My Highlights and Reflections from the ASCA 2023 National Conference [Episode 85]


Here's What to Expect In This Episode:

I recently attended the ASCA 2023 National Conference in Atlanta and it’s time for a debrief! Between the 12 sessions I attended and meeting so many incredible school counselors, I have lots of highlights, takeaways, and reflections to share with you.

The ASCA 2023 conference provided a space to acknowledge and address all the challenges that we face as counselors. It was so refreshing to connect with fellow educators who understand and navigate the same issues (staying in my own hotel room wasn’t too bad either!).

Overall, the sessions I attended offered innovative and practical tips empowering us to thrive in our roles. I have three favorites that you’ll hear about in this episode.

Inspired by this conference, I’m inviting you to join our vibrant Clique Collaborative community. Whether you are seeking new ideas or a place to share your experiences, The Clique Collaborative is here to support you and help you rediscover your love for your job. Let’s re-energize our programs together!

Topics Covered in This Episode:

  • An exciting personal announcement!
  • What I thought of the ASCA 2023 sessions that I attended and which sessions I opted out of
  • The importance of building strong connections with Latinx families 
  • What I learned about building freshman success
  • Some details of the new Suicide Information-Gathering Tool (SIGT)
  • Why I encourage you to attend the next ASCA National Conference

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Read the transcript for this episode:

You got into this profession to make a difference in your students’ lives, but you’re spread thin by all the things that keep getting added to your to do list. I can’t create more hours in the day, but I can invite you into my Counselor Clique, where you’ll finally catch your breath.

Come with me as we unpack creative ideas and effective strategies that will help you be the counselor who leaves a lifelong impact on your students. I’m Lauren Tingle, your high school counseling hype girl. Here to help you energize your school counseling program and remind you of how much you love your job.

I am freshly back from walking in the door for my drive home from ASCA 2023. The timing aligned that my house is quiet so I can actually record a podcast which works out well because I wanted to take a few minutes just to summarize and reflect on my time at the National Conference with what my experience was like.

Now, the last time I went to ASCA was six summers ago, 2017. I went with four of my team members specifically because it was the year that we won and were recognized for receiving the RAMP Award. That’s the Recognized ASCA Model Program Award. It was a huge deal to us as it should have been. And it was so fun to get to go the conference together with my co workers.

I was about 20 weeks pregnant with my first daughter. So I had no childcare situations to worry about yet. I was pretty sick during that time. I think I was five years into my counseling profession as a high school counselor too.

So flash forward to five years later, okay, I guess it was, I don’t know, five or six years I can’t do math. ASCA is driving distance for my home this year. I knew that I had to capitalize on the close location and definitely had to make it work to get there.

So I arranged for my girls to go to their grandparents’ house and I thought about my husband coming with me. But turns out we couldn’t make that work. But I was down for a solo trip anyways. I find some adventure in that. Plus four nights in a quiet hotel room with a fluffy bed was not the worst.

I posted on Instagram just before I got on the road that, surprise I’m pregnant with my third baby! So there’s some news for you. I just had to add that in so I could preface this with I’ve also been sick during this pregnancy too. Not a surprise, but I was a little apprehensive about how I was going to feel while I was there. I take medicine around the clock. So for the most part, I felt decent, which surprised me. I tried to get a lot of sleep and listen to my body’s cues to slow down when I needed to while I was there.

Let me hit you with some highlights of the trip. First meeting people and socializing was one of my top highlights. I’ve been online friends with Sarah from the Responsive Counselor and Rachel from Bright Futures Counseling for a while. I had met Sarah in real life once but I had never met Rachel in real life before.

Both of them serve elementary counselors online, so while we didn’t go to the same sessions, because we had different interests, we got to eat some meals together and walk around together and just get some chatting in.

Rachel also has a podcast called School Counseling Simplified if you’re looking for more podcast content in your earbuds. Both of them are incredibly talented, kind, and creative individuals who care deeply for the counseling community. We had a ton of fun laughing and hanging out together. So that was a big highlight for me.

