Comparing the Roles of Elementary, Middle, and High School Counselors with Laura Rankhorn and Kim Crumbley [Episode 86]


Here's What to Expect In This Episode:

If you’ve ever been curious about the differences in school counseling roles based on the grade levels they support, then this episode is for you. I’m joined by Alabama school counselors, Laura Rankhorn and Kim Cumbley. Between the three of us, we have experience as elementary, middle, and high school counselors.  

Our conversation centers around the differences and similarities between these grade levels. You might be surprised to find that our skills are really interchangeable in any grade level! One thing is for sure – there’s so much opportunity to collaborate with school counselors who support grades other than your own.

The building blocks are established by elementary school counselors, especially in developing social-emotional skills in students, and high school counselors must continue this work. Elementary, middle, and high school counseling roles may have their differences, but at the core, they all share the same goal of providing stellar support to students.

If you’re considering a leap between grade levels, don’t be afraid! Embrace it as something new and full of possibilities. If high school is where you’re headed, my audio course, The High School Counseling Kickstart can offer additional support!

Topics Covered in This Episode:

  • Similarities and differences that we’ve noticed in school counseling roles from elementary to high school
  • Ways that school counselors of all grade levels can work together
  • The importance of addressing the mental health crisis starting at a young age
  • Examples of collaborative conversations that we should be having with fellow counselors
  • High pressures in high school counseling compared to elementary or middle school, particularly when it comes to student graduation rates
  • The need to educate students, teachers, and admin on our school counseling roles
  • Utilizing data and adapting based on specific student needs

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Meet Kim Crumbley:

Kim Crumbley has experienced education at the elementary, middle, and high school levels during her many years in education;   however, she felt as though she found her niche when she became the school counselor at Parkside School.  Kim’s creative flair and excitement make her guidance classes magical and memorable. 

Kim earned her master’s degree in school counseling from the University of West Alabama.  She has also worked as an advocate and educator for parents of special needs children.  She is a mom of two boys, one granddaughter, and one grandson.  She lives in Fairview, Alabama, with her husband, son, and Australian Shepard. 

Meet Laura Rankhorn:

Laura Rankhorn has dabbled in many professions before finding her love for education. She uses the marketing skills she acquired while obtaining her degree in Business Administration from Middle Tennessee State University to think of innovative ways to keep school exciting for her students.  She earned her Masters degree in School Counseling from the University of North Alabama and her EdS from the University of West Alabama. She and her husband, JC, have been married for 19 years. They live in Alabama, with their 2 daughters. Victoria Belle and Ellie Blair. 

Laura and Kim have spoken nationally at over 30 national conferences on topics ranging from data, climate and culture, using virtual reality to teach careers, and many other topics!  They have written an article for the ASCA magazine, led webinars for ASCA, and they recently published their first book, Growing Your Program for School Counselors.  They have been hosting their school counseling podcast, Counselor Accents, for over 3 years where they have so much fun discussing all things school counseling!

Connect with our Guests:​

Read the transcript for this episode:

Laura 0:00
This episode was so fun to record. I was on the podcast, Counselor Accents with Laura and Kim and I am re-airing that podcast over here on High School Counseling Conversations. So you’ll get to meet Laura and Kim of Counselor Accents. They are so fun, easy to talk to. You’re gonna love our conversation around the differences and similarities between elementary, middle, and high school counseling.

Lauren 0:24
So their backgrounds are mostly elementary, little combination of elementary, middle and high. And you know, me, I’m just high school. And so it was cool and interesting to talk about how to leverage our experiences and how those really are interchangeable at whatever level that you’re working at. So go ahead and listen in on our conversation, I know you’re gonna love it.

Lauren 0:52
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.

Lauren 1:06
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.

Laura 1:24
We are so excited to have Lauren from Counselor Clique with us. I would like to say she is the specialist on all things high school counseling. And we’re just very honored to have her with us to teach us a thing or two and Kim, teach me a thing or two. How about that? About high school counseling because you’ve dabbled in the high school world.

Kim 1:45
I’ve been a high school counselor, but

Laura 1:48
I guess you earned a badge.

Kim 1:50
I earned a badge. But I will say that education is changing at the speed of light. And it has been probably five years since I was in a high school. So it does continue to change. So I’m always happy to have conversations and learn from one another. So that’s exciting.

Lauren 2:07
Well, that’ll be good. Because that’ll be like you’re elementary, Laura. And then Kim, you have both, and then me is just high school. So we’ll have a good conversation around that.

Kim 2:16
Yeah, and Laura has just been hired as a middle school counselor. We’re just we’re going to have a little bit of expertise and everything. So maybe we can cover everything. All ages, yeah.

