Sunday, May 19, 2013

The End is the Beginning for School Counselors

As the end of the school year draws near, many School Counselors find there is little time left to check the last couple of items off of the to-do list, but here are five things that should not   be left by the way-side.

1. A Program Evaluation. Every school counseling program needs to be evaluated annually by all stakeholders; including students, parents, teachers & administrators. School Counselors should also complete a program assessment & self-appraisal. All of these elements ensure constant program development & growth. As School Counselors those we serve change every year, our programs & services should grow & change too.

2. Plan your 2013-2014 School Counseling Core Curriculum. Once you've had an opportunity to review the feedback from all stakeholders & review the data from your program assessment, take some time to begin planning for next year's programming. Jot down ideas & preliminary goals that can be further developed over the summer or in the fall. Remember to ditch the "Classroom Guidance" terminology & adopt the new terminology "School Counseling Core Curriculum" to further align your program with the most recent ASCA model.

3. Share program results. Most school districts have final faculty meetings; take this opportunity to highlight your progress towards meeting your School Counseling goals, even if you didn't meet them. "Making Data Work," an ASCA publication, has one of the neatest & most well received formats I've worked with in a long time when it comes to sharing data & results with stakeholders. I shared a DATA Report Form with 8th grade principals from all of our feeder schools and everyone in my district this year and I received lots of positive feedback about the layout and information shared. Also share your progress with your School Board, parents & the community at large; publishing your progress on your schools website can make this task less costly, more efficient & reach a greater audience.

4. Show your appreciation. Don't forget to show your appreciation to those who support your program & share their classrooms. Thanks to Twitter, I found a great idea for this one just the other day-feel free to add it to your toolbox.

Simply place a list of all faculty, administration & staff member’s names in each person’s mailbox & ask them to write something next to each person’s name that describes them; then return the sheets to you. Take them home over the summer & create a Wordle
 for each person on the staff to be handed out at the beginning of next school year with your faculty newsletter or hand them out on the last day for your staff. My district has an annual all staff breakfast at the end of the school year so I will have time to send everyone off for the summer with a token of my appreciation.
This activity will not only be a great tradition that people look forward to, but also a great way to build a community spirit within your school.

5. Become more tech-savvy. Let’s face it; technology is not going anywhere so we must all embrace it and integrate it into our professional practice. Plan to learn more over the summer about some of the emerging technologies that can enhance your school counseling practice. I learned Twitter this year & it expanded my Professional Development network exponentially. I also fully integrated WhatsNextIllinois into my School Counseling Core Curriculum; now my School Counseling Core Curriculum is mostly web-based & provides parents, faculty and administration the opportunity to become more involved in what I do.

The pressure to tie all the loose ends before summer is in full swing can be daunting, I can relate, especially since I am the only school counselor in my school with a ratio of 1:350. But, as Professional School Counselors we can also view the end of the school year as the beginning of new possibilities, celebration, time for program development, and maybe even time to begin the road to RAMP; the end is just the beginning.