I also love meeting so many of you in Atlanta. I said if you see me, please say hey, because in all seriousness, it was so fun to put faces to names that I’ve chatted with on Instagram. And I can’t tell you how encouraging it was for me to hear that you all are listening to this podcast! You are using Counselor Clique Resources and you’re being uplifted by the messages that I put out there. It’s especially great after not feeling well these last few weeks. So that was definitely a bright spot to my summer.

It’s also crazy because when I went to ASCA in Denver, Counselor Clique wasn’t even a thing yet. So that was even a cool moment of reflection to me to think back on something that has grown into such a passion of mine. It also makes me hopeful for the work that’s still to be done.

My extroverted self was overflowing with, “Ahhh, this is so much fun!” from getting to talk to people. But I swear as I’ve gotten older, I really do appreciate the quiet moments after all of that fun even more. So I was definitely in bed at a decent hour every night except the Aquarium Social Night because I just needed that sleep so badly.

Second, the sessions were truly really, really good. To be honest, it felt really nice to go with no pressure. I did not have a school that was paying for me to attend. I was not presenting. I just had zero responsibilities. Just go, soak it up, and enjoy it.

For most of the time slots I had a really hard time choosing what to go to. At breakfast each morning. I’d open up the app and I’d scroll through the day’s choices and flag the ones I wanted to go to. I’d make my selections based on the grade level it was intended for. (Hello high school counselors.) Then I’d read the overview and then scan the PowerPoint slides just to be sure it was something I was interested in.

I pick things that I genuinely wanted to learn more about. Things that I needed refreshers in and things that I thought, hmm, I don’t really talk about that much on my social media channels a lot. Let’s check that out. I felt really great with the choices that I made.

I’ll be completely honest with you and tell you that I didn’t attend any of the keynotes or those extra large gatherings for speakers. This was one of the things that I just cut out because I could. Like I said before, I hadn’t been feeling well so I didn’t want this to push me over the edge. I also know that I paid for this trip with my own money, and I wasn’t here representing a school or attending on their budget so I did all of this with a clean conscience.

When I’ve attended two conferences in the past and was representing a school, I definitely went to all of these. I felt like they were inspiring and motivating for that season that I was in. I just didn’t get it. This time.

I took notes on the Notes app in my phone, and then I saved them all to an ASCA 2023 folder. As I scan through those right now, I’ll tell you real quick, maybe my top three sessions. Which is really hard to do. I basically went to 12 sessions. I skipped the morning one on the last day for some extra rest. So I’ll confess that here too.

I went to 2 on the first half day, 4 on the first full day that second day for me. 5 on the second full day, I snuck in like a mini shorter session, and then 1 on the closing day.

It’s back to school season, which means one thing. It’s time to get ready with the resources you need as a High School Counselor this year. Are you planning on going into classrooms to do academic, college and career, or social emotional lessons? Or are you wanting to implement some small groups this year? Need some ideas for creating a college going culture? For all of this and more, head on over to to browse my TPT store for tons of Back To School resources specific for you, High School Counselors. Go to Now back to today’s episode.

Let me tell you about the three that kind of just stood out to me that I want to make sure that I’ve shared with you. The first one that I want to share with you is called Strengthen Partnerships With Latinx Families. This one was a good one for me because I was thinking through the lens of the community that I live in.

The school that I used to work at is the school kind of in my neighborhood, and it’s the high school where my kids will likely attend high school. My youngest daughter is starting kindergarten this year, can’t believe that, and she will have a pretty diverse classroom setting if I have to guess. I don’t know what other roles I might be able to offer at the elementary school other than mom, but I definitely want to keep my eyes open for opportunities to advocate for these families in her school.

I loved the energy in the room from this Latino community themselves. And a cool takeaway I got from this session was hearing the difference between what I, like a white American, might define education as, and how one might define la educación in a Latino culture.

These families definitions may vary, but coming from the audience, people share their experience that la educación means the principles, rules, morals and respect taught at home and the expectation that those same things are taught at school plus school things.

