Saturday, March 28, 2015

Evidence-Based School Counseling

 (Part 1 of a 4 part series)
It was pure luck that I first heard of the Evidence-Based School Counseling Conference at Northern Kentucky University in Erlanger. The conference title and website intrigued me and as luck would have it, 2 weeks before the conference, they were still taking registrations. There was even room at the conference hotel with shuttle service to the airport and conference center and I found a relatively inexpensive non-stop plane flight.  Oh, and did I mention, it was my Spring Break? It was meant to be.

The Conference

Visiting the EBSC website I found the following conference description and I was sold.

“The Evidence-Based School Counseling Conference provides school counselors with critical information about successful practice, evaluation, and relevant research to create dynamic and powerful school counseling programs. The conference uses a unique format to incorporate both peer-reviewed research presentations and small group consultation with leaders in the field.”

I have been to my share of professional conferences  at the local, state, and national level, but the EBSC conference is by far my favorite.  The conference was small, I would estimate about 300 participants.  The session selection was of the highest quality and varied. There was time for networking, professional exchange, making new friends, and the opportunity to meet some of School Counseling’s “rock stars."

“Rock Star” Dr. Trish Hatch

Watching Dr.Trish Hatch deliver a keynote is a little like being on a roller coaster. Without your safety belt.  The ride is fast and exciting, but you are also scared to death you are not going to be able to stay in your seat.  Not because you are afraid you are going to be thrown out of it, but because she generates the kind of excitement that makes you want to jump up and get started. Her message is delivered at a rapid pace with passion and enthusiasm.  This is because there is so much she wants School Counselors to know and so much she wants to encourage School Counselors to do.  She will tell you our time is NOW.

The Miracle Question
 Our keynote begins with Dr. Hatch asking us the Miracle question.  If we were to wake up tomorrow and a miracle were to have occurred in School Counseling what would that look like?  How would we act?  How would we feel?  What would be different?  She tells us the miracle is happening NOW.  We have a national model and there are national conversations happening NOW. The spotlight is on School Counselors with the Reach Higher initiative, the First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at ASCA, and School Counselors being mentioned in documents nationwide like Common Core. As exciting as these events are, they are not enough. We must create the miracle. We must show how School Counselors are making a difference. NOW.

Speed Data-ing
Dr. Hatch said this was her first time trying out the term “Speed Data-ing,"  also known as the flashlight approach in her book, The Use of Data in School Counseling.  We are reassured we can’t measure everything, so she tells us to measure one thing- well. By assessing a specific data need and providing an intervention in that one area, we can show in a relatively short time, with perception data, the impact we can make in the attitude, knowledge, and skills of our students.

In closing, we were encouraged to redefine our School Counseling programs by using evidence-based practices. When we do, we start creating the miracle we want to see in School Counseling. Don’t wait for a miracle, she tells her audience, there is no time. Go create one.

Next time, The Flashlight Approach

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