School counseling positions may seem like jobs that primarily require interpersonal skills, but counselors increasingly have the opportunity to use technology in a variety of ways to make their important work more effective and efficient.
It starts with just traditional modes of communications, which make it possible for them to disseminate and obtain information easily, but it includes working with sophisticated software that allows them to establish and revise student schedules, track behavior and performance, and help students with their long-range plans.
Counselors often need to provide information to their entire caseload or to parents or staff, and skillful use of email, text messages or social media make certain that a clear, consistent message gets out. Also, an informative website that becomes a reliable source of information, familiar to students and parents, can be a valuable tool for a counselor.
These vehicles can also provide emergency information about a student to the staff, or about an ongoing concern to parents.
For instance, if a counselor wants to remind students about upcoming testing, a special program, or a visit by a college representative or other expert – or just to remind them about something like the signs of depression or ways to handle stress – an updated website and email reminder can be very effective. It can also provide links to outside services that are a significant resource for counselors since they are often asked to help families find support.
Counselors who can easily establish and update their online presence on a web site and on social media can greatly broaden their reach and speed up their communications.
In addition, counselors tasked with improving a student’s behavior or performance over time can efficiently use regular email reports for updates from teachers for their discussions with students and parents – and that information becomes part of the record for future formal proceedings that address student needs.
For the formal collection of data about students, schools increasingly use a variety of technology. They often have a student information system where all student data can be found and where records about students can be kept. For example, when counselors need to develop a 504 plan or assist in the development of an individualized educational plan (IEP), they can collect information about behavior and performance from teachers on these platforms.
New ones have been developed in recent years such as Kickboard and BehaviorFlip that specifically track student data and allow counselors to view it in a variety of ways. They are particularly helpful when counselors hold parent conferences – and with initiatives such as positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) and restorative practices.
Counselors in middle school and high school often are responsible for student schedules, which is a complex process where teacher offerings and student needs must mesh.
Some may be tasked with using software to develop a master schedule for the school that establishes how classes will be scheduled and which students will be assigned to them. More often, counselors must help establish and adjust student schedules based on their interests and needs, all fitting into the master schedule.
Presentations and Lessons
Counselors often are expected to do classroom lessons or other presentations, so they should be familiar with PowerPoint and Prezi and other presentation software.
They also should understand how to work with students online with lessons they present and help them access online tools related to the discussions they are having.
In addition, they often need to have some understanding of online resources and lessons teachers are using – and support material online for students who need it.
Career and College
Even elementary school students should begin exploring their interests and strengths and learn about potential careers, and some of the best information is online in interest inventories and career exploration platforms. Counselors should know about those sources and be able to help students and parents access them.
The college exploration and application process has also become very reliant on technology – from the testing and transmission of transcripts, to college exploration and the application and financial aid process. High school counselors are often central to that work.