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!

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