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Monday Ideas for School Counselors

Weekly articles for school counselors with ideas on how to resolve typical school situations with students, teachers and parents using the solution focused approach.

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Look Back to Go Forward

February 19, 20242 min read

As the school year draws to a close, many students face mounting academic pressures, including the need to excel in final exams so they can pass to the next grade, complete projects, and fulfill graduation requirements.

Frequently, students seek guidance on how to effectively manage their workload and stay focused so they can pass.

I encourage you to not tell them right away!

For seasoned school counselors, the path forward seems straightforward: devise a plan, maintain focus, and execute it diligently. For instance, if a student is struggling in three out of five classes, attention can be directed towards the critical areas necessary to pass those two courses the student is not passing. But, while these strategies may seem obvious to counselors, they may not resonate as clearly with students. Past experiences may have shown many of you that despite offering suggestions to students, many times they struggle to follow through.

A solution-focused approach can empower students to navigate the coming months successfully. Encouraging students to reflect on their own past successes can be transformative and provide them with the strategies they need now.

By asking questions, counselors can help students to better identify their own effective approaches that they may not have consciously recognized:

"You're passing three out of five classes. What did you do to pass History, Art, and PE?"

“What was different about those classes that helped you to pass?”

“How did the teacher teach you so that you were successful?”

“What else made the difference so you were successful?”

These questions push students to look back and grapple with the possibility that they have been successful before and encourages them to identify what worked.

That can be quite magical.

Using the student’s own ability to achieve success in classes they are passing, empowers them, gives them hope and a direction.

This week, when faced with a student's academic concerns or requests from teachers to examine a student’s underperformance, try using these questions to support your students. You may find at first that they are baffled by your questions. Smile, and ask it again, slightly differently, holding on to the premise… that they have been successful… how did they do it? By doing so you will offer students a toolset for immediate use and long-term success.

And for you?

You can do less, watch the student grow and relax.

solution-focused educationacademic success strategiesstudent empowermentexception seeking in counselingovercoming academic pressures
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Dr Linda Metcalf

Linda Metcalf is the best-selling author of Counseling Toward Solutions and 10 other books. Linda is a former middle school teacher, all-level certified school counselor, licensed professional counselor supervisor, and licensed marriage and family therapist in the State of Texas. She is a Professor at Texas Wesleyan University.

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