Laura 2:32
So Lauren, you probably don’t need an introduction. But just go ahead and tell our listeners a little bit about yourself.

Lauren 2:36
Yeah, I’m Lauren Tingle. I am the face, voice behind counselor click I support high school counselors in social media world now. I was a high school counselor at the same high school my whole career. And a couple years ago, right, during at the end of COVID, I transition to full time Counselor Clique and being a mom at home.

Lauren 2:58
But I had almost 10 years of experience in the high school. And now I have a podcast called High School Counseling Conversations. So we have the podcasting thing in common. And I have a membership for high school counselors called the Clique Collaborative where we support high school counselors with relevant professional development training, because there just aren’t a lot of conversations going on about high school counseling.

Lauren 3:19
So any way that I can support high school counselors, I’m eager to do so. And it’s really fun for me. It’s a fun change of career, I guess that I never expected. But I just love to get to serve high school counselors in a different way than I was before.

Laura 3:33

Kim 3:34
I think anytime we can advocate for school counselors, it’s it’s, I’m all in. And you’re absolutely right. That’s kind of a, it is such a difficult and different kind of counselor that sometimes I imagined. Well, I know you can feel kind of out of, you know, your job description seems sometimes so very far into elementary and middle. So

Lauren 3:57
Well, yeah. We just do different things, you know. Like when you speak to the kindergarten counselor, it’s so different from the 12th grade counselor. And we all do very valuable things. They’re just completely different. You can’t have the same conversation and say this applies to you when you’re at two different ends of the spectrum. It just doesn’t work the same.

Laura 4:14
Right, exactly. We’re doing something kind of unique. And since you have a podcast, then you’re going to use this episode on your podcast too. So we can introduce ourselves to your listeners.

Lauren 4:26

Laura 4:27
I am Laura Rankhorn and Kim and I have a podcast called Counselor Accents Podcast. I have been an elementary school counselor and like you said a minute ago I’m moving up to middle school but we’re in Alabama. We just have found this podcast world so much fun. And like you said we love getting to meet with other school counselors from across the nation and this podcast world just kind of brings everybody closer together. It makes the world not seem so big. So yeah.

Kim 4:56
And I’m Kim Crumbley and I now am in the same system, or Laura is now in the same system as me, which is a lot of fun. So I am in a unique situation, I’m K through eight and have been k through 12 all at one time. So we’ve come a long way. So that now I’m just K through eight. But I have been a high school counselor, middle school counselor, elementary counselor. I’m honored now to be Alabama School Counselor, Elementary School Counselor of the Year. So that’s been a lot of fun. And I like to rub that in Laura’s face, because she’s not.

Laura 5:32
Okay, so I’ve got the t-shirt with your picture on it.

Kim 5:34
I know. You make it not fun when you are my fan. Laura and I have a book that will be that will be ready to be out in about a week.

Laura 5:47

Lauren 5:47
That is so exciting. I saw that you all were working on that.

Kim 5:51
Yes. So it’s in the final phases and we hope to have that out by next week strong by next week. So that has been a labor of love. And it’s just helping your program grow. We’re into puns and into themes in a big way. So this is all kind of a farming theme, which was a lot of fun to do.

Kim 6:09
So it’s an easy read. It’s a fun read. But we think it’s a fun way to get that information out and to help school as you are doing help school counselors and advocate for school counselors.

Lauren 6:20
Will your book be for K through 12 counselors just generally growing your program or?

Kim 6:25
It is. No, it will be for all it’s just good information about you know how to how to start out especially? Well, I think a lot of times we’ve been in this for a while. And we just need a relook at a reboost. And so for new counselors or for counselors, it’s been in this for 20 years is kind of like, getting that row straight, thus the farming reference. Getting that row straight so that the rest of your year kind of falls along straight. So it’s just kind of getting set up to have a good year that kind of builds on where you start out. So kinda is the premise.

Laura 7:04
And I wouldn’t say it is I definitely would not say it is a guide to RAMP, but I would say that Kim and I both RAMPS this year, and this could almost be like your pre-RAMP guide. If you follow the things that are in this book, then it will get you ready for the RAMP process. But I think if nothing else, just read it for the sheer entertainment value because there are some funny stories in there. So.

Lauren 7:28
Getting ready for RAMP is a job in itself. Like once you have to understand the process, you have to understand what you want your program to be before you can even start implementing the stuff. You spend like a year collecting data before you actually even do anything. And so it’s important to know like where you’re going, before you even start it. That’ll be perfect.

