Counselors: Cure for the Common Core

Two developments have seismically shifted K-12 education in California - the adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Local Control Accountability Plan.   These developments are important to our membership because they both have significant college and career readiness components. While most of the chatter about Common Core has revolved around the changes in English Language Arts and Math, the fact that college and career readiness is anchored in the standards compels our members to take the lead in districts and schools regarding implementation. In addition to Common Core, the  LCAP mandates that schools focus on 8 priorities:  student achievement, engagement, school climate, course access, basic services, state standards, parental involvement, and "other."  Additional funding is provided for foster youth, English learners, and low-income students. This presents a prime opportunity for school counselors to serve as leaders and managers of programs and interventions … [Read more...]

The Big Rift

I’ve been mulling over the uncomfortable but rather pressing conversation started during the WACAC conference:  how can school-based college counselors and IECs work together more effectively? I’ve been trying to boil the problem down a bit. It seems to stem from a nasty mix of ego and ignorance, money and mistrust—a lot of negative images. School counselors have plugged themselves into a system from which they are contractually  guaranteed security in exchange for their expertise and ultimately X hours of their time. Contributing any extra time or effort—as so many school counselors do for the sake of their kiddos—is going above and beyond, an act of generosity. Independents, by contrast, have foregone the all-encompassing salary and benefits. We choose to work on a basis in which the level of reward shows a direct correlation to the amount of energy we put into our work. Many IECs also contribute pro bono services, which often include workshops at local high schools. The way … [Read more...]

Planting Seeds

The first rule of farming is to plant the seeds of the crop that you intend to grow. Admittedly, I am not a farmer, and in the interest of full disclosure, I don't know the first rule of farming. However, if I was writing an idiot’s pamphlet to farming this would be in my top ten rules along with a serious discussion of composting. You may feel that this blog is already material worthy of composting. My response to that is: don't be mean. Anyway, it stands to reason that the farmer who plants wheat and expects soy will always be disappointed. And so it goes with counseling. As this class prepares to graduate it’s time to stop and be aware of the seeds that you have sown. If you simply value prestige and a college list that makes you look good you may get just that; a beautiful case full of trophies. Hopefully, we are planting the seeds of fit, curiosity, courage and lifelong learning. By courage I mean the ability to see what's right and then choose it, even when this choice may not be … [Read more...]

Keep Calm and…..either way summer is coming

This is my second to last blog in this series and I thought that I would double back to where I began. The bio Dome. I won't rehash the whole thing right here because it's available on this site and you are free to peruse it at your leisure. However, the basic idea is that our students are leaving high school unprepared to meet the resistance that life will inevitably present. They are smart. They are capable. What they are not is resourceful. They have been pursued so relentlessly by the stakeholders in their lives that they aren't sure what to do when all of a sudden they have to pursue. So, I'm proctoring AP Physics this afternoon and I have to be honest, this doesn't smell like a room full of fives. It's beautiful outside, graduation is just around the corner (presumably) and it is taking everything that this room can muster to stay focused long enough to prove that they understand kinematic equations as they pertain to a free fall. This year seems to be tougher than others and … [Read more...]

Reflecting on My “Freshman Year” as a College Counselor

It hasn’t quite been a full year for me as a college counselor, but with the school year drawing to a close (20 school days til graduation!), it’s time to look back on how my 'til “freshman year” on the high school side went. I started in the fall like most actual freshmen do—wide-eyed, optimistic, and ready to get to work. We started out the year with college night events for seniors and juniors and I quickly realized that managing the various application deadlines, different types of applications, and coordinating teacher recommendation submissions would be a lot to keep track of. I quickly filled out my own mock applications for the UC’s, the Cal State’s, a Common App, and I think I even started applications to Arizona, Indiana, Washington, and countless other universities so that I could help my students troubleshoot the issues they came across in their own application processes. (By the way, sorry to all the colleges who thought I was a prospective student! And in case you … [Read more...]