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A Part Time Program

My first job as a school counselor was within a private school system.  I worked at three different buildings three days a week.  Because of the number of students at each building, I had a half day at one school, a day and a half at another, and a full day at the third building.  Two out of the three had not recently had a school counselor in the building. Basically I was starting my program from scratch.  My current job has me with three different schools, in three different cities, that are not affiliated with each other at all.  I am one day at one school and two days at the other two.  These schools all had previous counselors that I was replacing but the program that had been in place was not up to my standards.  So again, I was basically starting from scratch to create my school counseling program.  I should also note that at each of these buildings I was/am the only school counselor.

I am fairly independent and while it would be nice to have another counselor on staff to bounce ideas off of or help when need be, I do enjoy being on my own.  I can do what I want (within limits of course) in terms of what my program looks like and how it is run.  My current schools are all K-8 and vary in class size but demographically they are similar.  While the politics of the building and the student needs vary greatly.  The position I am currently in and the buildings I am currently at leave the school counseling program up for interpretation based on the counselor (me) currently filling the role.  I try to take the aspects of ASCA that define our role in a K-8 setting and make that work with the time I have at each school.

CLASSROOM GUIDANCE: Once a month I am in each K-5 classroom teaching a guidance lesson.  The topics vary and I try to keep the monthly theme the same throughout the levels.  Teachers are encouraged to let me know of any specific issues they would like me to cover otherwise I have a vast array of lessons I pull from.  For middle school, 6th – 8th grade, I will be meeting on an as needed basis for classroom guidance.

I call my classroom time Guidance but my title is School Counselor.  There has been a lot of change within our job as counselors over the years and while I agree with the title change I still choose to call my classroom time Guidance.  I believe it’s the easiest way for parents to understand what it is I do and it is what I’m doing.  I am providing guidance to their child/ren on friendship, feelings management, careers, etc.

INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS: Students are referred to me by their parents, teachers/staff, or self referred.  If I plan to meet with a student more than one time I need parent permission.  This usually consists of an email home informing the parents that I will be meeting with their child regularly.  I include what the focus of these meetings will be about and encourage them to contact me with any questions or concerns.

SMALL GROUPS: Groups are run as needed depending upon the need of the students and the building.  Groups can be formed because a parent asks for their child to be a part of a group or because teachers see a need.  Any child participating in a group requires parent permission and I use a similar format to my individual counseling students.  The tricky part of running small groups is my limited time in each building and the small numbers I have to work with.  Groups may be needed but unable to run because there is not enough participation.  In that case I try to meet the needs of the student another way.

What does your program look like?