How Collaboration and Communication Enriches the Work of a School Counselor by Christina Karmecy
Since reading Sean Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens during grad school, the 7 habits have been inspirational to me. The book gave me ideas for several classroom lessons for students ages K-12. Although my teen years are long gone, the book’s key points and stories stuck with me. Habit 6, synergize, is most definitely my favorite. I believe teamwork is important at every point in life, although I find collaboration to be incredibly vital in my current position.
The best work days are when I have a few minutes to chat with my principals and colleagues about the needs of our students. Discussion turns into a brainstorming session about what we can do to help. This process has led to some amazing initiatives. When I wanted to expand our students’ knowledge of college and career opportunities, we thought of field trip experiences for our 4th and 5th graders. When we were at a loss of how to help students who we felt were getting ‘lost’ in the system because their needs did not require intervention, but we knew they would prosper with additional attention, we thought of developing a group called TLC Kids. TLC Kids is a group of kids who could benefit from extra “Tender, Love, and Care.” The group members meet monthly to complete an activity or lesson. I typically include high school students to serve as mentors and to help think of fun activities.
After talking with other school counselors about their practices, collaboration took on a whole other meaning. I learned that teaming with my co-workers does not only result in incredibly enriching lessons for the students, but also helps me with scheduling and presenting curriculum to a larger number of students. For the past couple of years, I have been teaming with our school’s special teachers to complete lessons that correlate with our school’s monthly counseling themes. In gym and music, I have completed anger and stress management lessons, in art we have done self-esteem lessons utilizing student self-portraits, and in library, books were used to help present bullying prevention lessons. This team effort has been incredible. Lesson content seems to be better understood, because students are absorbing the information through more than one sense. The lessons are presented to click with auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners.
I can find myself in a rut of doing the same thing each year with the students. I enjoy routine, and I am a creature of habit. The lesson teaming forces me to open my horizons and learn new ways of teaching social, emotional, and academic skills to students. Technology is a big reason for the continual change, it can be overwhelming, but also exciting. Using technology is yet another way to capture a student’s interest. Over the next few weeks I am going to be working on a 5th grade study skills lesson with our school’s technology coach. When I am collaborating with a co-worker, we can each utilize our areas of expertise and synergize to create a lesson neither one of us could have created on our own.
As I gain experience as a school counselor, I am constantly reminded to not only collaborate within my school, but also within my community and beyond. I need to stay up-to-date with the pulse of the all the important stakeholders, including post high school educators, business leaders, and government. I can easily become overwhelmed when I think globally, but it is the reality of our world. Schools need to understand job market trends and the economic needs of the community so that students can be trained accordingly. Three major barriers to economic growth and development in all regions, especially rural areas across the U.S. include; educational institutions not producing enough skilled workers, aligning student career interests to jobs that are not projected to grow, and lack of student preparedness for needed careers. These downfalls can be combatted with collaboration and communication amongst higher education and our regional workforce.
Through the help of my principals I was introduced to blogging. Connecting to other counselors and educators from all over the world has helped me enrich my school counseling program. I enjoy reading about new lessons and counseling techniques. On the flip side, writing posts have helped me reflect upon what I have done. While reviewing lesson content and structure I often think of items to add or tweak to create more valuable lessons for the students. The process also highlights gaps in skill building content. I want my work to remain relevant. In order to keep my blog updated, I have to continually construct and facilitate new lessons for my students.
Teamwork and communication has enriched my role as a school counselor leaps and bounds. I am only one part to a student’s whole system. In order for a student to experience success there must be teamwork amongst all stakeholders; students, families, school-staff, post high school educators, and business leaders. Covey’s habit 6 synergize describes this phenomena perfectly, when a team works together a solution can be created that no single member could have constructed alone. Together is better.
Christina Karmecy M.B.A, M.Ed., NCC School Counselor
South Side Elementary School
4949 State Route 151
Hookstown, PA 15050 724-573-9581