By: Patrick O'Connor Ph.D
The coast is nearly clear for school counselors, who typically have to be at school a week after the teachers and students are gone. You’ve kept yourself busy for five days, and you really, really love your students—but you also really, really want to hit the beach, eat some fresh fruit, and remember what it’s like to be among the living.
You’ll need to keep that same attitude when you’re back in the fall. Life is in high gear for the rest of the world, and many activities will be shaping the lives of our students while they’re away from school, and while we’re away from them. Summer headlines will be gone and forgotten on the first day of school, but changes in international events, education policy, or cultural trends could impact our students this July in ways that will remain with them this September.
How can we track these life-altering activities without spending the summer glued to CNN? Buy a notebook when you get sunscreen, and make a few notes every couple of days. Here are a few events to get the list started:
The Supreme Court and Families Teachers aren’t the only ones who have a different summer schedule, but before the Supreme Court goes on its three month vacation July 1st, it will rule on a host of issues that could impact students. Two cases involve the legality of same sex marriage; another could impact the way voting rules are made in some states, and the court may even change the role race can play in college admissions. These rulings could have a strong impact on students’ homes and college plans; look for them to come out in the next week, and keep them in mind when the students return.
Common Core Comes to You Many states will implement Common Core standards this fall in ways that could impact students’ schedules, learning, and evaluation. Many of those plans may already be in place, but more could take shape this summer. Michigan is a prime example of a state where things may be different in six weeks; the legislature has passed the state budget, and told the Department of Education to spend no money at all on Common Core implementation. Politics and education have always been an interesting summer couple; keep a close eye on what could be a rocky summer romance.
Common Application, Version 4 High school counselors have been forewarned and workshopped about the changes coming to this very popular college application service, but no amount of preparation can prepare you for every single student’s situation. In addition, many colleges who usually announce their essays early are waiting until August 1st, the first day CA 4.0 hits the Internet. Take an hour in late August to review the new system and review the essay questions of the colleges popular with your students. That will provide the calm you’ll need when the Class of 2014 runs to your door looking more like a zombie invasion than college applicants.
International Events are shaping up to make the summer interesting, as Afghanistan refuses to negotiate with the US unless they also get to talk with the Taliban, and North Korea won’t talk to South Korea without talking to us. If this sounds like the drama of junior high prom on a global scale, you’re sort of right; still, students are in families with military parents, where the price of peace can be high. You may be called this fall to serve with soothing if they must answer their call of duty this summer; listen, affirm, and support.