What Does A School Counselor Do?

I love National School Counseling Week because it's a chance for counselors to showcase our profession and an opportunity for me to shout it from the rooftops what an AmAzInG calling this is!

Here's a bulletin board I made with Argus posters that shows some of the life skills that I get to help kids with, every day.

 The path to success has no shortcuts. This poster shows a little caterpillar trying to become a butterfly by strapping on some make-shift wings out of leaves. This visual represents what I do as a counselor for two reasons:  1. I get teach kids to problem solve and I absolutely love that this little guy has found a creative way to help himself fly. 2. I guide children down the path to success by helping them understand that success doesn't happen overnight. Achieving a goal can take a very long time, especially if you do it right. We talk about what it's going to take to reach our destination and what we're willing to give along the way. In the words of a Chinese Proverb: Fall down eight times, get up nine.
If you expect respect, be the first to show it. I am so fortunate to work in a school where a culture of respect is woven into the very fabric of our building. When we help students understand what respect looks like, sounds like, and feels like, then mentor them as they practice this lifelong virtue, we are turning out 'value-able' citizens that'll lead us with honor into our future. We all win when we embrace the circular power of respect: You've got to give it to get it.
Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.  Ah, the power of discernment. Counselors help students understand that every choice has a consequence and that every choice has a myriad of stakeholders, the people who are or will be affected by their decisions. I get to help students think through their actions by helping them use their values as a filter. We do this a lot through vicarious experiences in books, in film clips, and by role-playing real-life scenarios with one another. I enjoy playing the "what if?" game with visitors to my office.
Choose friends by their character and socks by their color. Amen! I just love helping students wrestle with friendships. I ask them things like, "what are you looking for in a friend?" and "what do you bring to a friendship?" I think the hardest thing to help little ones understand is that not every person will align with your values and be a good fit for you. But my message to them always ends with this: You may choose not to be friends with someone, but please, always be friendly to everyone.
Keep reaching toward your goals. This goes along with the first one where the little fella's goal is to become a butterfly but he tries to take the easy way out instead of persevering to the finish line. Students might need help with a short-term goal like a behavior plan or they may want assistance with a bigger picture goal like a career choice. Whatever the situation, anything worth having is worth the work required to pursue it, so counselors become cheerleaders, mentors, guides, coaches and confidants for those under our care while we help them decide on and go after what they're striving to achieve. Sometimes their goals might be slightly out-of-reach, so I get to help them break it down into smaller sub-goals so that the finish line doesn't seem so very far away. And if a goal seems unrealistic for a certain someone? I always make sure to encourage a plan B and plan C ... and sometimes a D and E!

So I walk with students down to this Think About It! board to ponder these poster points; it's always so enlightening to connect with young hearts and minds as they reflect on these messages and visual prompts. Which one is their favorite? Is there one that they disagree with and why? Can they give an example from their own lives that correlates with one of them? Is one of them harder than the others to follow?

Do I have a great job or what?


  1. AMEN SISTER!!!! I agree! I can't imagine doing anything else. Thanks for a great idea!

  2. You have a great job--and they have a great counselor!
    BTW, I have that same "socks" poster. Now I can think of YOU every time I look at it!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  3. Barbara, I wish all school counselors were like you! I have had the unfortunate pleasure of working with some that always seemed like they were doing you a favor whenever you asked for their help or tried to get your kids the help they needed. Here is to GREAT COUNSELORS!!
    The Picture Book Teacher's Edition

  4. Great article Barbara, School Counselor always do many programs to our children in order to overcome the conflict, the latest I heard is about online school counseling programs.



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