Why Guidance Counseling Needs to Change

Carol’s summary:
I have the privilege of working with extraordinary counselors across the country who take on leadership roles in their schools and district. Their aim is to help all students by leading success and transition programs through summer academies, boot camps and year-long advisory classes. As the heart and soul of their schools, these counselors are committed in a larger way to building awareness among administrators and teachers for what makes a difference in students’ lives. Based on my experiences and input from counselors nationwide, here are ways guidance counselors can make themselves indispensable to school districts:

1) Align with district academic, emotional and social goals
2) Lead the advisory movement–teach, facilitate and promote a success vision in the school.
3) Tie your results to data and get data collected for the school on behalf of the principal.
4) Be a strong part of the principal’s leadership team along with the APs.
5) Connect with strong counselor leaders across the state–get peer mentors outside your district as well as inside.
6) Develop your coaching and your business skills–these two things will allow you to be more effective as counselor.

For more information about LifeBound’s work with counselors, please contact our toll free # at 1.877.737.8510 or email contact@lifebound.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Educational Leadership
Why Guidance Counseling Needs to Change
Jean Johnson, Jon Rochkind and Amber Ott

Recent surveys of young adults make a compelling case for reinventing high school guidance counseling.

The meeting with the high school guidance counselor is expected and routine—a time set aside for students to talk about goals and plans with an adult trained to offer advice, options, and assistance. At least, that’s the goal. Unfortunately, the reality sometimes falls short. One young man, now in his early 20s, summed up his experience: “They’d look at your grades and then say, ‘Oh, you can get into these schools.'”
Such meetings are impersonal, perfunctory, and more common than you might think, according to a 2009 survey of young adults ages 22–30 conducted by Public Agenda for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Johnson, Rochkind, Ott, & DuPont, 2009). The findings from this survey, along with several others we have conducted in recent years (see, for example, Johnson, Duffett, & Ott, 2005), offer one clear message: As education focuses its attention on bringing today’s high schools into the 21st century, the guidance counseling system is a prime candidate for innovation and reform.

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