AI for School Counselors: 10+ Ways to Leverage Artificial Intelligence [Episode 96]


Here's What to Expect In This Episode:

You’ve likely heard all the buzz around artificial intelligence (AI). But let’s talk about AI for school counselors specifically. Can we really use AI to enhance our counseling program and save us some time here and there? Yes we can!

I’m sharing over ten ways that you can leverage AI for school counselors. From letters of recommendation, to writing tough emails to parents or staff, to presentation prep, there are countless counseling tasks that AI can help you with.

Remember, AI isn’t here to replace us. Instead, think of it as an ally. It can’t replicate our genuine care and expertise, but when used properly, it can serve as a helpful tool that will extend our impact. I can’t wait to hear how you use AI in your school!

Topics Covered in This Episode:

  • How you can train AI for school counselors
  • The differences between Chat GPT and Google Bard
  • Using AI to help write letters of recommendation, parent emails, scripts, social media captions, and more
  • How to use AI for parent or student presentations
  • Interview prep possibilities with AI
  • The ethical and legal responsibilities that come with using AI 

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Read the transcript for this episode:

Let’s talk about a topic this week that hasn’t been mentioned a ton yet, as it relates to school counseling. There aren’t a lot of magazine articles or scholarly journal articles about this yet. And I’m talking about artificial intelligence or AI. It’s quite the buzzword right now. So I want to discuss what it is and what it’s not, where to even start with it, and how to train your AI tool to understand and produce what you need as a school counselor.

Then I want to give you some examples that I thought of how you could be using AI as a school counselor. Then I’ll briefly mentioned some ethical implications that it’s bringing to light as well, and maybe a little bit about our responsibilities moving forward.

Artificial Intelligence is making our lives easier, it always has, right? It feels very futuristic and space age, I don’t know about you, and this might be a niche reference, but as I was sitting down to think about this, I thought of back in the day, if you had AOL Instant Messenger, and you were chatting with your friends, did you talk to smarter child the artificial intelligence robot that would answer your questions?

Most likely, as a middle or high schooler you were being sassy or silly with it and asking it funny questions. But that was like the start in our intro to AI. I’m speaking as a millennial, it was smarter child. And we have come a long way. And we still have a long way to go in learning about AI. But I’d be willing to bet we all feel the same way. Like we want to know how do we use it in general?

What kind of responsibilities do we have with it ethically, legally? What are some ways that high school counselors can be using AI well? Now I’ve been dabbling with it and I want to share some things I’ve learned along the way. And I’m an expert by no means. But like I said, I don’t know that any of us are quite the experts yet. So here I am to start a conversation.

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.

First, let’s recognize AI is not replacing humans or school counselors. We have relational skills and counseling skills that can’t be replaced by a computer. We have empathy and sympathy that a robot is not going to be able to take our place and sit and counsel students instead of us. We know that and I hope that we believe that as well.

If all of this talk excites you, or at least piques your curiosity, let’s dig in. If you’re skeptical, or you have no idea where to start, hopefully this podcast episode will help you just find your footing. We have a long way to go until we know some more or have some more time to practice with it. So where do we start practically?

Is this one of those metaphorical things that we talk about? Like the cloud where all of our pictures are just looming somewhere out there? We really don’t understand it? Well, I think AI is a little bit easier to grasp than that, at least for me. Right now, I’d say there are two places that you can go to get your AI fix. Google Bard and chat GPT. And I’ll tell you about them both. You can experiment and play with them both.

And there are other things on the internet that give you similar vibes that you can experiment with. I’ll link them both in the show notes. But they’re both very easily found with a quick Google search. And I’m sure they’ll come up number one when you search because it’s such a hot topic right now.

When you go to the Google Bard website, and Bard is b-a-r-d. Bard is reminding you right from the beginning. And I quote, This is what it says. Bart is an experiment Bard won’t always get things right. Okay, I like it already. It’s humble. It’s a computer bowing down and humility to the human to tell you it’s not always going to get things right. But you get to help train it and you get to help give it feedback so that it does more often give you the right output.

Those things are super helpful to remember. And I’m going to talk about that in a minute how to train your AI. Now let me talk about real quick the differences between chat GPT and Google Bard. With chat GBT the researchable type information that’s out there is fresh up to 2021 with the free version, but with the paid version, you get a little bit more recent information that’s out there.

The paid version costs $20 a month. Personally, I have never felt like I needed to have the paid version. But I guess to each its own. Google Bard is up to date in terms of being able to do it. CIL research all the way up to now, I’m thinking more than that is like because it’s owned by Google, it’s crawling the Google space to get that information.

So thinking about the differences, chat GPT might feel a little more conversational and Bard might feel a little more research driven. But here’s a homework assignment for you. Go in and ask each of them how they differ from the other. They’ll give you their perspective, and you’ll hear their points of view.

