How do you rally teachers to get on your team and move the direction you’re headed? Teacher buy-in is so important for moving your school counseling program forward!
Before you start, you may need to work on having your administrators support you in these endeavors or convince your principal to fully believe in your mission… but once you have some impactful stakeholders on your team, go all-in for rallying your teachers!
I’ve seen too many school counseling programs (especially at the high school level) just throw their hands up and determine that they don’t do classroom lessons because they’re simply not “allowed” in the classrooms because educational time already stretched so thin for the teachers. They settle for little to no teacher-buy in, and I’m here to say… don’t just accept that! There is so much value in pursuing this!
Here are 4 tips for gaining teacher buy-in to your school counseling program.
1- Start with a teacher who already values what you are doing in your school counseling program.
Do you have relational capital in the school building already that you can cash in on? Touch base with a teacher who you already have a working relationship with and see how you can come alongside him or her to offer support in their classroom. You probably already have a stellar lesson in your toolbox already (or can quickly grab one) that can reinforce skills that the teacher is teaching.
Maybe she wishes she had more time to concentrate on some soft skills that don’t 100% align with her content area. Maybe a social or emotional topic has come up that he needs addressed on a deeper level but doesn’t have the training or capacity to teach by himself. Here is your in. Enter YOU, school counselor extraordinaire.
2- Partner with classes that complement what kind of lesson you want to teach.
Brainstorm how you and these teachers could work together. Do you have business classes that could use help with job interviewing skills? Use some games or activities with students to practice these skills. Does your health science elective have a “healthy relationships” component?
Find those teachers’ benchmarks or standards and see how they overlap with the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors. Many times, teachers don’t realize that school counselors also have “standards” called Mindset and Behaviors that you design your comprehensive school counseling program around.
Can you co-teach a lesson on resume writing and cover letter writing in an English class? Could you offer a unique perspective to a college and career research paper that the classroom teacher can’t provide? Use your expertise and your passion to partner with your teachers.
3- Don’t give the teacher a reason to say “no.”
If you are working uphill to change the culture of your school or your school’s perception of the school counseling program, it’s going to take some sacrifice on your part. You may feel like you’re bending over backward at first to accommodate teachers’ needs when you’re trying to get some face time in front of their students. Dig into your humility and decide you are going to be adaptable and outwardly focused. Increased teacher buy-in is worth the good fight!
Give your teachers a variety of dates and times to pick from. Let them know you are willing to be flexible to find a time that works for you but best suits their teaching schedule. Of course, you may have deadlines you have as well, but try to meet your teachers where they are.
Be professional, be prepared, and be on time. Have a great lesson prepared! Let it be a treat for your students as you come in and change up the pace. Engage your students with conversations, technology, videos, personal anecdotes, and other things that will draw them in. If you’re going to make the effort to get on the teacher’s calendar, make sure your lesson is worth it. Don’t make them regret their decision.
The teacher should not have to worry about anything on the day when you come into class. I often tell the teacher to feel the freedom to do what they need during that time whether that’s leaving the classroom for a bathroom break or working quietly at their desk.
Teachers can be your biggest cheerleaders. If you are fighting to change the culture at your school, rallying your teachers can completely do this for you. One teacher’s positive experience with a school counselor in their classroom could spread and allow for positive momentum in the building.
4- Share your data with teachers to increase teacher buy-in.
If there is a reason behind why you chose the classroom topic that you did (I hope there is!), share it with them. Show them the gaps in the school that you are trying to close by using classroom lessons or small groups to teach valuable skills and help students grow. Let them see your pre and post-test data. Give them material to reinforce what they learned during your classroom session once you’re gone. Whether they choose to use it or not is up to them, but your intentionality behind it will be memorable.
I am certain with the right processes in place and the right people on your team, you can galvanize a crowd to care about your school counseling program because it is in the best interest of students. If you need a presentation to start making a mindset shift in your stakeholders’ perception of your school counseling program, try this one!
Who else do you need to captivate to move your program forward? You can do this!
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