Tuesday, April 9, 2013

School Counselors as Gatekeepers

I first brought this concept up to the school counselors in my division a few years ago and...crickets! They really didn't know what to say or how to respond. In our profession we are nice, helpful individuals. We don't want to tell a master's student, nonetheless a university, that they can't cut the bill! And none of them ever had. However, if you ever pursue a PhD in counseling, one of the big things they reiterate is the concept of gate keeping and not letting incompetent mental health counselors into the profession. As scary and as confrontational as it may be...it is true!
Here is my slant. Being a school counselor is a privilege NOT a right. I am going to say it again. Being a school counselor is a privilege NOT a right. We work with children. We affect lives. We help develop futures. That is a lot of responsibility. Just because one fulfills the requirements of a degree program does not mean that one is going to be a good school counselor. It does not mean that one has to hire you.
I tell my counselors that if you see a problem...call the university. If it persists, send them back!! Do not complete the paperwork/evaluation without stating your concerns. School divisions do universities a favor by allowing interns to train within them. Sometimes all one needs is to repeat practicum/internship. I have heard of interns who have fallen asleep; ones who tell site supervisors that they don't want to work in a school, but their university placed them there; ones who are late; ones who leave early; some who have no clue; some who are afraid of children; some who argue with their site supervisors when they correct their techniques! I know of certain district coordinators who won't even allow students from certain universities to intern in their division because of the lack of competency of past interns. COME ON!!!! Give me a break! Why are we putting ourselves through this?
We all know good and poor school counselors. Just like we all know good and poor teachers. So there are good and poor school counseling interns. The good ones get raved about! The good ones fill sub positions for school counselors on medical/pregnancy leave. The good ones make in impression upon principals who will tell their other principal friends about them when they hear there is a vacancy! Who raves about the poor ones? No one. Who moans or makes faces about the poor ones when someone mentions their name? Who says "Oh, no! You don't want them." Or better yet, who reluctantly writes a generic letter of recommendation for the poor school counselor intern? We all have at one time or another! That is why you send them back or call the university.
Who saw Waiting for Superman? We need to stop letting the lemons in for if we do...they can never be passed around! You see, a few years ago I inherited a lemon! They were doing more harm than good. When I called the school where they completed their internship, I was told by the site supervisor that they "felt sorry" for the intern and passed them. What good did this do anyone? It made the guidance department chaotic, upset parents and students with misinformation that the counselor told them and my life miserable for the entire time they worked there. I spent a year documenting in order to "counsel" them out of our building and division.
This is YOUR profession. Own it! Advocate for it! PROTECT IT!!! Fortunately the thing about education is that we can control who comes into it and how they come into it. I am almost at the end of my rant, so ask yourself these questions.
Would you want your children assisted by some of the interns that you have supervised? Would you want this person to represent your profession? If your answers are no...then don't contribute to the lemon factory.
*I acknowledge that there are poor site supervisors too...but that is another post! 

No comments:

Post a Comment