Sunday, September 18, 2016

You Matter in Your School! Evaluating the Counselor-Principal Relationship

Sunday, September 18, 2016


School is in full swing and you are probably recovering from all the schedule changes, transcipt checking, and beginning of the year parent phone calls.  Although you may often feel like a glorified paper pusher, as a school counselor, you make "it" happen in your school. Yes, I mean it...you are vital to the success of you school.

Although we are valuable, it is really unbelievable how many school counselors, who I speak to at conferences, feel they are unimportant in their school.  I pondered these statements by my colleagues and how these thoughts became part of their reality.  In my own opinion, remember this is my thought, I feel the lack of significance generally stems from the attitude of the principal.  Case in point, when I have felt the most vital in my school is when I was valued and supported by my principal.  For instance, I was asked for my opinion, I was invited to leadership meetings, I was called into his or her office for a consult...well, you get my meaning.  So, if your relationship with your administrator is good, count your blessings! Unfortunately, many of the school counselors out there do not have this luxury.

Unfortunately, many school counselors feel undervalued by their principals...

Truly,  I have worked with some great principals and some really ineffective principals (I am speaking subjectively as this is my own opinion about their leadership in terms of supporting the role of the school counselor).  Since I have lived on both sides of the proverbial fence,  I want to share some resources that may give you some direction on how you can work effectively with your principal.
When school counselors feel valued!

Working Effectively With Your School Principal


As we know, the school principal is the leader of your building and will determine your role in your school. According to ASCA, NASSP, and College Board,  these organizations believe that improving the principal-counselor relationship can "lead to more effective practices for both principals and counselors, which in turn can lead to better educational outcomes for all students." These organizations have created a booklet which examines the relationships between principals and school counselors and how they can work together effectively.

A Closer Look at the Principal/School Counselor Relationship

Need some direction on how to enhance your relationship?  Check out this resource from College Board on how to enhance your relationship.

Enhancing the Principal-School Counselor Relationship

This toolkit includes:

Self Assessments
Checklists
Exercises
Case Studies
Examples

ASCA believes a good principal-school counselor relationship will enhance your job satisfaction and increase your ability to work effectively.  On average, a school principal stays in a school about four years, while a school counselor stays in a school almost their whole career.  Each time a new principal takes the reigns of your school it is important that you build lines of communication, educate them about  your role, and build a relationship of trust.  Here are several suggestions outlined by ASCA.

1.   Make an effort to get to know your principal as a person.
2.   Give support to your principal on decisions he or she makes.  The support you give will come back your way!
3.   Build trust by keeping your word, being student-centered, and keeping your principal informed.

How You Can Educate Your Principal

According to Patti Hoelzle, here are some tips for educating your principal about your contributions to your school (job security comes from your principal!).
Educate about your principal about your role as the school counselor by meeting with the 
principal and sharing your role.  One way to do this is to share the Principal-Counselor 
Annual Agreement.
Show your principal your daily schedule by consistently keeping up with your time. Show
visuals of how you are spending your time….advocacy for DIRECT service to students
Share school climate data with your principal and link YOUR WORK to improvements.
Show how you can support staff and students at your school. 

Most importantly make your principal look good by offering up data that they can bring to 
their leadership.
Information For Principals

If you are an administrator reading this blog (which would be awesome!), there are several ways you can support your counselor(s). According to Edutopia, there are seven ways you can support them:

1.  Meet with your school counselor at the beginning of the year to identify your expectations.
2.  Review the appropriate and inappropriate roles of a school counselor and reconsider those inappropriate roles.
3.  Make sure your school counselor has time to provide direct services to students.
4.  Reevaluate your opinion of school counseling as it has changed from when you were in school.
5.  Know that school counselors are great evaluators and can provide assistance on areas in your school that need attention.
6.  Consider and value the professional opinions of your school counselor(s).
7.  Realize that you may be under utlizing your school counselor(s).

Administrator Guide to School Counselors

So, I have given you some tips you can follow and information you can share with your principal. Since it is early in the year, make some steps to do this as soon as you can.  My goal is to have my meeting and goal discussion with my principal by September 30th.