Kim 7:48
Exactly. Yeah, absolutely. That is a very well said. I think that’s even if you choose never to RAMP, you still need to know the specifics of what you want to plant, what you want it to look like. You kind of have to have that vision of the end product in mind. And so this kind of helps you to put a plan in place into wherever your program is, taking a step.

Lauren 8:12
I love that. I can’t wait. You have to let me know what I found. And I’ll link it in my show notes. And I’m sure your guys are gonna be talking about it everywhere, too.

Lauren 8:19
Yes, fantastic. Appreciate that.

Laura 8:21
So let’s dive in. And we’re going to talk about some of the differences between elementary and high school and maybe some of the ways that we can all work together. So Lauren, why don’t you start us out with some of the things that you’ve noticed?

Lauren 8:38
Yeah, well, I would say even in terms of like working together, I probably should have done more working with like elementary counselors and elementary but we just didn’t really overlap that much. Especially in my district. I worked in a huge district like 14 high schools, I want to say like, I mean, over 30 elementary schools.

Lauren 8:55
And so I was more closely connected with middle schools as we were doing registration and getting those eighth graders up to ninth grade. Like we did a lot working with them. And I saw a lot of similarities, honestly, between middle school and high school, especially our own feeder schools, because obviously those were the students were similar. They were coming from the same neighborhoods, the school I worked at was very diverse in terms of socio economic status, like we had very poor and very wealthy kids. Just a mix of neighborhoods that they were coming from.

Lauren 9:28
And then I would say that we worked really well with our middle school feeder schools, because they were all they all just had this great attitude about being school counselors. Like they were on board. We learned how to RAMP from them. Like they did it before us. And so we look to them, like they are fantastic examples of what we want to be as a school counseling team and they did it before us. And so there’s just this mutual respect and we we just worked well together.

Lauren 9:54
And I don’t know that that’s everywhere. You have to have that open communication to be willing to, hey, we’ve done it this way before when we let them come and shadow at our school, or we’ve done registration this way, but like let’s change it up this year. It was a very like open fluid dialogue for that relationship.

Lauren 10:10
I feel like that’s like a good way that you could work together with your middle school is just keeping an open dialogue about the things that you know, you have on the calendar that the things that we’ve always done and be willing to change them. I don’t know. I’m like definitely a person who hates hearing the phrase like we’ve always done it that way. I’m like, well, if it’s not efficient or effective, let’s change it.

Kim 10:30
Yes. That’s Laura’s pet peeve. That is that is you’ll hear her say that often. We’ve always done it this way. Well, that’s probably if you’re saying that an indication that we might need to relook at that.

Lauren 10:41
Right. So I would say that’s like a way to, to keep that relationship. How do y’all feel about like elementary to middle school and your experiences like working with counselors that way, or have you done a lot elementary to high school overlap?

Kim 10:53
In our system, it is being in the schools that do come together and meet, those counselors take that time to come together and meet, because we’re kind of the same as what you what you were talking about, we’ve got 12 high schools, I think. And it probably probably about the same 25-30 I don’t know, other middles and highs that are coming in. So it’s a big school system that usually that high school has, of course, that elementary, middle, and maybe even a feeder school that ties into that. And so, I’ve worked really well.

Kim 11:28
We’re a feeder school that I’m at, they want to work really well with the main campus, elementary, middle, and high school counselors that are there on that main campus. And we’ve seen school systems that work really they take time to meet. I need to do a better job of that. But what I did notice was this was pre pandemic. And now we know it’s it’s uptake to even more than just this mental health crisis that our our country is facing.

Kim 11:28
And it was very hard as a high school counselor, to have the time to really take care of the social emotional needs of those high school counselors, which we know are vast. But a lot of the things that I was seeing in the high school, and that was the conversation I had with our system, was some of the things that I’m seeing if, if we as elementary school counselors would start packing more in their suitcases, if you will, they would have better coping skills.

Kim 11:56
And so I really think that that is a trend that I’m seeing nationwide is that we are looking more at the mental health and at a younger age. We see that we have to. I think that is a huge part of that collaboration is is seeing the vital work that those early grades, they just can’t miss those opportunities. They can’t not get this right now because we know that to work and perform academically they’ve got to be in that executive brain. And we’ve got too many kids and survival brain.

Kim 13:02
And I think that’s where we’re going to have to really pack that in at a younger age and get more training or PD on how all that mental health stuff that maybe school counselors left college and really before this crisis. And we’re we’ve got to be prepared for that. And I think that’s where those conversations, like what we need to know what the trend is in high school, I guess to kind of put all that we can and before they get to that site.

