ERIC Identifier: ED377414 Publication Date: 1994-06-00
Author: Allen, Jackie M. Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Counseling and Student Services Greensboro NC.
School Counselors Collaborating for Student Success. ERIC
Living and working in a world class society with information age technology
at their finger tips, all educators are challenged to improve their
communication and collaboration skills. Current trends and issues in education,
and specifically in school counseling, indicate the importance of collaborating
for student success.
A diminishing economic base in education,
coupled with increased societal problems reflected in student needs and an era
of educational reform, have challenged school counselors to maximize their
effectiveness through improved counseling and guidance programs. In May of 1993
the American Counseling Association (ACA) with a grant from the ACA Counseling
and Human Development Foundation sponsored an invitational Think Tank on the
Crisis in School Counseling. Representatives from ACA divisions, regions,
committees, and affiliates came together dedicated to exploring and defining the
needs of school counseling and the roles of the school counselors in educational
reform. From the discussion during the Think Tank it was evident that primary
concerns included achieving a clearer understanding of the school counselor's
role in reform initiatives and improving counselor communication and
collaboration within the school and in the community. Inter-association and/or
interagency dialogue and collaboration were also stressed as components of an
effective comprehensive developmental counseling and guidance program.
From a business and industry perspective Total Quality Management principles
are being applied to educational reform. The concept of inclusion of all major
publics in school improvement planning has led to the development of strong
linkages between internal and external stakeholders. Support networks at the
regional and local levels are being formed to foster system improvement and
facilitate optimum student learning.
Many educators believe that the school should be a community of both adult
and more youthful learners. An essential ingredient in the development of such a
community is the quality of interpersonal relationships. Those relationships
need to be collegial, cooperative, and interdependent. School improvement
requires efforts both from within and from outside the school in order to
develop a community of learners. Collaboration for student success is an
integral part of educational reform.
School counselors have often been perceived as being apart from, or separate
from, the mainstream of education. Over the last 15 years well known national
education reports, such as "A Nation At Risk", have had a conspicuous absence of
references to school counseling. In the current educational reform literature a
specific role for the school counselor has not yet been defined. School
counselors themselves must define their part in educational reform.
CHARACTERISTICS OF COLLABORATION
Collaboration is the
process whereby two individuals or groups work together for a common goal, a
mutual benefit, or a desired outcome. Trust, respect, openness, active
listening, clear communication, and risk taking are fundamental requirements for
collaborative efforts. In order for collaboration to happen participants must
share a common vision and agree on a common mission. The motivation for a common
mission may be the need to identify or solve a problem, to focus on the issues,
or to achieve consensus. Initiating and maintaining collaborative efforts is an
appropriate role of the school counselor in educational reform.
REQUIREMENTS FOR EFFECTIVE COLLABORATION
prevent educators from establishing and maintaining collaborative efforts.
Effective collaboration is built on the strong personal characteristics of the
collaborator, a clearly defined system, and administrative support for a change
within the organization. Personal requirements needed to foster collaborative
relationships include risk-taking, an ability to work well in a group process
interaction, a cooperative leadership style, conflict resolution skills,
knowledge of agency structure and terminology, an ability to develop rapport
with collaborators, and flexibility in adjusting to change. An unencumbered
system has clear lines of authority, flexibility in the allocation of funds,
clear mandates, and distinct policies and procedures which will facilitate
An organizational structure which encourages collaborative efforts will
demonstrate evidence of: administrative support for shared-decision-making; an
organizational philosophy which encourages integrated or multi-disciplinary
efforts; leaders ready to restructure with enthusiasm for change; recognition of
the interdependence of organizations in society; a past history which is
collegial; availability of financial support and time for skill training; and
opportunities to develop collaborative efforts.
BENEFITS OF COLLABORATION
There are numerous benefits to be
gained by collaboration. School counselors will gain increased visibility and
viability by involvement in collaborative programs. Collaborative efforts reduce
competition for diminishing resources, eliminate duplication of services, and
provide a diversified approach to solving the problems and providing the
services needed by students. Most grants for educational purposes require
collaborative efforts, a history of collaboration, and the demonstration of cost
effective methods for accomplishing goals. Acquiring additional funds for a
special project or expansion of services may necessitate the pooling of
resources through a collaborative grant.
