Sunday, March 6, 2016

Lessons Learned from the Evidence Based School Counselor Conference

Sunday, March 6, 2016
This year I attended the Evidence Based School Counseling Conference and it was truly inspiring.  To connect with school counselor practitioners and school counselor educators for three whole days made me think about how we should continuously improve our profession.  On the way home from the conference, my head was swimming with all the things I learned, the great people I met, and how I would apply my new knowledge.  To sort out all my thoughts, I decided to post my reflections about the conference.



Lessons Learned

The majority of school counselors are not trained in supervision

According to Coogan and Kozak, the reasons may vary why school counselors lack supervision training. Some of these reasons include:
  • PSCs do not think they need supervision (this may be due to prior unsatisfactory/ineffective supervision experience);
  • PSCs may be unwilling to serve in a supervisory role;
  • Lack of supervision training in the masters program makes access to quality supervision difficult;
  • PSCs are conflicted with their professional identity (counselor/school counselor/educator).
For school counselors looking for supervision models, here are two that are specially designed for school counselors:
1. School Counseling Supervision Model (Luke & Bernard, 2006). PSCs can contact Syracuse University to inquire about this model.

2. Structured Peer Consultation Model for School Counselors (Benshoff & Paisley, 1996).
Looking for direction on supervision training as a school counselors, contact Gwinnett County Schools (Georgia) School Counseling director, Dianne Thompson.
Professional School Counselor consultation is imperative  
According to Jeff Morgan, Program Director UNC @ Pembroke, not all PSCs provide consultation.  Since 2001, many school counseling programs have moved away from teaching consultation to students. Also, there are many different thoughts on consultation which can be confusing to counselor educators and counselors.   So what are the benefits in consulting?
  • Face to face consultation is useful in directly promoting positive mental health among teachers/students.
  • Consultation can address teacher emotions, micro-behaviors, or stereotypes that impede delivery of instruction.
  • Consultation is a direct path to change.
  • Consultation is an integral component of leadership.
  • Consultation increases cultural competence.
  • Can directly and indirectly impact family-school-community connections.
According to Dr. Morgan, collaboration should not be eclectic but should be based on theory (e.g. developmental theory).  Another tip is that collaboration should be evaluated to inform the school counselor of its effectiveness or ineffectiveness.
Motivational Interviewing can work well with resistant 
students
Dr. Rice from Georgia State University presented on working with resistant students using Motivational Interviewing process. Motivational Interviewing is a cognitive based model which borrows from Carl Rogers, Cognitive Dissonance Theory, Self Perception Theory and is consistent with Strength Based Practices. Paired with the consultation model, it is effective with parents/teachers who are resistance (even over the phone). This technique works well with breaking barriers by helping clients to explore and resolve ambivalence. Although Motivational Interviewing is researched based, there is little research in schools at this time.  

Check data trends of your school to see if you are making a
difference
From our school data, ask yourself:
1. Am I standing up for kids?
2. How do I change systems of exclusion?
3. How are we preparing students to survive when they leave school?
According to Dr. Bailey and Dr. McMahon of the University of Georgia, PSCs should be preparing kids for what's to come and remember that our way of helping may not be helpful for all kids.
Social Emotional Learning is every bit as critical to students'
success as academic content
Dr. Christopher Sink gave five strategies on how to increase social emotional accountability in students.  These strategies include:
1. Social Emotional Learning must become part of the school counselor's focus.  This is important as students face increasing stressors, school violence, mental health issues, and marginalization in schools.
2.  School counselors can build connections between the ASCA Mindsets and SEL by collecting data.
3.  School counselors should lead by example and promote SEL (civility, tolerance, empathy, and openness to feedback).
4.  School counselors can advocate for SEL by team teaching, becoming active in state associations, and supporting SEL legislation.
5.  School counselors should assist colleagues with developing and assessing SEL skills and train others to be SEL mentors.
Want to know more about Social Emotional Learning?  Check out Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.
The best school counselors don't stay stagnate in their roles
According to Dr. Trish Hatch, school counselors should not be content and must step out into leadership roles.  Dr. Hatch said that graduates from her program at San Diego State University are encouraged to take active leadership roles in their state organizations, become leaders in their districts, and continue their education. 
Other lessons learned...
1.  I need to continue my education to keep up with the school counseling graduates!!
2.  School counselor educators want to partner with us as practitioners. In fact, Dr. Erin Mason called a bunch of us school counselors over and offered to present with us!!
3.  Dr. Mason encouraged us to have an innovator's mindset. Innovative practice means we are free to fail and we should continue trying until we find something that works...failure is a step in progress.

 Next Year's Conference

Interested in attending this conference?  Think about coming to the conference next year! Here are some of the things you can look forward to...
During the conference, there was a meeting to discuss next year's conference in San Diego.  Here are
San Diego
some of the suggestions the participants made to the conference team.
The conference should have a session on how to  present at EBSCC for newbies.
Work with state directors to find schools that are doing excellent work in their state and showcase that work. 
Include a course in site supervision for PSCs.
Have more specialized sessions, showcase practical examples, and follow with pairing and partnering.
Have courses on how to help school counselors with what to do with the data.
Practice Informed Research – inform counselor educators of what we are doing in the field so they can take back to their students.
Help school administrators understand the work of the school counselor. Some school counselors feel confined in the field that they cannot do anything unless it is approved by their administrator.
Include career interventions research in the field of school counseling.
This year the number of school counselor educators presenting was greater than the number of school counselors. The idea is to ask the host to identify people (PSC) to present by creating a safe space for them.
Include more marketing to administrators and add what is in it for me as a PSC. 
Increase attendance by asking Advisory Council Members to recruit in their region (e.g. former students).
Learn more...
Join Dr. Erin Mason and Lauren Ross' Twitter Chat on #EBSCC on March 8th.
Check out past conference presentations