Teaching Students the Role of the School Counselor
The Elementary School Counselor
The role of the elementary school counselor varies from district to district, and often building to building. Whether a school counselor provides classroom lessons, lunch groups, testing, or crisis counseling, it is important for children to see the counselor as another trusted "teacher" in the building.
Students will be able to:
- Identify the role of the school counselor
- Understand how and when to access counseling services
Index cards with the following pictures: an ear, a closed mouth, a book, "friends," a "meeting" (several adults around a table)
Group class in a circle on the carpet or floor and be seated with them.
- Ask if anyone knows your name. If someone does have them answer, if not introduce yourself.
- Ask if anyone knows what you do at the school. (Answers can reflect job roles without naming the position "guidance counselor").
- Ask if anyone knows what your job is called (if not already answered) and tell them your title "guidance counselor" if not. Then have the group repeat your title together.
Say "I have some clues about what a guidance counselor does. The clues are on these index cards. Try to figure out why I'm showing you each picture and let's figure out together what my job is at your school."
- Show first index card (a picture of an ear) and ask what the picture has to do with a guidance counselor. Accept any answer that involves "listening."
- Show next index card (a picture of a closed mouth) and ask what the picture has to do with a guidance counselor. Acceptable answers include "they talk to you, they don't tell your secrets, and you talk about your problems to them."
- Show next index card (a picture of a book) and ask what the picture has to do with a guidance counselor. Acceptable answers are "they read stories, they read to the class, and they read about problems." Clarify what and when you might read to them: as a class, in a small group, when working together on a problem that a book talks about.
- Show next index card (a picture of friends) and ask what the picture has to do with a guidance counselor. Acceptable answers include "they help when you have problems with friends, you might have lunch bunch, and they teach you how to meet people."
- Show next index card (a picture of people "meeting) and ask what the picture has to do with a guidance counselor. Acceptable answers include "they might meet with your parents, they might meet with teachers, and they might talk to the principal."
Have kids describe ways they would let you know they needed you. If unsure, lead with "Would you get out of your seat and walk out of your classroom to come see me? No! What would you do first?"
Write steps on the board which should include the appropriate process at your school. The following is an example.
- Tell the teacher or my parent I need to speak with the guidance counselor.
- The teacher or my parent will call to set up a time.
- The counselor will leave a pass with my teacher.
- I will go to the guidance office at that time.
Author's nine years of elementary guidance experience.