Integrated services models, in which several providers such as school
counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers work together, as in
the Education Development Center project on "Integrating Pupil Services
Personnel into Comprehensive School Health and HIV Prevention" enhance the
possibility for student success. In working with the "whole" student through a
comprehensive developmental counseling and guidance program it makes sense for
the school counselor to coordinate the delivery of school-linked and
community-linked services. The school counselor is the site-based professional
best positioned and trained to coordinate comprehensive health and career
programs for students. Collaborative efforts provide a diversity in services and
approaches, a cost effective method of program and service delivery, an
integrated approach to the "whole" student in the community of learners,
enhanced expertise from a varied bank of resources, and improved programs and
THE COLLABORATIVE ROLE OF THE SCHOOL COUNSELOR IN EDUCATIONAL REFORM
In defining the role of the school counselor in
educational reform, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) has
provided bold and visionary leadership through the development of a pamphlet on "The Professional School Counselor's Role in Educational Reform". During the
1994 National School Counseling Week an ASCA Summit was held in Washington, D.C.
During the Summit significant collaborative efforts were initiated with a number
of agencies and associations in government, education and business. At that time
ASCA proactively announced the school counselor's role as facilitator and change
agent in the local school community. Collaborating with the Goals 2000 Panel,
ASCA is working to make that change agent role known across the country. It is
now the responsibility of each school counselor to adopt the Summit model,
implement their role, and begin collaborative efforts in their local school.
A paradigm shift is needed in both school counselor role and school counselor
function. To demonstrate their role change, school counselors must move out of
the counseling offices into the community. The school counselor is the most
appropriate educator to facilitate "a culture of collaboration" in the local
school community. As a human relations specialist, a facilitator of team
building, a resource broker of services, an information processor, and a
promoter of positive student outcomes, the school counselor as change agent
develops and nurtures collaborative relationships by facilitating change through
programs of prevention and intervention for all students. Developing a culture
of collaboration at the local school will unite students, faculty, staff, and
the community in a common vision and mission to prepare each student to be
successful in school and to acquire the essential skills for successful
employment, responsible citizenship, and lifelong learning.
OTHER COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS
Many opportunities are
available for school counselors to collaborate for student success.
Collaborative efforts may begin at the local school site as school counselors
work with teachers, administrators, and other health care professionals.
Partnerships with business and industry for school-to-work transition programs
are developing. School-based and school-linked integrated services models are
growing. Local civic groups are seeking collaborations with effective education
programs that make a difference. State and federal agencies, such as the
National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee, provide opportunities
for collaborative efforts. Private organizations such as the Lilly Endowment,
Inc. and the DeWitt Wallace Reader's Digest Fund have collaborated on school
counseling projects. Businesses such as McDonald's Corporation sponsor
collaborative efforts for students. The initiative and imagination of the
individual school counselor will determine the extent and variety of
collaborative efforts that can be developed in the local school community.
With decreasing funds, stiffer competition, and
growing student needs, the only way to keep up with the diminishing resources
and the increasing demands is to collaborate with other educators in
comprehensive health reform, to develop an integrated services model at the
local school site, and to reach out into the community with school-to-work
transition linkages to business and industry. School counselors have a window of
opportunity open to them to become proactively involved in the education reform
and restructuring activities which are taking place across the country.
Collaborative efforts when properly initiated and carefully nurtured will
improve school counseling programs and promote student success.
Allen, J. (1994). Presidential Perspective. The
ASCA Counselor, 31.
American School Counselor Association. (1990). The professional school
counselor's role in educational reform. Alexandria, VA: ASCA.
Barth, R.S. (1990). Improving schools from within: Teachers, parents, and
principals can make the difference. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Shine-Ring, A. (1991). Cohesive factors which promote and enhance interagency
collaboration and divisive factors which impede and/or prevent collaboration.
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