Step-By-Step Guide to Setting up a School Social Work Calendar

Creating social work lesson plans for a whole school year can feel overwhelming! We break it down here into 6 manageable steps for creating a school social work calendar to create less stress and start the year off organized!

Desk with stacks of paper and folders
Starting the year disorganized can lead to a stressful year!

I. Map Out Weekly Schedule

The very first step is to set up a calendar. You’ll also need a district calendar which includes staff professional development days and days off. I use a Google Spreadsheet, which is the easiest for me to organize some of the upcoming steps. However, you can use whatever calendar is easiest for you!

Google Spreadsheet with dates
Google spreadsheet of weekly school social work calendar for groups

I will then go through and enter all the dates there is no school or any other events that might affect my group schedule.

II. Determine Any Required Lessons

After I have the whole calendar for the year, I will go through and add any required lessons. Some of these lessons might include suicide prevention, safety/ crisis presentations, or any curriculum that has specific timeframes attached to it.

You may also want to review any curriculum your school already has access to or has used in the past. For example, we have used Zones of Regulation in the past, and so I might spend some time reviewing Zones of Regulation and then infuse it into any other appropriate lessons.

III. Determine Any Needs from Previous Years

It is a great idea to gather feedback from the previous year. A needs assessment to gather feedback from parents, teachers and students on areas they feel support could still be offered.

At my middle school, our Social Emotional Learning (SEL) specialist distributed these needs assessments. In other schools, the counseling department conducts the assessments. There are also schools where the social worker/ psychologist conduct these assessments.

No matter who distributes the needs assessments, there are several areas of social-emotional functioning that should be included on these needs assessments. Here are some possible categories of assessment:

  • Self-management skills
  • Self-awareness skills
  • Social awareness skills
  • Relationship skills
  • Responsible decision-making
  • Motivation to learn

The results of the needs assessment can help inform potential group lessons. Once you have some needs and goals in mind, you can then conduct a pre- and post-assessment for progress monitoring.

IV. Consider Any Specific Events or Seasonal Topics

At the beginning of the year, it’s a good idea to do some rapport building activities and termination/ wrap-up activities at the end of the year.

I happened across this summer safety activity on Teachers Pay Teachers that I really like for younger elementary students!

You could also decide to assign specific topics to each month or quarter. At the high school level, we did a few activities around Homecoming and “positive friends.” At the middle school level, we did some personal space camp lessons during the lunar eclipse.

Mixing it up and making it relevant to whatever is happening for the students is key for engagement!

WISE Tip: When I first started, I thought it would be best to stick to one concept or curriculum throughout the year. Mixing it up is great to keep kids engaged, and teach a wider range of skills!

V. Review IEP Goals

At the beginning of each year, I pull a list of all my students on IEPs. I then review their IEP for goals, service minutes and any Behavior Intervention Plans.

In a spreadsheet I note goal basics (like “coping skills,” or “executive functioning”…etc.). I then generate some potential groups based on their goals and grade level (or classes). For all the considerations I take into account, click here to read more.

VI. Develop a Library of Fun Activities

Once I have set up my weekly schedule, considered any specific needs or goals of students, planned my required lessons and any time-sensitive topics, I can start developing my other lessons!

This yearlong agenda from Bright Futures is a well-laid out example and covers many of the topics I might cover as well. Here are some social work lesson plans that are broken down by topic or behavior.

VII. Start the Year Off on the Right Foot!

Even though lesson planning requires a lot of work on the front end- it’s definitely worth it! Remember to be flexible and change course if needed! Happy lesson planning!

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