Perceptions

Published:

Perception of a school counselor by principals and teachers as education leaders:

ABSTRACT:

The career, academic and career development of students is very important; in fact these are the primary reasons as to why they go to school. Principals and teachers play significant roles in ensuring that these needs are met, nevertheless whatever they offer is not enough in the absence of school counselors' contribution. Teachers and principles have mixed perceptions towards the counselors' roles in the schools. The expectations of the counselors also differ immensely. Counselors' success in their role is dependent on role definition; many professional counselors perform roles that are not necessarily in their line of duty. Counselors are leaders among other school leaders with crucial roles to play in this capacity consequently optimizing the success of their subjects: students.

LITERATURE REVIEW:

In this literature review, I intended to examine the diverse perceptions that principles and teachers have towards school councilors. Drawing from Dodson's observations (2009), I noted that administrators who include teachers and principles whether from RAMP-designated counseling program or not, have mixed reactions (both positive and negative) over the appropriate and/or inappropriate roles of a school counselor's. Nevertheless Dodson identified that there is a major divide between RAMP-designated schools and non-RAMP-designated programs as far as administrators' perceptions are concerned. Administrators from the former perceived their counselor to be frequent in their role than the latter. They are also perceived as being more engaged in guiding the rests of the staff unto better study hall management at the same time interpreting the records of the students. Dodson also identified that all administrators perceived school counselors as working in areas of social, academic, personal and development of career among their students.

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Reiner, Colbert and Rachelle (2009) observed that teachers perceive school counselors as engaged in ASCA appropriate activities. The counselors are expected to be engaged in thirteen of the sixteen appropriate responsibilities as opposed to five out of the twelve inappropriate activities. Teachers perceive the counselors as engaged in counseling on most of the inappropriate activities that the teachers endorse. They shared their findings with Dodson (2009) that teachers perceived schools' counselors as offering assistance to students in personal, social, academic and career development. They observed that teachers have positive perception hence offering support to school counselors who are frequent in offering assistance to their students. Reiner, Colbert and Rachelle are in consent with the findings of Dodson that schools' counselors are engaged in inappropriate behaviors.

Pérusse et al. (2004) shared the sentiments of Reiner, Colbert and Rachelle (2009) that teachers are engaged in some of the inappropriate activities classifiable as clerical activities. Some of the inappropriate activities that were identified by both parties as principals endorsed and counselors engaged include: registration and scheduling of all students schedules, aptitude, achievement test and administrator cognitive. Teachers' perceptions are that if school counselors are engaged in too many roles, they are likely to have unfulfilled stake holders' expectations.

Janson, Militello, Kosine (2008) conducted a research that was aimed at identifying the professional relational perception between school's principals and the school counselors. They identified mixed viewpoints over the relationship. Principals do not perceive the roles of the counselors in the schools as antagonistic to their roles. They observed that principals as well as the schools counselors do not perceive their roles as inherently in opposition to each other. Principals perceive the roles of the counselors as important in the success of their own roles, in that there are so many principals roles as well as counselors roles that can not be fulfilled without mutual understanding, support and advice; the interdependence of the principals counselors roles.

Principals perceived the counselors roles as very significant in that it eases the roles of the principals. For example if the counselors are able to effectively deal with misconduct among students, the principal's role of ensuring discipline in the school will not be much. Janson, Militello, Kosine consented on the need of schools' counselors and principals acting together for systematic implementation and sustenance of change.

Bardhoshi and Duncan (2009) conducted a research to evaluate the principals' and counselors' perceptions on roles of the school counselors in rural education environment. They observed mixed reactions between the counselors and principals on the quantity of time spent by school counselors versus what they are supposed to spend in diverse school counseling duties. They identified that the reason behind the mixed reactions are failure to understand the counselors' roles by the stake holders and disagreement with the roles for those who know, and relationship differential inherent power among key players making it more difficult to the roles of school counselors to be initialized. Bardhoshi and Duncan noted that the roles of counselors in many schools are not known; in fact principals feel that the schools do not need them, they can still mange to run the schools activities without them. This implies that principals and the rest of administration would employ any resources to employing school counselors leaving the students to leading incomplete lives. They argued that ASCA ought to clearly define the roles of the counselors in schools and invest more funds in hiring more of them because of the significant role that they play in students' success.

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Arguing from the observations of Leuwerke, Walker and Shi (2009) posited that the leadership roles of a school counselor are quite diversified involving some clerical works, and administrative roles such as development of master schedule, dissemination of tests, keeping students' records, coordination of special services, supervising play grounds and lunchrooms, and administering students discipline. The writers conducted a research that aimed at identifying the perceptions of schools principals on the roles of the school counselors. They identified that principals identified counselors' tasks as record keeping, discipline, working with/on special educational programs and testing among other less academic tasks. In other words principals do not see the professional requirements of a school counselor as imperative in enhancing academic excellence. According to these writers, principals do not perceive the roles of counselors as basic requirement in running of the schools' affairs.

