Part of tiered school counseling services are school counseling referrals from teachers. Getting teachers to make referrals can be a challenge. You can also have teachers who refer way more students than they should. Check out these tips from Laura and Rebecca for how to work with teachers to make necessary referrals.
Work With Them
I often think that teachers who over-refer are really just very excited about the services we have to offer. I usually sit with them and ask them what skills they are hoping to build in a student or a group of students. If a large portion of the class seems to need skill-building, I’ll offer to teach extra classes in addition to my normal schedule.
For a small group of students, I work with them to problem solve using the TIPS model. I always want teachers, parents, and administration to feel supported by the school counseling program. At the same time, I really don’t have a magic wand. By requesting teachers to work with me, we build a better support network for students without me owning the whole problem.
At the beginning of the year I do a presentation with my staff on counseling services and explain that a counselor has tiered services, similar to academic intervention tiers. After completing a needs assessment, I try and follow up by visiting teacher PLC and plan meetings to discuss needs and services that will help us reach the most students. I share data with them through newsletters and meetings so they get a better understanding of my use of time.
During School Counselor Week, I share with them information on services and the role of the counselor, for example that we provide short term counseling and not long term therapy.
Lastly, I use punch cards made from VistaPrint, for students and teachers to have a reminder of meeting dates, but also to give them a visual for how many times (approximately 5) that I meet with students. I think the punch cards help increase the knowledge that we provide short term solution focused sessions, ideally with an end date or transition to outside services.
I think getting accurate, needed referrals comes down to a teacher's understanding of counseling services and me sticking to a tiered system. I meet with each grade level to assess their needs, develop a plan for students we know will need services immediately, go over how they can make a referral, and when they should.
Also, I have to be firm about what services are needed. I do not need to see each student in small groups or individually. I can provide strategies for a teacher or push-in for classroom support. This helped make sure services weren't spread too thin and helped teachers understand the decision making process.