School counseling has come a long way as a profession in a short amount of time. From updated ASCA standards to a new array of formatting data to being honored at the White House, it’s safe to say that our profession is more visible, more respected, and better understood than ever before.
All of this growth is good, but a key part of change is incorporating or modifying successful past practices in ways that make sense in our brave new world. That’s certainly the case with evaluation and assessment of counseling services and programs. New data reports can offer finely detailed accounts of attitudes, participation, and pre/post change, but there’s still something to be said for that moment when we pause for a moment after a student leaves our office and we quietly say to ourselves, “Yeah, that could have gone better.”
There’s nothing scientific about that approach, to be sure, but it can create opportunities for additional deliberations, both formal and informal, that lead to real change, and better service. An award-winning college instructors call this the “onramp assessment method.” His campus is close to a freeway, and every semester without fail, he leaves campus for the last time that term, hits the onramp, and knows exactly what he needs to do to improve the quality of his teaching next term.
This is a crazy time of year for counselors, so it might be hard to find five minutes, but that’s an even better reason to find them, turn away from the Mania of May, and ask yourself these simple questions. The answers can take you far on the freeway of improvement—and besides, this week’s column is a little short, so you can use the time you’d usually spend reading on helping yourself.
Hey, I’m a counselor—I’m here to help.
- What three things went well this year?
- What three things could have gone better?
- If you had the chance, what one event or meeting would you do over, and why?
- What one event or meeting makes you burst with pride?
- If your supervisor was asked to identify three goals for you for next year, what would they be?
- Are they the same three goals you have for yourself?
- If they aren’t, what are you going to do to negotiate the difference?
- It’s this day, next year. What was glorious about the year you just lived?