The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Monday, November 3, 2014

School Counselors and Teachers: A Power Team

Hannah Rash, a 2015 School Counseling Master’s Candidate in the Department of Counseling and Educational Development in the UNCG School of Education, talks about the relationship between school counselors and teachers.

 Schools can be insanely busy on a pretty regular basis. Each staff member has unique responsibilities, deadlines, expectations, and schedules. It can be easy to forget that we are all working towards the same goals – student achievement and success – and that we can be valuable resources for one another. This week, I am going to speak directly to the relationship between school counselors and teachers.

Often times it seems that teachers and counselors operate in different spheres and misunderstandings are bound to happen. Of course, this varies from school to school and even from teacher to counselor. As a school counselor, I feel it is my responsibility to build relationships with teachers and make sure that I am communicating well enough that all school staff understand my roles and what I have to offer, while also recognizing the valuable insight teachers have of students.

Teachers spend their entire day interacting face-to-face with students. They get to know the students’ personalities, work ethics, general demeanors, and social idiosyncrasies. Unfortunately, counselors are unable to spending that amount of time with all students at the school. However, we may be more likely to hear personal and social concerns from students and their parents/guardians. Can you imagine how effectively we can support students if we came together to build interventions and resources for students!

It seems that there is sometimes a lack of thorough communication between teachers and school counselors. Sometimes teachers don’t understand why a student was moved to their particular class or counselors wonder why teachers aren’t implementing classroom interventions. Purposeful collaboration is the perfect place to start in providing the best learning environment and opportunities to students. While I can’t speak about teachers, I can outline a few of the skills and knowledge school counselors have to assist teachers, and ultimately, the student.

·      Creating behavioral, emotional, and social interventions AND helping teachers understand how to implement them successfully
·      Bringing students, parents, and teachers together in mediation, communication about class changes, and concerns with academic performance
·      Building a school counseling program that assist students with personal/social concerns, career planning, and academic success
·      Helping students find additional resources outside of school if they are struggling with a particular subject
·      Forming plans with students on appropriate classroom behaviors and how to cope with stressors during class time in order to be focused and not disruptive
·      Listening to teacher recommendations and co-constructing ideas on how to support a student with anything from study skills and organization to time management and peer relations

As an intern, I am provided the luxury of having the time to go sit down with teachers during planning periods to ask about specific students and learn about what’s going on with them in the classroom. While I know I will probably not have quite as many opportunities for these conversations once I take on a full time position, I hope to create a space for teachers to feel they can openly talk to me about student concerns. Even seemly smaller efforts such as an email or a quick stop by a classroom in the morning to say hi can help build relationships within the school. Relationships and collaboration don’t magically happen, and I hope as I continue my journey as a school counselor that I will be able to help foster collaborative environments and encourage others to do the same.

I would also like to say thank you to Sophia Ángeles for suggesting this topic and reminding me that this is such an important subject to keep in mind and talk about!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Expect the Unexpected

Hannah Rash, a 2015 School Counseling Master’s Candidate in the Department of Counseling and Educational Development in the UNCG School of Education, provides insight into the day to day world of a school counselor.

After officially completing a full month at Northwest High School for my internship, I wanted to give you folks a little insight into the typical day of a school counselor. Unfortunately, I have no idea what that looks like. Before jumping to any conclusions, I’m actually going to my internship – I promise! However, when it comes to school counselors, predictable days are few and far between.

Flexibility is key. I can’t count the times I came in, in the morning with a plan of action and a long to-do list and didn’t get to more than 1 or 2 items. Even as an intern, I’ve often been caught up in the unpredictable entity that is high school and all the people in it. Even with the most well-laid plans and determination to accomplish specific goals, students, teachers, administration, and staff have plans all their own and specific needs that arise each day. From crisis situations, parent drop-ins, teacher concerns to scholarship help, last minute college recommendations and program planning, you never truly know what each day is going to bring.

