Partnering with stakeholders is important. We know this to be true. As high school counselors, we are connectors in our school buildings and in our community. It’s a place of influence that I never want to take lightly.
“Coffee with the Counselors” was born out of the need to continue nurturing the partnership with parents.
What is "Coffee with the Counselors?"
Once a quarter, we host “Coffee with the Counselors” for our parents. Maybe we could have thought of a more creative name for this, but let’s just call it what it is.
We pick up coffee and doughnuts and have an interactive, conversational morning with our students’ parents.
Having our meetings in the mornings (similar to our advisory council meetings) has always worked for us as counselors because it gives parents who perhaps can’t come to evening events (that schools seem to put on most often) an opportunity to come to school for something.
What topics do you present on for "Coffee with the Counselors?"
We offer social/emotional topics that they’re not going to find at an evening open house, parent info night, curriculum night, or a PTSA meeting.
This isn’t necessarily the place to share data about your school counseling program (unless it directly has to do with the topic at hand) and the places you’ve grown it… this is an opportunity to connect with your parents as stakeholders.
We’ve found that quarterly hosting doesn’t wear us out too much, and we always have parents show up.
It’s always a small setting. Usually, 5-25 parents come to hear about the topics we or a guest speaker present on. The main ways we advertise the event are email, text messages, phone blasts, and social media.
In my opinion, that is a great-sized group to have show up to hear about something educational and informative!
We are always open to suggestions from parents or staff, but we’ve found that most people “don’t know what they don’t know” and often have trouble pinpointing what they’d like to hear about!
Here are some examples of topics we’ve done in the past:
- Teen Mental Health (a pretty general presentation by our school counselors)
- Growing Independent Young Adults (presented by our school counselors)
- Parents as Allies: Recognizing Early Onset Mental Health Illness in Children and Adolescents (presented by our local NAMI chapter)
- Commerce 101: Navigating the College and Career Landscape (presented by a regional workforce advisor)
- How to Communicate with Your Teen (presented by a local licensed professional counselor, our school’s former school mental health counselor)
- Trends in School Safety and Q&A with the School Resource Officer
What are the benefits of "Coffee with the Counselors?"
I love that parents feel supported here.
Every time we finish it up, parents realize “Hey! I’m not the only one…” dealing with this issue or needing help relating to my teenager in this way. Parents share anecdotes and experiences, connect with one another, chat informally with school counselors, and learn actionable takeaways.
Once you have parents in the room, you can finish your meeting by following up with services that you’ll continue to offer to students at your school especially related to the topics at hand. (Put some resources right in the parents’ hands like these Coping Skills Handouts!)
If there is a need in your school to further the conversation around these, consider implementing small groups (like a Stress Management Small Group or a Leadership Small Group) or classroom lessons around some specific topics. You could even follow up with specific students individually with issues.
Whether you have an established high school counseling program, or you’re looking to get yours off the ground, sign up for my email list!
You’ll get a free download like this Career Research Cheat Sheet that will start moving the needle in your programming!