Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mediation and inspiration: A day in the life of a school counselor

Dana Hendricks — Most people probably have a clear idea of what a teacher does all day, and you know theirschool counselor job can be pretty overwhelming. Who is there to give students one-on-one attention when a teacher can't? Very often, it's the school counselor.

Counselors play a huge role on the staff of a particular elementary school, middle school, or high school; and while you might imagine they meet with students on a daily basis, they also do much more than that. Their job isn't always as clear as the role of a teacher because they can be involved in so many different things, from anti-bullying programs to helping students with falling grades, to even writing letters of recommendation for college. Being a school counselor can be both unpredictable and extremely rewarding.

1. Individual Counseling

If you're a parent, you probably know there are a wide variety of reasons why a child might need to talk to a counselor. Often, if a student is getting bad grades, it could affect their self-esteem in a big way, and that's why it's important to have someone there to encourage them and help them come up with a plan to improve their schoolwork. Counselors also help kids with their social problems at school. Whether a student is being bullied or just having trouble making friends, counselors can help them cope. Though many students have appointments, most counselors deal with several drop-in students a day.

2. Unpredictable Issues

Many times, a counselor deals with the things that happen at school that nobody is prepared for. If a fight breaks out in the halls, or if a teacher is dealing with a difficult student in their class, a counselor is usually the got-to person for help. Not only that, but parents call school counselors with their concerns all the time, as well as principals, social workers, and even juvenile detention centers. The school counselor can be a touchstone for everyone concerned with a student's behavioral development. And if there's a situation that needs a mediator immediately, they can usually provide a more unbiased sense of authority than other members of the school staff.

3. The Fun Side

Most counselors really enjoy getting involved in helping high school students make their college plans and decide what they want to do after graduation. Counselors are also often involved in awards ceremonies, which give students special recognition for their academic achievements or extra-curriculars, and even give out scholarship money. And many more counselors come up with creative ways to help students speak out about issues that affect them – starting campaigns to combat bullying, drug abuse, and suicide, and helping students come together and treat each other with kindness. A counselor might only work at a single school, but they can still make a difference.

School counselors are highly trained professionals when it comes to relating to young people and identifying the root of their issues. It can be an incredibly satisfying career, where no workday is typical and you never know where your help will be needed most. The job field is also growing, with a projected 20 percent increase in opportunities in the next decade. If you are licensed, educated, and love working with children, it's a wonderful career for anyone who wants the chance to change a young person's life.