Leuwerke, Walker and Shi observations rhymed with Monteiro-Leitner, Asner-Self, Milde, Leitner, and Skelton (2006) observations who posited that principals perceived the counselors' roles as ineffective as they spend too much time on individual students at the expense of the overall. They perceived that counselors should spend less time in training aimed at improving their professional role. They noted that despite the principals' appreciation of the roles played by counselors; they constantly interrupt them for administrative assistance. They noted that lack of the relevant information on the part of a principal is the reason behind less attention on the significance of counselors; hence they posited that with little exposure, the roles of the counselors would be greatly influenced and motivated.

According to Sink (2009) school counselors are leaders who as any other leader ought to be accountable for their actions. The counselors have imperative leadership role in reaching the standards of professional accountability. School counselors are expected to add workable accountability skills that are set to their daily practices so that their schools can improve on leadership activities. Teachers believe that the counselors should develop strength based leadership that advocates for professionalism while promoting effectiveness to their work. For the counselors to accomplish the insightful teachers' recommendation, Sink has observed that the counselors must embrace their leadership roles as articulated in the literature of organizational management. Sink is in agreement with Wood and Winston (2007) observations that this is only possible when there is a will to accept responsibilities, acknowledge public association with own actions, and be ready to elucidate leadership decisions, beliefs and commitments.

Wood and Winston (2007) shared the sentiments of Sink that leaders who value accountability have an important leadership quality: High standing of personal ownership that involves maintenance, formulation, and proactive answering for commitments to organization. These observations were shared by teachers and principals who felt that school counselors were not only responsible to their subjects who are the students but also to the entire school stake holders. An accountable school counselor who qualifies to be called a leader is devoted to promoting students competencies in personal, social career and educational development; observations that were shared by Janson, Militello, Kosine (2008). Sink as Woods and Winston argued that accountability leadership which is the expectation of teachers towards school counselors basically involves being responsible to own action, exhibiting sensitivity and openness and answerability attitude maintenance.

Curry and A DeVoss (2009) have pointed out that, professional counselors in schools play a very pivotal role in collaboratively leading to schools transformation at national regional and local levels. The writers pointed out that the value of professional counselors in school leaders can never be ignored. The counselors are expected to be leaders in design, management, evaluation implementation, leading the education process and mission in order to develop student's careers, social and personal growth as well as academic growth. Curry and A DeVoss posited that the counselors are also expected to further educational reforms and social justice.

The focus of school counselors should be to optimize results or the students' achievements; this can be impended by social barriers hence social justice is imperative for the students' success. Curry and A DeVoss argue that in so doing the leadership position of the counselor will be a change agent. Counselor's role as a change agent was also supported by Dollarhide, Smith and Lemberger (2007). They argued that in the course of advocacy for students requirements in order to perform extemporary, change should be the driving factor. There are so many things that still stagnant and old fashioned, consequently leading to failure in academic, social and physical development; a school counselor should work towards change that is geared towards optimizing the output.

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According to an exploration done by Amatea and West-Olatunji (2007) on the role of a school counselor as a leader in poverty stricken school, they are supposed to collaborate with the teachers in creating an environment of cultural acceptance geared towards encouraging the success of all the students. The writers' feelings were that the schools counselors acting as leaders in such an environment ought to enable the students to have access to the available community resources, systematic support to the extremely impoverished students and enhance educational outcomes. They have argued that the counselors as leaders should always be ready to make decisions and give rationale for their decisions as and leadership approach. These sentiments as outlined above were shared by Sink (2009).

Janson, Stone and Clark (2009) alleged that leadership is the most important role of school counselor. They identified of the essence of removing this leadership from the confines of solitary undertaking. Their argument is that the success of leadership more guaranteed when the leadership is stretched over multiple leaders. The implication of this in our context of school counselors is that they join the other school administrators (teachers and the principal) in facilitating the success of their subject: students. Janson, Stone and Clark have posited that despite the leadership of the school being at the hands of the principal, the counselors play a very significant role in this leadership; they ought to co-work with the principal to optimize achievement.

Janson, Stone and Clark (2009) clarified on the importance of distributing the leadership to multiple leadership consequently optimally utilizing collective strengths and talents. This collaboration promotes leadership density and builds leadership capacities within schools. The counselors are supposed to collaborate and consult with the rest of school's stake holders who include: teachers, community members, administrators and family members which will enhance students' achievements. They also have a role as leaders of advocacy for students' success and helping them navigate the collage application and preparation process. Janson, Stone and Clark observed that a counselor's role does not stop with the academic success of their students, they have more to do. When a student excels he/ she needs to be guided based on interpersonal interaction between the students and the counselor. The counselors should identify the talent of a student so that he can merge it the interests of the student to guide him make the wisest decision on career or course to pursue at the next level of education. Emphasizing on the leadership role of the school counselor in enhancing better achievements for the students, McMahon, Mason and Paisley (2009) argued that the counselors have to employ skills that are not traditionally associated with counseling among them being collaboration, advocacy and use of leadership skills which are observations that had been shared by Dollarhide, Smith and Lemberger (2007).

