The most recent issue of the School Counselor, the official publication of ASCA, has identified five trends affecting school counselors today:
Bullying: It goes without saying that I spend a signifcant amount of classroom time with our bullying curriculum, Steps to Respect. This remains the cornerstone of our bullying prevention efforts, but lately I’ve supplemented it with notable books and activities. Because bullying continues to be pervasive in schools, it’s important to develop and maintain a good prevention program. Brent Burnham, author of the article Schoolwide Bully Prevention in this issue, identifies four major components of his program:
- Systemic change
- Garner commitment from all
- Teach comprehensive strategies and skills
- Continue year after year
Poverty: Beyond just rudimentary free/reduced lunch benchmarks that we use in education, it’s important to understand the levels and different types of poverty that exists for our students. I’ve seen the definition of poverty change in my career, but the ways in which we address the condition is the same. The journal calls for us to use best practices when working with these students in order for them to become successful: Include parents, reach out to the community, be consistent and honest, share your data, and be open.
Technology: I love the quality of tech tools that have emerged just over the last decade or so. A few of them, Google Docs and WordPress, have proven to be indispensible for me professionally. This section of the journal presented a few tools that were unfamiliar to me, but that I can see having a promising role for me as a school counselor.
The School Counselor’s Role: As counselors, we don’t often communicate our roles correctly to our administrators. I see this as a priority in my district this upcoming year. We have a set of CGC standards that we’ve gone by for the last four years now, but I think it’s time we connect them with our current district goals. I’d like both our building and district administrators to have a firm working knowledge of our roles in student success. This issue of the article features an article by Kathryn Sax in order to do just that.
Funding: The journal presents some new realities in this issue, beyond just student to counselor ratios. Districts have to become creative when deciding how to best serve students with diminishing support staff. In this issue, Dr. Christopher McGinley writes:
In most schools teachers will be facing new challenges with less support. Ordinarily this type of change would require schools to invest in new training and to develop new ways of providing supports to classrooms and to individual children, but in many cases that will not happen…The new normal for schools is figuring out how to provide quality or at least adequate supports with fewer people.
Here in Oregon, per-student inflation-adjusted funding has decreased steadily over the last decade and a half, and those realities are being seen throughout the state.