How can school counselors keep up with all of their responsibilities and also remain current?
Page 7: Advocating for Your Role
The previous pages have provided an overview of the challenging and critical roles school counselors play in serving all students, with and without disabilities. It is important to note that school counselors are sometimes asked to engage in activities that are the responsibility of other school personnel or may be inappropriate according to their job descriptions. There may even be confusion about the specifics of school counselors’ roles. In other words, some roles may look like they are school counselors’ responsibilities when in fact they are not; several examples from the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) are outlined in the following table.
|Roles of School Counselors|
|Planning an individual student’s course of study||Creating class schedules for new students|
|Teaching guidance curriculum||Substitute teaching|
|Providing disciplinary counseling||Enforcing disciplinary actions|
|Interpreting student records||Maintaining students’ cumulative files|
|Advocating for students during IEP meetings||Preparing IEP documents|
|Counseling students about the dress code||Enforcing the dress code|
In cases where inappropriate requests are made, school counselors must advocate for themselves. Below is a list of possible strategies that school counselors might use to accomplish this objective:
- Proactively clarify his or her roles by discussing job descriptions and responsibilities with the principal each year.
- Regularly communicate with principals, informing them of how time is spent. Principals who believe school counselors to have a lot of free time may be more likely to add responsibilities.
- Post a weekly calendar outside the office door, again to communicate how time is spent.
- Provide effectiveness data related to interventions conducted. If principals believe that school counselors are doing a good job, they might feel less of a need to interfere or might hesitate to pull counselors away from successful programs.
- Communicate current roles and identify other school personnel who might be more appropriate for the task.
- Seek support (e.g., ASCA position statement, colleagues, professional organizations, parents, advisory committee) when possible, and present their case.
Mr. Hunter Advocates for His Role
Although Mr. Hunter is new to the profession, he realizes that, with 22 students due for comprehensive evaluations, he could spend hours coordinating IEP team meetings this semester. Mr. Hunter talks to his principal about how a paraprofessional could be trained to handle the relevant paperwork and scheduling duties. Not only would this option allow him to spend more time in direct services (i.e., individual, group, and classroom work), but it would also be more cost effective to assign someone with a less-advanced degree to handle clerical tasks. The principal recognizes that having someone else perform this duty would be a more effective use of personnel and would allow Mr. Hunter more time to attend to the direct service needs of the students.