It’s one of the reasons I love being able to work in the school system. Not only do I have the opportunity to work with such a variety of people, positions, and problems, but how it all plays out keeps me on my toes. Sure, it’s a whirlwind, and it’s hard to really be ready for when you’re celebrating with a student for finally completing that first college application one minute to supporting a student who recently experienced a significant family loss the next, but I wouldn’t wish for it to be any other way. School counselors are in a unique position to be a readily available, consistent resource for students, parents, teachers, and staff, whether they need someone to be happy with them, sad with them, advocate for them, help solve a problem, or just listen. It’s tiring, fulfilling, exciting, and humbling all at the same time.

As cliché as it is, you learn to expect the unexpected.

If I’m being completely honest, the days that no one drops by the office or calls me to a classroom are cherished just as much sometimes. Hey, we all have paperwork to keep up with.

P.S. I hope everyone is keeping wellness in mind! As fall rolls in, take some time to do something revitalizing and relaxing!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Wishing You Well

Hannah Rash, a 2015 School Counseling Master’s Candidate in the Department of Counseling and Educational Development in the UNCG School of Education, is our featured blogger this semester for Adventures in Education.

What is wellness? Wellness is more than just not being sick. Wellness incorporates health and well-being of the mind, body, and spirit for optimal functioning. It goes beyond the absence of disease towards a higher quality of life. For example, instead of being only tolerant of your job, you feel fulfilled in your position and excited to go to work. So... “Why are you talking about this?” you ask. Good question! But first, let me introduce myself.

 Hello, folks! My name is Hannah Rash, and I am a second year Master’s student studying school counseling in the Counseling and Educational Development (CED) program. I entered graduate school straight from Gardner-Webb University, where I majored in psychology and minored in American Sign Language and communication studies. I ended up at UNCG thanks to my undergraduate advisor, who highly recommended the program. When I showed up on interview day, little did I know about CED being nationally ranked or about all the unique opportunities the program had to offer. Luckily, I found that out after the interviews and not before when it would have made me extra nervous. Even though it has only been a little over a year since that interview day, I feel like I have come so far in my development as a counselor. This year, I have the pleasure of interning at Northwest Guilford High School for the full school year and being able to put into practice much of the knowledge and skills I’ve acquired in class.

With public schools recently starting back, there is a lot of hustle and bustle trying to get students in the right classes, helping parents understand what their child needs, working with new teachers and administrators, finding and storing a variety forms, and just the general chaos that comes before settling into a routine. Students, parents, teachers, admins, counselors, and especially the new counseling intern are in a whirlwind of transitions from new rules and policies, new concerns and problems, to new goals and aspirations for the school year. It’s easy to get caught up in all your responsibilities and demands that you forget about yourself. This is where wellness comes in.

CED’s chapter of Chi Sigma Iota (CSI), the internal counseling honors society, has chosen wellness as this year’s theme. In my opinion, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Most of my cohort-mates are also starting internship this semester, accompanied by classes, assignments, jobs, relationships, and a variety of other activities that require our attention and energy. Speaking from personal experience, when I have a lot of work to do, setting aside time to recharge or even taking a moment to assess my stress level and how I’m feeling quickly gets pushed aside. How often have you cancelled plans with a friend because you had work to finish? How regularly do you eat lunch at your work desk because there are emails still needing responses? I’ll admit it, I’m guilty of both much more frequently than I would like to be.

Of course, we all have obligations that can’t be ignored. Wellness isn’t about completely ridding your life of all stressors; that just isn’t possible. Wellness is being able to recognize what those stressors are and making choices that will make your situation and environment more fulfilling and positive, which will help prevent sickness and ill-being. Each environment may look differently, too. What you need to have a more positive work environment may not be the same as what you need at home, in class, with family or friends, in your romantic relationship, or with your spiritual beliefs. Even seemly small steps can make a huge difference—eating your lunch outside, taking a 10 minute walk every day, journaling during an emotional difficult time, looking back on old pictures with a friend, committing to daily meditation or prayer. Perhaps it’s overwhelming to change several little things. Try picking one aspect to focus on for a month and see where it takes you!