Kim 13:32
One of the scariest things that I’ve found with high school is those students who had those, they were in survival brain and our traumatic brain and they had a car that they could drive. You know, they had they could get angry and leave school. They could, you know, there were a lot of times I would call parents. And where’s your kid at I’m very concerned about where their headspace is right now.

Kim 13:57
And not that we don’t see elementary and middle school having suicidal thoughts and crisis, but it was I think it was very, it was it was more burdensome I think for me as a high school counselor. So those are conversations that maybe we need to all have with one another, so that that middle school school and elementary school counselor can see that burden at that high school counselor has.

Kim 14:21
Not that we all don’t have it. But you’ve got adults basically in your underdeveloped brain and that that makes it a little bit scary. There’s less mamas, if you will, that have hands on those high schoolers. So I think those would be great conversations to have. And I think I just came up with something for us 3 to maybe to do a conference on.

Lauren 14:44
There you go.

Kim 14:45
And have these conversations.

Lauren 14:47
I think he just brought up so many good points. Like I was thinking that is a collaboration piece that we’re missing, even just sitting down elementary and high school in the same district and saying like what is your scope and sequence look like? What does your curriculum map look like throughout the year? Because that’s so different at the high school level.

Lauren 15:03
Like I see those examples of what elementary school counselors are doing, like a character trait of the month and a coping skill of the month. I’m like, oh, okay, we’re barely getting into classrooms to do that. And we’re really having to fight to do that. It’s just like on the backburner for a lot of high school counselors.

Lauren 15:19
But when you see, okay, these are the building blocks that elementary counselors are doing, how can we continue building on that, because sometimes they just miss it altogether. Like they’ve gotten to high school and we forget. We think that they’re adults, and they don’t have those skills developed, like their brain is not developed yet. And they don’t have the social emotional skills.

Lauren 15:36
And so like, elementary school counselors are carrying such a weight, establishing those with their students. But we as high school counselors need to follow up and keep doing that. And so I would say that if you’re moving from elementary to high school, or you have experience at the elementary level, like don’t discount those experiences that you have.

Lauren 15:55
Like, those are huge to bring in whether you’re going into interview somewhere or you’re just starting in a high school, and you’re like, well, these are like adults, I don’t know how to talk to them or work with them. They need the same skills. They need the same information, the same repetition and practice as an elementary school students. They haven’t mastered it yet.

Kim 16:14
Yeah, one of the biggest surprises and Laura, where she worked with youth for years and years, so you know, that was one of the biggest surprises, is going into high school and you have that fear well you know, they’re older kids and, and but really, that goes out the window when you get in there. And you see there, they are kids. They’re kids. They want to be loved. They want to be heard. All the things.

Laura 16:38
One of the high school counselors that I have worked with, is just so brilliant. Her name is Cindy Hammond. And so little shout out to her. She’s wonderful. But she talked about how they’re still kids. And so she had to do a lesson, I don’t even remember what it was now. But she set up stations just like you would in the elementary. She chose children’s books. I think it was like Mean Jean The Recess Queen.

Laura 17:03
I think she was trying to talk about like our relationships with each other and stuff like that. But she chose children’s books and just have them like maybe annotate and write something maybe a little bit more involved than what elementary students would do. But then she had them rotate to another station where they would do an art project based on what they had learned from the book. And so I just thought, Oh, my goodness, that is exactly what we would do at the elementary level. They’re just bigger kids. That was so rewarding for the kids and for her to see too. They enjoyed that so much. And she said they probably got more out of that lesson than other things she’s done.

Lauren 17:43
Yeah, I think don’t overthink it as a high school counselor. Like they want to get up and move their bodies too. Like their attention spans are short. They, I would use kids books too. That book One by Katherine Otoshi. Is that what it is? And it doesn’t, it doesn’t feel too juvenile. But they think like, oh, I’m like thinking really deeply about this because now I’m older.

Lauren 18:02
And it still pertains to like their classroom community, and the ways they interact with their friends. Whether they’re inclusive, or they leave them out. Like there’s all the lessons are still the same. And they there’s part of it that’s like reminiscent for them too. Like, they think it’s fun to be a kid again, because they’re, they’re forced to grow up too fast with their responsibilities, whether it’s at home, or like you said, just even the responsibility of driving. Like they’re driving siblings places, and they’re being the adult a lot of times that we don’t give them opportunities to be kids and to learn like a kid again. It’s kind of refreshing for them.

Kim 18:35
Yeah, that is so true. What you just said I think was so powerful, Lauren, about the find truth and nuggets that you couldn’t see at the age that that book was written for. There were things in there, and I did with middle school, The Little Train That Could, and we had this whole unpacking of that. But it’s like you heard it as a child. But then you’re really hearing this deeper message. It’s almost like you know, the songs that we I don’t know if you were like this guy’s but like, I’ll hear a song that I sang. I would sing as a teenager, even as a teenager. And now I listen to it. I’ll go and oh my gosh, what would I have done?

