.)

  • Beginning of the Year / Meet the Counselor

  • CBT (Positive Thinking)

  • Character Traits (Respect, Honesty, Responsibility, etc.)

  • Choices and Behavior

  • Communication (Staying on Topic, Tone of Voice, Voice Volume, etc.)

  • Conflict Resolution and Problem Solving

  • Coping Skills

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • Expected and Unexpected Behavior

  • Expressive Arts

  • Feelings (you might have them categorized even more such as: sadness, happiness, bravery, etc.)

  • Flexible Thinking 

  • Friendship

  • Grief

  • Growth Mindset, Grita and Perseverance

  • Happiness

  • Kindness and Bucket Filling

  • Legos

  • Listening

  • Personal Space

  • Perspective Taking (Empathy, Theory of Mind)

  • Play

  • Recess 

  • Relaxation and Mindfulness

  • Safety

  • School Success (Study Habits, Executive Functioning) 

  • Self Control (Impulse Control, Blurting)

  • Self Esteem (Confidence, Self-Image) 

  • Skills for Big Feelings 

  • Sharing and Taking Turns

  • Size of the Challenge or Problem

  • Social Filter

  • Social Skills

  • Special Topics (these are issues I would work on in individual counseling like Selective Mutism, Cutting, Foster Care, Divorce, a Parent with a Terminal Illness, etc.) 

  • Sportsmanship (Teamwork, Cooperation, Winning and Losing Graciously)

  • Teasing and Bullying

  • Termination / End of the Year

  • Yoga and Movement Activities

Organizing Seasonal and Holiday Activities

I have SO MANY activities that I decided to separate all my seasonal and holiday activities and keep them in a different area (they’re actually in my mindful moment room.)  You’ll have to decide if you want to keep your seasonal and holiday activities with your main activities or not.

For my seasonal and holiday resources, I have a separate open filing crate and I use these snap folders. I have one folder for each season and one for each holiday stored in the crate. That way when it is time for that holiday or season, I just pull out the whole snap folder. I love that there is a pocket to put labels in easily so I made these seasonal and holiday labels to share with you! To get these labels, just subscribe to my free resource library. If you're already an email member, just head to the SEL library here to get your free labels today.

How to Organize Board Games for a School Counselor's Office

I have been working as a counselor in the schools since 2007 and working with kids in other settings before then so I have SO MANY games I have collected over the years! Not to mention games my own kids have outgrown and so I've brought those to work too!

To keep your board games organized, my first tip for you is to get rid of games you won’t use!  You know you have some games that you haven’t looked at in years, or you just can’t stand playing, or they are too hard or easy for your kids, so just donate those games or pass them on to someone else. 

I've seen some people get rid of their boxes completely and put their games inside these semi-transparent mesh bags,

I haven’t taken the plunge to part with all my boxes...yet. I might do this with a few older game boxes that are a bit worn. If I try it out and like the results, I'll come back here and update this blog post.

Since I have had some games for almost 20 years, I use these big rubber bands around board games to keep the boxes closed and all the contents neatly inside. You can see this on the picture on the right how there are rubber bands around the board game topple.

I have found it is also helpful to teach kids how you want them to put the board games away (I’m looking at you totika and don’t break the ice!) 

You can also try one of these hanging cube shelves for board game storage.  They also

have fabric ones that would work well for square board games or even card sets. We had an awkward closet where the space wasn’t being used well and a hanging shelf like this helps keep the games more organized and makes better use of the space.

If you have lots of card sets and you don't want to use the rainbow boxes, you can consider these crayon boxes for cards too. I also put my crayons in these 😆. They also look really nice stacked up! A lot of times you can get these on sale during back to school season too. As you can see, I also use these crayon boxes and pixi boxes to organize the things in my desk (like binder clips, push pins, paper clips, etc.)

