What Does A School Counselor Do?
School counselors are very important members of a school’s education team. Contrary to what many people think, their role is not only limited to addressing students’ issues—although that makes up a huge portion of their job. They also work with school teachers and administrators to help them understand particular issues involving the age group that they are handling. For example, they may need to educate them about how to guide children to handle bullies, how to help students deal with the loss of a loved one and how to handle the academic pressures in school. School counselors also have to craft the school counseling program so that they can identify specific areas that need to be addressed.
While the school counselors do have a myriad of responsibilities, the primary role of a school counselor is that of helping students adjust to their life in school and at home. They may counsel students individually or in groups to help them resolve conflicts and address their personal concerns that impact how they are doing academically. For example, school counselors teach coping strategies to foreign students coming from a different country so they can adjust to their new environment. They may also educate students on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.
For graduating high school students, school counselors organize career development seminars that would guide students on the college course to take that would set them on the right track towards the careers they have in mind. They may also provide personality tests as well as counsel students individually to help them decide the fields where they would be most successful in.
School counselors also work with parents of the children attending the school to provide them with useful information about child development. If teachers notice something different about a student, they inform the school principals and school counselors about their observations. The counselors often work with parents about the best interventions to take and may even refer them to other professionals should their child need to be taken for further evaluation. For example, it is often teachers who notice signs of ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and refers the case to the school counselor. If the school counselor finds merit on the teacher’s observations, they can recommend that the parents take the child for a more definitive diagnosis to a clinical psychologist.
In addition to counseling and helping parents, school counselors also act as coordinators for various programs that the school has established both within the campus and in the community. The school may have a peer teaching program or a community outreach program with a local shelter. When there are events for these programs requiring volunteers, for example, it is the job of school counselors to disseminate the information to the student population and orient them about the details.
To help the school management determine how to help students best, school counselors often conduct surveys on the student behavior in school. For example, they may collate data through various survey methods to on the prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse on campus or get data on the school’s results in national achievement tests in the past few years. Concrete numbers will help the school administrators and teachers to think of ways that would help improve the student’s experience on campus and prevent them from gravitating towards vices.
In some schools, counselors may actually hold guidance classes with the students. These are usually geared towards building character and helping students develop the qualities of respect, trust, responsibility, citizenship, kindness and love for each other. They may also teach classes that develop respect for other people and other cultures, particularly if the school has a large multicultural population.
School counselors often serve as the students’ advocate when there are issues involving teachers and school staff. They try to make everyone see what the students’ point-of-view is and why it should be respected. Because of their knowledge and experience, school counselors are often at the forefront of making or advocating for changes in school that result to a better learning environment for all members of the school community, especially the students.