I loved hearing people’s experiences with that with la educación. The reason behind the varying definitions of “family involvement” (I’ll put that in quotes) “family involvement” at school was an interesting point for me to consider and I definitely want to research this more. Just the perceptions of what educators might think family involvement should look like versus what these Latinx families think or define family involvement as.

Another session that stood out to me because of some research that I hadn’t ever really dove into much was a session on Building Freshman Success. We had a Freshman Academy and the high school that I was in and I genuinely always wondered about the research behind freshman academies.

What good was it doing? What roles should we all be taking here? But I guess I never really cared to do the research on my own because what I learned about the research was new to me here. I didn’t even know that the National Freshman Success Institute or NFSI, even existed. But I know where I will be deep diving soon.

They recommended a documentary called The Second Window, which has definitely been added to my list. I’ll link a video trailer of it in the show notes so that if it piques your interest, you can add it to your list as well.

It’s about some research that was done on high school students for high school graduation rates in the Chicago Public Schools area. The Second Window references a valuable period of time where the adolescent brain is still developing and changing their perceptions of what is possible. Not just the first window of life when they’re little in elementary school. I looked it up and it’s free to watch the documentary on YouTube and Vimeo.

In this session, there were some ideas to just solidify that transition to high school and ensure graduation success starting all the way in ninth grade.

One more super helpful session that I wanted to make sure I told you about was the mini 20-minute session I went to on the Suicide Information Gathering Tool that ASCA put out this past spring 2023. Now there was a longer session the day before, but I got there right as it was starting, and it was completely packed. They would not let anybody else in. I guess like fire marshal rules or something. So I was really excited to see that there was a 20-minute mini session the next day. So I definitely went to that.

Now I’m gonna be completely honest, somehow I missed that this new tool was available. I’ll link it in the show notes. But I’ll tell you, it’s on the ASCA website under publications and research and then you click on toolkits, frameworks, and resources.

It’s all about having a conversation with a student and not interviewing them. On the website, these forms are available in English and Spanish, but it’d be helpful for you to just go ahead and download it, have it on your computer, have some copies on hand.

This new tool came out because ASCA was hearing that schools and districts were putting a variety of demands on counselors to quantify suicidal ideation in students. Like they wanted the counselor to say whether a student was low, medium, or high risk of attempting suicide. And we know screeners can’t predict this risk. Neither can counselors. School counselors needed something that was more student centered and less paperwork centered.

A takeaway that I also had was that this document was it’s not a sole possession record. So that means it’s meant to be given to the administrator. A copy is meant to be given to the parent for their student’s medical provider. Those who could use it to help the student should be able to see it.

If you want more about the counselors ethical responsibility around this, there’s also a link right there on that tool for ASCA’s position statement on this.

My last takeaway after telling you about relationships and sessions was just how worth it it was. Counselors travel far and wide for ASCA. You know, I said it was close to me. But there were counselors there from California and Alaska. So wild!

Now I know it’s not a possibility every year. It can cost some money. But if you can make it sometimes, you need to get this on your bucket list. Ask early and ask often for funding. When you get that refreshing boost from professional learning and from colleagues who just get it, you’re truly refreshed to go back in and do the hard work of being a high school counselor.

If you need some motivation on where to find money for PDs or just what ideas you could pursue for other possible professional development opportunities, I’ll link some of those ideas in the show notes per some past podcasts and blog posts that I’ve done. It’s so important and I promise you will never regret it.

Stay tuned! In just a couple of weeks doors are opening soon to the Clique Collaborative, my high school counseling membership and there are some major updates to share. Put your name on the waitlist if you want to be the first to hear. That’s And I’ll talk to you next week.

Thanks for listening to today’s episode of High School Counseling Conversations. All the links I talked about today can be found in the show notes and also at Be sure to hit follow wherever you listen to your podcast so that you never miss a new episode. Connect with me over on Instagram. Feel free to send me a DM @counselorclique. That’s CLIQUE. I’ll see you next week.

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Cheers + Happy Listening!

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