Lauren 19:12
How did my parents let me listen to that. What was I saying? I was saying these words out loud.

Kim 19:17
And like, you know what, what in the world. And so you you do kind of get more truth out of things as you get older. So I think that is a valid point.

Lauren 19:30
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? Are you wanting to implement some small groups this year? Need some ideas for creating a college going culture?

Lauren 19:48
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.

Kim 20:08
Lauren, I wish that you would speak to us a little bit about this whole high school counselor, where you’re almost like Jekyll and Hyde, not not angry and happy, but you have to be two people. Because I’ve always felt as a school counselor, it was very hard to juggle the secretarial, gotta get you to college, scholarships, let’s have our small groups of those go into those kinds of things, with that school counselor that is trying to get those lessons in, that school counselor who is meeting that student on a emotional level.

Kim 20:45
I think that was the biggest difference between like middle school where you can focus on that emotional side. You’re having to do double duty, I felt like in high school. And I felt like sometimes my social emotional stuff would have to go by the wayside, because you have to make sure that they’re getting the ASVAB and the ACT test and all the college scholarships. So, how do you how do high school counselors balance that well or can they? Does something needs to change in that.

Lauren 21:15
I think that the expectations are high, and they’re real and I think there’s a much different pressure. I would, you know, I’d have it worked in elementary or middle, but it sounds like it is true that there are more pressures in high school to get them to graduate. Like that graduation rate stuff is real, you feel that pressure from your principal, because their job is on the line for that.

Lauren 21:15
And yeah, but at the same time, I want what’s best for my students. And that’s for them to get a high school diploma. So I really do care about it too. But I would encourage anyone who is like afraid of high school, because all the hear, you only do paperwork, you sit at your desk and do paperwork, and look at transcripts, and submit letters of recommendation.

Lauren 21:55
I’m like you do you do some of that, but it’s what you want it to be. Like I have to get that stuff done. But I’m going to make time to see students and some of that does come from the support from your administrators, like if they understand your role, what you should be doing, they will, they will allow you the time to do that.

Lauren 22:16
But at the same time I tell people, don’t be afraid to shut your door and block off some time to get some of that paperwork done. Because that is your job too. So you don’t need to feel guilty about doing it. Think about it, you are supporting students in some way by doing that.

Lauren 22:29
Whether it’s writing a letter of recommendation, submitting stuff for them on common app, you know, submitting some scholarship applications with them, everything you’re doing is for them. And yes, some of it is more tedious, like a state scholarship report or something. But then you get to look at it and be so proud that your students achieved all these scholarships.

Lauren 22:47
It’s just kind of, okay, we got to jump through some hoops to get there. But when I would have days where I knew a lot of my day was going to be some of those deadlines that were coming up and I needed to work on it, I would pause and I would be like, okay, I need to just go check in with some students, I’m going to leave my office, I’m going to go knock on the door of this classroom and talk to them in the hallway, I’m going to go see these students in the cafeteria. I’m going to make sure I’m outside my office when the class changes so I can interact with students because that’s what would bring me joy.

Lauren 23:16
And I know, if I’m sitting doing paperwork for a week straight with my door shut, that’s not going to fill me up. I’m not going to be happy at my job. I’m gonna be pretty frustrated and burnt out. And so I don’t want to lose that flame. So I’d say it’s possible. But it definitely, there are seasons of the year even when there’s more of that like October like in the fall, and your seniors will feel like they’re taking a lot out of you.

Lauren 23:38
But so much of it is one on one stuff too. Like you’re sitting with a student and their parent answering questions and you become this expert and things you didn’t even know you could be an expert in. And but it’s it’s a balance, for sure. And I guess there are places where maybe it’s more paperwork. But when people say that all you do, I’m like I don’t think you’re doing the right thing. I don’t know that you’re aligning your priorities, because that’s not what I would choose to do all day. So I just I wouldn’t do that.

Laura 24:06
So, you got to strike a balance between all the things. And one of the things that you said really stood out to me don’t feel guilty for with those times that you have to do the paperwork. And Kim and I have talked about that. And we even mentioned that in our book that there are times when that is a necessary part of our job. No matter what level you’re at. That’s a necessary job. Those things have to get done.

Laura 24:27
We do talk about the importance of explaining your role to the teachers and you know, having those teacher training moments where you stand up and explain your role. Is that something that you would recommend for high school counselors as well?

