By Kelly Curtis, WSCA President
Social Media – Are you in?
Social media is center stage these days, for celebrities, corporate marketing, catching up with decades-old friends and of course cyber-bullying, a school counselor’s worst enemy. But when we find ways to embrace social media, it can truly strengthen our programming. I follow WSCA social media on Twitter and Facebook and learn a lot, keeping pace with the newest ideas and seeing what others do in their schools. I also co-manage our elementary school Facebook page and have found this a powerful avenue for teaching parents about PBIS efforts, acknowledging students and generally promoting the kind of school we are. While social media has its faults, “everybody’s doing it”. We might as well jump on the techno-bandwagon.
The Positive Side of Social Media
The combination of social media and school counseling can be a controversial pairing. One side argues that school counselors’ social media accounts should be private and kept far away from the eyes of students and parents. I held this viewpoint for a long time, most likely because I belong to the generation during which Facebook and other social media sites were just beginning. When I joined Facebook in 2005 as a freshman in college, the website was private. Not only that, membership was limited to college students. At the time, I knew that comments I posted and pictures I shared could only be viewed by my peers. Over the years, I watched as social media began to change. Soon, Facebook was open to anyone with an email address. Next, privacy settings started to fluctuate, with or without the user’s consent. Before I knew it, my mom was sending me a friend request. By the time I graduated and was applying for jobs, professors and mentors were warning us about keeping our social media lives on lockdown. They had us envision potential employers viewing pictures unsuitable for work, and if we were hired, they told us that our bosses could easily see personal posts.
That used to be my perception of social media, even after entering graduate school. I made everything on my page private, and even felt a twinge of nervousness if my profile picture was taken at a locale that served adult beverages, terrified that a professor would Facebook-stalk me. It wasn’t until I became involved with WSCA that I learned about the other side of this debate—a less scary, much more professional development-focused side.
The fact remains that social media isn’t going away anytime soon. Where before in-person conversations were the ideal way for connecting with kids, now, sometimes the best way to get to know a student is through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. At the WSCA Conference last year, I learned from a sectional presented by Dr. Erin Mason, counselor educator and Twitter extraordinaire, that there are many ways for school counselors to connect with kids online in a way that is not going to get them arrested.
The first step is figuring out how to make your professional social media presence align with your professional presence in the school. Create a separate username, post a professional photo, and only connect with students in an appropriate manner. I’ve learned how to do this by observing high school counselor and WSCA Technology Chair Katrina Eisfeldt’s social media presence. Katrina connects with kids by posting pictures of student events she attends, shares resources on Twitter, and, most impressive, posts important announcements on Instagram. In this way, Katrina is reaching students at the level that they are most receptive to. Instead of chastising younger generations for being glued to their phones, school counselors like her are communicating with students in the way that they prefer to learn. By being adaptive, flexible, and willing to change along with society, school counselors can, and must, be innovative role models in the counseling profession.
Social media has become prevalent in the United States and is used by a variety of adolescents as a form of communication. Social media does consume a great amount adolescents’ time and can be used to enhance social skills; however, can promote cyberbullying or give adolescents access to those they do not know which can become dangerous (O’Keeffe & Clarke-Pearson, 2011). It is important to educate students so they may understand social media is not the best way to reach out to others for difficult topics and instead should be shared with a trusted adult like their school counselors. As school counselors, it is essential for us to know about social media and how it is used by our students. An article found on the ASCA website defines social media as, “a broad term for any online platform that creates and stores information in such a way that allows users to communicate with one other in a collaborative fashion” (Mullen & Lamb, 2012). We now must learn to navigate the social media world of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest to relate to students and help keep them safe.
It is important understand the ethical implications of adding students as “friends” or looking up their profiles. ASCA’s Ethical Standards warns school counselors this should not be done namely to “[a]void dual relationships with students through communication mediums such as social networking sites” (ASCA, 2010, A.4.c.). School Counselors must be proactive to avoid forming dual relationships, violating professional boundaries, invasion of privacy and acting unprofessionally which can often easily accompany use of social media if one is not vigilant (Mullen & Lamb, 2012).
Social media is not only used by our students, but can be a great tool for school counselors to connect with each other. Busy schedules and the miles between us make it very difficult to connect, whether with others across the nation or in our own state. The WSCA (Wisconsin School Counselor Association) Facebook group is a simple way to connect with other school counselors in Wisconsin. The site can be utilized to learn about changes in school counseling programs and hot topics. There are numerous resources available such as professional development opportunities in Wisconsin, the ability to upload and download lessons, access to small group information, and activities. Another use of this page is to ask for advice and consult with other professionals about what is going on in your school or program. Similarly Facebook offers groups like Elementary School Counselor Exchange, The Middle School Counselor, High School Counselors’ Network, and K-12 Counselor Exchange.
