School counselors use Habit 4: Think Win-Win through:
- Political Advocacy: Think of the ASCA National Model. The themes include leadership, advocacy, collaboration, and systemic change. When you're looking to change a system, sometimes you have to change the laws and policies that drive the system. Maybe you're like me and you live in a state that does not mandate school counselors be employed in all schools. Pennsylvania also just adapted their draft of ESSA. More attention is being placed on educating the whole child and College and Career Readiness. Thank you for Reaching Higher Michelle Obama! So now you have an opportunity for a win-win. The state (and districts) want students that are College and Career Ready. Who better to prepare students for college and career than School Counselors. College and Career Readiness is a big part of our job. One option is to go to your state capital or Washington, D.C. to let them know why every school needs their own counselor. Show them you have the same agenda and you're the person they need to get the job done. Not just you, but school counselors in general. This is just one example of political advocacy.
- Advocating for your Role: Maybe you're too afraid to go big by going to your state capital or Washington, D.C. Start small and grow your confidence by talking to your principal. If you're part-time, go to them with data to show how students are different as a result of your work with them. Show your administrator that you can address a need the school has and federal or state requirements. If they see the value in having you there, they may be willing to make you full-time. Maybe your principal is in your corner, but you need to get other stakeholders on board. Now it's time for a visit to your school board (with your principal's blessing of course). Even if your job is full-time in your district, it doesn't hurt to rally the troops (all of your school counselors) and present to the school board on why they need full-time school counselors in all of their schools K-12.
- Working with Staff and Administration: There may be times that you will get a "no" from your principal when you propose a new program or event. Before you even step foot in their office, think about what would make them say no to you. Address concerns before they even get brought up. Find a way that everyone gets what they want. For example, I know that acquiring personal safety skills is an ASCA Student Competency. This spring, I brought up to my principal that I would like to do lessons to address this competency. She said that she would like to invite in a state trooper to provide our students with the Stranger Danger program. Win-win for everyone! Besides working with administration, you can also find ways to co-teach lessons with other teachers. Maybe you're doing a career lesson that requires technology. See if your computer teacher will let you team up with them to provide the lesson. If you need to collaborate with a staff member, think how you can make it a win-win.
School Counselors use Habit 4: Think Win-Win with students by:
- Teaching Students Conflict Resolution Skills: Conflict resolution is another big part of our job. I provided lessons on conflict resolution to most or all grades in my building. I covered this topic in my friendship, social skills, coping skills, anger, and transition groups. Getting students to brainstorm solutions to problems that everyone can be happy with during a lesson or group is easy. However, when a real conflict arises, students often seem to forget everything you've taught them. That's where individual counseling and mediation comes in. Sometimes you have to talk students through making "I Statements" and help them come up with a solution everyone likes or can at least live with. I spent a lot of time doing this during recess as a teacher assistant!
- Teaching Students Self-Advocacy: As our students get older, we want them to be able to advocate for themselves. If a student has an IEP, by middle school, they are invited to attend their IEP meeting and have a say in their education. Even for general education students, we want our kids to be able to ask for what they need in order to succeed. It's win-win because students learn valuable communication and advocacy skills and they become self-reliant, meaning you don't have to speak for them. It's also win-win because the student-teacher relationship is strengthened when students communicate with their teachers directly.
🙋 How do you Think Win-Win (Habit 4) as a school counselor? How do you encourage your students to use Habit 4? Let me know in the comments!