Lauren 24:41
Definitely, because everyone’s experiences with a counselor are different. Maybe their only experiences are from when they were in high school, whether they knew their counselor or not. Maybe if you’re new you’re the new person at the school and their only experienced was the person who was there for 80 years and sat in their office and never talked to students. Like you get to reinvent what your position is and tell them like, you’re a school counselor, you’re proactive, you’re data driven. And you get to tell them about those things.

Lauren 25:07
Like, even if you feel like you’re saying what you do for your role 100 times over and over and over again, like, somebody’s gonna hear it different, and they’re gonna respect what you’re doing a little bit more. Because if they don’t know what you’re doing, I would find that they just wouldn’t send you students. When the social emotional stuff would come up in the classroom, they would think they have to handle it.

Lauren 25:27
And I’m like, no, no, I don’t want you to feel like I have the training to do that and you don’t. That’s a big weight on you. Send them to me. But if they don’t know that, that’s my role, like, no one’s going to be working in their zone of genius, and everyone’s going to be frustrated and burnt out.

Lauren 25:41
So I would always do a presentation, definitely at the beginning of the year. And I would do that just for administrators. And that might feel silly, like, of course, an administrator knows what we do. No, a lot of times they don’t. Like, if they haven’t worked closely or worked with a good counselor before, they might have no idea what you do day to day. And so when you get to be a team together, you make so much more progress, than when you’re working against each other.

Lauren 26:09
Like they get to carry that discipline side, you get to come in and be the support, you work with the same students, but you do different things and work really well together. But they have to know what your role is. And at the same time, you can listen to what their role is, and we can establish what our responsibilities are, and how we’re going to work well together.

Lauren 26:26
So I would say do some sort of presentation or have a conversation with the admin team and your counselor team. And then do ask for a little bit of time at the beginning of the year, whether that’s in a round robin session where teachers come to you or you just get up and do a short little presentation. Just like students, they need to know what you do and what you don’t do. Because we all know, like, students constantly have misunderstandings about what counselors do.

Lauren 26:49
I remember asking students, just to prove a point like to tell them what we do, what do you think I do? What are some things? They’re like dress code, discipline. Like? No, I mean, I don’t care. I don’t care what you’re wearing. I mean, please be clothed. But it’s not my responsibility to keep you in line in that way. But that students are just as confused as teachers as admin.

Lauren 27:11
And so I also don’t think it’s bad to do it each semester. Like you have teachers moving into different roles who they weren’t paying attention at the beginning of the year meeting, because they were an aide in the special ed classroom, and now they’re teaching for real full time, they are the teacher in this classroom, and now they’re listening to the procedures of school.

Lauren 27:29
And so everyone to hear it multiple times, I don’t think is a bad thing. And you get them listening, they understand your role. And so you get to perform in your role. It’s not, they’re not confused why you’re talking to students, because that can be weird, too. If the person before you never talked to students, and now all of a sudden, you’re calling students down from their class, they’re like, what are they doing with my students? Why aren’t they in class?

Lauren 27:52
Now they understand you’re like, teaching them something, you’re problem solving with them, you’re working through something hard, you’re filing a DSS case, I mean, all the examples of things you might be doing, they might have no idea. So I think the more you can talk about it and advocate for your role, then the better.

Kim 28:07
Absolutely, they’ll assume what you do, if you don’t tell them what you’re doing.

Lauren 28:11

Laura 28:12
The same thing, no matter what level, it’s a great idea to have those conversations with your administration, because the administrators have a job to do to and if they don’t, if you don’t tell them what your role is, then they’re going to create that role for you. And that’s where a lot of frustration comes from, is the lack of understanding, but it’s really a lack of communication.

Laura 28:32
If they see that you’re confident in your role, and you know what you’re supposed to be doing, then a lot of times that eases their mind, because they’ve got a school to run and it falls on them. I wanted to tell you that when I was with little bitty students, little bitty humans, we talked about what my role as a school counselor was, and one of the students said when I said what do you think the school counselor does? He said, You cancel school. And I was like what he said you make the calls whenever we’re out for snow. And I was like, how in the world. But it hit me, school canceller

Lauren 29:05

Kim 29:05
I have never heard that story. That is hilarious.

Lauren 29:11
Yes, that’s all I do. I wait to cancel school.

Kim 29:14
That would be the greates job ever. But in Alabama, I mean, really, I was just thinking that he’s, that child’s waiting a long time for a snow day. More tornado counselor, we get out for tornadoes. That is so funny.

