A Day in the Life: School Counselor A Day in the Life: School Counselor

A Day in the Life: School Counselor

Fly on the Wall

A Day in the Life  

The most effective school counselors strike a perfect balance between personal touch and technology. Technology helps them work smarter, notice red flags sooner, and put the pieces together for their many students, but without the human connection, this information would be no more than statistics. Let’s take a look at a day in the life of one of these modern-day superheroes. 

The Role

In the late 1800s, the Industrial Revolution was underway, and the vocational guidance movement began. As the position title indicates, vocational guidance counselors prepared students to enter the workforce. They encouraged them to stay in school, provided assistance if students went off track, and helped them get work cards.
In time, the counseling role expanded to include caring for the social and emotional needs of students. Today, school counselors play a critical role in students’ academic, career, personal, and social lives. They work with administrators, teachers, parents, and students. Their jobs require them to draw on both left- and right-brain thinking, as they cover both the analytical and social-emotional aspects of life. On any given day, counselors could help students cope with a family crisis or unplanned pregnancy, coordinate scheduling, assist with financial aid forms, and talk with a student contemplating suicide. The scope of their expertise must be wide. 

The Trend

While the responsibilities of school counselors continue to grow, so does the number of students they’re tasked with balancing. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends a counselor-to-student ratio of 1 to 250. However, on average, one counselor works with 482 students
With budgets and resources tight, many schools are putting their focus on technology rather than hiring additional counselors. This means counselors must master technology to become more efficient and prioritize their duties. 

Technology Tips

We asked Lisa Terrell, the Bonner Springs/Edwardsville, Kansas counselor featured in the Day in the Life video above, to offer insight into how she uses technology to keep her day going smoothly:
“My motto is ‘work smarter, not harder.’  My job requires lots of multi-tasking and the ability to be flexible, as you never know what your day entails as a high school counselor.  I utilize technology to streamline my work so that I can spend the majority of my time working with kids.
Technology is critical to help me stay organized and meet deadlines in my position. I use "to do lists" on my phone and also my Google calendar with calendar reminders to ensure I don't miss anything important. 
Skyward's Message Center functions are vital to my communication with parents. One of my commitments to parents at the beginning of each school year is to make sure they stay informed.  I utilize the message center to send emails to my students about important information and events; I always copy parents and any staff members that the information may pertain to make sure they are in the loop as well. 
Skyward's Scheduling tools are imperative to my job.  We use a blended scheduling approach, with Arena Enrollment for students in grades 10 to 12 and Autoscheduling for incoming ninth-grade students.  This technology helps us build a student-driven schedule that is most effective and time efficient for our school.” 
School counselors truly are modern-day superheroes. They are kind, compassionate individuals skilled in a wide variety of areas. But even superheroes like Lisa Terrell lean on technology to organize data and tackle challenges. By effectively using technology, counselors are better equipped to handle crisis situations; schedule an entire building; and care for the social, emotional, and academic needs of their students, all without ever missing a hallway duty.

Follow-Up Resource: Student-Driven Scheduling in Kansas 

Hear more from Lisa in this great guest post about her district’s move to arena scheduling.


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