Pinterest can be used to find innovative school counseling activities, small group information, lessons, projects and creative ideas that would be beneficial for counselors. Twitter allows one to “follow” others and make 140 word tweets about what is going on in their life. Hashtags associated with Twitter are becoming extremely popular and are now even showing up on popular television shows. WSCA became actively involved with Twitter during the 2013 February Conference and members are encouraged to follow WSCA on Twitter. Mullen & Lamb (2012) advise counselors to use social media to“[e]xamine online presence, develop professional accounts, and realize it's still just communication”. Knowledge of these social media outlets can be useful for individual counseling as well as helping students get excited for school counseling lessons and being able to relate to the counselor.
American School Counselor Association. (2010). Ethical standards for school counselors. http://www.schoolcounselor.org/asca/media/asca/Resource%20Center/Legal%20and%20Ethical%20Issues/Sample%20Documents/EthicalStandards2010.pdf
Mullen, P. & Lamb, C.(2012). The brave new world of social media. Retrieved from http://www.schoolcounselor.org/magazine/blogs/may-june-2012/the-brave-new-world-of-social-media
O’Keeffe, G. S., & Clarke-Pearson, K. (2011). The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. Pediatrics, 127(4), 800–804. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-0054.
Academic and Career Planning: ACP Update Part 2
Back in May 2014, I provided an update to the Academic and Career Planning initiative; and I believe the time is right to let you know about the progress that has been made.
As you know, Wisconsin §115.28 (59) mandates school districts to ensure they are providing Academic and Career Planning services (ACPs) to all students grades 6-12 beginning in the 2017-2018 school year. Included in this mandate, is the direction to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to create administrative rule informing districts as to the form and content of the academic and career planning services. Also included in the law is the provision of $1.1 million in 2014-2015 to fund the procurement and maintenance of a software technology tool and professional development/training supporting statewide implementation of ACPs. The following is a brief summary of the progress made in the development of the rule, tool, and training.
DPI continues our work to draft an administrative rule that will allow districts to successfully implement rigorous ACP processes. This draft has undergone several iterations and is expected to be approved in mid-2015. This will allow all districts to know exactly what is expected and to have adequate time to design locally effective strategies and activities to provide academic and career planning services for their students.
The route toward the technology tool procurement has been determined. A Request for Proposal (RFP) for a web-based career development statewide tool will be published, and all interested venders will have the opportunity to respond. Following the collection of responses, DPI will follow the Department of Administration (DOA) protocol for product procurement. The plan for procuring and piloting the statewide software system is fall of 2015.
In the first update, I told you of the creation of the ACP Advisory Council; which is comprised of a variety of interested stakeholders representing K-12 education, higher education, state agencies, advocacy groups, community agencies, and business and industry. This group has now met twice and continues to provide feedback on development of the ACP rule, training and guidance. At the most recent meeting (October 28) the group focused on communication and messaging; engaging in a productive discussion centered on the aspects of “what information needs to be communicated,” “to whom,” and “how?” It was evident from the council’s input that there continues to be common enthusiasm and optimism across the various groups for the ACP initiative.
A subgroup of the ACP Advisory Council, the ACP Professional Development Design Group has been tasked with creating the architecture of a system for professional development that enables K-12 educators to increase the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively implement ACPs for all students. This group has created a list of competencies on which a system of professional development will be built, and will work into 2015 to design the PD system.
Finally, I want to direct you to the location for accessing the most current information about the ACP initiative. The ACP website (acp.dpi.wi.gov) is your one-stop-shop for ACP information and resources. From the home page you can subscribe to the ACP list serv, send a message to the dedicated ACP email address, subscribe to the blog, and follow us on Twitter.
Many useful materials and links are provided on the resources page. These include resources for schools, for staff and parents, and DPI videos produced to give an introduction and overview of ACPs. Also linked from the resources page are ACP messaging videos that are both informative and entertaining. Of note are “The Four Year Plan” (a satirical video portraying “what not to do” by drawing attention to what can be the unfortunate reality when students approach the post-secondary world without seriously and purposefully considering their interests, skills, goals, and career aspirations) and a promotion for the TV series “Somebody’s Gotta Do It”( in which television personality Mike Rowe stresses the importance of receiving an education after high school, but challenges the idea that all routes to success look the same for all students).
I wish you all an enjoyable holiday season, and I look forward to seeing many of you at my 2015 WSCA ACP Preconference Workshop, Feb 17, 2015 - Click Here to register
Olin Morrison: Elementary School Vice President
My journey with the WSCA Board started with a “no,” that was my initial response when past president Lori Peacock asked me to join as Technology Chair. After some persistence on her part and some consideration on mine I decided to join; now I never want to leave. I am currently in my third year on the WSCA board. As a member of the board, I enjoy the opportunity to keep school counseling in Wisconsin current and effective with state and national initiatives. As a school counselor, I work at Greenwood Elementary School in River Falls, WI. There is no doubt in my mind that school counselors are perfectly positioned to have the greatest impact on our schools and students. Simply put, I love my job. I look forward to seeing you all at conference.