Lauren 29:28
What you said, Laura, about the establishing your role and like telling them what you do. I know it feels it kind of could feel like annoying. Like, they don’t need their don’t, they don’t care what I do, or they don’t want to listen to what I do. I think some of that can just be the transparency of, you know, bringing them ideas as you’re asking them for feedback on things that you want to do. Having them aligned to their goals. Being transparent about your calendar.

Lauren 29:54
I think people get really weird about that. Like, I don’t have to tell everybody what I’m doing all the time. Like then they’re gonna micromanage me. I’m like, no, they just when they try and put something on your calendar like now you’re the new testing coordinator. I mean, I’m a little spicy. And so I would do this and I know not everyone would. But I’d be like, where on my calendar do you think that should fit in?

Lauren 30:12
Because these are the roles that I’m supposed to do and I am doing them. Is there one of these things that you want me to take off of your to put it on? And they’re like, oh, but if they know that they can access that and kind of see it anytime, like, I have nothing to hide. Yes, there are times when I have it blocked off, like I’m in my office working on this paperwork. But again, that’s part of my job. And so they can see that they can ask questions about it. But I find that they don’t micromanage. They don’t ask questions about it. If if you’re just honest and open about what you’re doing. I don’t I don’t think that that’s that weird.

Kim 30:43

Laura 30:44
I like to have those conversations by saying things like, and this is, I mean, this is true, I am a counselor through and through. I do not have that administrator brain. I will never have that administrator brain. And so you are bringing value as the counselor and when they see it that way, I think a lot of times it disarms that whole conversation, because you’re not trying to be the boss, you’re not trying to have that, you know, come in and and tell them how it’s going to be. You’re just saying, this is my job. This is my mindset. This is this is the world that I live in. So this is the lens that I’m seeing it through. And I think that’s really helped facilitate a lot of those conversations over the years.

Lauren 31:25
And these are the skills like our skill set is different. But together, it’s something that really serves students and helps families in a way that I mean, apart, we’re not going to get as much done. I just I think of the senior administrator that I worked so closely with.

Lauren 31:39
And sometimes, I mean, she had been in the profession for so long, she could say things to a family that I would never dream of saying and like, we would walk away. I’d be like, Okay, that was good. Or, hey, don’t say that, again because you don’t know the like the background of this situation, like what the mom has been through. And she has told me some of that. And it’s like, oh, okay. But what do you have open communication like that with an administrator, like, you can go out a problem from two different directions and solve it so much better than you could on your own just as the counselor.

Kim 32:10
Absolutely, which was why that relationship is so important. If you can have that relationship, we hear from so many counselors who that’s just they’re stuck with an administrator that does not know their role does not care about their role.

Kim 32:22
And one of the things that you said, Lauren, I thought was really interesting, it’s about the balance. And I think for a high school counselor, as you said, you make it what you want it to be. And I think there are high school counselors who don’t want to strike that balance. They, they went into it to get those scholarships, and I do enjoy that, and they shut that door, and that’s what they do. And the kids that how they’re, that’s how the kids see it.

Kim 32:49
But even in middle and elementary, there is a balance. We have met with school counselors who all they want to do is be in the room. That’s all. Just from one room, you know, one, or the administrator wants them to. And that’s not a balance either. And so getting that direct and indirect time. Correct. Is, is I think very hard in in high school, but I can even see it in those lower grades where it is what you make it to be.

Kim 33:17
And you are we’re all made to kind of be drawn to one or the other. And you have to sometimes make yourself get out of that comfort zone to get that balance. Like what you were saying I go to the lunchroom, I stand out in the hallway, I make making sure I say students. But if that’s not your thing, you kind of have to it’s not okay, just to say, I’m just not going to do it. It’s really a balance for all of us to make that balance. Because we can really be heavy on any any part of this and get by with it, because it’s still part of your job. So it’s really, it’s really important that we all no matter where we lean to strike that balance.

Lauren 33:58
I hadn’t thought about that in an elementary school like that, you could just lean on that like never being in your office, because you’re going from classroom to classroom or something. And so you’re not giving any time for that responsive services like the crisis that comes up during the day, you’re just unavailable to that. And I could see how people would want to do that, if that’s intimidating to them to have a crisis situation. Like, well I’m just not going to be available for crises. I’m going to fill my calendar with things so somebody else has to deal with it.

Lauren 34:25
But like you said, building in almost like some white space to think about I’m sure you talk about this in your book, but to think about your program as a whole. If you’re going, going, going going and you don’t allow any time for that, your program can’t ever evolve and turn into something better and grow if you’re not giving some space even to thinking about like how we do things, why we do things, how we can improve the way we’re doing this or how we can add a new different type of classroom lesson for the needs of our students.

