Activity 7: Practical Examples

Activity Guide

Building Effective Communications Between Principals and School Counselors

Principals and counselors strive for an effective collaborative relationship because their practices can lead to improved student achievement. Theirs is a relationship between the person whose finger is on the pulse of the school and the person whose finger is on the pulse of the student body. Maintaining that relationship requires ongoing identification of opportunities that strengthen communication and mutual trust. This activity gives administrative and guidance teams an opportunity to examine profiles of schools that have effective principal-counselor relationships, discuss the indicators of success, and extend and apply effective strategies to their your own school program.

Readings:

Materials

Activity

Remind participants that the purpose of examining and strengthening relationships between principals and counselors is to create an environment for improving student success.

  • Provide participants with the snapshot of T.C. Williams High School (printed from the reading selection) and ask them to read it closely.
  • Ask participants to read Finding a Way: Lessons from These Successful Teams and the 10 Characteristics of Effective Principal-Counselor Relationships.
  • When everyone has finished reading, facilitate a discussion about the impact of effective principal-counselor relationships on student performance and what indicators of best practices are evident in the reading.
  • Have participants review the school snapshot(s) that exemplify best practice characteristics from the list. (For a first example, the profile of Kenwood High School on p. 23 focuses on improving mutual trust and shared decision making. See the Table of Contents for others.) Ask them to finish the partially completed chart below by answering the discussion questions about the profiled school.

SAMPLE SCHOOL—Kenwood High School

Discussion Questions Select a Characteristic of an Effective Principal-Counselor Relationship:

Mutual Trust

Select a Characteristic of an Effective Principal-Counselor Relationship:

Shared Decision Making

What are the indicators (best practices) that illustrate the profiled school team is communicating in ways that exemplify the selected characteristic(s)?
  • Counseling staff helped show the principal the value they added to the school and the success of its students when they were used effectively.
  • Principal views counselors as a “critical arm” to achieving the mission for students.
In what ways do these indicators have a positive effect on student performance?

SELECT ANOTHER PROFILED SCHOOL:  

Discussion Questions Select a Characteristic of an Effective Principal-Counselor Relationship:

 

Select a Characteristic of an Effective Principal-Counselor Relationship:

 

What are the indicators (best practices) that illustrate the profiled school team is communicating in ways that exemplify the selected characteristic(s)?
In what ways do these indicators have a positive effect on student performance?
  • After participants have analyzed the best practices of the profiled schools, ask them to turn their attention to an analysis of their own school to complete a final chart. First, participants should identify the characteristics of effective principal-counselor relationships that they want to focus on. They can select those characteristics in one of two ways:
    1. Review the results of their previously completed Self-Assessment and identify one or two characteristics where there are significant gaps between Importance and Presence that they want to work to close.
    2. Identify one or two characteristics from the list: 10 Characteristics of an Effective Principal-Counselor Relationship that they want to focus on.
  • Remind participants that the goal is not to improve relationships simply for the sake of doing so, but because the improvements will have a positive effect on student outcomes.
  • Ask participants to identify best practices that are in place related to the identified characteristic(s), and what positive impact those practices have on student performance. When the list is complete, have participants identify additional practices they can implement to close existing gaps or enhance student outcomes. Use the table below to summarize your discussion. (Additional note: You may remind participants that as they list practices, they should add to their protocols. They also should ask themselves if their program could benefit by eliminating any existing practices.)
Our School Select a Characteristic of an Effective Principal-Counselor Relationship:

 

Select a Characteristic of an Effective Principal-Counselor Relationship:

 

What actions, procedures, or practices do we have in place that indicate that we are communicating in ways that ensure equity and opportunity for all students?
In what ways do these indicators have a positive effect on student performance?
What additional strategies can we implement to improve student outcomes in this area?