A lot of things are indeed slower down South, but when it comes to school counseling, we’re making huge strides. This past year, my district developed “action committees” in which veteran counselors were asked to create curriculum maps that included all of the Tennessee State Standards. That means that each student would be taught each state standard every year.
The hope is that if each school within our district agrees to teach a particular set of standards during each quarter, all students, including transient students, will be provided all of their school counseling curricula.
To develop a proper curriculum map, our team paired up similar standards with one another and then ensured that each year, we’d cover each standard with each grade level. Our team took it a step further and provided that each of the standards was met through lesson plans, but not everything needs to be taught through a direct lesson plan delivered by the school counselor. For example, in place of traditional classroom lessons, much of the career standards can be met by having a career day for students and addressing the technology safety standards can be achieved by coordinating with your technology teacher if you have one available.
Behold the Glorious Curriculum Map!
Now, if you look at the curriculum map and feel overwhelmed, join the club! I know that it seems like a lot, and it is, but it is manageable if you prioritize and are strategic with your time.
As the only school counselor for 750 students this past year, I taught each class in each grade level 7 times per year for a total of 252 class lessons (6 classes per grade level— kindergarten through 5th grade). I decided to coordinate with our encore teachers (Music, Library, Art, Technology, and Physical Education) to “borrow” their classes once a week which gave them a much needed break and gave me a back-up person to cover my class if a crisis situation arose during one of my regularly scheduled lesson times. For the majority of the year, excluding the first and last three weeks of school, I taught 2 lessons per day each day of the week in addition to seeing students individually, attending meetings, facilitating groups, and developing lesson curriculum.
I know that a lot of school counselors still balk at the idea of teaching lessons, but I love it and find it to be the fastest and easiest way to reach every student in the entire school. Teaching lessons is an excellent way for me to make myself known each student and ensure that they are getting the curriculum they deserve.
Adults go to seminars and conferences to improve their skills, and that’s kind of how I see my role within the school—those classroom lessons that I teach help students to go from good to great. Most kids won’t ever need to have an individual session with me, but if I can teach them how to manage their emotions a little better or make studying a little more relaxed than I’ve succeeded.
I feel confident that there are better maps out in the world, but I hope that this gets you started if you are struggling to find a way to ensure that every student in your building is receiving each school counseling standard. I plan on posting a copy of my lesson guide with the actual titles of books and months that I taught those lessons soon!