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ASCA Toolkit: Virtual High School Counseling 

Having to move school counseling services online during a pandemic or other natural disaster may be both overwhelming and challenging, and the school counseling services offered may vary from school to school and state to state. The positive news is that school counselors have been successfully offering online student support for over a decade in virtual schools across the nation. Below are some resources, lessons, and links gleaned from this experience to share with you as you translate your counseling services online during this unprecedented time. Many of the lessons and links can be offered to students either asynchronously (via email, posted on a website, or delivered through a LMS system) or synchronously (using real-time videoconferencing platforms), depending on your school context and available tech tools. 

Pre-meeting resources, in particular for course planning/academic advising Documentation
  • Google Drive: Google Sheets and Google Notes
  • Cloud file storage system as approved by your institution
Meeting platforms
  • Cisco Jabber (phone)
  • Google voice (phone)
  • Zoom (audio, video)
  • Bluejeans (audio, video)
  • Microsoft Teams (audio, video)
  • Skype (audio, video, instant message)
  • Slack (instant message), great for internal communication too
  • Vidigami is providing free access to a virtual digital platform for celebrating the class of 2020.
Creating online content Time Management Resources 
  • Brief video: How to Stay Organized for Distance Learning: by Ko Vue, from ASCA Scene
  • Worksheet: This excel document includes separate tabs that provide a template to help students create their own schedule and to-do list. Counselors can use this template and modify it to fit their own needs and can share it with students to work on collaboratively online.

Free Digital Lessons for Remote Learning
  • Everfi: Free Digital Lessons for Remote Learning. Lessons at the High School level include: Mental Wellness Basics, Keys to Your Future: College and Career Readiness, STEM Career Explorations, Character Playbook: SEL lessons and many more.
Complied by Ryan Salvador, Director of Academic Advising, Stanford Online High School

Academic Development

  • Skills 4 Success (narrated Powerpoint)
  • Time Management Worksheet: This worksheet, developed by Challenge Success.org, provide direction and guidance for students to build their own schedule, including classes, extracurricular and unstructured time. 


The following resources are provided in Stanford Online High School’s College Counseling Webinar resources folder. These include samples of the documents and forms that Stanford OHS uses with students and parents throughout the online college counseling process. If you have questions about these resources or online college counseling, please email ohscollegecounseling@stanford.edu
  • Spring Senior Check-In: Two-question Google form we sent to seniors to gauge their decision process and support needs at this time
  • College Counseling Handbook 19-20: Provides an overview of our office; grade-by-grade guidelines; parent expectations; and overviews of each step of the college application process (researching, visiting, applying, financial aid, etc.)
  • College List Rubric: Once our students have articulated their priorities and developed an initial college list, we use this rubric as a tool to compare schools across the same priorities. We ask students to list their priorities, define a “weight” to each priority, and use their rubric as a guide when researching colleges, while still encouraging them to give credence to their “gut feelings” in the process (modified from ACCIS Summer Institute roundtable discussion presentation)
  • College Self-Evaluation: Used with juniors at the beginning of their spring semester to get them started on identifying preferences and priorities in their college search. Statements 1-12 deal with the issue of size, Statements 13-21 deal with location, and statements 22-30 deal with big-picture issues related to the character/personality of the college(s) they may want to attend (modified from the Fiske Guide)
  • Learning About Colleges Virtually: Compilation of resources we have found/received that relate to researching colleges or making enrollment decisions in the absence of being able to visit. We have shared this with our junior and senior families (note - this is a compilation of outside sources we have found to be comprehensive and credible. We did not create the resources, spreadsheets, and articles linked in this document.)
  • Office Hours Template: Google spreadsheet with virtual office hours layout. Tab 1 is the general schedule, Tab 2 provides a space for students to schedule 15-minute meetings with college counselors in breakout rooms, Tab 3 is a sign-up sheet for essay peer review, and Tab 4 is a space for “quiet questions” (questions that may be pertinent to the whole group, but that come up during quiet work time)
  • Parent Questionnaire: Sent to parents of senior students in the summer before senior year. We use responses to better understand our students and families, and to round out our letters when additional information is provided.

