It’s amazing how much I look forward to having a summer break, but I spend all of my time thinking about the next new school year! My first item of business is looking for ways to make my school counseling program even more visible for 2012-13!
As I packed away some of the books in my office for the summer, I came across a book I purchased eight years ago when I first found out I was hired as the counselor at my school. It’s called Public Relations Toolbox and it is edited by Barbara Muller-Ackerman. The information and reproducible items in this book come from the archives of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and is “A practical, hands-on approach to promoting K-12 school counseling programs.”
At the top of the first page in section one is the definition of “public relations” which was taken from the Grolier International Dictionary. Public Relations are: 1. The methods and activities employed by an individual, organization, corporation, or government to promote a favorable relationship with the public. 2. The degree of success obtained in achieving such a relationship. 3. The staff employed to promote such a relationship. 4. The art or science of establishing such a relationship. After reflecting on my school counseling PR over the years, I decided I could stand to increase my efforts to build this area of my program even higher.
This section goes on to share several things we as school counselors need to remember such as why our programs are an excellent investment, the role of school counselors, what a professional school counselor is, and advocating for the profession. It also spoke about “quiet efficiency” which is a category I fall under. I do what I’m supposed to do. I follow up with parents, teachers, and students. I conduct my guidance lessons and groups regularly. However, as stated in the book, sometimes quiet efficiency is not enough.
Public relations also involves recognizing our co-workers and making them feel valued for what they are doing. It gives several examples of positive recognition tools to use to build up the teacher’s sense of being appreciated. It goes on to share ideas similar to those I pin on Pinterest like the Milky Way Bar with the note “You’re out of this world” or candy corn with the message “It may sound corny, but I think you’re great!” Every time I see cute teacher appreciation ideas like these, I pin them on my Teacher Appreciation board. I’m looking forward to finding little ways to encourage the teachers I work with next year.
If I were to share every great thing about this book, this post would be a tad bit lengthy. I’ll just say, everything in this book is just as relevant today in 2012 as it was when the book was published in 2002. There are so many ways to increase your school counselor PR. Here are just a few I plan to implement:
- Brochure (update)
- Contact Cards (Vista Print)
- Phone Tree Messages (to promote different program initiatives)
- Incentive Cards (Vista Print- for students with behavior concerns)
- Guidance Blog (to keep parents informed)
- Bookmarks, Bulletin Boards, and Recognition
Finally, I will begin using National School Counseling Week as a time to crank up the public relations for the school counseling program. I’ve never done that. There is a section in the book dedicated to this. It even includes a countdown calendar to help counselors prepare starting one month in advance!
After reading a great post, Mirror Mirror: The Importance of Reflection, on Darrell Sampson’s blog- From the Counselor’s Office, I took some time to reflect on my school year, and this area stood out for me. I have demonstrated quiet efficiency, but now I am ready to increase my School Counselor PR by including more ways to make my program shine! What are your plans for public relations?
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