Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ideal Gifts for That Special Counselor in Your Life

By:  Patrick O'Connor Ph.D

In case you missed it, your local drug store is stocking candy canes this week—and that puts them a couple of weeks behind the local big box store that’s had Christmas trees up since mid-October.  These commercial displays remind us that a season of gift-giving is upon us; if you have a spare minute or two, you may want to add these professional resources to your wish list, just in case someone asks.

NOSCA’s Principal-Counselor Toolkit provides strategies, worksheets, and other tools to create a strong working relationship between you and your supervisor.  The toolkit covers everything from the right use of data (a staple when developing a strong relationship with a principal), effective communication practices, leadership, and taking your practice to the next level.  This series of downloads is free, but since busy counselors don’t have time to stand around the printer, the toolkit is the ideal gift for your school-aged, tech-savvy children to give  you, nicely wrapped in your favorite-covered binder.

Dr. James T. Webb’s  new book expands the understanding of the gifted.  Searching for Meaning: Idealism, Bright Minds, Disillusionment, and Hope talks about ways to help the bright students in your school who sometimes struggle when the challenges of reality clash with their strong, clear vision of what their world—or our world—can be. 

About 30 years ago, the American education system decided to treat gifted children the same way it treats students who get straight As, glossing over the important differences in the psychological make-up of students who are achievement oriented, and students who are focused on sharing their very personal vision of the world.  James Webb has been trying to articulate the needs of the gifted for over 40 years, and critics are hailing Searching for Meaning as an ideal guide to help gifted students understand themselves and the world around them.  It’s the perfect book to save for a quiet winter day—and if you don’t have his classic Guiding the Gifted Child, make sure that goes on your gift list as well.

Top Student, Top School? How Social Class Shapes Where Valedictorians Go To College explores a different group of students, and offers a more solemn but important message to school counselors. Alexandria Walton Radford studied the college choices of high school valedictorians, and discovered that the two factors preventing low-income valedictorians from attending top colleges were the lack of college awareness of their parents, and the lack of knowledge and support of their school counselors. 

The author pulls no punches in her assessment of the students’ experiences with school counselors—the students used words like “pretty lousy” and “incompetent”—and matches that description to the irony that these high-achieving students are actually more likely than their higher-income counterparts to be admitted to top colleges and enroll in them, provided the adults in their lives guide them to the right information and the right financial resources. This may not be the ideal page-turner to read in those days of renewal during the holidays, but it’s the perfect book to keep in mind when it’s time to make that list of New Year’s resolutions that fuel our desire to make things better for our students.

Finally, a nifty little tool from Levenger is the ideal stocking stuffer for counselors who still clip articles from print magazines and newspapers. The Single Sheet Cutters allow you to save that article in the middle of the page without mangling the rest of the paper, and since Levenger has frequent 20% off sales before the holidays, it’s a thrifty decadent splurge.

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