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Teacher as Counselor

"The paradox of learning a really new competence is this: that a student cannot at first understand what he needs to learn, can learn it only by educating himself, and can educate himself only by beginning to do what he does not yet understand." - Schon

"Like a bridge over troubled water . . ."

Taking the responsibility for a ćrelationshipä role in teaching, gives teacher as counselor a new importance. The historic nature of this role can be traced at least as far back as Socrates. Repeatedly in the writings of Plato we see Socrates involved in assisting his students and followers in a counseling posture.

The teacher as counselor is a powerful role. It has been difficult for many teachers to assume because:

    there is little training given in the subject

    many teachers feel that subject matter and cognitive learning is the total focus of educators

    some teachers feel a sense of mystification about counseling

    the role suggests a deeper commitment than many teachers have wanted

    counseling is a profession and some schools believe they fill the need by filling the role with trained personnel

    receiving counseling has a negative history in our society rather than a portrayal of wholeness and wellness so many community members devalue it as a role

    some teachers feel put upon already and resent additional responsibility

    the role is considered to be an adjunct, something to be done last if there is time

    the philosophy in American Education has developed focus on subject and limited any infringement on that sole pursuit

    time for meaningful interaction is limited

    privacy is frequently desirable and not available in most school settings
* * *

The persons in the street get in my way because I collide with them as possible rivals.
I shall like them as soon as I see them as partners in the struggle

* * *

Where you go, employ all your heart
-The Shu King

Teacher as Counselor

Juanita comes quietly into the English class and sits down. Even though Mrs. Brown greets her at the door, she does not smile, and when she gets to her work area she slumps over her folder. Though she gets her material out, she does not begin. Mrs. Brown floats around the room checking on student needs as the individual work progresses. As she gets close to Juanita's desk, Juanita looks up and asks "Mrs. Brown, can I talk with you?" Mrs. Brown nods and walks to the area of the room where there is a little more privacy. Juanita begins,"I didn't sleep much last night. Mom and Dad got into another fight and my mom threw my dad out of the house. My dad got mad and broke the windshield on the car."

At first Mrs. Brown feels uncomfortable and doesn't know that to say of do. Yet, she feels honored that Juanita is seeking her help in dealing with this hurtful and painful situation. Mrs. Brown knows that Juanita is the eldest of five children and she carries much responsibility at home. She begins, "I can see that this is of great concern to you and it makes it difficulty for you to focus on your work. thank you for having the courage to come to me. Let's eat lunch together in the classroom and we can talk about it."

Juanita seems unsure about what to say, then she offers, "I didnāt pack a lunch today, I forgot about eating." Reassuring her that there was plenty for two, Mrs. Brown reached out and took Juanita's hand. "Try to give your heart a rest, and see if any of that work helps distract you," she says as she walks toward the next group of students.

Mrs. Brown's thoughts kept returning to Juanita and the pain she must be feeling. She was a little concerned about the lunch talk. Would she say the right words? Would she help Juanita find a way to deal with this hurtful situation? Would Juanita need to be referred to the district counselor? Uncertain as she felt, Mrs. Brown was determined to maintain open communications with Juanita. Together they would find a way to deal with the reality of Juanita's pain. - Pearl Smith

General Guidelines:
    Effective helpers hold positive beliefs about people and recognize and establish a philosophy of human nature and the purpose of helping

    We have healthy self concepts and possess traits such as empathy, congruence, warmth, compassion, genuineness, unconditional positive regard for self / others

    Helpers clarify who is responsible for change and how to facilitate change

    We are always interested in finding out about the way people behave

    We recognize the many child behaviors are developmental and meet a need, therefore we may change self or environment to meet the individual need rather than changing the child

    Helpers recognize human nature and the need and right to positive and negative emotions

    Since we recognize limitations of time and role, we frequently help with an immediate crisis or problem and then get appropriate assistance for long term, chronic or deeply involved issues.

    We do not counsel the family, but we do share information about good referrals

    We grow in ability to counsel others through workshops and training, as available

General Steps in Helping a Student
    The focus:to provide a safe, secure and nurturing climate
    in which the child can grow as a healthy, whole individual
  1. Recognize the studentās need for intervention and build rapport
  2. Provide an appropriate time to truly listen to the child
  3. Help the person identify and clarify the problem
  4. Illuminate options and alternatives for problem solving
  5. Help create goals to facilitate improvement or change
  6. Encourage the student to succeed
  7. Enhance childās perspectives, well being through educating about the problem
  8. Refer to others if in depth skills are needed
  9. Keep the studentās confidence sacrosanct unless abuse is involved or it is believed that the student might hurt self or others
  10. Listen to the inner messages that come through interaction with the child
Glasser's method for counseling a disruptive student

  1. Choose one student for concentrated attention
  2. Analyze what has been tried that did not work
  3. Form a personal relationship with the student and encourage and show concern
    IF the inappropriate behaviors continue
  4. Ask the student to describe what s/he is doing (self analysis of behavior).
    If the student does so accurately, the teacher asks the student to change the behavior
  5. Have a short conference with the student and explore behavior problems:

    1. student is to describe problem
    2. state what rule the behaivors break
    3. student tells what could be done in the place of the disruption
      The conference should be kept warm, supportive and definite in tone

  6. Call another conference, this time setting up a contract for change in writing
  7. Isolate the student in a time-out procedure which is to be used to revise the plan and work on ways to regain self control
  8. In school suspension
  9. Call parents asking them to remove the child for the remainder of the day
  10. Removal from school and referral to an appropriate setting (1977).
Morseās Life Space Concepts for troubled youth:

Conduct a life space interview assisting students to express self and see othersā views. Accept the childās feelings without agreeing to inappropriate behaviors. Analyze problems for solutions using the following steps:
  1. Help students see and accept reality, abandoning defensive positions
  2. Assist student to see why the behaviors are self defeating
  3. Clarify values
  4. Suggest behaviors to child for change if student does not supply them
  5. Support students in self exploration to avoid problems with others
  6. Assist the child to release anger through sympathy and understanding
  7. Help students find alternative positive ways to express emotions like panic, rage, guilt rather than venting in destructive ways
  8. Maintain open communications with friendly gestures and reminders
  9. Clarify student thinking and decision making at crisis points (1971)
Teacher power:

The power base for the counseling role comes primarily from Personal Power and involves two types of empowerment, referent power and information power. Referent power is the attractiveness which the teacher possesses in the eyes of students and others. The relationship between the teacher and the student has a major influence on the studentsā behaviors. Information power assists the teacher in influencing behavior. It is part of the confidence which students and parents gain as they perceive the teacherās ability to act as a center of information. Parents and students alike will be amenable to the teacherās programs if they believe the instructor possesses and disseminates unbiased information as well as being a valuable resource when called upon to assist with individual problems and concerns.

We build these powers by:

Referent Power Information Power
  1. Build rapport with students
  2. Increase sense of charisma
  3. Show students you are consistent
  4. Establish and maintain sense of trust
  5. Share sense of security by showing care for them and their problems
  6. Maintain maturity rather than peership
  1. Draw parents into school involvement
  2. Send positive messages about students to parents
  3. Be an active, responsive listener
  4. Show respect for self and students
  5. Cultivate "second person" perspectives
  6. Familiarize self with community referrals and resources and help parents with access

    Thank you God for this amazing
    day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
    and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
    which is natural which is inifinite which is yes

    e.e. cummings


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E-mail J'Anne Ellsworth at Janne.Ellsworth@nau.edu

Course Created by J'Anne Ellsworth & Center for Technology Enhanced Learning

Copyright © 2001 Northern Arizona University

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