Using Canva in your School Counseling ProgramYou don't need to be a graphic designer to have awesome graphics at your fingertips.
Why do I need to worry about graphic design?
School counselors have a lot to offer. Our core curriculum, sharing of data with stake holders, promoting opportunities to students and parents and so much more. We offer so much that it keeps is up to our necks in busy. It’s hard to justify spending time learning and creating interesting graphics to support our efforts and that is understandable. Stick with me today and I hope to show you that spending a little time on your public image and outreach is actually something that is essential to your full success and professionalism.
So what’s the problem?
Time and ability are usually the two factors that cause our materials, program elements, presentations and other promotional materials to fall short of full effectiveness. When you have the best information to share but it comes across as visually unappealing or difficult to digest – you end up losing people.
You may have 200 students or 800 students at three schools – I’ve noticed that no matter our caseloads, there is rarely enough time. There are two things to consider about time (and I’m sorry if you disagree with me on the but hey… it’s my blog):
- Nobody is too busy – it’s a matter of priorities. Your focus of time is determined by your priorities. Read more about my take on priorities, running your office like a doctor’s office vs. the ER, and more.
- Spending some time to make your efforts more effective saves time in the long run.
Ability and creativity is a little harder to address, but not impossible. You do not need expensive software like Photoshop or the wizarding skills to use them. There are easy to use tools available that do not require a degree in graphic design to master.
There are also a TON of things to take inspiration from. Just google “graphic design inspiration” or head over to Pinterest (I even have a Graphic Design board). Do not outright copy a design, but you can model a new design after it. You can also check out a number of free stock image sites for legally available images to use in your presentations or designs. A few of my favorites include: Pixabay, Stockvault, and Pexels. With a little practice – you CAN get better and you WILL get good. Just like anything – it takes time and a little focused energy to make it happen.
Canva: One Solution (that I really like)
As one possible solution – consider Canva – the laypersons graphic design wunderkind. With canva you have access to many already created templates to start with that are designed for many different predefined layouts. I highly recommend paying the $99 to have access to the professional level upgraded account. This let’s you automatically resize images (which is more useful than you may imagine) and have additional access to templates and attributes.
On this very blog post – each image was created with canva. At school – I’ve used canva to create posters, images for our digital signage, student and parent handouts ,branding for our department and more.
Companies and organizations spend a TON of money on marketing and we do not use the ideas very often in schools. While we do not have budgets to put a super bowl ad up (you can produce high quality graphics for about a hundred dollars a year). There is some great news on pricing because there are also plans available for both education and non-profit settings that provide free and very inexpensive options compared to signing up as an individual (at the $119.40/year rate).
How to get the most out of Canva
Using Canva is really pretty simple. A lot of drag and drop plus great templates to start from if you are needing some inspiration or a quick design.
One of the nicest things about Canva is the flat learning curve. Yes – you CAN make ugly images with Canva, but they make it pretty hard to do. With the drag and drop features and the ability to auto-resize your images (with the paid version), it makes creating your digital goods a snap. This can be helpful when you are working on setting up your social media accounts, promoting different events or happenings with your school counseling programs or even creating handouts, flyers, posters or school counseling core curriculum lesson materials.
If you have a team of people, you can actually create team accounts through Canva (or likely just share one, but that is grey-area ethical so you didn’t hear it from me). In addition to my work at school – I use Canva for graphics for my blog, for The School Counselor Shop and for my other gig as the tech chair at The California Association of School Counselors. Almost all of the on-screen graphics at our 1500 person conference was also created with Canva. So it is very versatile. I encourage you to give it a shot and see what it can do for you. Feel free to give it a go with the free trial and be sure to check out the education specific section to see if you qualify for any price breaks.