Habit 1- Be Proactive means that you are in charge of yourself.
School counselors are proactive in the following ways:
- Data: When we collect and utilize data to present to key stakeholders (i.e., administrators, school board members, parents, etc.), we are being proactive. We hold ourselves accountable for the services we provide and our outcomes. We are being responsible for ourselves and advocating for our profession and our students.
- School Data Profile Review: We can review data to determine what groups of students are at-risk for developing certain issues and direct our efforts to helping these students. We can address low SES and minority groups with preventative or proactive services or provide them with assistance to access extracurricular activities. It may mean having a backpack food program or helping them find transportation to participate in after-school activities. It could mean reviewing data to determine how to reduce discipline referrals.
- Screeners: Sometimes school counselors might use screeners that they are qualified to use (B qualification) in order to find students that require counseling services. We may also use learning styles and career inventories to help students learn more about themselves.
- Planning: When we plan for anything (i.e., lessons, groups, individual counseling, 504 plans, school-wide events, etc.), we are being proactive. We are responsible for ourselves and our students. Having a plan ahead of time ensures that we address what we need to.
School Counselors also teach students to be proactive.
- Core Curriculum: School Counselors take a proactive approach to personal, social, and emotional problems when they provide class lessons to students before an issue arises. Think about the topics we create lessons on: bullying, empathy, social skills, etc. We also teach lessons on academic and career topics to start teaching students important skills early in the education process to make them College and Career Ready! This year I did lessons on staying on-task (kindergarten), organization (1st), study skills (2nd), and test anxiety (3rd).
- Small Groups: Groups are often reactive, addressing behaviors that are already a problem for students such as friendship, anger, coping skills, changing families, etc. Other groups, such as a middle school transition group will be proactive and prepare students for the next stage in their school experience.
- School-Wide Events: School Counselors may plan school-wide events on social/emotional, career, and academic topics as well. I coordinated events for Unity Day (which addresses bullying and school culture), College Day (to promote College Awareness and Readiness), and Career Day (to promote Career Awareness).
- Teaching Students to Be in Charge of Themselves: Think of those times when friends or peers are fighting with each other. They may place all the blame on the other person. It's our job to help teach them how to take responsibility for their own behavior.
- Teaching Students to Be Prepared: Think about the times students comes to school without that field trip permission slip, emergency contact form, or homework assignment. I've had students say to me "my mom forgot it on the kitchen table." Now I know kindergartners are not packing their own book bags. But if an older student, around third grade, knows they need a paper signed by their parent, they could at least ask their parent if it's signed and in their folder ready to go to school in the morning. That's being responsible for yourself. The same goes for homework, students can pack their own folder after completing their homework at night. For middle and high schoolers, think of how they come to class without their textbook or pencils, etc. and they ask to borrow yours. We need to teach students to be prepared with the materials they need for class by being responsible for themselves.
Other Examples of Being Proactive:
- Counselor Connection Emails: Each week I sent out an email to staff with important information about signing up for lessons, signing students up for groups, school-wide events, important dates, current group times, counselor tips, articles, etc. In a sense, I was teaching the teachers to be responsible for themselves too. Teachers had to open the email and access a Google Sheet to sign up for lessons or a Google Form to sign students up for groups. If they didn't do it, I had to hunt them down. You know who's reading your emails based on who seems surprised about the school-wide event you had planned and wrote about for weeks. My School Counselor Connection Emails were a way for me to be responsible and accountable for myself and for me advocate for my role.
- Admin Agendas: Each week when I was scheduled to meet with my principal about the school counseling program, I made a list of the students I was working with or observing, the groups I was running and had planned in the future, the lessons I had planned, the events I had planned, the 504s I was working on, etc. I brought the list with me and prepared any materials I needed to take with me to the meetings.
🙋There are probably many more connections to how school counselors use Habit 1- Be Proactive or how school counselors teach students to be proactive. What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.