“School counselors are often the vital link between students’ aspirations for the future and tangible opportunities for post secondary success…I want to call attention to the urgent need for highly effective school counselors and discuss the importance of amplifying the impact of school counselors on students’ academic success, social-emotional well-being, and college and career easiness.” (Letter from secretary Duncan re: School Counselors)
I am encouraged to read this letter from Arne Duncan speaking out about the importance of school counselors in preparing students for college and career readiness. Part of that preparation is attending to the social-emotional needs of students who are struggling to navigate life or who just need reassurance that they are on the right track. Counselors take time to listen attentively, notice possible mental health issues and sometimes bridge the gap between students’ expectations and the demands that family, friends and the school place on them. This can be really complicated for the student and require a long term relationship with the counselor to assist him/her in “sorting everything out.”
This all comes down to time and attention. Time to dedicate a half hour, an hour every few weeks to listen and respond to the students’ needs. Time to contact teachers/parents when issues arise that require their input/expertise. Time to contact a mental health provider when deeper services are needed.
Attention to social media, group behavior in school, and who is sitting alone. Attention to the concerns raised by school staff when they notice behaviors that could derail a student. Attention to the details of college application process and when deadlines need to be completed.
The bottom line…let’s focus on the students’ needs and do everything possible to provide a platform for success. Can we insure success for every student? No. Will every student connect with the counselor? No. However, I contend that being intentional with our time, attention and focus we will make a difference in many lives.
So, school counselors, how do you focus your time to maximize student contact? Do you have some methods that you have developed over the years that assist you in getting the college information out without drowning in the paper work? Please share your thoughts on making the school counseling profession the strongest it can be.