So, three weeks ago I had a medical procedure and was on bed rest for the rest of the afternoon.  Being that it was New Year’s Eve, I was miserable. While lying in bed, I was preoccupied with thoughts of missing my annual New Year’s dinner date…rats!  As you can tell, I did not like being horizontal so I decided to keep myself entertained. After I ran out of stuff to do (getting on social media, watching an educational video, talking to my mom on the phone, trying to take a nap), I decided to go through my blog.  Surprisingly, I noticed I had two drafts saved that I never finished.  “Hmmmm, I wonder what I started and never finished?”  The post that drew me in was one from 2015…almost four years ago.  After reading it, I thought it was appropriate to pull it out and finally finish it.  Now, let’s go back 2015 and look at the top news topics of that year (yes, I was that bored).

The 2015 Time Capsule

10.Accusations were made that the New England Patriots used a deflated ball to win games. This was known as Deflate Gate.
9. Empire was top show of the year.
8. Hillary Clinton’s emails were the talk of Washington.
7. Bruce Jenner becomes Caitlyn Jenner.
6. Martin Shkreli became the most hated man in America when he jacked up the price of the HIV drug, Daraprim, by 5000%!
5. Star Wars made a triumphant come back in theaters.
4. Bill Cosby was accused of sexually assaulting women by drugging them.
3. 2015 became one of the warmest years on record due to the El Nino pattern.
2. Laws on marriage changed allowing same sex marriage.
1. Video cams became common police equipment  revealing police brutality and true criminal behavior.

So, that was 2015…can you believe it is now four years later!! Even though I added a few new resources and comments to this post,  I believe this old post is still relevant for school counselors today!

Written Winter, 2015…(my dramatic entrance)

As spring approaches, I have two intentions for writing this post. First, I want to give high school counselors some specific examples of how to advocate for themselves. Second, I want to empower them with some fresh new ideas.  As we know, school counseling jobs are hard to come by these days with school districts’ limited resources.  In addition, the job of the school counselor seems ubiquitous to administrators, teachers, and parents who often say, “So, what do you do?”  Urrrggghhhh…I get so sick of hearing that same question over and over.  Therefore, I am always looking for ways that we can stay in within the ASCA domains (academic, career, and social/emotional), but show our stakeholders we are worth the investment!!

A few sidebar notes….

Want to know more about the misconceptions of school counselors, check out this guest post from 2017 by Sheldon Soper.

Major Misconceptions about School Counselors

Also, I wanted to share why districts fail to hire school counselors and why you should always protect your work reputation (pssst  don’t be lazy).

Why Schools Fail To Hire School Counselors

One more resource…I wrote a post about how to protect your work reputation as a school counselor.

Protect Your Work Reputation

Now back to the present…

If you want to make a difference in your school community and advocate for your profession, there are some ways you can do this effectively.  I decided to poll some school counselors at all levels and they gave me some great suggestions of how you can be a stand out counselor in 2019.

Five Recommendations on How to Become a Stand Out School Counselor 

1. Promote a Safe School Climate

Safe, inclusive, and positive school climates provide students with supports (i.e. social and emotional learning).  How can school counselors do this effectively?

Some suggestions include…

  • Listen. People need to feel heard. Students, parents, teachers, secretaries, even the principals.
  • Assist students in developing social and emotional competencies like self management, resilience, and decision making. 
  • Refer students with complex social, emotional, and behavioral needs for psychological testing, mental health services, and other educational services.
  • Assist your administrator in addressing the root causes of disciplinary incidents;  preventing future disciplinary concerns;  reintegrating students returning from suspensions,alternate schools, or incarceration, and maintaining a safe, inclusive, and positive educational environment. 
  • Involve students and student advocates in maintaining a safe, inclusive, and positive educational environment through such programs as peer mediation or restorative justice.

2.  Get Involved in Staff Development and Training

Some suggestions include…

  • Provide school staff with ongoing training in evidence based techniques such as conflict resolution and de-escalation strategies to decrease classroom disruptions.
  •  Provide cultural awareness training to all school personnel.
  • Train school resource officers in cultural competence, child development, conflict resolution, privacy issues, and mentoring.
  • Train students to become peer helpers to extend your services in the school.

