Tips For Working With Students
(Part 6 of 6)
Here's the last set of tips and suggestions for working with students who come in with some specific issues and patterns. Again, please use your own judgment and follow your school and district policies and the relevant laws.
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How do I offer support and school counseling services to regular students who are on the right track?
~ When you meet with students to go over four-year plans, help a student with a schedule change, teach a lesson or activity of any kind in a classroom, or anytime you’re interacting with students, make it a point to ask how they’re doing and how school is going for them.
~ Validate the things they’re doing well – good grades, good attendance, participation in school activities, how well they balance school and other areas of their lives, etc.
~ Ask what their future plans are, and validate anything about them that sounds positive. Even regular kids and high achieving kids sometimes don’t get much validation or encouragement.
~ Ask if there’s anything they need, and invite them to come to you with questions anytime. Let them know how to sign up to see you.
How do I approach an “unapproachable” teacher or colleague regarding a student?
~ The answer to this question depends on what flavor of “unapproachable” the colleague is!
~ If the teacher or colleague is negatively biased toward the student, stick to the specific issue at hand, rather than trying to convince the colleague what a great kid the student is. Approach the colleague and the issue from a matter-of-fact, calm standpoint, such as, “Can I run something by you about Joe Smith’s grade in your class?” Ask for specifically what you need, and then leave it at that.
~ Approach an angry colleague the same way you would approach an angry student: Listen, and validate the colleague’s feelings even if you disagree with his or her opinion.
How much self-disclosure is appropriate as a school counselor?
~ I suggest using self-disclosure in a support group setting as a way to model sharing, such as in a weekly check-in or sharing of an “I” statement, etc.
~ Stick to day-to-day topics, or serious topics that you’ve resolved and can easily talk about without high emotional charge – and talk about those topics only to model that it’s possible to overcome very painful or difficult situations.
~ Save discussion of your current stresses and serious issues for other people in your life. Keep the focus on the students, not on you.
~ Don’t share anything with a student that you wouldn’t want everyone in your school to know. Even in a support group setting, confidentiality can’t be guaranteed.
How much follow-up do I do after talking with a student, and how do I go about it?
~ In a general situation where the student is not in crisis, you can invite the student to check back in with you as needed, and let the student know how to set up an appointment with you.
~ If you are concerned about a student, let him or her know that you’ll be checking in again. Write it on your calendar or set up a reminder on your computer for a week or two later. You can also set up a monthly follow-up with a student if you know he or she has ongoing issues.
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