My Problem of Practice has been to find a better way to define the role of the school counselor. How can we strengthen our profession so that we have not broadened it to the point of saturation? Can we do it all and be effective?
I thought of a few solutions:
- Specialize in one area (college/career or mental health)
- Divide each counselor into one specialization (college counselor, career counselor, academic counselor, and mental health counselor)
- Divide training of Secondary counselor (6-12) and Elementary counselor (K-8)
- Create a counseling center for each domain (college/career center, academic center, and mental health center)
- Cyber School Counseling Wiki Center or App
As I went through these ideas, they lead me to my last idea of creating a School Counseling Center app. The app would be controlled by school counselors but the user would be students and parents. I would need to design it with the school counselor in mind but also the student and parent as the user. Apps are more accessible to students and parents. They are graphically appealing and easy to access.
My idea to create this app is to help the counselor become more efficient through technology. Alleviating many of the tasks that can broaden the school counselor position. Also, by putting the counseling center all in one place, I feel students, parents, teachers, the principal, school board, and community would have a clear concept of what a school counselor really does.
I would have a picture of the school counselor in each center. An Advisory Chat could be held each week on a specific topic. Similar to twitter chats. Under the Academic Center, I would have a homework help tab with icons for the schools homework programs, like Raz Kids, IXL Math, or Khan Academy. Under the Grades, the schools grading system like Skyward. For the College Center, I would have the college applications tab where an icon would have the schools online transcript program. Under the Career Center, the Schedule tab would have the schools online scheduling program. In the Mental Health Center, the tab for the anti-bullying program would have the school counselors program.
Visually I want it graphically appealing. I want it user-friendly for students and parents. And I would also like it to be easy for the school counselor to run the app program. (drag and drop)
I ran my idea past my sister because she is a parent of 3 elementary students and lives in a rural community. I wanted to know if technology would be a barrier for rural schools. She told me that her area doesn’t even have internet but most parents use their phones or tablets for internet access. They are expected to practice IXL Math at home, which is a computer app that helps with math. She couldn’t stop telling me what she would love to see in my “School Counseling App”. She was frustrated that with 3 children it was hard to keep track of homework and grades. Each teacher had different ways of communicating to families and some better than others. She thought if they could have a template so every teacher sent out homework the same way. This could be done through the School Counseling App. A central place for ALL information.
I am still developing all of the details like how do you even have someone develop your app. What companies are out there? Do I use sponsors or a Kickstarter program? When this is created how do schools get this app? Should it be sponsored through charitable donations, a Kickstarter program, government funding, or school district funding?
What are the laws and policies of technology that I need to be aware of when designing this app? Would school counselors find this useful? Would students and parents use it?
Any issues you see with having a “School Counseling App”? What would you include in your cyber center? Could this work?
Addendum: To see if anything profound came after this blog post I was asked to IDEATE or take a short break. After my break, I did remember an article that I had read about Norm Gysbers, (he developed what is now the ASCA National Model). He was asked in an interview, “How do we leverage technology?”. He said he would leave it to the younger people to figure out. Gysbers also said that we need to reach students through technology because that is where they are right now.
I feel like I can envision his program through technology.
By being able to incubate I was able to connect research from 3 weeks ago to today. I think that I naturally stop and let my thoughts marinate. I do this at night and keep a journal by my bed. It comes while driving and mostly when I can be alone with my thoughts. I was able through incubation to come from a physical counseling center to eventually a cyber counseling center. I can see how all of the research, asking questions, and then ideation lead me to this idea. My unconscious mind starts making connections from all of the reading, observations and talking with others I have been doing. I truly believe in this process and will continue to marinate my ideas.