School counselors play a significant role in institutions worldwide. They are individuals with specialized training to provide support to students facing various problems. They help facilitate a supportive and safe environment for learners. They complement teachers in their efforts toward achieving goals. The work of school counselors involves balancing student needs.
Since student needs are varied, school counselors have numerous functions. Some work toward education goals, while others just build social skills. Schools also exist at various levels. Hence, you will come across students at the elementary, middle and high levels. Specific roles may include maintaining records, identifying trends, and building collaboration between teachers, administrators and parents. All efforts are aimed at improving the general welfare of students.
Below are skills to develop if you want to become a great school counselor.
The first attribute that makes a good school counselor is the ability to listen. Remember, you will be dealing with parents, students and other stakeholders within the school. Your job mainly revolves around listening to various problems and processing information from these individuals. A good listener must be patient and ask questions later. Do not interrupt them. After hearing, you can seek clarification if you need more information.
Be an excellent communicator.
Communication skills are another critical aspect to cultivate if you want to be a great school counselor. You must be able to speak your mind and express feelings toward various situations. As a counselor, your responsibility involves communicating ideas and thoughts, especially after listening to problems. Remember, you are dealing with young minds relying on you for proper decision-making. Communication may lead to correct decisions. While meeting faculty members, you must be perfect at delivering reports, which means that you must be a good communicator.
Be able to assess
Among the roles of a school, counselor is to prepare students for life after school. Therefore, you must build accurate assessments of the student’s capabilities and help them choose the right path. If you are deployed in a high school, you must assess a learner’s limitations and successes while choosing courses to pursue in college. It gives you the leverage to guide them on applications and how they can pick the best course out of long, daunting lists. You must also assess the parents’ expectations and report to them. College counselors should evaluate the job market and inform students about the challenges in the new environment.
Learners in a school setting come from various backgrounds. Some could be rich, while others will barely have anything. Students will also profess different religions. You must be ready to appreciate these diversities and accommodate each one of them. Understanding each student allows you to tailor unique solutions for them rather than handling them as a block.
Being a school counselor is a social duty. Therefore, you must have a friendly personality that attracts students, parents and other faculty members. You ought to be warm and approachable so that students feel free to open up to you to solve their problems. Parents will also trust you to handle their children, especially those undergoing serious life challenges. It is such a fulfilling feeling for a school counselor to solve problems for learners. Some courses and subjects have too much content to cover, and therefore become a burden. A school counselor helps to relieve students of their stress.
Sometimes, you must draw the line between being friendly and being authoritative. Students may take you for a ride if you are too nice to them. They may consider you as their peer and fail to heed to what you tell them. While you should be friendly, make sure that you exercise authority over them and remain professional. Note that you will be dealing with cases such as abuse, neglect and harmful behavior, including drug abuse.
Always stand up against these vices no matter who you are dealing with. Even when the parent is in the wrong, show them that they must respect the welfare of their children. While dealing with administrators, know when and where to address them authoritatively because most of them do not like employees who challenge them.
Build good evaluation skills
To become a good counselor, you must learn how to administer tests and evaluate scores because this is part of your core responsibilities. After evaluating the results, a school counselor must be able to translate them into a discussion of the student’s performance or assist a professor in making an assessment of the student’s skills. These technical attributes will require you to pursue an MA in Counseling and Human Development to better understand your job. This course entails technical aspects of counseling and how to build an entire career around enriching human life. Being an effective counselor means that you see beyond the exam results on paper. Students often believe that exams will determine their destiny, but you must enable them to see the scores in terms of their future prospects.
In the school environment, counselors are deployed to serve as coordinators for various activities and school programs. They perform administrative tasks, set standardized test schedules, and also undertake college visits. Therefore, you must be able to coordinate all these activities to run smoothly. Students and administrators will be looking up to you to manage situations, even the most chaotic ones. Again, you will be elated when you are part of the solution.
As an individual, you have interests away from your work. School counselors are no exception. While on duty, you never know when your passions can resonate with those of the students and trigger a connection. At this point, you will build a bond and prompt the students to open up to you. A school counselor with a variety of skills, hobbies and talents is definitely happier. You will have sessions to speak about individual experiences, allowing you to bridge gaps with students. Apart from enriching the learners, you will also build your social capacity and other strengths you never had. The interaction with different students exposes you to various characteristics that will enable you to grow.
While dealing with students, a school counselor should be able to monitor and analyze their behavior. You will understand their challenges while studying and put them in the right context. Along the way, you will understand even greater issues. Currently, technology has taken over, and the world is now data-driven. Working as a school counselor demands that you build analytical skills to allow you to intervene at the right times for the sake of your audience. This set of skills also provides the capability to monitor and aggregate student behavior so that you tailor your responses for each one of them.
Being a good counselor is about solving problems, especially for young learners who need support in the school environment. Remember, having good problem-solving skills is not all about treating symptoms when they come up. It is about identifying and dealing with the core issues. One of the common issues that you will come across is student misbehavior. As a counselor, you do not just end with a single outburst. Investigate the deeper reasons why the students behaved in that manner. It will help them adopt sustainable positive change.
Schools have established counseling departments to address students’ needs. Learners are faced with many issues, including parental problems at home, disputes with other friends, and bullying. As a counselor, you need to address these issues. However, you need empathy skills to enable you to understand what students are going through and design a compassionate response. Empathy is more of an attribute you are born with. It could be likened to temperament. However, you can also nurture it through a process that encompasses other skills, including listening and assessment.
It takes a lot of traits to be a good school counselor. However, it is impossible to possess all the traits mentioned above. If you feel that you are lacking a particular aspect, you can visit and enroll in some organizations that will transform your values to become an even better counselor. They occasionally hold conferences to empower their members. You will also come across many interest groups with counselors in the same field. Note that no single trait can make you rise or fall, but building a wide variety of skills to support your students is the best thing to do.