In my recent post about my yearly counseling plan, I mentioned my tentativeness to share my data with the parents or faculty of my school because I was afraid that they wouldn’t care. This tentativeness was not unfounded as I was once told by an administrator (not at my school) that “No one cares what you [school counselors] do.” Ouch. Unfortunately, that flippant comment has stuck with me all of these years. Even now, posting here, I can’t help but shake that feeling that it doesn’t really matter, but I do it anyhow because the information I share is what I wish I’d had when I first started my counseling career.
Prove Your Worth
Here’s the thing that I know now and didn’t know back then, most people do care what a school counselor does every day. Parents and faculty will assume that you’re in your office eating Bonbons with your feet up if you’re not producing data to prove your effectiveness. You think I’m joking, but I can assure you that I’m not. I’ve heard from so many teachers that a particular counselor was a “dud” because they didn’t “do anything.” I’ve met a lot of counselors, and nearly every one of them works their behinds off and is certainly not a “dud.” But here’s the rub, when you don’t show what you do, you risk people assuming the worst about you.
Stay Focused on Your Goals
In my last post, I discussed the importance of knowing your goals. I even shared with you how I kept (and still keep) my goals posted at my desk and consult with them regularly to keep myself on track. I align my daily tasks with my long-term goals. It is important to remember to ask yourself ‘why’ you are doing something. For example, I knew that our school wanted to increase the number of scholarship dollars our students received, so I taught school counseling lessons in the classroom on college planning, regularly updated our website with scholarship information, and hosted numerous college planning nights to help reach that goal. Knowing my goals helped me focus my attention and that of our department on tasks that were aligned with helping us achieve our desired end result.
Share Only the Highlights
You’ll probably notice that I only put the end result on the year in review sheet such as “12th FAFSA in School Workshop X 2.” I didn’t share the number of hours it took to create a presentation or the time it took to coordinate a venue or research and invite a speaker. My goal was to show the manifestation of our efforts, not to let people into the kitchen to watch us cook. The role of the school counselor is nuanced, nebulous, and ever-changing which is why there is no way that I could genuinely fit what our department accomplished in a year on a single piece of paper, but I think it did hit most of the highlights.
The information you share with your stakeholders will likely be different than my year in review, but you need to at least share where and how you spend most of your time. Our new data tracking system for my county does a beautiful job documenting how and with whom I spend my time, and even though I didn’t have that luxury back in 2017, as you can see, I found a way to measure how I spent my time. It is critical to remember that your goals will influence what you measure, so make sure that your goals are worthy of your time.