Lauren 34:54
I imagine elementary could start to feel like you’re a teacher where you do the same thing year after a year, because you know, your students love this classroom activity, or they love reading this book together. And so you never change anything.

Lauren 35:09
I mean, it could be like that in the high school too, you never challenge yourself to teach more of the social emotional skills, because you know, they need the academics; reading a transcript, learning about scholarships. But we have to give ourselves the space, the whitespace in our schedule, and maybe that’s at the very end of the summer, right before the school year starts to evaluate how our program is doing and what we want to keep the same. And what we want to change.

Laura 35:32
To your point too, no matter what level you’re in, if you’re running a data driven program, then it’s going to change every year, because you’ve got a different group of students with a different group name or different set of needs. So you know, whether this group of students responded to this book, or to that activity at high school, or, you know, whatever, you’ve got a different group of students coming in. It does not matter if this group responded well or not, you’ve got to look at the needs of this group of students no matter what level you’re in. So, you know, that’s one thing that’s the same across the board,

Lauren 36:05
I just did a podcast episode on needs assessments. And I was like, you can’t even, I’m really passionate about like, not putting out in needs assessment and saying, hey, this is one size fits all. You know, people are always asking, do you have an example of a needs assessment? Like, it’s going to be so different for your school. But I was even thinking, it’s different at my school from year to year. I can’t copy and paste the same needs assessment.

Lauren 36:25
When I look at the data from the end of the year and I think about what our goals are for the new year, I’m going to ask different questions, depending on what my students might need this year. And what I what I’m observing and noticing and what questions I want answered. So it’s not a one size fits all. And I think that’s across the board to elementary, middle and high.

Laura 36:43

Kim 36:44
And we speak to that too. That using that needs assessment as it is not a huge data piece. There are so many other things that are that are more valuable as data for us to use. Yep, it’s it’s just that and more, but you’re absolutely right. So we’re, we’re agreeing with you on that, Lauren.

Kim 37:03
Well, Lauren, we have kept you and we’ve done as much talking as you have. But it’s been so much fun to see it, elementary, middle, and high all together and have a conversation. And so it’s been a lot of fun. But is there anything that you’re passionate about that you before we go that you want to talk to us about? Or what you have going or what’s next for you?

Lauren 37:23
Yeah, I was just saying I was actually like surprised as coming in here being like, there gonna be so many differences between elementary, middle, and high school because I feel like when you do your practicum and when you do your internship, they are so different. Like, you get 1000 hugs in the hallway from elementary school and high school, I’m like, I don’t really want to give you a hug. Like you smell bad.

Lauren 37:43
You know, there are so many things that are different. But we are acting in the same role. Our students have very similar needs. Like you said, they are kids through and through who want structure and discipline and they want to be loved and they want to be known and cared for. That it’s cool to see that we are all in the same roles. And we have the same heart for what we’re doing, no matter what the level is.

Lauren 38:06
I would encourage anyone who is like making the leap, whether it’s elementary, middle, middle, high elementary, to high school, like they’re all fun, and so you’re not going to make a bad decision. Everything can be a season like that can be it can feel scary to be maybe you know, put out by your school and have to go interview somewhere else but they’re all fun in their own different ways. And so if you have to make a change or you’re wanting to make a change, don’t be intimidated by it. Look at it like this is something new and exciting.

Kim 38:34
That is perfectly said and you’re absolutely right Lauren. Everything we do we we look at it like well, this it you know, it’s something new. Well, this is new. Let’s see what happens. And I love your attitude about that. And you’re absolutely right. I think it’s it is what you make it.

Kim 38:50
Lauren, thank you so much for coming on. We are advocating for school counselors. You’re doing a great job and we need all the advocating we can get and shout outs and praises for our hard working high school counselors.

Lauren 39:05
Well, y’all are doing the same. So I appreciate the conversation. It was really fun. Thank you.

Lauren 39:11
As we got to the end of that conversation, I thought I need to let you know that doors are still open to the High School Counselor Kickstart private podcast audio course. This is an eight episode private podcast that’ll help you navigate the early years of your high school counseling career with confidence. So this resource is perfect if you are an elementary or middle school counselor who is transitioning to high school counseling, or maybe you just need a refresher of what you should be doing at the high school level as some sort of new high school counselor.

Lauren 39:39
So in addition to the exclusive podcast episodes, you get episode transcripts, a workbook, a PD certificate, and two incredible bonuses which include a high school counseling curriculum map and a sample needs assessment. So consider this your comprehensive survival kit for your beginning years as a high school counselor. Join the high school counselor kickstart course by going to today, and I’ll see you here next week

Lauren 40:07
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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