Informed Educator

Tips for the School Counselor & Teacher

WE ARE HERE TO HELP-

School Counselors, formerly known as guidance counselors, are valuable resource to teachers and administrators. No we are not administrators, and no we don't regularly teach in the classroom but we do play an important role in the lives of students. We do more than just give out random tests and proctor end of the year exams. Counselors help children struggling with different issues as well as pointing students to make wise choices. Counselors are a major part of any school and are just as integral as any teacher.

What is a School Counselor?

School Counselors according to the American Counseling Association: "prepared to promote the academic, social, and personal development of K-12 students through implementation...of individual counseling, family/teacher consultations, classroom guidance, and group counseling" (ACA.org)


The School Counselors primary role is to provide counseling to students, although the role of the school counselor has expanded to include in many areas, proctoring of state and national testing.


Simply stated, the school counselor is an integral part of any school and is designed to help students succeed academically, socially, and personally. This goal is accomplished through a variety of means. Through classroom activities, or group counseling sessions, and even individual counseling sessions.

We can't do everything.

Sure everybody has been there. It's lunch time and the school counselor is eating with a group of teachers. The table talk has transitioned to a trouble student that the counselor has been seeing. The teacher ask the counselor what's going on with the student and they refuse to give a straight answer.


Well there is a good reason for that...


Just like a teacher is not allowed under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to share a students educational records, it is very similar to ethical requirements of a school counselor. As school counselors the privacy of students is a top priority. Just as FERPA provides protection to a students educational records, the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) code of ethics requires that counselors take the utmost care in making sure that the privacy of clients are protected (ACA.org).


So when faced with a barrage of questions from teachers about what happened to Johnny, or why is Susan acting so strangely, more often than not you will be met with few answers. It is the ethical responsibility of school counselors to protect the students privacy. Consider this not all students wish to have personal or academic issues be talked about publicly. Yes, Johnny may be a pain to have in class, but what Johnny shares with counselors must be held in confidence in much the same way that educators cannot discuss a child's personal records.

Building Relationships for Academic Achievement Part II: Teacher-Parent Relationships

How can I help my students improve academically? This is a question teachers are constantly trying to answer. In each newsletter, this column focuses on strategies teachers can use to help their students improve academically. The last newsletter contained the first part of a series on building relationships for academic achievement, focusing on relationships between teachers and students. In this edition, the topic will focus on how the relationship between teachers and parents can help students succeed.


Having good relationships with students and parents alike is a basic building block for student success. As Stetson, Stetson, Sinclair, and Nix (2012) indicate in their research, students tend to do better academically when their parents are involved. Additionally, building relationships among teachers, students, and parents is necessary for student academic achievement.


Likewise, other research by Ouellette and Wilkerson (2008) indicates that students of uninvolved parents tend to be more at-risk. This same article suggests that minority parents and parents of low socio-economic status who are involved in schools have been responsive to programs offered if they are provided with the right opportunities (Ouellette & Wilkerson, 2008).


Parent involvement may increase student success, but how can teachers help get parents involved? The key is to keep them informed. This can be done through a variety of means, such as notes, letters, phone calls, emails, newsletters, etc. Also, don’t be afraid to integrate technology such as blogs, social media, and even the Parent Portal on Infinite Campus. To help get parents even more involved, hold meetings, conferences, or open houses where they feel welcome in the school or ask for volunteers to help around the classroom or to help chaperone field trips (Ouellette & Wilkerson, 2008).


It is up to the schools to create a wide variety of opportunities available to all parents. This may require schools and teachers to get creative with involvement opportunities. If parents are unable to attend events, try to be considerate to those parents and come up with an alternative that may be more convenient for them. Sometimes, if you can’t get the parents to come to you, you may have to go to them. Research shows that home visits can work well to improve relationships among teachers, parents, and students, leading directly to improved student behavior and academic success (Stetson, et al., 2012). It may be more work, but the payoff could be huge.


For questions or more ideas to help get parents involved, feel free to stop by the Counseling Office. You may also be interested in checking out the links below.


References


Stetson, R., Stetson, E., Sinclair, B., & Nix, K. (2012). Home visits: Teacher reflections about relationships, student behavior, and achievement. Issues in Teacher Education, 21(1), 21-37.


Ouellette, P., & Wilkerson, D. (2008). “They won’t come”: Increasing parent involvement in parent management training programs for at-risk youths in schools. School Social Work Journal, 32(2), 39-53.

Improving Student Achievement through Targeting Student Success Skills

While it is no secret that school counselors wear many hats in public schools these days, many continue to focus solely on improving academic achievement. Did you know student success can be positively impacted that by targeting social skills through classroom and group counseling? While many of you are familiar with group counseling, and classroom lessons, you may have only done it to fulfill a job requirement, if at all. Research now shows that there's so much more than merely fulfilling a job requirement!


Use of an evidence based program for social skills instruction (SSS), such as the Student Success Skills curriculum (link below) has been found to successfully impact students, both in academics and behavior. Evidence has shown that school counselors can significantly contribute to increased student outcomes by targeting social skills, along with academics, and self-monitoring skills. The trend of the school counselor in focusing on the whole child led to the development of national standards, further defining the counselor's role. The SSS model is already aligned with the ASCA National Model, eliminating some of the work associated with the program.


The SSS program utilizes both classroom and group counseling, requiring only 45 minutes of your time in the classroom setting on a weekly basis for eight weeks, beginning in October. This is followed by four monthly "booster" sessions that meet for 45 minutes in the spring prior to testing. Think of the potential impact you could have on students, with such a minimal investment of your time!


Students get the opportunity to learn and practice empathy, encouragement, attention, and listening through a community of caring. For some students, we are the only people they will ever learn these skills from. Think about it. Commit to your students, and consider changing lives through use of the SSS.


Reference


Brigman, Greg A., Webb, Linda D., Campbell, Chari, (2007). Building skills for school success: Improving the academic and social competence of students. School Counseling, 10, (3), 279-288.

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Getting Personal: Eliminating Stress

Over the years, the teaching profession has changed quite a bit. What many referred to as “the best job” has now shifted and many say it is not as enjoyable as it once was. Teachers have complained about the paperwork and common core, not to mention the difficult students. Many have said “I’d love my job, if I could do my job.” This has brought stress amongst teachers today on top of all of the teaching, grading, and lesson planning.


How does the stress from the job affect teachers in and out the classroom? Gastaldi et al, from the University of Turin, found that many teachers reach a sense of burn out, many experiencing exhaustion and depersonalization (Gastaldi et al., 2014). Teachers may carry their burn-out and stress home with them when they leave school. Much like any other job, the stress of the work may double over in their home life.


What are ways teachers can eliminate or cope with their stress and burn-out? The website titled “Education World” described ways to work through stress. It speaks of one guidance counselor that holds workshops for his teachers to help them learn relaxation exercises to help them manage and cope with their stress. A former teacher added that stress from home can play a large role in how effective a teacher is in the class room.


So what can you do to work through you own stress? Self-help websites and books list many ways to deal with stress. For many, taking a walk in the fresh air, finding a hobby, and exercising have been known to help. Finding an ally here at school can be a helpful resource as well.


In order to better help serve you all, workshops are being organized to meet once a month. Please voice your interest in these and what you would be interested in learning about. The link to the “Education World”, as well as a link to a Stress and Anxiety Quiz, is below.


Gastaldi, F. M., Pasta, T., Longobardi, C., Prino, L. E., & Quaglia, R. (2014). Measuring the influence of stress and burnout in teacher-child relationship. European Journal Of Education And Psychology, 7(1), 17-28.