Start a Peer Listening Program in Your School

  • Connect with the other counselors in your district, not just your department. Start a PLC/PLN (Professional Learning Community/Network), meet on a regular basis to discuss common challenges/solutions/ community resources, share ideas, materials and encourage each other. This is beneficial at  every level but even more at the elementary where counselors are often on their own. It takes leadership and initiative to start one and keep it going.
  • Grow as a professional and submit a session proposal to speak at a conference. (Can’t afford to go?  Check out the School Community Counselor Scholarship on the Counseling Geek’s blog!)
  • Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate!!! With teachers, counselors outside your school, community members, students. Also consider moving up to admin, counselors have great insight that is missing in administration.
  • You see a need and you fill it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a counseling group, a parent workshop, a newsletter home, or a holiday help program.

3.  Become a Advocate for Yourself and All Students

Some suggestions include…

  • Provide clear, appropriate, and consistent expectations for all students, not just a few.
  • Advocate for providing positive interventions in the school discipline policy over student removal.
  • Promote equity and continuous improvement among the student body.
  • Be consistent in collecting data to prove your interventions are working.
  • Collect data to track progress in creating and maintaining a safe and inclusive educational environment.
  • Recognize that it is the best profession in the world and you are fortunate to serve students everyday sometimes never knowing the impact you have made. You have the opportunity every single day to make a difference in the life of a child. It doesn’t get any better than that.
  • Talk to local politicians about what your role looks like.
  • Get involved in social media PLNs (twitter is a great place to start, look up #scchat #hscchat #escchat
  • Get involved in your local branch of your association and your state association.
  • Find your “why”! There are going to be horrible, tough days you may even feel like quitting but know your why will make those hard days manageable! Plus give you a goal to work towards. Have a celebration folder for the rough days too! Self-care is essential. Plan it into your life! We can only help others if we help ourselves first! We must put the oxygen mask on us before others!!
  • Take care of yourself so you can be “present” with your students and help them navigate their mental health.
  • Get out of your office. Walk the halls at lunch. Get to know the kids and make yourself visible and approachable.

4.  Teach Students Needed Skills for Success in Life  (2018 resources added here)

Some suggestions include…

  • Consider teaching your students survival skills needed for the 21st Century.  Consider such events as an Adulting Day Event.  Want to know more?  Check out my post on creating an Adulting Day Event.

Create Your Own Adulting Day Event

  • Find creative ways to recognize all students for their skills and accomplishments.  A creative and out of the box counselor gets noticed!!!

Consider doing something that no one else has done before in your school.  Here are a few ideas to think about…

Career and Technical Letter of Intent Signing Day

Many student are not recognized at award nights, college signing days, or honor ceremonies. Consider creating a Career and Technical Letter-of-Intent Signing Day.” At this ceremony, students and company representatives sign letters of intent regarding conditions of the students’ employment, training, and compensation. 


College Signing Day

For students who want to move to a college or university, consider a College Signing Day Event. Follow this guide to create your own College Signing Day to celebrate future success.

College Decision Day Ideas

5.  Meet Regularly With Your Administration and Offer Your Expertise and Support 

Some suggestions include…

  • Make an effort to get to know your principal as a person.
  • Give support to your principal on decisions he or she makes.  The support you give will come back your way!
  • Build trust by keeping your word, being student-centered, and keeping your principal informed. 

See more about your relationship with your principal…it’s pretty important.

You Matter in Your School: Evaluating the Counselor-Principal Relationship

I hope this post will give you some ideas where to begin in becoming a stand out counselor.  Here is my suggestion…don’t try to do everything at one time.  Just pick one suggestion and try it out. Also (if you don’t celebrate this important event), National School Counselor’s Week is just around the corner!  Check out the awesome resources ASCA has provided for school counselors to show how we support our school. Happy 2015, um, 2019!

National School Counselor’s Week

Monday: Happy National School Counseling Week 
Take a picture/video with the new National School Counseling Week sign

Tuesday: Lessons Learned 
School counselors: Take a photo with the sign  – “As a school counselor, I have learned…”

Wednesday: Lessons Shared
School Counselors: Download the “As a school counselor, I want my students to know…” sign
Supporters: Download the “My school counselor taught me…” sign

Thursday: Life #Goals
School Counselors: Download the “This School Counselor’s #Goal” sign and share your school counseling goals
Supporters: Download the “Thank you __________(insert school counselor’s name) for helping me set my #goal to become a…”

Friday: Building Better Humans
School Counselors: Download the “I’m Building Better Humans by…” sign
Supporters: “My school counselor helps me be better by…”

Still not sure about NSCW???  Check out these articles!
Why You Should Celebrate NSCW, article by  Patrick O’Connor from 2018

News Flash: Not All School Counselors Celebrate NSCW

Recipe for a Great NSCW!

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