Spring Break is here…hip hip hooray! Finally, I have a little free time to write my first post for the month of April (yes, I have been slacking). However, I now have an opportunity to sit leisurely on my bed and write this post while listening to I-Heart Radio (Whitesnake channel, of course).
Today it hit me that summer will be here and I have to think about my professional development plans. Often, I believe that professional development for school counselors is an afterthought for the majority of school districts (if you ever have been forced to sit in a session on how to use the grading program for teachers, you know what I am talking about). Also, professional development costs money which many principals are not willing to fork out to their school counselors either (bummer). So, what is a school counselor to do? Well, it is imperative that we make professional development plans ahead of time as part of our yearly goals; list the needs we are wanting to meet professionally for the year; communicate our goals to our supervisors; and make maybe even make some financial sacrifices (ouch).
So, what are some options for professional development over the summer? Well, there are many different types from which a school counselor can choose; however, I want to focus on the mother of all professional development opportunities, the summer conference. I know, I know many of you lack the money to attend a conference and I totally get that (more than you know). So here is where my experience of working in six different districts under 11 different principals may be helpful.
Here is a list of ideas that I have generated from my own experience when I lacked supportive leaders.
1. It is imperative that you show a need to your school leader of why you must attend this conference…play the radio station for your principal…WFIM (what’s in it for me!). Make sure you are targeting a need that is on your principal’s radar. This could include student discipline, test scores, at-risk students, etc.
2. Make friends or at least, connections, in the district office. There may be monies available from grants or specific conferences that other departments may sponsor. For instance, our Career Technical Agricultural Education department is sponsoring school counselors to attend our state’s CTAE conference this year (sweet!).
3. Write a grant. Yes, I hear the moans from the readers out there; however, this is a great way to find funds to support your professional growth when it is based on fulfilling a specific need or objective.
4. Fund raising may be an option. Some districts may frown on this, but if your district is supportive you may have a source to sponsor you and your colleagues ability to attend a conference that you may have not considered.
5. Get support from your PTA. Sometimes your school’s PTA may be on fire about a topic and you can volunteer to bring back information if you can get the funding to attend a conference.
6. Look for local businesses to sponsor your professional development. This can include insurance agencies, law offices, local business partners, etc.
7. Sacrifice….yikes. Cut out the daily coffee trips to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, reduce the number of nights you are eating out, cut out some extra amenities (i.e snacks) and save that money in a special account. You will be surprised how much change you can actually save in a year (I have saved over $150.00 in change last year!).
8, Look for evidence of why this conference is important to you professionally. ASCA has created a justification letter that school counselors can download to share with their direct supervisors.
9. Plan ahead for conferences you really want to attend and give your principal a road map of what you would like to accomplish by attending these conferences. This can be done effectively when you meet with your principal to sign your yearly agreement. For those of you not there quite yet (like me most of my career), put this as part of your professional development goal that you would like to accomplish.
10. If you have a burning desire to attend the 2018 ASCA conference in Los Angeles (like me), consider applying for the School Counselor Community Scholarship hosted by Jeff Ream, the Counseling Geek.
Now, it is time to consider what conference(s) you would like to attend now or in the future. Below I have posted a list of conferences that appeal to school counselors. I hope you find one that you like or feel free to suggest one that I may have missed.
American Counseling Association Conference
April 26-29, 2018
*ASCA University Certification Program
(Not a conference, but well worth mentioning as a at home option!)
Association for Conflict Resolution Conference
At-Risk & Struggling Students Conference
Counselor Fly-In College Tours
Summer and Fall, 2017
Counseling Strategies & Resources Conference
Evidence Based School Counselor Conference
See this year’s conference highlights
Freshmen Success Conference
Girl Bullying Conference
Las Vegas, NV
International Conference on Conflict Resolution Education
International School Counseling Conference
NACAC National Conference
National At-Risk Youth Education Network Conference
National At-Risk Conference
March 4-7, 2018
National College Fairs
Listed by State
National Conference on School Discipline
Las Vegas, NV
National Drop Out Prevention Network Conference
Palm Springs, CA
National Peer Helper Conference
Perdido Beach, AL
National School Safety and Prevention Conference
Las Vegas, NV
Next Gen School Safety Conference
Peer Educator Training/Certification
Peer Resource Training
San Francisco, CA
Reaching the Wounded Student Conference
Safe and Civil Schools Conference
School Climate and Culture Summit
Las Vegas, NV
Southeast Conference on PBIS
State Counseling Conferences 2017
Trending School Counseling Conference
Wired Differently Conference