Today as snow fell down and blanketed the wishful and anticipated green yard I long to see, I decided to read some of the postings on different school counseling pages on social media. The question of the day, once again, "how do you doccument student meetings?" Counselors quickly began sharing different programs used, cost of program, how much information was being documented and who would be able to see it. I saw a couple of themes emerging that were focused on different mindsets. Let me explain what I mean.
In 140 characters or less, or with a thumb up next to a comment, school counselors shared which products they were using for documentation. Free, user-friendly, quick, were some of the terms posted. What was missing was the "so what" about the use of these tools in connection to the overall comprehensive school counseling program.
Why do others who work with the student needed to know the information you documented in the tool you use? Don't administrators and others understand what a school counselor does? Yes, I used to think the same way as it was always a concern if tomorrow my school counseling position would still be there. I also worried about confidentiality, and still do. Finding balance in sharing of information is also important.
Change your thoughts towards a focus on student support rather than school counselor role can lead to different outcomes!
It's all about your mindset!
Let me use student meeting data tracking to describe what I mean about school counselor mindset and behavior with the two themes above.
To document the progress of students in education and counseling, several data points are needed. Not just student meeting tracking. Let me pose some additional questions as you investigate products to support the school counselor work you do:
1) When you track student meeting data, do you have a way to identify why you met with the student and which domain it pertains to?
2) In tracking student meetings, can you identify easily which interventions were put into place and at what level (1,2 or 3) of intervention?
3) Do student meetings logged have an ability to be identified as individual, group or classroom?
4) While at the team, committee on special ed, or child study meetings, can you easily run a report on how many times you met with the student, for what reason and what interventions were put in to place?
5) If classroom, is there a written lesson aligned to national standards and response to intervention level you can refer to in the program?
6) Is the classroom lesson identified as part of the comprehensive plan developed by the department as a grade specific, with time frame delivery and assessment method?
My point is that a product to track student meeting should also show greater implications for a comprehensive school counseling program instead of focused only on a task the school counselor does. If you can run a report that shows how many students you met with individually for social emotional issues, then you can also share the needed interventions. For example, if you are meeting with 10 students having a difficult time transitioning to a new grade, then that information can produce a peer mentoring group, identification of curriculum to support transition topics and other activities for the school counseling program.
You don't buy a car only because it has good wheels, or a nice color. Functionality to get you to work, drive your kids to events, and supporting the family routine is essential. If you are thinking of money, remember to always evaluate what you are getting for your money - a color, or a complete car?
Fixed mindset: it is about the school counselor role and how overwhelming it is meeting with so many students, doing paperwork, etc..How can I keep up?
Growth mindset: it is about the school counseling program establishig individual student meetings that provide additional information to support a team discussion and student success.
Transparency is the next step of this example. Why keep everything confidential? Yes, we have ethical and legal guidelines which I am not asking anyone to break. However, think of information you may obtain from a student meeting as essential data to support teachers and administrators as well as the family in supporting the student. Take the transition example. While meeting with administrators on setting up a new group/lesson/activity, also let the students' teachers know that he/she is having a hard time coming in to the new grade. This avoids trouble with perceptions if a student is not participating or engaged in class.
We look at the whole child philosophy and the importance of everyone knowing the obstacles and successes students have. I ask, if more school counselors had a team philosophy in place to support the whole child, what is now the school community's perception of the school counseling program and work?
Fixed mindset: it is about the school counselor confidentiality all of the time and working with the student.
Growth mindset: it is about identifying the necessary information about the student that would be important to share in a team approach to support the student. This information can be as simple as "student is having a bad day" or "student is concerned about taking a test, could we compromise and let him/her take it in a different location to reduce anxiety?"
So now you are probably thinking what is my point with all of this? It is about finding the right tool, even if you pay a little more for it, that supports the integrity and growth mindset of a school counseling program. Essential stakeholders are open to learning and hearing about interventions with full team collaborations, and not professional frustration. Keep an open mind.....and yes, check out www.schoolcounselorcentral.com,