What do school counselors do? As professionals, we are continually answering this question as we advocate for our profession. To promote advocacy, the American School Counselor Association suggests to “speak up, reach out, and always use your data.” Counselors sometimes feel uncomfortable as they try to show their worth as a school counselor, but advocacy is necessary and will ultimately demonstrate how students are different because of what school counselors do. Here are some excellent tips and resources from Confident Counselors to assist you in advocating for your profession.
There’s a difference between education and advocating. Sometimes you need to figure out which one in your school building you need to be doing first. Most of the time it will be educating stakeholders about what your role as a school counselor is. Once they are aware, then you need to advocate for time, space, and responsibilities you should be doing based on what you told them you are supposed to do. Promote your program, use data, and keep records- these are the surest ways to educate and advocate. I use a school counseling brochure to inform parents, staff, and administrators what I do and the programs I offer. Carol Miller – The Middle School Counselor Check out School Counseling Brochure and Handouts
In this day and age, advocacy is a big part of our job as school counselors. And it’s like going to the gym or flossing- no one has time for it, but you MUST make time for it, carving 15 minutes or more into your daily schedule to work on it. Most administrators and educators have no idea what our SC job roles/duties are according to ASCA. Therefore, we must tell them- professionally, politely, and in increments. If you are at a school with no comprehensive school counseling program (CSCP), give yourself 3-5 years to work with your admin (adding new components every month and showing data to support how these components help students) to create your CSCP. Here’s a post on school counselor advocacy with lots of tips and resources to help get the ball rolling at your school! Stephanie at Bilingual Learner
National School Counseling Week is the perfect time to showcase your duties as a School Counselor. To celebrate the week, we post pennant banners in each hallway with tidbits of information about what we do, mixed with encouraging quotes. We also hand out coloring bookmarks with our role and goals listed on the back. Brandy at The Counseling Teacher Check out these free printable bookmarks.
When it comes to advocating for my program, data is my best friend. While I’ve always tracked things like the number of students I’ve provided services for or how many IEP meetings I’ve attended, this year I’m using a Google spreadsheet to collect detailed information on how I spend my time every day. At the end of the year I’ll have some fantastic data that I can share with staff and admins, and to use when planning for next year. Read more about it here. Laurie Mendoza at The School Counseling Files.
Advocating for your role as a school counselor means stepping out of your realm and into the realm of your stakeholders. Show your teachers, parents, and administrators how your work aligns with what is important to them. It’s not their job to figure it out for you! You can read how I manage (and share) data without losing my mind. – Rebecca at Counselor Up
Let’s be honest, when you are the only person doing your job, advocating for an effective role can be a challenge and it can feel awkward. Add on top of that, our schedules are not consistent or transparent to everyone. It can feel like we have extra time to be used for other tasks. While it is uncomfortable or hard, it is essential to advocate for boundaries in your role if you are going to be effective for students. It can be helpful for teachers and administration to have a better understanding of what you do. Consider starting a school newsletter or running teacher workshops. Check out this post and this post about the roles of school psychologists. – Laura from Social Emotional Workshop
For me, advocating for my role can sometimes be outside of my comfort zone, but knowing how important it is motivates me to step outside of that bubble. Volunteer to lead a staff training to show teachers how your work directly benefits them in the classroom, invite stakeholders to an informational presentation to review all of the amazing data you’ve been collecting, and make a big deal out of National School Counseling Week! It’s the perfect time to review your role and share your excitement over successful programs. – Keri from Counselor Keri
Documentation and data are two essential components of school counselor advocacy. By taking the time to stay organized and track important data, we can help to illustrate the value of our profession to stakeholders. I use a variety of tools to help me stay organized, including Google forms to log data, Google docs to track classroom lessons and small groups, and printable docs for intake and progress notes. To read more about how I stay organized, visit my blog post called Google Docs for School Counselors and check out my School Counselor Documentation Pack. – Kate from Edukate & Inspire
Developing a positive relationship with admin is vital in advocating for the role of counselor. Seek ways to partner with admin to reach school wide goals and work to align at least one of the counseling goals to the school improvement plan. Share a results report that reflects all of your amazing program accomplishments including activities and data. Volunteer to chair one of the faculty teams. Publicize your schedule and website, send counseling department info through your PTA/PTO, develop a school counseling handbook for faculty, and strive to demonstrate how your role as counselor benefits all students. A great resource to track your program activities and to demonstrate your use of time is the School Counselor App (SCUTA). Check it out! – The DIY Counselor