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Principals Diary

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July 2012
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  1. Role of the School Counselor

    by

    What are the benefits of a school counselor and counseling program?

    School counselors are an important part of the educational leadership team and provide valuable assistance to students. The counseling program in the elementary school promotes healthy child development and enhances student achievement.  The school counselor helps all students in the areas of academic achievement, personal/social development and career development, ensuring today’s students become the productive, well-adjusted adults of tomorrow.

    Elementary School Students’ Developmental Needs

    The elementary years are a time when students begin to develop their academic self-concept and their  feelings of competence and confidence as learners. They are beginning to develop decision-making, communication and life skills, as well as and character values. It is also a time when students develop and acquire attitudes toward school self, peers, social groups and family. School counseling programs provide education, prevention and intervention services, which are integrated into all aspects of children’s lives.

    Early identification and intervention of children’s academic and personal/social needs is essential in removing barriers to learning and in promoting academic achievement. The knowledge, attitudes and skills that students acquire in the areas of academic, career and personal/social development during these elementary years serve as the foundation for future success.

    How does a school counselor provide services?

    School counselors provide many services to students, parents, school staff and community.  Individual counseling- The school counselor works with students on an individual basis to help meet the needs of a child. Small group counseling- The school counselor offers a wide range of small groups focusing on many topics.  Topics are decided by needs of students and vary based on need. Some examples of groups may include Divorce/separation, Grief/Loss, Self-esteem, Organization, Study Skills, Social Skills and friendship building.

    Classroom guidance lessons- The school counselor teaches lessons to classes on a regular basis.  There are three domains that school counselors focus on: personal/social, academic achievement, and career development.  Character education is a large part of the curriculum.  The character traits focused on throughout the year are respect, responsibility, caring, justice/fairness, honesty/trustworthiness, self-discipline, integrity, and cooperation.

    The school counselor also spends time addressing bullying. Students learn strategies to handle bullies and assertiveness skills.

    Elementary School Counselors Implement the Counseling Program by Providing:

    School Guidance Curriculum

    • Academic support, including organizational, study and test-taking skills
    • Goal setting and decision-making
    • Career awareness, exploration and planning
    • Education on understanding self and others
    • Peer relationships, coping strategies and effective social skills
    • Communication, problem-solving and conflict resolution
    • Substance abuse education
    • Multicultural/diversity awareness
    • Individual Student Planning

    Academic planning

    • Goal setting/decision- making
    • Education on understanding of self, including strengths and weaknesses
    • Transition plans

    Responsive Services

    • Individual and small-group counseling
    • Individual/family/school crisis intervention
    • Conflict resolution
    • Consultation/collaboration
    • Referrals

    System Support

    • Professional development
    • Consultation, collaboration and teaming
    • Program management and operation

    What are some of the other roles of the school counselor?

    School counselors work collaboratively with parents and teachers to decide on what action needs to be taken to address issues interfering with a students learning process.  These issues may be academic or social.  The school counselor also helps with crisis intervention.

    Elementary School Counselors Collaborate with:

    Parents

    • Parent education
    • Communication/networking
    • Academic planning
    • Career awareness programs
    • One-on-one parent conferencing

    Teachers

    • Classroom guidance activities
    • Academic support, including learning style assessment and education to help students succeed academically
    • At-risk student identification and implementation of interventions to enhance success

    Administrators

    • Behavioral management plans
    • School-wide needs assessments
    • Student data and results

     Students

    • Peer education
    • Peer support
    • Academic support
    • School climate
    • Leadership development
    • Community Service learning
    • Crisis interventions
    • Referrals
    • Support groups
    • Career education

    What are some of the tasks a school counselor “doesn’t do?

    • The school counselor does not do testing or diagnosing

    • The school counselor does not provide “therapy”

    • The school counselor does not coerce a student to participate in individual or group counseling

    • The school counselor does not handle discipline issues.

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