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Hey, everyone! Welcome to Encouraging Words for School Counselors – your weekly podcast of short stories shared by school counselors about their school counseling experiences. I’m Matt Fleck with the nonprofit Inspire Success.
Several years ago I was asked to make a presentation to a small group of school counselors who had gathered at a tiny, rural college in the northern part of the state. I had heard of the college but had never been. My GPS took me down several country roads before I arrived at the very small campus with three buildings and a parking lot. I entered the largest of the buildings -which was bustling with students – and as I was looking for my meeting room a young man came up to me said, “Are you a school counselor?” I said, “Well, yes…” (thinking, how did he know?) and he said, “Let me take you to where the other counselors are meeting.” As we were walking to the meeting room I asked, “How did you know I was a counselor?” and he said, “Oh, you had the confused look on your face.”
Now he obviously saw that I was obviously not a student, I looked lost, and he knew that there was a counselor meeting just down the hall, but I also couldn’t help thinking “does he associate that confused look with all school counselors?!”
It would make sense. Most school counselors have SO much going on – so many issues flying around – that for some of us, that confused, lost look on our faces is not uncommon. For sanity purposes, lots of school counselors have come up with creative structures and processes to organize the chaos, but we all know it’s a never-ending challenge.
Now, I’ve heard for years that implementing a comprehensive counseling model will help. And I’ve been a big skeptic, to be honest. I didn’t see any magic in a comprehensive counseling model. But over the last year — as our Inspire Success team has dug into the ASCA National Model — I’ve actually become less cynical and more hopeful. Here’s why.
Whether it’s the ASCA National Model or another organizing structure, distilling what we do as school counselors and clarifying in clear language how we measurably help students succeed IN school and are prepared to succeed once they LEAVE K-12 education – that not only builds SUPPORT for what school counselors do but also helps counselors find more TIME. And time is consistently mentioned by school counselors as something they want MOST. Not another website or good idea – or even a podcast – but more time to work directly with students. And that’s what an effective counseling model does – it builds organization, yes, but also generates more support and more time for working with students.
Ironically, implementing a comprehensive counseling model requires SPENDING time in order to reap the benefits of HAVING more time with students. But now I believe the payoff is worth the price.
And that’s why – if you’ll pardon a little self-promotion – we created the RAMP Ready program here at Inspire Success. When it rolls out later this spring – RAMP Ready offers an online platform for implementing a comprehensive counseling model at three levels. The first level is free and introduces a simplified but effective school counseling model that any school can implement relatively quickly and easily – and all of the processes mirror the ASCA National Model. The second level helps you clearly understand each aspect of the ASCA National Model, while the third level walks you through each step of the process of creating a successful RAMP application.
RAMP Ready isn’t a panacea, it’s not the only system that’s out there, and it’s unlikely to reduce the sometimes messy business of school counseling, but it CAN help you find more support for your counseling program, more TIME to work with students, and we think – best of all – allow you to make a bigger impact with the students you serve.
And maybe, at least in my case, perhaps help you look a little less confused the next time you’re walking into a small college.
You can find out more about RAMP Ready at our website – inspiresuccess.org – where you can also find previous podcast episodes and record your OWN story for one of our future podcasts. Here’s what we’d love to know from you – do you use a comprehensive counseling model? Why or why not? And if you do use one, do you like it? Is it working? Simply go to inspiresuccess.org/soundbooth and there you’ll find a handy, easy-to-use method of recording your responses quickly, easily, and painlessly. Inspiresuccess.org/soundbooth. And, by the way, disagreements with my opinion are certainly welcome.
That’s all from us this week. Thanks for your feedback and thanks for listening!