Feb 7-11 National School Counseling Week
From February 7-11, we recognize National School Counseling Week. Students, teachers, parents, and school administrators can benefit from the services that school counselors provide. Due to a variety of factors, school counselors’ roles are ever-changing. Here is an overview of school counseling and the role counselors play.
Promote student advocacy
Every counselor’s decisions and actions are based on what the students’ needs are and what will benefit them the most. A key purpose of school counseling is to assist students with their emotional, social, and intellectual development. Many of these situations would require the immediate intervention of the counselor, such as stopping bullying (as well as cyberbullying, which is prevalent in many educational systems today).
Some programs require the students to advocate for themselves and speak out about what their problems are. But students need to develop their own advocacy skills. That’s where the school counselor comes in.
They can help students understand their specific needs, determine what kind of support or educational assistance will address those needs, and communicate such needs to their teachers, counselors, or others. The student could ask the teacher for a note-taking app or other relevant solution if he or she is having problems taking notes during the online classes. When the teacher addresses it, the problem is solved. If not, the student may realize that they need to talk to someone else, like their school counselor or special education case manager.
Counselors can promote self-advocacy in students in order to help them develop independence and solve problems that their parents may not even be aware of. This is one way they can allow their students to become self-confident and feel empowered by taking control of their own learning. It is not uncommon for students to have emotional, social, family, peer, behavioral, and intellectual difficulties and challenges that interfere with their personal and educational development.
Help in students’ self-discovery
- Who am I and what are my strengths and weaknesses? Is it possible to turn some of my weaknesses eventually into strengths?
- Is there anything I am passionate about or that interests me a lot?
- Is there anything I’m naturally good at?
- What do I do well? Which career path would align with it well?
- Do I have a long-term interest in this course or major? Or would I feel bored and drop out?
- What college and courses would best suit my traits and personality?
These are some of the questions students often ask. The answer to these questions is not one size fits all. Since every student is unique, answers to these questions will differ from one student to another. How can each student discover these answers and in the process know themselves better? School counselors should encourage their students to dive deeper into these questions or take tests that can provide insight into strengths and potential career paths.
By doing so, they are able to choose the career path, college, course load, and major that best matches their intrinsic abilities, aptitude, and interests so that they embark on a fulfilling and successful career journey.
Offer referral resources and other help/support to students and parents
Many students find it challenging to choose the right college, courses, majors, etc. Students may feel confused, especially if they don’t know how to perform these searches. In addition to teaching students how to use college search engines in the right way, school counselors also need to teach them how to sort the results based on multiple factors, such as the college’s location, size, course fee, facilities on campus, student activities, SAT/ACT score requirements, career services, etc.
Despite shortlisting a few colleges from their search results, students may need additional resources and guidance in order to make their final choice. A counselor may even refer them to online libraries that provide information on college profiles, course fees, majors available, career services, and much more.
The school counselor may facilitate one-on-one parent consultations and discussions, as well as parent-teacher and parent-parent discussions from time to time. By having such consultations and discussions, counselors can ensure that everyone is on the same page with decisions and actions regarding students’ issues. Among other things, they may involve academic progress, educational materials, social provocation, or disciplinary decisions.
The school counselors can provide education and resources to parents who are dealing with child-related problems or have questions about their child’s education or career. This could even help parents understand the value of the school’s other staff, such as psychologists, nurses, and resource teachers, especially when their children have special needs. Counselors can assist parents in finding and obtaining additional support within the school system or through the community if they need it.
Teachers face a variety of challenges today. The key areas of focus are their students’ academic progress, psychological well-being, and behavioral issues. Researchers have found that teachers can effectively guide and assist their students in these and some other areas when well-trained and experienced school counselors are available to assist.
Counselors can offer teachers a lot of support in addressing students’ educational goals, aspirations, and needs by working as a team. There is no limit to what they can do when it comes to making sure that students’ needs are met through group activities, social events, or meet-ups.
Teachers may also use them as silent observers in virtual classes to observe students and provide notes and other assistance to help them perform their duties more effectively. Among other things, counselors can assist with parent-teacher conferences and provide systemic and holistic interventions (at school) for students facing behavioral, family, peer, mental, and emotional problems, as well as coping with changing family dynamics, illness, and grief and loss. They can also analyze student test results and records to ensure that their implications are understood by teachers in the right way.
Administrators are responsible for running all school operations, from making academic decisions, managing budgets, hiring, and supervising. As a result, they have a lot to deal with. Many of these responsibilities and duties are carried out by counselors. Counselors can ensure that the school’s academic mission and its counseling programs to support student success are properly aligned.
A counselor may be responsible for creating a system that can help them manage the program and even suggest ways to use their services for administrative tasks effectively to enhance student learning and development. Periodically, they can evaluate the program and analyze the related data to make improvements. In some cases, they may even provide administrators with useful data received from the program to help them apply for funding and grants.