You can always quickly run your question through each of them, like whatever you’re trying to research or ask it or training to do, you can run it through Bard and Chat GPT to see which answer resonates with you or better or gives you some better information to work with.

As we’re dipping our toes into AI world, I don’t want to fail to mention an amazing conversation that’s happening in the Facebook world around this topic. Dr. Russell Sibella is a speaker and author and a professor from Florida Gulf Coast University in Florida. And he started a Facebook group dedicated to AI in school counseling.

It’s searchable on Facebook, that is the name of the group AI in school counseling. But I’ll also link it in the show notes if you want to quickly get there. He’s been posting some meaningful questions in there about AI, which I have found super helpful. He’s been posting articles and helping counselors think about ways to explore AI. He’ll actually be a guest on high school counseling conversations in January.

But then he’s talking about a specific counseling technique, and you don’t want to miss it. We’ve already recorded it, it was an awesome conversation. But he’s also been taking time to research AI in school counseling, which I think is really cool. And I truly appreciate him paving the way in this area for us.

Okay, I mentioned two places that you’re gonna want to go and try out and practice AI and see that all it can do for you. Those are both really important pieces before we get started. And now we’re going to talk about what we can have it do, we have to think strategically about how it’s going to do what we want it to do.

So most importantly, you have to train your AI tool to get the most out of it. Think prompts and a voice and a tone that sounds like you or whoever you want the tone to sound like it can spit things out on its own. But if you’re wanting it to sound like you and learn about specific types of topics you’re going to be putting out with it, it’ll take some training to get it to a place where you feel good about it.

Teaching it things can mean copy and pasting things to give it examples of your writing or samples of things you want it to sound like or emulate. Remember, this is a legit computer writing it. So at first, it might feel robotic if you’ve never trained it before. You’ll spend some time giving it some feedback. Did you ask it something and then you didn’t quite get the answer you were looking for? Or maybe you feel like it even answered it wrong.

Try asking it a different way, try a shortened version of the same question. And it just might not be understanding you from the first way that you asked. Personally, I love to use AI to help me start on a project or create a rough draft like get those juices flowing, then you can go in and more details change things to sound like your voice.

Sometimes I like to write out my prompt for it in a separate Google Doc. Like if the spacing and stuff is important to me, because otherwise, I just feel like I’m word vomiting into a little text box and it gives me. I sort of talk to it first and get it prepped for what I want it to do. So you can give it a tone. Or you can ask it to change its tone that it’s speaking in. So some examples of tone might be friendly, firm, confident, professional, funny, academic, sassy, bold.

I’ve probably use all of these at one point or another. Like I might ask it to give me something just like spit something out. And I might not give it any example of a tone. And then I’ll say, okay, that content sounds really good, but make it sassier and bolder. I might even say use some more emojis with it. And what it gives me is usually pretty spot on or gives me something to work with.

You can copy and paste things into your prompt area and ask it to rephrase things. I also like to show it what I came up with at the end and copy and paste back in the thing that I ended up with, like the thing that I edited. I want it to learn my voice. So I give it to it at the end to show it what I was looking for.

And usually it’s just like a polite little computer that says thank you for sharing that with me. But I know that it’s learning what I want it to learn and am training it to spit out the kind of tone and examples that I’m looking for. You can give it prompts like make this more compelling. Make this more succinct. If you feel like it’s really wordy. Check or fix the grammar.

You can simply ask it to rephrase something if you don’t like your first go around, or I like this. If you’re wanting to repurpose something you’ve already said once but say it again in a different way. You can do that too. Now let’s get into some examples of ways that you can use Chat GPT or bards artificial intelligence skills in your day to day as a high school counselor because I think this is where the rubber is going to meet the road. And maybe we’ll get your wheels turning about how you can use it in your day to day to make your life a little bit easier.

So one of the first things that comes to my mind as an example for what high school counselors can use AI for is letters of recommendation. You just potentially have so many of these on your desk right now on your to do list, that they may be sucking the life and energy and time right out of you. I actually just had a video call with a group a potential kind of collaboration last week that you might hear me talk about more soon.

And they have a tool that is already trained. Like all those things, I talked about training it, they’ve already trained it for letters of recommendation, and it’s really impressive. So you might hear me talk more about that specific tool soon. But the tools we have in front of us already can do a decent job of getting you started with your letters of rec.

Drop in a few facts about your student, and then use that as a framework to add in more personal details. Make it more intentional, because it’s coming from you. I think people are fearful here that okay, robots are writing our letters of recommendation. But let me assure you, anyone who has never written hundreds of letters of recommendation, are not understanding that they’re very time consuming, and they can make you really cross-eyed by the time you’re done with them.