You can also consider stacking your games vertically on a shelf. If you're stacking them horizontally, stack them with the biggest boxes at the bottom and the smallest ones at the top.  I also log all my games and toys in my searchable database to make planning my sessions easy! You can get a copy of all my organizational and planning tools and documents as well as my searchable database here.

Using Scrapbook Boxes to Organize Your Counseling Tools

I also love to use these 12x12 transparent, stackable scrapbook boxes to put things that I have a lot of that don't really work in my binders, or rainbow task card holders. For example, I put social stories that are held together with a binder ring, file folder activities, conversation starter cards, stickers, adapatable books, and more inside these boxes.

How to Organize Books for School Counselors and Educators

You’ll want to look at your space and figure out how you want to organize your books.  I separate out my reference books and picture books. For picture books I use book bins with labels I make.

I print the label on cardstock, laminate them, and then velcro it to the book bin. I find this is effective because when I get more books and need to shift things around, I can easily switch my labels! At the moment I also have some books on a shelf without a bin but I use washi-tape labels to show what the category is. I also have all my books organized digitally in my SEL activities database which is a searchable spreadsheet as well. You can get it at a discount in this growing bundle!

Some people use paint sticks or rulers to organize their books. I’ve tried this in the past but it wasn’t the best system for me. Some people even put washi tape on the spines of different colors, and then have a key that matches the color to the subject or topic. This works well if you have thicker books like chapter books or reference books.

When it comes to my books, I do love to use book marker sticks and I have a free one to share with you!  When you take a book off the shelf, just put this book marker in there to save the space! That way it is super easy to slip it right back to where it was before.  You can even have a student help you out with it! To get this book marker stick, just subscribe to my free resource library. If you're already an email member, just head to the SEL library here to get your free book marker sticks.

I have my books in bins and then all categorized on my SEL activities database searchable spreadsheet that includes picture books, reference books, toys/games, and activities. I spoke to @theartsyfartsycounselor who digitally organized all her books using the app called Bookshelf. Some folks also use an app called LibraryThing. If I was going to color code my books in rainbow order (which I think looks sooo pretty 🤩), I would definitely do this too! But for my space that I have right now it’s much more practical to have my books grouped by category in book bins.

5 School Counselor Office Organizing Hacks: Hack #1: Do Something Your Future Self Will Thank You For

I always try to do something my future self will thank me for (hello, pilates practice!) And at work this means that every Friday I always set up everything for the next week, so it's all ready to go for me on Monday morning!

So, in the spirit of systems, productivity, and doing things your future self will thank you for, take time on Friday to set up everything you'll need for the following week to make it a successful Monday!

On Friday, I look at my calendar plus my scheduled groups and lessons for the following week, then I create my schedule for the next week from my Group Planning Log, which is also available in my organizational growing bundle. Check out a video of how I use the group planning log here. I put print out my schedule for the week and place it on a clipboard. Lastly, I pull out ALL the supplies I’ll need for all those sessions, and I put everything in this rainbow cart in the day that I am using it. I have labels for each day of the week on the drawers, so it’s super easy to grab and go! If you don't have the floor space for a rainbow cart, you could use this desktop version, or this one has drawers. Just remember to label them Monday-Friday.

I also made these free labels to share with you! To get these labels, just subscribe to my free resource library. If you're already an email member, just head to the SEL library here to get your free labels there.

Hack #2 Keep Rubber Bands and Ziplocks Handy

Keep rubber bands, binder clips, ziplocks, and post its handy! I even keep ziplocks in 3 different sizes in my desk (sandwich, snack, and gallon size). Seriously, they come in handy for so many things! Hello, lollipop your student couldn't finish during lunch bunch!

If you have a card set that has a lot of cards (more than you will use in one lesson or session), then divide them into sets and number each set.  When you do an intervention with that group, just make note of what number set you used with them.  This allows you to loop back to the material at a later date, but not repeat the same cards with the same prompts, scenarios, or questions for that group of students!