Social/Emotional Development

  • Stress Management (narrated Powerpoint)
  • Ways to Keep Yourself Occupied (narrated Powerpoint and handout)
  • Setting and Achieving Goals (narrated Powerpoint)
  • Finish the School Year Strong (narrated Powerpoint)
  • Teen Mental Health.org: Free resources and tips regarding mental health with a focus on the current pandemic, that are easy to share with students and families. 
  • Challenge Success: Covid-19 Resources for Remote Learning. The organization Challenge Success is curating and creating resources as well as providing updated virtual programming to support schools and families. Explore these tips, tools, and offerings for parents and educators to help students stay balanced and engaged.
  • Project Wayfinder: Sharing Resources invites students to reframe a personal challenge they’ve overcome by exploring the resources they gained from the experience. Understanding challenges through a lens of resources and growth deepens the possibility for compassionate action, a key component of living with purpose. You can obtain the beautifully designed digital worksheet and facilitation guide projectwayfinder.com/covid-19-response
  • Growth Mindset: The Powerpoint was developed by Greg Nuckols and Tracy Steele at Stanford Online High School as part of a three part series on adolescent development. In this version, students attend a live workshop in a videoconferencing platform such as Adobe Connect or Zoom and are able to use the drawing features to fill in their own ideas on growth mindset and the self talk chart. However, counselors can choose to modify this and send it as a PPT, email or ask students to review it and/or write a reflection. 
  • Peers + Friendship: This Powerpoint was developed as the second part in a three part series on adolescent development at Stanford Online High School. In this workshop offered via video conferencing platforms, the lesson focuses on the salience of friendship during adolescence, current trends and the challenges of making friends online. Students can be broken up into “breakout rooms” for peer to peer small group discussions. This lesson could also be emailed to students for review and/or reflection. Or, counselors could make a short video of themselves discussing these topics and either post this or send it to students using Youtube or other platforms.
  • Mindfulness and Stress: This Powerpoint developed by Greg Nuckols is the third part in the the three part series on adolescent development at Stanford Online High School. In this workshop, students are lead through mindfulness activities while online at their computers. Students can also use these practices before and during exams or tests. Like the other workshop series, this can be modified for use by school counselors depending on their context. 
  • Empathy Circles: This activity from Edwin Rutsch’s Culture of Empathy organization works very well in a virtual setting. In this activity, we usually meet in a videoconferencing room and divide students into break out rooms to practice. This activity can help students both express their feelings during this uncertain time while also helping them to listen to others. A great activity to help develop connections and reduce stress. Further details on online empathy circles can also be found at the cutlureofempathy.org
  • What Matters to You? This quick exercise developed by Andrew Satanapong as part of the wellness program at Stanford OHS can be used to begin developing a 1-1 relationship with a student online via email, phone or video conferencing platform. It can also be given as a weekly assignment in an LMS to get students to consider their values and whether what the activities they are currently involved in match their stated values.
  • Our Teen Brains: Founded by Stanford OHS student Shivek Narang, this organization aims to spread awareness of the developing teenage brain to equip teens with knowledge and skills to help them navigate the many mental and emotional challenges they encounter during this critical time period.  
  • Does Meditation Really Affect your Brain? In this brief lesson, students are asked to watch a 5-minute video by SciShow Psych that explores the question of whether meditation can really affect your brain. Discussion questions for students to consider and/or submit are also provided. In this brief exercise, students are asked to watch a brief video from Headspace and to reflect on their experience. This can be sent by school counselors as a proactive resource for students. Or, school counselors may request that students watch it and submit a reflection. 
  • Video Library of TED Topics by CASEL’s SEL Competencies
Compiled by Andrew Satanapong, Counselor at Stanford OHS
  • 100 Days of Rejection: What is your relationship with rejection? Rejection is something that most of us fear and/or try to avoid. This is a completely normal perspective to take. Whether or not you're fearful of rejection, watch this video for a fresh take on rejection and how you might reframe your relationship with rejection. SEL Competencies: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Relationship Skills, Responsible Decision-Making
  • More to Life Than Being Happy: Is there more to life than being happy? Happiness is a wonderful feeling but it can be extremely difficult to attain. We can sometimes struggle with finding happiness even if everything is perfectly okay. Watch this talk to think beyond happiness and consider four pillars of living a meaningful life. SEL Competencies: Self-Awareness, Relationship Skills, Self-Management, Responsible Decision-Making
  • Make Stress Your Friend: What makes a good friend? Take some time to really think about what you think makes a good friend. Write down those characteristics, actions, and attributes that describe what a friend means to you. Now that you have your list, consider how might stress take on some of those qualities that you just thought of? Watch this video to see if there are some ways to make stress be more like a friend. SEL Competencies: Self-Management, Self-Awareness, Relationship Skills, Responsible Decision-Making
  • The Power of Vulnerability: What can vulnerability bring to your life? Vulnerability can be unsettling and sometimes we actively avoid showing any sense of vulnerability. There are a lot of logical and rational reasons why we might avoid vulnerability. But consider the possibility that there may be power in expressing vulnerability. This idea may spark news ideas on how you might change your relationship vulnerability. SEL Competencies: Self-Management, Self-Awareness, Relationship Skills, Responsible Decision-Making
  • Gain Control of Your Free Time: Time management is something that a lot of us talk about. If only we could manage our time better we would get more things done! So what's the best way to manage our time? Create a schedule? Use a fancy calendar? You may have tried a lot of different things. Watch this TEDTalk and see if you have any new thoughts on time management. SEL Competencies: Self-Management, Self-Awareness, Responsible Decision-Making
  • What Makes a Good Life: When you think about your current life, how do you characterize it? What are the elements that you think of when you think about your well-being? If you wanted to have a good life, what would be the same and what might be different? In one way or another, it is common to want to have a good life. How we determine what a good life is could change over time. SEL Competencies: Self-Management, Self-Awareness, Responsible Decision-Making, Relationship Skills
  • Food and the Brain: What might help you to eat healthier? Starting with a conversation and bringing awareness to what you eat can be a great way to invite a more conscious effort to eat healthier. Small changes can make a difference. One suggestion is to think about foods you can add instead of just thinking about what to take out. This video gives a great overview of what types of foods can help to optimize your energy and support continuing brain development. SEL Competencies: Self-Management, Self-Awareness, Responsible Decision-Making,
Articles and Associated Discussion Questions
  • Emotional Intelligence 2.0: What is emotional intelligence and how is it related to positive life outcomes including academic, career and personal success? Read the following article in Forbes by Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 as he breaks down this concept and explains its significance in our daily lives and pursuits.
  • The Discomfort You're Feeling is Grief: Many of us may be going through many different emotions as we come to terms with this novel virus and the impact, directly or indirectly, on our lives and those of our loved ones. Read this article to consider whether you may be grieving and tips on how to move through it.

