Thursday, July 21, 2011

School Counselors...Not needed?

An interesting and thought-provoking article, Katy Murphy from the Oakland Tribune questions both the effectiveness of School Counselors and the cost savings of reducing or eliminating the positions.  There is some fair support on both sides of this issue, but whichever camp you choose, an open mind is still going to be the best option. 

That was my unbiased introduction.  Now here's the opinionated "real" me.  School Counselors can be the most positive or most negative impact on students than maybe anyone else in the district.  The simple difference is how they see their position and even the title. 

I use the term School Counselor instead of Guidance Counselor because of what that person should be doing.  They are counseling a student through the process of school.  They are NOT the "lay down on the couch and tell me about your life" counselor.  Schools have used them for that, and there is typically minimal training in that area, but it is for simple, quick issues or for additional referral when done right.  When done wrong, it is ineffective and even damaging to the student that is there for the wrong reasons.  School Counselors work a student through the process of registration, college selection, assessments, aligning coursework with goals, and similar events.  When they aren't doing this, they aren't doing their job.  In addition, they aren't the principal or nurse of the building either.  Working closely and positively with these people is imperative, and each should rely on the other, but the jobs, responsibilities, and authorities are significantly different.

Do I see School Counselors as important, even essential?  Yes.  Let's just let them know what the expectation is, what they are and are not, and how they fit into the team in order to work on behalf of the students that they are serving.



Anonymous said...

I would also add that school counselors build the students awareness of good character traits and become the student advocate.. A school counselor in the elementary environment is a partner with the classroom teacher, principal, nurse and all staff. They create a team that advocates for the safety and education of the child. The counselor introduces the students to positive behavior traits that will follow all the way through their lives. The counselor also shows staff and parents new ways to work with students. He or she works with students one to one and in groups to build relationships. A great counselor is so valuable but a not so good or poor counselor is a disgrace to education. A guidance counselor is important TK-12th grade. No school or child should be without.

Anonymous said...

I think the title' Counselor' or even 'guidance counselor' gives the impression of needing counseling, which often times is taken as a weakness. I like the title 'Student Advocate' I think it denotes someone who stands behind students and speaks for thier needs. Just an observation.

Anonymous said...

Both of these comments indicate very similar things, and I support both thoughts. The role of the School Counselor is often blurred, and the term "counselor" in and of itself makes that a problem. We think of a different counseling than what happens (or should happen) in the school setting. That's where I see the danger, in the interpretation of what we believe this person can, should, or may do.

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