Christine VanDerGeest: Publications Chair
Six years ago I ran for the WSCA board and was elected as the Secondary Vice President, I have since had the opporunity to serve as the Publications chair for the last four years and take pride in overseeing the production of WSCAlink and Counselink. Being a part of the WSCA board has been an honor and an incredible journey. The professionalism on the WSCA board is unparalleled. During my time on the board my husband and I also welcomed two additions to our family having both our boys coincidentally during conference time in 2010 and 2012. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to serve on the board and encourage others to take the “leap of faith” as well.
WSCA Annual Financial Summary Update to Members
It is an honor to be the Treasurer of WSCA which is a thriving, financially healthy organization. WSCA has a fiscally sound reserve account and is meeting yearly budget targets. This success would not be possible without the support of over 1200 WSCA members, 1000+ WSCA Conference attendees, WSCA Board members and WSCA Committee members. WSCA members are what make WSCA.
WSCA membership is key to growth of the school counseling profession. WSCA plays a vital role in promoting the profession and demonstrating the value that school counselors play in supporting academic success for all the children in Wisconsin.
Since joining the WSCA Board as Treasurer in November there have been significant changes to our organization. Some highlights of the past year include:
Because you understand the importance of WSCA, the organization can continue to contribute in significant ways on behalf of our colleagues and students including:
While continuing with all the important work being done by WSCA, under the policy governance model, the WSCA board will now be accountable for meeting our strategic plan goals. Through this governance model, WSCA committees are encouraged to be creative and innovative in meeting the strategic goals of our association. WSCA is now linking budget resources with the comprehensive work plan for committees as neither is done in isolation.
There is much work to be done in the next few years for our association as we advance with our new bylaws. Thank you for your continued support and involvement as we move forward. Please consider volunteering on a committee, encouraging a colleague to renew their membership, or participating in a WSCA sponsored professional development activity. WSCA members are what make WSCA.
Why do YOU come to the WSCA Annual Conference? It’s a question that quite possibly has as many answers as there are attendees from year to year. It’s clear that there is no other event in Wisconsin that provides the high quality professional development targeted specifically to Professional School Counselors with such a broad array of topics. For many, that’s the primary reason for coming each year. For others, it’s a chance to catch up with colleagues that may only be seen this one time a year. This networking is what makes practicing our profession in the state so much fun. We validate each other, encourage each other, and share our best practices with each other. The result of this exchange is that we all get a little better at what we do.
The value of the WSCA Annual Conference has been proven year after year, as we typically have over 1100 attendees each year! This year promises to be just as educational and empowering. The topics for the sessions will address so many of the issues and practices that are current for so many of us. Ultimately, the primary beneficiaries of the time taken to attend the conference will be the kids and families that we serve.
This year there may be a little extra reason to attend. WSCA is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary as an association! We’ll be celebrating that throughout the conference, with a special toast during the reception on Wednesday night. What a great opportunity for all of us to celebrate our profession, and more specifically, our professional association that has been providing quality representation and education for so many years.
So, whatever your reason for attending, WSCA is committed to providing the highest quality experience for you. We look forward to seeing you in Madison this coming February! Click Here to register
As the 2015 legislative session begins in January, there will be many new faces in the Wisconsin Legislature and, inevitably, new legislation introduced that will impact our profession. Given this, it is vitally important that WSCA members turn out to participate in our 3rd annual WSCA Day on the Hill on Tuesday afternoon, February 17, 2015. This exciting event has become a cornerstone of the annual conference and is FREE to attend!
Come learn how to effectively advocate for the profession you love and put it to practice under the dome! WSCA Day on the Hill will begin with a preconference sectional that will provide an overview of how to get your message out to your legislators about what you do, the difference you make, and how they can help support our mission. Following the interactive training session, we will walk to the Capitol where you will be scheduled to meet with your respective member of the Wisconsin State Assembly and Senate. This event is an outstanding opportunity for professional leadership and advocacy. Over the years, our presence on the Hill has paid, and will continue to pay dividends for WSCA and all school counselors statewide. Join us, and keep the positive momentum growing! Click Here to register
The WSCA Board of Directors believes school counselors are visionary leaders who impact the state and national agenda surrounding education and student success. In the coming year, WSCA will expand its focus to include advocacy at the federal level, in addition to our continued work at the state level through WSCA Day on the Hill and our partnerships with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development DWD).
The mission of the Government Affairs Committee is to monitor and keep the membership informed about government action that could impact our profession. To do this, we will continue to build on past momentum to create a statewide network of school counselors who would consider contacting their elected officials when a critical issue emerges about which we want to respond.
If you would like to serve on the Government Affairs Committee and/or be added to our growing statewide network of school counselors who would be willing to reach out to their elected officials in the future, please contact me right away at firstname.lastname@example.org or 262-893-3880. Thank you for your valued time and best wishes for a safe and joyous holiday season and new year!
By Kelly Curtis
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