I think AI can help alleviate some of that workload here. Not that we’re getting off easy, not that we’re hanging out in our office with nothing to do. But when you’re writing hundreds of these, they might just get impersonal by nature. Using AI can help put some more life back into that and give us different ways of saying it and actually make it sound more like us, then maybe even we can do after writing so many of them.

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Another example of something that you can use AI for and I love this one is writing tough emails to parents, administrators or teachers. So a prompt that you can kind of give it here is what’s a better way to say … or I like what’s a nicer way to say …

When you want to hit reply with something fuming something sassy, something that shows how annoyed you are. Chat GPT can take that bite out of your tone and make it a little friendlier, but still direct, like you can tell it exactly – be direct, but don’t be mean. So type in what you want to say to the parents and then it’ll phrase it in a nicer way that you can actually feel good about hitting send on.

Use AI for parent or student presentations. You know, I don’t think it’s going to generate some slides for you right in PowerPoint or something. But you can get some bullet points or a flow of what you want a presentation to look like so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Maybe you did one financial aid night and you’re about to do a another presentation and you want to go down a different path something more specific so that he was general financial aid. And now we’re just going to talk about scholarships. So you get your ideas spinning with some bullet points of what should I talk about in a parent presentation about scholarships? What do parents need to know about them?

Maybe you take a newsletter that you have already created about scholarships to parents and students copy and paste some of the text and the information that you’ve sent out to them there and ask Chat GPT to come up with some bullet points for a presentation that is the same as what you’ve sent out in a newsletter. Kind of repurposing something that you already done, or maybe information on your website and turning it into a presentation.

You could ask it to write a script for something. So what first comes to my mind is National School Counseling Week. Like we want to read an announcement every day to promote school counseling. So maybe I know on the first day, I’m just going to tell everyone what school counselors do. Chat GPT can write that for you. Start there.

And then each day like I said, about repurposing. Maybe the Second day, you’re gonna get into what does a day in the life of a high school counselor look like? And now a computer or a robot, you might think it’s not going to know what you do. But guess what? It’s going to crawl the internet and figure out what you do, and give you something that is pretty spot on.

But you can go in and add those details to make it personal to your role at your school. Maybe you work with sixth through 12th grade. And so depending on how your caseload is divided up, or how your responsibilities are divided at your school, you can speak a little more to specifically what your role looks like.

You could ask it to write a script for a video that you’re doing. So I talk a lot about not reinventing the wheel, but being able to multiply yourself by having an introduction video at the beginning of the year, or the beginning of semester, ask it to write a script for you of what you’re going to say in that video. Ask it to write a script for a National School Counseling Week video.

There are a lot of things this thing can do. I mentioned this before, but you could ask your AI tool to check for grammar, check that things are worded well, or maybe say I want this worded differently. You can say edit this, check this fix the spelling of this, communicate it more clearly, more succinctly, elaborate on this more.

Like maybe you don’t want to write as much, you just want to write the bullet points and you want it to put it in paragraph form. You can kind of go from large scale and make it make it more succinct in like a smaller bullet point thing. Or you can go the opposite way. And you can give it bullet points and say, flesh this out for me.

I love using it for these two things, topic ideas for XYZ, or titles for a presentation. You know how hard it is to just name things sometimes. Maybe it’s naming a small group, or naming the sessions in your small group. Maybe you want something like catchy, you’re like okay, I’m doing a girls group on anger management, what can we call that that’s not just girls group about anger management? Type it into Chat GPT and see what it gives you.

I love using AI for icebreaker questions or different scenarios that students can problem solve with. So you could give it a topic and say come up with some icebreaker questions for the start of the school year, come up with some icebreaker questions for when we have 10 minutes left of class. And I don’t know what else to ask these high schoolers.

You can use these questions or scenarios or topics, to have conversations that will carry you to the end of class or to open up a small group session or an individual session, which I think could be really fun.

If you are in charge of social media for your school, and you’re just over writing the captions for things, ask it to write you a quick caption. I mean, just think of all the brain space that AI is gonna save you right here.

If you want a step by step on how to do something, I imagine that this could have a lot of different uses in school counseling. Maybe you’re giving your teachers some instructions in an email. And so you need a step by step on how to tell them how to do this in their classroom, because you’re sending it out. You need to communicate with a lot of people but you don’t have a lot of time to do that.

You can copy and paste an article or report or something that seems very complicated and very wordy and ask it to summarize it for you. Like explain this to me like I’m a five year old. Give me bullet points of the important facts, simplify it, give it to me an easier to understand terms. Explain it with examples. I think this idea of summarizing or explaining with examples can do a lot for us as people like there are topics that I feel like I don’t know as much in school counseling or counseling adjacent topics like things in special ed that, you know, I took one class in grad school on special ed law, and I’m supposed to know a lot about special ed.

