As high school counselors, we are always looking to make a bigger and more profound impact on students while still balancing all of the tasks throughout our day-to-day that come up! Our to-do list is never done and the amount of chaos is insurmountable.
It can be hard to find the motivation to try new ideas, learn new ways of doing things, or change our perspectives on “how things have always been done.” … or maybe it’s just hard to get your teammates to find the motivation to do these things, and you don’t know where to start. You must believe that what you do matters!
Here are 3 ways to make a more profound impact on students just by changing your mindset.
1- Be willing to grow and learn.
It does take energy to grow and learn. First, you have to find a topic you’re interested in. Then you have to find reliable training or a presenter you trust to learn from. I’ve sat through plenty of presentations that did not remotely relate to anything I was doing in my school counseling job. (These were usually presentations chosen FOR me… not me choosing them.)
Thankfully, there are opportunities out there for you to grow in your role/career and learn useful information that will help you make a profound impact on students. You just have to be willing to look for it, invest in it, and commit to doing the work to get to that place!
2- Be willing to take risks.
Learning something new can feel risky. What if it’s challenging? What if it requires technical skills I don’t have? What if I feel too old? What if I feel too young and inexperienced? What if my school situation is too unique to apply what I’ve learned? These might be some or all of your thoughts and fears surrounding diving into new professional learning endeavors.
What sort of risks could you or should you take?
Attend the conference session about a new initiative that feels a bit outside of your comfort zone. Learn about a student population with who you could gain more experience working. Challenge yourself to grow your school counseling program in new ways that work towards a comprehensive school counseling program. Set tangible and measurable goals for yourself, your students, your team, and your program. Can you imagine the impact on students you could have if you tried all or even ONE of these?
Where should you start? Implement a needs assessment with your caseload, a certain grade level, or your whole student population and use that data to dream up new programs or initiatives! Implement something that someone in your counselor community (virtual or actual colleagues you know at other schools) has tried and see if it works for you (using data, of course).
3- Be willing to advocate for your school counseling program.
Do you have big dreams for your school counseling program? Where do those dreams come from? I bet they started when you decided you wanted to have a major impact on high school students’ lives! Whether you’re part of a very established program or a baby school counseling program just trying to get off of the ground, you have to advocate for what you want and need.
One way that I like to practically do this is by strategically picking and inviting people to join our school counseling advisory council. There are certain people I want as a part of this group in order to win them over or educate them about our role or services. I also invite specific people based on new, fresh perspectives that I think we could use or places that I think we might have blind spots in the school. Advisory councils are great for figuring out what you’re doing well, but they’re also very valuable for noticing what can be better and accepting feedback.
You have to let others know what you do and why you do it. Your administrators and your teachers need to understand your role and the vision behind it. (Here’s a great resource I use to do that.) While you’re at it, why don’t you share the things that are going well in your school building as a result of your school counseling program?
Why are students different because of what you do? If you’re not willing to brag on your school counseling program, who else will? If your administrators know what you’re up to or what your goals are for yourself and your program then they will be so much more willing to support you when you reach out for help relating to your own professional development or training.
What if no one else notices what you do to impact students? Maybe they won’t. And what if your work is done in vain? Maybe it will be… but I doubt that if you’re implementing these three mindset shifts to ensure a more profound impact on your students.
You are making a difference. I want you to find the motivation you need to believe this to your core. Reframe your mindset, and watch your stakeholders begin to respect what you do and why you do it!
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