MIDDLE SCHOOL COUNSELING AND GUIDANCE PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
At the middle school level, there is a great need to develop a system of guidance and counseling that encourages self-exploration and peer relationships. Strong risk/trust relationships must be developed and nurtured, allowing students to work through sensitive issues, often those associated with the developmental changes of early adolescence.
In addition to the counseling system described below, middle schools have the unique opportunity to offer advisory programs. Special advisory programs represent a unique type of group guidance in which students meet in small groups with the same teacher or counselor, who acts as their advisor over an extended period of time - e.g., in a homeroom setting (not feasible at the high-school level).
It is important to understand that special advisory programs provide supplemental guidance, and that they are not intended to supplant the necessary professional skills provided by the school counselor.
Special advisory programs provide additional guidance by building supportive, ongoing relationships between students and caring adults, in order to provide students with security, advice, affirmation, and positive role models. Teachers must recognize serious problems and refer students to counselors or psychologists. In fact, credentialed counselors are involved at all levels of special advisory program development to:
- provide program resources and support.
- help develop the advisory curriculum, based on behavioral and developmental goals by grade.
- prepare lessons and activities for advisors.
- train advisors in various guidance roles.
- run their own advisory groups.
PRIMARY ROLES OF MIDDLE SCHOOL COUNSELORS
In serving as a member of a school's counseling and guidance team, credentialed counselors support teachers, parents, administrators, and students whenever there are personal, social, cultural, and educational conflicts that have an impact on a student's development of a positive self-concept, an efficient learning style, useful decision-making skills, and realistic formation of short- and long-term post-secondary goals.
COUNSELOR as a Psychological Helper - Duties and Responsibilities
- participates in developing a guidance curriculum; implements the goals of personal development with teachers through mini-lectures/lessons in aspects of mental health to larger groups, e.g., parenting classes, career-planning classes, or health classes. Proactive education, rather than remediation, becomes the goal.
- Counsels individuals and groups of students who require in-depth assistance for decision-making and values clarification in the areas of educational counseling, career and vocational counseling, and personal or social development.
- Works with school psychologist, PSA counselor, parents, and other support personnel to assist students in need of additional services.
- Participates in school's crisis team during individual or schoolwide emergencies.
COUNSELOR as a Coordinator - Duties and Responsibilities
- Uses community and business resources to provide services that help both students and staff to develop counseling and human relations skills, e.g., dispute resolution/conflict management workshops or cultural sensitivity training through social studies elective classes. Counselors will assist in planning and coordinating outside resources.
- Communicates with other counselors and career advisors to build improved school-wide programs and policies relating to students' needs and plans, both current and post-secondary.
- Uses support systems that are considered socially acceptable within the larger community and within some cultures, such as ethnic community centers, family networks, churches, neighborhood social networks, and ethnic advocacy groups.
COUNSELOR as Consultant - Duties and Responsibilities
- Consults in case conferences with teachers, parents, and other credentialed staff members to evaluate and/or monitor students' academic and social behavior to determine possible need for special education services/ program.
- Meets with parents to determine how they can encourage more effective/appropriate behavior in school or at home and advise parents on how to secure outside assistance.
- Interprets the results of standardized tests of achievement and scholastic ability for students, parents, teachers, and administrators.
- Continually evaluates student records to note (and informs students and parents of) grade-level and graduation status, as well as the possible need for summer/winter classes, ROP/ROC classes, or adult school classes.
- Monitors the course work taken by students, paying particular attention to expanding the number of students taking math and science.
- Assists eighth-graders and their parents in the formation of four-year educational plans.
- Advises teachers how to develop more effective classroom climates.
COUNSELOR as Advocate - Duties and Responsibilities
- Develops and implements plans to improve school climate and morale.
- Assists in efforts to improve communication among teachers, students, parents, and administrators.
- Develops and participates in drop-out prevention programs.
- Develops and participates in drug/alcohol prevention programs.
- Develops and participates in pregnancy prevention and effective parenting programs.
- Ensures that all students can benefit from the social and economic resources of the majority culture without losing what is unique and valued in their own cultures.
- Monitors progress and provides support for opportunity-transferred students, as well as students from alternative forms of education, including incarceration.
- Develops and participates in conflict management(dispute-resolution) programs.
- Works with students and school staff to decrease students' feelings of isolation and to increase students' self-esteem and regard for others.
- Increases students' understanding of racism in society and in themselves while sorting out the feelings and reactions triggered by racist beliefs and/or acts against them.
Additional Counselor Duties and Responsibilities:
- Meets with students by grade level in large groups to discuss academic and career options and school procedures at the beginning of each school year.
- Prepares guidance materials for individual students; and, through academic counseling, assists in course selection for the next semester or semesters' classes.
- Prepares information for entry on informal cumulative record for every student.
- Interviews new students to assess educational and emotional needs.
- Periodically reviews computer printouts and progress reports/report cards to assess student progress.
- Notifies teachers or parents of the need for conferences and schedules them.
- Handles a variety of students referred to counseling office by teachers.
- Provides articulation programs with feeder elementary schools.
- Answers specific phone calls directed to counseling services from persons requesting information, e.g., parents, probation officers, other schools needing information, social service agencies, police, colleges, potential employers, etc.
- Circulates progress reports and attendance checks between scheduled reporting periods for conferencing purposes at parents' request.
- Provides accurate information to receiving counselors regarding redesignated ESL students making the transition to mainstream classes.
- Confers with teachers to improve the instructional program through discussion of student problems, test results, learning modalities.
SPECIFIC COUNSELING AND GUIDANCE PROGRAM GOALS
- GOAL 1: TO ASSIST STUDENTS IN UNDERSTANDING THE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT
- GOAL 2: TO ASSIST STUDENTS IN UNDERSTANDING SELF AND OTHERS
- GOAL 3: TO ASSIST STUDENTS IN UNDERSTANDING ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS
- GOAL 4: TO ASSIST STUDENTS IN UNDERSTANDING DECISION-MAKING AND PROBLEM-SOLVING
- GOAL 5: TO ASSIST STUDENTS IN UNDERSTANDING INTERPERSONAL AND COMMUNICATION SKILLS
- GOAL 6: TO ASSIST STUDENTS IN UNDERSTANDING SCHOOL SUCCESS SKILLS
- GOAL 7: TO ASSIST STUDENTS IN CAREER DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATIONAL PLANNING
- GOAL 8: TO ASSIST STUDENTS IN UNDERSTANDING COMMUNITY PRIDE AND INVOLVEMENT