Hack #3 Use Your Vertical or Wall Space

Think about ways you can use your vertical spaces or walls for organization. I have some hanging organizers that I put on the back of a magnetic door with these heavy duty magnets. I also use these same magnets on a file cabinet to hang my lunch bunch passes. These allow students to go to the front of the lunch line, when they have lunch bunch with me. This allows them to not waste a lot of their group time by waiting in line.

If you have a metal door or filing cabinet, think about what other things you can use with magnets. For example, I have pencils in a magnetic holder that are at a level where the kids can grab them themselves (and put them away themselves too.)

You can also try an over the door shoe rack for organization. These are great if you have brochures you use or refer to often, or even supplies the kids use like colored pencils, glue sticks, etc. Check in the area of the store where things go for locker organization, especially during back to school time, because you'll often find handy things you never thought about to put on your door or filing cabinet and help you keep more organized! It's nice to get the surfaces in your office clear as well, and by using your vertical spaces, it'll help you keep desktops and shelves clean.

Hack #4: If it Takes 2 Minutes or Less, Do it Now

If a task takes less than 2 minutes to do, don’t write it down on your to-do list, just do it right then! This is a tip I learned from the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. There are probably times you need to make a quick phone call, but you're dreading doing it, so you add it to your never-ending to-do list. Don't do that. Just make the call now. You'll save so much mental energy by not stressing over the call too. But any simple task that needs to get done, if it's super quick and will take less than two minutes then just do it as you think of it. If it's a longer task then write it down on your to-do list.

You need a place to capture all your to-do's. I have a few different to-do list systems. At home, I use a trello board. I share some of the boards with my husband so we can share a grocery and Target shopping list, for example. At work I have a written to-do list on my desk and I also use a google doc. I organize my to-do's by category as well so I can batch things. For example: on my google doc to-do list, I'll list in certain section tasks that I need to do at the computer, phone calls I need to make, computer tasks to do, etc.

I also used this dry-erase decal to make my own to-do list but I use WET-ERASE MARKERS. Did you know this was a thing!? I did not know this was a thing until my sister introduced me to these awesome markers! You know how dry-erase markers smudge, and leave a. residue when you erase it that looks messy? Well wet-erase markers do not do this! It's awesome!

So, I have a slide out part of my desk (I'm not sure what this is called or what it is for) but I slide it out and then I stuck a piece of one of these dry erase decals on there. This stuff comes in a big roll and you can cut it and stick it to ANY surface like a wall or desk. I then use my magic wet-erase markers to write my to do list.

Hack #5: Teach the Kids How to Put Things Away

Kids LOVE to help and it increases their sense of confidence and responsibility. So, teach your students how you want your games or other supplies to be put away and then have them do it! They will be raising their hands and ASKING you to help! They love it and it's good for them to help out too.

Hack #6 Get My Counselor Organizational Tools Growing Bundle at a Discount Now!

This is a Growing Bundle of digital and print organizational tools to get you organized and save time in your counseling office! These done-for-you time-saving resources are perfect for school social workers, psychologists, and counselors!

This bundle currently includes: ✨

You'll get editable and searchable Google Sheet spreadsheets to save you time as you'll be able to log and organize all of your:

✔ SEL Activities and all your resources downloaded from TPT

✔ Picture Books

✔ Reference Books

✔ Videos (easily save YouTube links!)

✔ Games and toys

Done-for-you digital Google documents:

✔ Goal Summary Sheet to plan your sessions based on IEP or MTSS objectives

✔ Master Schedule Template

✔ Weekly Plan

✔ Group and Lesson Planning Logs

✔ Group Schedule

✔ Digital and Print Resources

More Resources Will Be Added to This Growing Bundle Including:

  • Consultation Log

  • Contact Log

  • Camp Scholarship Log

  • Attendance Monitor Log

  • Loaned Supplies Log

  • Binder Spines and Covers

  • And more!

The price goes up when new resources are added, so purchase today and you'll get more resources at no additional cost to you!

Check out these videos to learn more:



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