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What's a Middle School Counselor?

Today’s young people are living in an exciting time, with an increasingly diverse society, new technologies, and expanding opportunities. To help ensure that they are prepared to become the next generation of parents, workers, leaders, and citizens, every student needs support, guidance, and opportunities during adolescence, a time of rapid growth and change. Early adolescents face unique and diverse challenges, both personally and developmentally, that have an impact on academic achievement.

Middle School Students' Developmental NeedsMiddle school is an exciting, yet challenging time for students, their parents and teachers. During this passage from childhood to adolescence, middle school students are characterized by a need to explore a variety of interests, connecting their learning in the classroom to its practical application in life and work; high levels of activity coupled with frequent fatigue due to rapid growth; a search for their own unique identity as they begin turning more frequently to peers rather than parents for ideas and affirmation; extreme sensitivity to the comments from others; and heavy reliance on friends to provide comfort, understanding and approval.

Meeting the ChallengeMiddle school counselors are professional educators with a mental health perspective who understand and respond to the challenges presented by today’s diverse student population. Middle school counselors do not work in isolation; rather they are integral to the total educational program. They provide proactive leadership that engages all stakeholders in the delivery of programs and services to help students achieve success in school. Professional school counselors align with the school’s mission to support the academic achievement of all students as they prepare for the ever-changing world of the 21st century. This mission is accomplished through the design, development, implementation and evaluation of a comprehensive, developmental and systematic school counseling program. The ASCA National Standards in the academic, National Model: A Framework For School Counseling Programs, with it’s data driven and results-based focus serves as a guide for today’s school counselor who is uniquely trained to implement this program.

Middle School Counselors Implement the Counseling Program by Providing:
School Guidance CurriculumAcademic skills supportOrganizational, study and test-taking skillsEducation in understanding self and othersCoping strategiesPeer relationships and effective social skillsCommunication, problem-solving, decision-making and conflict resolutionCareer awareness, exploration and planningSubstance abuse educationMulticultural/diversity awarenessIndividual Student PlanningGoal-setting/decision- makingAcademic planningCareer planningEducation in understanding of self, including strengths and weaknessesTransition planningResponsive ServicesIndividual and small group counselingIndividual/family/school crisis interventionPeer facilitationConsultation/collaborationReferralsSystem SupportProfessional developmentConsultation, collaboration and teamingProgram management and operationMiddle School Counselors Collaborate With:ParentsParent information night Communication/networking Academic planning programs Parent and family education One-on-one parent conferencing Assessment results interpretation Resource referrals College/career explorationTeachersCareer portfolio development Assistance with students’ academic plans Classroom guidance activities on study skills, career development, etc. Academic support, learning style assessment and education to help students succeed academically Classroom career speakers At-risk student identification and implementation of interventions to enhance success Parent communication/educationAdministratorsSchool climate Behavioral management plans School-wide needs assessment Student data and results Student assistance team building LeadershipStudentsPeer education Peer support Academic support School climate Leadership developmentCommunityJob shadowing, service learning Crisis interventions Referrals Parenting classes Support groups Career educationWhy Middle School Counselors?Middle school students are characterized by rapid physical growth, curiosity about their world and an emerging self-identity. Through a comprehensive developmental school counseling program, counselors work as a team member with school staff, parents and the community to create a caring, supportive climate and atmosphere whereby young adolescents can achieve academic success. Middle school counselors enhance the learning process and promote academic achievement. School counseling programs are essential for students to achieve optimal personal growth, acquire positive social skills and values, set appropriate career goals and realize full academic potential to become productive, contributing members of the world community. (Taken from www.schoolcounselor.org)
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