Sunday, June 22, 2014

Core Values of School Counseling: Establishing SMART Goals

Core Values of School Counseling: Establishing Goals

     Now that the mission, vision and values have been established, it is time to develop the goals of the school counseling program.  We have all heard the term SMART Goals.  SMART goals are defined as:

     Right now, most school counselors are in panic reading this as it can be overwhelming to understand and create.  Remember I stated previously that we are in the business of school counseling, therefore following a business model sets our profession apart.  In order to simplify the idea of creating a SMART Goal, the entry today will provide you with examples!

     Let's begin!  The first thing you are going to do is work off of your already developed set of values.  Ask your team, or yourself, to put a sticker next to the three values that are important.  Each individual, if in a team, should have three stickers.  Once everyone has had a chance to identify their preferred values, then discuss the top three with the most votes.  Your top values become the department's leading concepts to create the SMART Goals!

     To visualize the process, I am posting a table with three top value examples.  From the value, a goal, objective and action plan will be written.
     Next, pick one value and write a goal.  Remember the timeline!  In this case, we began with the simple statement of "by 2014".  Notice the alignment to the ASCA Model domains.

Creating a SMART Goal

     Now, for this SMART Goal, think of an objective.  The objective is answering the question of what you want to accomplish?  In this case, the team had previously discussed the lack of attendance from the community to the evening programs.  The reasons behind it were varied based on qualitative data obtained.  So the team decided to investigate different methods of providing the information to the community.

Writing a SMART Goal Objective

     The final component is the action.  Action is the specific nature of what is going to be done and the steps involved to achieve the objective.  In this case, exploring different tools to provide the community with information on the evening programs was the action plan.  The "how" was discussed as part of the department meeting.  The team identified: technology tools such as webinars, twitter and weekly school newsletters.  In addition, the team decided to ask the video class to tape the events and with the technology department's assistance, post the taped presentations on the school counseling's website.

     Once all these components are in place, don't forget the measurable aspect of the SMART Goal.  How did the team know that the new way of providing information to the community worked?  Adding a counter to the videos showed the quantitative response of how many people visited the site.  The qualitative response to the new idea was positively overwhelming from parents and students.  Data is our friend!  

     For the 2015 year, take the developed values and goals and reassess them.  Is there something else needed under that category?  What other goals had been developed and fit the new year best?  Review and redevelop!  It becomes a great process to show how school counseling programs are essential, integral and collaborative!  


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Core Values of a School Counseling Program: Identifying Values

Identifying Values:

     In last week's post, I went over the mission and vision of a comprehensive program as part of the business of school counseling.  This week I wanted to focus on another essential component of creating a foundation for any business: values.

     Values are defined as the importance or usefulness of something.  For the school counseling program, I am going to challenge school counselors to define values as the moral, ethics, or even better, code of behavior school counselors are willing to accept and follow as a team.  Values must be accepted by all school counselors and guidelines for behavior in a school counseling department with respect to colleagues, students, families and delivery of program.

                                   VALUES – How must we behave to make our shared vision a reality?
          In the context of organizational development, the values question represents the essential ABCs of school improvement because it challenges the people within that organization to identify the specific attitudes, behaviors, and commitments they must demonstrate in order to advance toward their vision. ( Dufour, Allthings PLC)

     I can imagine what most school counselors are thinking: "None of the stakeholders will care", "My department has different personalities and it will not work", etc...  Done?  Vented?  Great!  Time to move on.  That is why this is an excellent exercise for a professional development day focused on reassessing the comprehensive school counseling program already in existance or in development.

     Step 1) Have everyone or yourself if only one counselor, take a sheet of paper and begin identifying no more than three bullet points as values they would like to see on the list.  Make sure you have a recorder, who also participates, and can write them up on the big screen on Word for everyone to see.
     Step 2) Have all members share and record the comments on Word.
     Step 3) As the moderator, read each one aloud and take a count of how many counselors would be supportive of the value.  Record your votes and at the end prioritize the values.
     Step 4) Review the list, in priority and address any concerns with language or clarification of value.  Once done, do a check and balance by asking one more time if all counselors can live with and accept that specific value.  If good, move on; if not, leave it to the side and come back later.
     Step 5) Finalize the list and review the ones in question.  If still a problem, leave them out.  Only create a list that is accepted by all.

     Remember: The list is not about quantity, but quality.  There could be 3 or 5 or 10 values.  The bigger question at the end of the exercise is: "What do we do when our values do not match with our actions?"  Now create a list of accountability actions that all school counselors in the department are willing to accept if their attitudes or behaviors do not match with the developed values.

     I want to remind the reader that this is not a "gotcha" or "you are in trouble" exercise.  In any business, members are held to standards and expectations of conducts.  The ASCA school counselor competencies and the ethical standards guidelines do the same for our profession.  This is a way to incorporate the framework to practice.  After all, go back to why do we exist in schools and what do we hope to become?  Should we not ask ourselves what are the behaviors and attitudes we agree to uphold in support of ourselves, stakeholders and program?

     Let the Kid President guide you on not only what kids need to know, but what we should know as values!


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Core Values of a Comprehensive School Counseling Program: Leadership

     With the countdown to the 2014 ASCA conference, I wanted to take the next few blog entries and connect the core values of Disney to a comprehensive school counseling program.  It is no longer acceptable to just continue providing services as a reactive professional.  Change is difficult, and understanding the intricate process of restructuring a school counseling program to be preventive, integral and data driven takes time.  If you attend the workshop I am giving with some colleagues on June 30th, Aligning Program and Practice with Results from 9 am - 12 pm, you will get a visual sense of the implementation of these core values!

     Let's begin with leadership.  Often the word leadership implies that the department should have a coordinator or director of school counseling to whom a school counselor reports.  That may be true in a sense, however, leadership is an essential value that all school counselors should have and may come out in different ways.  For a comprehensive school counseling program, it is not the who, but the what as defined by leadership.

     Disney defines leadership as : leadership is about taking actions to create sustained, positive transformations within an organization. Great leaders align their own values and vision with those of their business and help operationalize them for the future. The most meaningful way to demonstrate these skills is to passionately communicate your shared vision and practice what your company stands for. " (

     In a prior entry, I asked: Why do school counselors exist?  This is not where you stop reading the entry, but take moment to reflect.  Some answer: "to put out fires!", while others may be more detailed and suggest that without school counselors, students would not have advocates.  Let me redirect your thinking.  As a professional school counseling learning community, reflect on the fundamental purpose of the school counseling program, and the very reason why it exists?

     This is the essence of a mission statement!  Describe the culture the school counseling department and program seek as well as describing what is the business of a school counseling program.

     Next comes the vision: what do we hope to become as a professional learning community and by creating a comprehensive school counseling program?  Below are three provoking questions to answer.  Remember that it is not about you, the school counselor, but about the business of school counseling.  A vision instills an organization with a sense of direction.  It asks, “If we are true to our purpose now, what might we become at some point in the future?”

     Let's not forget that a component of leadership includes values.  If we, as school counselors know why the school counseling program exists, and have a clear direction for the future, then how might we, as professionals behave and hold ourselves as well as our school counseling colleagues accountable for their actions?  Values are mutually agreed upon and identify how we will not only act with our colleagues, but with students, administrators, parents, teachers, and the community in general.  Values make a shared mission and vision a reality!(

     As we go to Disney, it is not just about learning, and finding childhood fantasy.  There is a set of core ideals leading to the success of the theme park.  Think about Disney's way of being, doing, and supporting the clients they serve.  If every member believes in their ideals, then the client experience is positive and supportive.  Find your leadership and create magic in your school counseling program!