Guidance Counselor… I’m not sure if I was just overly sensitive to those words this year or if they have always been used so much! Unfortunately, most people simply do not realize the term “Guidance Counselor” is outdated. Even though most of us know and understand the difference between school counselors and guidance counselors, there are things we can do to help those we work with to understand better. Even if our co-workers don’t completely understand why it even matters, we can always make an effort to make changes within our school counseling programs so the word guidance isn’t so commonplace. Here’s what I suggest:
- No More Classroom Guidance: We can’t get away from our curriculum being called “guidance” for now, but why call our classroom lessons “classroom guidance?” I’m guilty. That’s “what it’s always been called,” right? It’s even a category on my blog for heaven’s sake! About halfway through this past school year, I decided to take Rebecca Lallier’s lead. Rebecca is the author of the blog School Counseling By Heart. She calls her lessons “Class Councils.” I began saying “Classroom Counseling.” I’m not sure that I’m settled with it or not, but it stopped me from using the term classroom guidance. With a new school year coming up, I’ll take time to address the “name change” with teachers and staff with hope they will catch on.
- Removal of the word Guidance: I remember the day I went to get a new ID badge in my school district. I used to have much longer hair, and I looked nothing like my badge. So, I stopped by to take a new picture after a meeting in the central office building. I told the guy my name for the badge and asked that he put School Counselor underneath. He made the comment, “Yes, I know it has to say “school” and not “guidance!” Surprisingly, I still see some counselors with guidance on their badges. If you’re telling everyone you’re a “guidance counselor” then that is just what they will call you. Make sure your email signature says school counselor. Try not to say Guidance Department but School Counseling Department instead. Address everything coming from your program as school counseling. Looking back at the door to my office, I had a sign with my name and school counselor, but I also had a sign that said “Guidance” since I’m in the “Guidance Office,” right? No more! I actually took that down well before the school year ended. This year, I plan to make a big deal about making the word guidance disappear like magic. I’m thinking about making one of those red “no symbols” and putting it over the word guidance just outside my office. While I’m at it, I’ll probably look into having a t-shirt made.
- Spread the Word from Day One: When all else fails, drive it home with your students during your classroom counseling lessons. Children love to “know more” than adults. Case in point: During my carpool duty one afternoon, I was speaking with a parent. The parent’s mother was in town and was also in the car. She told her mother I was the kids’ guidance counselor. Her kindergarten student quickly said, “She’s the SCHOOL counselor.” That made my day! Make a big deal about it during your lessons. Hopefully the classroom teachers will be within earshot and learn a little something as well!
Truth be told- No one calling us “guidance counselors” is doing it to intentionally make us cringe-and we do cringe! They just don’t know. So, let’s make a pact this coming school year to make an effort to squash the term once and for all. It may not be easy since some from the old school just can’t let go of the term, but I’m sure we can turn some things around if we make the effort. Are you in?
If you need a great article to back it all up, check out Marie Isom’s blog post School Counselor (yes!) vs. Guidance Counselor (no) on the South Carolina Counselor Cafe blog. Her post says it all. I especially like where she wrote: “Guidance is a service. School counselors provide a program.” There’s also this great post written by Tabitha Panariso, author of Scrapbook of a School Counselor. Tabitha says, “It may seem silly to get upset over a title. These days though, it’s all in the name.” If you want to spread the word electronically, there are also those creative eCards Danielle Shultz created on School Counselor Blog. They say, “I love it when you call me ‘guidance’ counselor,” said no school counselor ever. I think I may just print one and frame it for my desk!!
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