Drawing from a research on principals' experiences with school counselors by Dollarhide, Smith and Lemberger (2007), demonstration of effective leadership as well as systematic interaction between the two parties can foster their inter-relationship which can help in expanding their roles and their programs. According to these writers principals and school counselors are in a natural partnership that complements one another in serving students tasks. They argue that the partnership is based on positive regard, trust and knowledge. The leadership success of the two is dependent on understanding the relationship between the two. They observed that there are very key things that principals ought to put in place for the success of counselors in advancing the success of the students, the components include: Establishment of clear communication, understanding, respect, trust, openness, cooperation, consideration and support. Dollarhide, Smith and Lemberger argued that it's the duty of the counselors in the schools to influence strong relationship with the rest of the administration in defining their role in the school. The counselors have roles in leadership, systematic change collaborations and advocacy.

According to the observations that were made by Vail (2005) on the perceptions of the principals towards schools counselors, there is a need to define the roles of the counselors so that principals will stop perceiving them as mare free agents within the school environment who have flexible schedules consequently free to receive assignments from teachers, principals and other members of staff. He has quoted Shoffner and Williamson who had observed that since principals and counselors are separately trained and have sparse opportunities to learn of their different responsibilities, roles, and perspectives of each other, there is a need to engage in collaborative work which address students developmental goals. As long as counselors and principals continue to practice their leadership roles separately without asking for advise from each other the divide on the school leadership which is at the expense of students success will continue to grow wider.

Amatea and Clark, (2005) has argued that principals are more appreciative to counselors who have a big picture of the whole school. Such counselors are such that see's the students holistically that is answering to students academic, social and emotional needs while working with all the stakeholders/ partners (teachers, colleagues, and parents). The counselors work with the systematic change climate in the school. Their metaphorical position is the mortar binding the bricks of the school while cementing the students, teachers, administrators, parents and the community in educating children efforts. Such counselors make every effort to optimally draw from the potentials of all stake holders in enhancing students' success. Amatea and Clark observed that principals have positive perception to counselors who takes leadership roles, are students focused are systematic in their work as well as communicative. Counselors are expected to maintain leadership traits and enhance cohesiveness with all the members within the school community.

McMahon, Mason and Paisley (2009) have observed that the current approach to school counseling is different from the traditional approach that had its focus on counseling, coordination and consultation. The authors referred this as '3Cs" to the current embrace of educational leadership, team building, advocacy, assessment together with counseling and coordination. The emphasis was on the need for the counselors to be leaders so that they will have a broader perception of the student's life. Paisley et al., (2006) consenting with the observations of McMahon, Mason and Paisley posited that the need of counselors joining the leadership of the school for they are better placed to advice the teachers and the principals on the right course of action to take in bettering students understanding. They have emphasized on the need of the counselors to re-examine their professional identities. Paisley et al. argues that counselors should develop "counselors' perspective" which includes: multicultural, developmental and holistic perspective rhyming with Amatea and Clark, (2005) supposition on the need of a more diversified approach to school counseling if students will achieve optimally.

If students will draw any help from their counselors, the counselors need to be positioned in an angle of viewing the big picture. Supporting this argument, McMahon, Mason and Paisley (2009) argued that the counselors must be engaged in the education system of their schools through collaboration with the teachers and other stakeholders if not involved with leadership roles. The counselors must be interested in the educational experiences as well as the outcomes of the entire students' body. This means being engaged in the educational system at all levels (local, regional, state and international) making every effort to initiate the necessary change. They have argued that the counselors can better students' success in their capacity as leaders and experts through collaborative relationship with the state officials for mutual benefit.

Consenting with McMahon, Mason and Paisley observations, Kaffenberger, Murphy and Bemak (2006) noted that the counselors ought to raise advocacy activities for the students in their respective schools and at the national capacity. The counselors should be at the fore front when discussions on issues pertaining education such as when debates on education bills are taking place, since there are many things that the legislators may overlook out of ignorance but the counselors are better placed to open the eyes of law and policies makers. If the counselors do not come in such critical positions, the policies made may be unfavorable to the students, consequently impend their success.

References:

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  • Curry, J. & DeVoss, A. (2009). Introduction to Special Issue: The School Counselor as Leader. Professional School Counseling. Alexandria: Dec 2009. 13(2), 64-68.
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