It's one of my favorite times of year! It's National School Counseling Week!
The debate has been occurring around the country for a few weeks now about whether School Counselors should have to celebrate themselves or have the time, energy or money to participate in NSCW. Let's stop right there. It's not about appreciation, it's about educating those around us. While we all love to see tangible examples of how we are appreciated on a special day or week, I submit we would ALL rather experience a profession daily where we are allowed and encouraged to do what we were trained to do. If you are in the perfect school counseling situation with awesome ratios, free from all non-counselor duties, providing 80%+ of your time in direct services to students, with administrators, teachers, and parents who understand your job and support the programs and activities you provide, then maybe you have reached a place where you don't need to support National School Counseling Week, but for the rest of us, the struggle is real. I am blessed to have a great situation, but most of my colleagues around the district and country do not. Here's 5 reasons why I'm participating during NSCW:
1) The majority of people STILL call us Guidance Counselor!
If students, parents, teachers, administrators and school district personnel are still saying "Guidance Counselor" you have your work cut out for you! We are not Guidance Counselors, we are Masters degree holding Counseling professionals. We are not teachers or coaches with no counseling training from the 1950's and 60's who volunteered to help the kids who need to get into college. We are a highly trained force of Counselors, who are also educators, who help ALL students with the challenges of living in the 21st century. Whether it be homelessness, social media savvy, bullying, self harm, anxiety, mindfulness, social and academic skills, career readiness, kindness, personal safety, splintered families, abuse, or neglect School Counselors are uniquely trained and qualified to be the first line of mental health help in our schools.
So please, stop calling us "Guidance Counselors"!
2) No one really knows what we do.
Some School Counselors say, " Oh they (teachers/parents/administrators) know what I do, I don't need to tell them." But do they, really? They think they know what you do and you may think they know what you do, but until they have lived a day in your shoes, they really have NO IDEA, because we can't tell them! I LOVE my job, but you know how grueling and tough some days can be. You know on some days if you didn't believe in prayer or a higher power, you might just give up. You can't really talk to others about what you do because of the confidential nature of the fears and concerns shared with you. The intense ethical responsibilities we face require you to shoulder many of the confidences alone, unless you are blessed to have additional School Counselors in your school or have things shared with you that legally require you to make a report. And because we can't really tell them what we do, NSCW is a great week to educate them about why every student deserves a School Counselor.
3) School Counselors around the country still have extreme ratios.
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends student to School Counselor ratios or 250:1. Does this may you laugh out loud? Does it make you envious? Unless you are living this ratio, we still have work to do! I am in a middle school and share our 760 students with an amazing partner. Even with 380 students each the demands are high and the needs are great. I can't even imagine what is is like to have 1500+ students or be at 3 or more schools. There is work to be done, if not for ourselves for our School Counselor colleagues!
4) School Counselors are still performing non-Counselor duties.
As long as School Counselors have to be the registrar, testing coordinator, RtI coordinator, disciplinarian, substitute in classes, do breakfast, lunch, bus, car, or playground duty there is education to be done. We must use this week to advocate for the appropriate role of School Counselors. Will it magically change your situation? No of course not, change takes time. A little trickle of water can carve a canyon. It may not make a difference for you, but you are paving the way for School Counselors to come. I am thankful for the ones who came before me to create a more School Counselor friendly environment in my school. Be the pioneer!
5) You have to model how you want to be treated (perceived).
Right? Isn't this what we tell our students? Time to take our own advice. If people aren't educated on the proper title, ratios, and job responsibilities how will they ever learn? I love this quote from PBIS. "If a child can't read, we teach them to read. If a child can't swim, we teach them to swim. If a child can't behave, we punish them." The same is true for School Counselors. If parents or teachers don't know how to handle a behaviorally challenge kid we teach them. If parents and teachers don't have suicide awareness (or any other awareness) we teach them. If parents and teachers don't understand the role of the School Counselor we get discouraged. Ladies and gentlemen, most do not know, we have to teach them. Use this week to model for them what it means to be a School Counselor and how you would like our profession to be perceived. It's not self promotion, it is promotion of the profession.
So, how will I celebrate?
To begin the week I will post the ASCA signs around the campus and each day my partner and I are reading the ASCA blurbs on the morning announcements. Find them here at the ASCA website
Monday: Donuts, coffee and juice for the faculty along with a School Counselor Trivia Game. My partner and I will each have a sheet with 10 "facts" about us, half are true, half are false. The faculty will have to guess which is which. My partner and I are both new to our middle school so this will be a fun way for them to get to know us better. The teacher with the most correct guesses wins a $5 Starbucks gift card.
I love this poem , "Cause I Ain't Got No Pencil" by Joshua Dickerson, as a reminder to teachers that we all have a story. What a great way to advocate for the needs of students and show how School Counselors can support them. I ordered card stock at the beginning of the year and got pencils at
Wal Mart after the new year for 97 cents for a box of 20.
School Counselors are the heart of the school. Hershey's chocolate hearts, 30 to a bag, I had the card stock, used the school copy machine. Pretty cheap.
Have we (I) told you "Reesently" how much we (I) enjoy being your School Counselor (s)? We will have a Photo booth set up outside the cafeteria for students to take photos with the ASCA sign "My School Counselor helps me reach for the stars by..."
In a "crunch," your School Counselor can help. More chocolate for teachers, card stock and the school copy machine. At lunch we will have a School Counselor Kahoots! the students can play with candy as prizes.
And that's it! If you don't have the time or the money I get it. But don't ignore this important professional week to promote the profession of School Counseling using the freebies on the ASCA website.
Happy National School Counseling Week!