Sunday, February 1, 2015

School Counseling: Celebrate all Year!

     As the official celebration week begins, I often wonder why it should only be one week?  I understand that it is important to highlight the work of school counselors and celebrate it with commitment and passion to the profession.  As any celebration, it seems that by the end of the week, we all go back to our tasks and responsibilities as the school year goes on and question why folks don't understand or value our profession.  So why not keep the celebration as a year long event?  Take the week and bump it up a notch to showcase on an ongoing basis the wonderful events of a school counseling program.

     You are probably thinking this is going to be overwhelming.  Not really!  Let's take the idea of benefits of a school counselor for our stakeholders and think of ways to showcase current work being done that benefits each group.

     1) Teachers:
          * Create a bulletin board in the teacher's lounge showing the month's lessons and group topics.  If you have data from prior month's activities, show the visual on the board.
          * Involve teachers and ask them to tell you where they went to college.  Create a display with banners for students to see entitled "Where our staff went to college."  I would also include your clerical support and other staff members.
          * Attend curriculum/department/team leader meetings and present what activity you will be doing and when.  Also ask, based on the upcoming activity, what teachers would like students to learn from the lesson.  Take a moment to share the ASCA Mindset and Behavior Standards as a guide on the alignment of the activity to national standards.

     2) Parents:
         *  Remind parents to go to the school counseling website for resources and news.
         * Send an email out to all parents sharing the calendar of activities.  Don't let the school counseling calendar be static on a website, but remind parents of dates to remember for each month.
         * Create a one page newsletter on lessons completed and what students learned as a result of the lesson.  Always provide additional resources on how parents can continue enhancing themes learned as a collaboration with the home.

     3) Administrators:
         * Create a pyramid of intervention for academic, social/emotional and college/career activities done in level 1, 2 and 3 to remind administrators.
         * Share with administrators articles on different school counseling related topics.  Avoid reminding them of caseload and importance of school counselors.  Try to share topics on social emotional interventions and effectiveness of lessons related to mindfulness, character education, etc..
         *  Take a look at the discipline record, search for themes (cutting class, for example) and propose a group for those students with a clear set of activities and measurement of the intervention.
     4) Students:
        * Survey students on their needs and engagement in a school counseling program.
        * Share data on lessons done and what the needs are.  With that, create additional support for ongoing delivery of the theme presented.  For example, if I do a lesson on the college application and see students struggling to understand the common application from a survey given, I will then create lunch bunch meetings to walk through the common application again.
        * Communicate with student on an ongoing basis by remminders of events, inspirational messages and doing check in meetings.

     At the end of the year, use the school counseling designated hallway bulletin board to showcase the Year in Review for the school counseling program.  Post the  mission, vision, lessons, data and any other visual that would show what the school counseling program is all about and how it is integral to the educational system!!!

 Let's keep the celebrating!

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