Yes, I can ask people in my school. Yes, I can go do a webinar and learn things, you know, over the course of hours. But I could take an article or a law that’s up for voting on or that’s going into effect and I can ask it to tell it to me like I am a high schooler helped me understand this in easier terms.

We have a few more, we’re still going I can’t believe I still have more things to talk about here. You can ask it to create an outline for you or give you a 30 day plan helps you stay organized. You know we’ve all seen outside of school counseling people using AI to come up with a list of recipes for them or a grocery list. Think about how we can make lists and create plans in school counseling.

If we’re trying to stay on track to apply for ramp or keep ourselves accountable to getting things done by a certain deadline, ask it to personally write you a plan for getting that done. I’ve seen people use chat GPT are actually be a little fearful of using it around lesson plans. And here’s where I wouldn’t go super into depth with it. I would say maybe give me an outline for six small groups on growth mindset like I would tell it what exactly you want with the topic that you want.

And then you can fill it in like let it give you an outline of sorts to get you started. And then you fill that in. These ones are fun, interview prep if you haven’t gotten the job yet, practice with AI. ask it to give you questions to prepare for your interview. respond and give your answer and ask it for feedback on your answers. Ask it to critique you or give you better answers or responses based on what you fed to it.

You can use it to research the places that you’re applying. I’ll tell you something funny, my sister used AI to generate images when she was applying for a job of headshots. I think she did this with a different app altogether that maybe she had to pay for or do a free trial. But she uploaded some pictures of herself and it created professional headshots.

Now, because I knew her super well I could tell Okay, something is a little off on this picture, her head might be a little bit of a different shape, or her eyes look a little bit different to anyone else, I think it would look just like her. I will say as AI generates images, you got to be careful because she said, Okay, disregard this one that has six fingers on this hand, or this one that has two arms coming out of my right side. You know, again, it’s still a computer. So there’s still work to do.

I think she could go back and give it feedback. But it was impressive that it could come up with these headshots, where she looked very professional, very put together in outfits that were not her outfits, I just really couldn’t fathom that this was able to generate images for her. But I know that’s its whole, that’s a whole nother thing that’s doing right now.

Something fun that you can make it do is write in different styles. So you can ask it to act like a school counselor. Respond like Moira Rose from Shitts Creek, answer me in the style of a cowboy. It can talk in all sorts of voices. And then the last thing I thought of because I had come off of visiting this summer in Atlanta, if you’re traveling for your state conference, or you’re going to ASCA, you know, you’re going somewhere new, ask it for hotel recommendations or restaurants that you have to try.

Make it make up an itinerary for you for fun things to do in the area. There are so many things that AI can do just for school counselor. So I’m really excited for you to explore some of those. But I want to mention before we go, let’s think real quick about our responsibilities with AI.

Ethically, are there things we need to be aware of with our students? I think that we are forced to think about this as people who work in schools with students. You know, we’re not the disciplinarian. So you know, to me, it’s not the thing that is at the forefront of my mind. But I know for English teachers, it is. I know for the people who are reading the college applications that it is.

Codes of conduct are changing in colleges and potentially high schools who have that. So where are we supposed to step in and share our opinions on the ethics and how students are going to be using it? And how are we using it? Can we use it for things like writing our entire ramp application and submitting that for an award?

Okay, I don’t think we can, and I don’t think it would do it extremely well. But I’m going to link a New York Times article that I found about using AI to write college application essays and just different schools perceptions of that. Basically, I’ll tell you before you’ve even read it. Some of the things that it said were pretty funny. Like I’m gonna read this to you.

I prompted Chat GPT to tell me about a pop song that could represent curiosity as a soundtrack to someone’s life. I think the question or the prompt from the college was what song represents your life? And Chat GPT’s answer was cake by the ocean. And this song is it says quote here is a euphemism for sex on the beach. And it didn’t seem appropriate for a college application. But again, it’s a robot, it might not see some of those underlying tones or really understand that from the lyrics of the song.

So yeah, that doesn’t seem like the thing that you’re going to copy and paste right into your college application. As you start thinking about using AI in school counseling, I want you to get creative play around with it. It is here to stay whether you’re excited about it or not, but it’s not fully fleshed out yet.

Like I said, there are not a lot of articles or research done Then around AI specifically as it relates to school counseling. I’ll be curious to hear how you are using AI or what you’ve used it for already. And I’d encourage you to join Dr. Sebell’s Facebook group for more ongoing conversation or to dig in yourself with some of the tools that he is putting out there and articles that he’s posting.

I hope you enjoyed the start to a much longer conversation. I’m sure we’ll have more episodes or have some guests on talking about AI in school counseling because I know it’s something that we’re not done talking about yet. Hope you enjoyed and I gave you some things to consider and some new tools to play with in your school counseling practices. I’ll see 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 counselorclique/podcast. 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 at counselor clique that C-L-I-Q-U-E. I’ll see you next week.

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