Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Keep the Counselor Celebration Going with a Principal Summit

By:  Patrick O'Connor Ph.D

If social media is any measure, National School Counseling Week is becoming one very serious party. From counselor breakfasts to selfies with students to gorgeous pictures of the School Counselor of the Year celebration, word is spreading about the power of this week, and the many ways school counselors empower students. One counselor even took to social media to describe the awe he felt when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called him to thank him for his work. That’s a moment a counselor just won’t forget.

In addition to phone calls and thank-you tweets, the Department of Education is debuting a new program next week for school counselors. For many years, the Department has sponsored a series of workshops called Principals at ED. Presented at the Department offices in Washington, these professional development opportunities give principals an opportunity to learn about the latest trends in school administration, and give Department officials an opportunity to hear from practitioners in the field about the real issues that affect their work.

Principals at ED takes a new turn next week in sponsoring Principals and Counselors at ED, a one-day workshop designed for principals and counselors. The goal is to present the best practices in college and career readiness—what events, procedures, and approaches create a building-wide atmosphere that gives students the best possible understanding of all of their options for life after high school. A similar program was presented in Michigan, where over 100 principal-counselor pairs were able to evaluate their readiness strategies, and leave the day with practical ideas on what they could do to make their building even more supportive of college and career opportunities.

This first national effort is sold out, and attempts to live stream it are still underway—but even if you’re not able to watch this initial effort, you can make the most of this PD opportunity by asking yourself the same questions that will be presented with each session:

Developing a Strong Counselor-Principal Relationship A rich body of research shows that the college-career tone of a building is best set by a strong counselor-principal team, who share a common set of college and career goals, and communicate often.

College Board’s research on strong principal-counselor bonds is a great place to begin, but the first step in a stronger relationship is often self-reflection. If there was one thing your principal could do to build a strong college-career-going atmosphere in your building, what would it be? If your principal was asked the same question about what you could do, what would they say?

Developing a Career and College Going Culture Long gone are the days when the counseling office is the only place where the college-career curriculum is presented. Teachers, coaches, club sponsors, and community members have to play an active role in sharing and reinforcing the postsecondary message. Do you have a Counseling Advisory Committee? If so, when’s the last time they met?

Supporting High School Students During the Day Life after high school is going to include more learning for everyone. What can teachers do to make sure students develop attitudes towards learning that will transfer to their college and career life?

Utilizing Data Effectively Everyone has data, but what’s the best data to use to make sure students are college and career ready? How do we best assess our efforts? Are we disaggregating in to make sure all students are benefitting from our work?
It’s great to have your work honored this week. Now is the time to build on that support and attention, so your work can be more powerful in the weeks

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