I leave you with this encouragement… regardless of your job(s), what program you’re in, or what your schedule looks like, pick one aspect of wellness (social, physical, occupational, etc.) and incorporate one—just one!—activity that promotes your personal wellness this month. I know this will be challenging for me, personally, but I am committed to not ignoring my well-being as I take on one more role as a school counseling intern.

Best wishes.

P.S.: Thanks to Myers, Sweeney, & Witmer for their research on wellness! If you’d like to learn more about wellness or the wellness wheel, you can search their names online.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Why Should You Pursue a Career in Educational Research?

This month, Christine Meyer reflects on her time at UNCG and why she chose to pursue a degree through the Educational Research Methodology department in the School of Education.

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Week In The Life of A Program Evaluator

In our March installment of ‘Adventures in Education’, ERM alumna Christine Meyer takes us through a week in the life of a program evaluator.

Just like in classroom teaching and numerous other careers, there is no “typical” day when you’re a program evaluator. Instead, I’ve decided to share some of the activities that I typically do within a week to give you an idea of what my days are like. Most days, I’m at work 8:00 – 5:00, so I’ve got good overlap with the schools and programs that I am evaluating. Three of my programs take place during the typical school day and one of my programs is an evening program for students returning to school to receive their high school diplomas. While a majority of my time is spent at Central Office, I do get to go out to schools some; this will increase as I begin to do more data collection. My mornings are typically the only times that are pretty consistent. When I get to work just before 8:00, I usually make a cup of tea, check through my emails to make sure that I’m caught up, and outline what I need to get accomplished that day. Throughout the week, here are some the typical activities that I do:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Lessons Learned So Far

This month, Christine Meyer talks about her first month on the job as a program evaluation specialist with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, and shares the important lessons she’s learned along her journey.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Christine Meyer

Christine Meyer, who graduated in December 2013 with her M.S. in Educational Research, Measurement and Evaluation degree, will be the focus of our Spring 2014 ‘Adventures in Education’ blog. Follow Christine this semester as she discusses her experiences in her new job with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools as a program evaluation specialist. 
As a child, I grew up wanting to be a veterinarian. I have always loved animals, and my desire to help anything that was struggling was strong. I was in high school biology lab when I learned that being a veterinarian wasn’t for me…I’d rather play with animals than perform surgery on them. So, what to do now? After much thought and consideration, and considering how much I loved children and learning, I decided that maybe education was where I was meant to be. Fast forward to college, I earned a degree in elementary education from Emory & Henry College (VA) and was excited to begin the next chapter of my life. I was hopeful that I would have a job lined up and ready to go when I graduated…life, of course, did not work out as planned. After sending out more job applications than I can count, I was hired at the end of beginning of August and would be teaching kindergarten in back home in North Carolina.

I was fortunate to be at a wonderful school with great support from parents, fellow teachers, and my administration. Yet after three years of teaching, I still felt like something was missing. I knew that I would enjoy teaching for a few more years, but also that 30+ years of teaching was not for me. At least teaching was a step in the right direction…I love school, I love learning, and the education field was definitely the right one. But what else can you do in education if you don’t want to be a classroom teacher? The answer is, LOTS!

I stumbled upon UNCG’s Educational Research Methodology (ERM) program after a little Google searching and decided to learn more. I met with some students from the department and even though I was a little unsure about what I getting myself into (psychometrics, statistics, what??). I applied to the program, was admitted, and began another new chapter in August of 2011. Best. Decision. Ever. I now get to stay in the field of education and do program evaluation. This means that I collect data from teachers, students, school administration, etc. about various school programs in order to help improve them. The teacher part of my heart is happy that not just test scores are being used to judge the value of a program; although test scores are used and they do matter, I also do interviews and focus groups with people involved with programs to find out how to improve the programs in schools and how to help teachers.

In fact, I was lucky enough to accept a job offer with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools before I even graduated with my Master’s; I am their newest program evaluation specialist! I feel beyond lucky and blessed to have ended up with a position that I absolutely love. I had never even heard of educational program evaluation three years ago when I decided that I wanted to go to graduate school, and now I’ve found my true calling.