It’s almost here…National School Counseling Week! The 2019 celebration takes place February 4-8 and focuses public attention on the unique contribution of professional school counselors within United States school systems and how students are different as a result of comprehensive school counseling. In school districts and states across the nation, National School Counseling Week proclamations are being presented, such as by Assemblyman Jose Medina (District 61-Riverside) in my home state of California. Additionally, on the Friday before National School Counseling Week, 2019 School Counselor of the Year winner Brian Coleman and other finalists will be celebrated in Washington D.C. Our profession is incredibly lucky that former First Lady, Michelle Obama, highlighted our role and even hosted the ceremony in the White House for many years. For her most recent speech at the 2018 celebration watch here (skip to minute 43).
During this week, my Facebook and Twitter accounts are often flooded with school counselors sharing the accolades or gifts they have received, but in my humble opinion, I prefer to celebrate partnerships that allow me to work collaboratively and effectively as a school counselor. Therefore, rather than expecting treats, my school counseling department was the one who gave them out. In addition, we would pair those treats with the programs, data, and related ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors Standards from school counseling department activities. I most recently worked at a school in 2016 – here is what we shared with our staff:
Some examples of data you can use include:
Highlighting the number of students who have improved their grades from D’s and F’s after participating in study skills groups
Showing the increase in number of students who want to go to college, know the college entrance requirement courses (called A-G requirements in California), and have completed a 4-year plan aligned with A-G courses
Sharing the number of students who participated in school counselor-led intentional interventions to improve behavior, and the reduction in discipline referrals
Recognizing the increase in students who are taking and passing AP courses and/or are graduating from high school and entering post-secondary education programs
Don’t have a lot of data? That’s okay too! Share information about the upcoming family college readiness night, or even better also include how many people attended the last one. Use “qualitative data” (quotes) from students, parents, and/or staff about how school counselors support their success. Include your school counseling department’s mission and the programs in place to support student development. The only “wrong way” to celebrate, in my (again humble) opinion, is to not celebrate at all! As school counselors, we don’t often like to pat ourselves on the back, as we are usually too busy giving pats to others, or we feel uncomfortable in the spotlight. However, if we don’t market our school counseling programs, the work we do, and the benefits provided to students, others may not realize how hard we are working to support students’ success. As a profession, we often feel frustrated that teachers, administrators, school boards, parents, and many others don’t understand or value our work. National School Counseling Week is the perfect opportunity to appropriately shed light on our role and significance within the educational setting.
A few more suggestions…
Check out the American School Counselor Association’s website for their new school counseling week image, 2019 photo challenge, and other ideas. Your state school counseling association may also have ideas about ways to celebrate.
Elementary school counseling intern Courtney Lloyd set up a guessing contest about the number of school counseling core curriculum classroom lessons they had taught to date and then shared the results. Check out more details on her website.
Last year’s Hatching Results podcast about National School Counseling Week features a variety of school counselors from across the country and how they celebrate. Listen to get some additional ideas.
While you all are prepping for National School Counseling Week at your schools, I too will be prepping here in graduate school! I’m planning to share a short presentation about the changing school counselor role and use of data in counseling with my Harvard Education Leadership cohort. I will be sporting my SCHOOL (not guidance) Counselor shirt and will pass out I <3 My School Counselor stickers with them as well (which you can also buy in Spanish on the ASCA website!).
Along with enjoying the celebratory week, I hope you appreciate the process of reflecting on your work as a school counselor and the difference you make in the lives of students. And remember, if Michelle Obama can sing our praises, we can too!