“If you aren’t at the table you are on the menu.” – Michael Enzi I heard this quote several times at the American School Counselor Association Leadership Development Institute prior to the conference. This has really stuck with me as I have begun to plan out my year. How can a school counselor make sure they have a seat at the table? I am very lucky that at my school that I chair the school climate committee which means I get to be a part of the school improvement team. At the school level it is important that school counselors are a part of their school’s school improvement team. This is where the building level decisions are made and where a school counselor can be instrumental. However, there are so many other opportunities for school counselors to be a part of the conversation in education.
The best place to start is to become a member of your state’s school counseling association. Most school counseling associations offer opportunities for school counselors to get involved through various events such as Legislatures in Schools Day, Hill Days, Legislative Day, and many others. In North Carolina, the Department of Instruction’s School Counseling liaison depends on the association to make sure that there is representation on every type of committee that would involve a school counselor at the state level. If your state has a Student Services liaison then subscribe to their list serve.
Most importantly keep up with your data! Data can be an important tool when advocating for yourself as a school counselor. Present once a year at a faculty meeting with your results, ask to present to your school board, participate in school counselor week, and most importantly don’t be afraid to speak up! We are our best advocates.
As you begin to plan your school year add one thing to your list of “to dos” that involves advocating for the profession. It may seem like just one more thing to do, but if it in the end it can help you to advocate for your role it’s worth it!
How many times have you been frustrated because someone commented that they had no idea what a school counselor did? I think to myself, well I know what I don’t do, eat lunch or use the bathroom! Counselors are the WORST at marketing themselves and their programs. Everyday school counselors are doing amazing things for students yet it goes unnoticed. Why? Because we don’t do it for ourselves. We are innately programmed to be there for others. However, when it comes budget time, if those making the decisions aren’t well informed at all the good work we do then we put not just ourselves, but our profession at risk for being on the chopping block.
While at Disney World I had an idea. We passed the character spot at Epcot where you can have your picture with Joy and Sadness and I thought THIS IS IT! Yes, it was a little weird to kick my 5 and 11 year old out of the picture but in the end I created this poster below that will be hanging around school when school starts. This type of marketing does a few things:
- EVERYONE at school knows I LOVE DISNEY. My office is completely decorated with the Disney theme. By putting myself with something the kids already associate me with (Disney) it keeps things consistent.
- Posters are a short, quick way to get a message out. Parents, teachers, and students will all see the posters around school.
- This poster is age appropriate. I work at a K-8 school and it’s often hard to come up with something that meets all needs. The term “Inside Out” is very familiar to middle school and the movie is familiar to those in the lower grades.
- It doesn’t use terms like “Feeling Depressed” or “Anger Issues”. Instead, the term “inside out” could be anything and having Joy and Sadness in the picture indicates that the counselor is there for a variety of emotions.
Bottom Line is before the school year starts find one small way to put yourself out there. The program I used to create this poster is canva. Canva is a fun, FREE, and creative way to create posters, flyers, newsletters, etc… It’s my new favorite thing!
Check back August 21st and you can see the costume of 2017. Another way to get out there is to dress up at the beginning of every year. Each year I have a new costume. The kids love to guess what it will be! Feel free to comment what you think it might be!
Three years ago I tried my hand at blogging. Needless to say time got away from me. Multiple attempts to keep up with posts and share pictures I decided to take a break. However, being in Denver, CO at the ASCA conference has motivated me to get back at it! With a new blog platform, new school year, and new ideas, I’m ready to share, learn and experience the wild ride of school counseling with you! Is there something that maybe you put away for another day or decided that the time wasn’t right? NOW IS THE TIME TO GET BACK AT IT! Here is a list of the most common things I hear school counselors put off:
- Being a part of their state’s school counseling association – Your state needs you! While at ASCA’s Delegate Assembly and Leadership Development Institute a common theme I heard was the difficulty in finding people to assuming leadership roles. Want to be on the cutting edge of all thing school counseling in your state, want to give back to your profession, want to make a difference beyond the school building, want to collaborate with some of the best in the school counseling world then GET BACK AT IT! Being a part of my state associations leadership has been by far the best professional experience! If you are nervous ask if your state has an Emerging Leader program or if there is a committee that you can be a part of. These are both small ways to get your feet wet.
- Applying for RAMP – I am guilty of this one! Every summer I start to write the narratives that go with the various RAMP aspects, watch the RAMP videos on ASCA, and say “This will be the year”. Every summer something comes up that causes me to put this important distinction on the back burner. Now is the time to GET BACK AT IT! Haven’t even started then begin with setting up an advisory council to develop a mission and vision for your program and do the management agreement between you and your principal. It can be done!
- Presenting at a conference – Counselors all over have great ideas to share and the perfect place to share those ideas is at a professional conference. Think you can’t do it, you are wrong! The great thing about counselors is that we are a supporting group of professionals. Take a step outside your comfort zone an GET BACK AT IT! Go to your state associations website to see when their call for proposals is taking place.
- Saving for ASCA 2018 in Los Angeles – “Reach for the Stars” is next years theme for the annual ASCA conference. Think it’s out of “reach” then GET BACK AT IT! Did you know that Donor’s Choose now has an area where you can apply for funds for professional development? If your district doesn’t offer funds this is a perfect way to get yourself to ASCA 2018. If you have never to been to a national conference before then it is a must do for any school counselor!