Resources for Students and Families 

Emergency and After Hours Resources
Below are some national emergency and after hours resources that school counselors may want to consider providing to students and families to get help on these issues at any time. Please review these suggested resources to determine that they are appropriate for your school, students and context.
Emergency: 911
Referral services: 211 | 211.org
Suicide Prevention (United States): 1-800-273-TALK (8255) | suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Suicide Prevention (International): befrienders.org
Self-Injury/Cutting: 1-800-366-8288 | selfinjury.com
Eating Disorders: 1-800-931-2237 | nationaleatingdisorders.org
Runaway Hotline: 1-800-231-6946 | 1800runaway.org
Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453 | childhelp.org/hotline/
Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 | rainn.org
Domestic/Relationship Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 | thehotline.org
Trevor Hotline for LGBTQ Youth: 1-866-488-7386 | thetrevorproject.org
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline | samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline
Other resources for developing healthy lifestyles, including mental and emotional help: helpguide.org

Student Resources for Mental Health:
School counselors may want to consider providing more specific resources for students on various topics related to mental health. This could be part of the a counseling webpage or could be a list of resources emailed to students to view during this time. Please do make sure to view each of these resources to ensure it is appropriate for your school, context and students.

Mental Health
Students may experience ups and downs in their mental health and well-being, which is a natural part of adolescent development. At the same time, adolescence is often the time that individuals may experience the initial onset of mental health illness and disorders such as anxiety or depression. The resources below offer information and resources on topics central to health and wellness as well as mental health issues that students may confront.
  • The Teen Brain: 6 Things to Know: Research and information complied by the National Institute of Mental Health focusing on the change and development of the adolescent brain and implications for behavior and mental health.
  • Depression: Adolescent depression is increasing at an alarming rate. Recent surveys indicate that as many as one in five teens suffers from clinical depression. This is a serious problem that calls for prompt, appropriate treatment.
  • Anxiety: Someone with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) worries excessively about many different things and is not able to control his or her worry. The worrying and anxiety causes serious emotional distress, and causes problems at school and in relationships.
  • Suicide: If you or any of your friends are feeling this way and have had thoughts of suicide, the most important thing to do is to talk immediately with an adult you trust.If you want to remain anonymous call the hotline number 1-800-273-8255 or go to the the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and ask them to help you figure out what to do. 
  • Eating disorders: Eating disorders are real, complex, and devastating conditions that can have serious consequences for health, productivity, and relationships.
  • Substance Abuse: Think you might have a problem? Want the facts about addiction? If you are worried about a family member or friend, check out: Alateen
Dating and Relationships
  • That's Not Cool: Draw your digital line. Your phone and social media accounts are a digital extension of your life. When someone you’re dating is controlling, disrespecting, or pressuring you in those spaces, that’s not cool. That’s Not Cool provides tools to help you draw your digital line about what is, or is not, okay in your relationships.
  • Scarleteen: Inclusive, comprehensive and smart sexuality information and help for teens and 20s.
Grief and Loss
Coping with the loss of a close friend or family member may be one of the hardest challenges that many of us face. These resources below are offered to help you learn more about the grieving process and ways to get help and support in coping with death and loss.  
 Provided by Tracy Steele, Director of Student Support, Stanford Online High School