Teachers as Counselors: Preparing Teachers as Counselors for In-Risk Youth

Teachers as Counselors: Preparing Teachers as Counselors for In-Risk Youth

Dina Salinitri
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8963-2.ch033
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The changing demographics and necessary pedagogy of the 21st-century schools require teacher education programs to examine their connection to practice in the K to 12 education system. This chapter focuses on the need for teachers to understand the place of guidance and career education in their curriculum and in the lives of all their students. There are nine Guidance and Curriculum courses offered in all Ontario secondary schools, yet, little is done to provide professional development for teachers to build efficacy for these courses. Faculties of Education spend little time looking at the curriculum expectations in these courses as they are not considered methodology or foundation courses. A comprehensive course developed at the Faculty of Education, University of Windsor, provides teacher candidates with the knowledge and skills to explore these courses and engage in an integrated guidance and career program.
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With the growing concern for the wellbeing of children and youth, governments issued policies that held schools responsible for the positive development of all students (Lam & Hui, 2010; Walsh, 2014). Youth are affected by a myriad of social issues that impact their ability to learn. More recently is the attention to mental health, family dysfunction, poverty, marginalization, violence, substance abuse, and school-related issues of bullying all create barriers to learning and healthy socialization. As youth issues rose in complexity, research and public mandates pushed education systems globally toward a comprehensive and collaborative approach to Guidance and counseling in schools as ” an alternative to the traditionally disjointed and remedial model” (Walsh, 2014 p. 34).

In 2006, the Ontario Ministry of Education updated a 1999 Guidance and Career Curriculum for grades 9 through 12. “The curriculum focusses on skill development that will help students better manage their time, resources, and dealings with other people to improve their opportunities for success both in school and in their future lives” (p.3). The courses are designed to develop the soft skills that employers are looking for in transition from secondary school. These include

The goals of the courses include:

  • Understand concepts related to lifelong learning, interpersonal relationships, and career planning;

  • Develop learning skills, social skills, a sense of social responsibility, and the ability to formulate and pursue educational and career goals;

  • Apply this learning to their lives and work in the school and the community (p.3).


Comprehensive Guidance

Effective counseling programs require the support and engagement of the whole school community, including administrators, teachers, support staff, experts from the wider community, and parents. Central to the success of a comprehensive program is the active role of the teachers as teachers are the first school adults with whom youth develop a relationship. Sustaining such a program comes with challenges and resistance. According to Hattie (2015), “if we are truly to improve student learning, it is vital that we identify the most important barrier to such improvement….the variability between schools (36%) and within schools (64%)”. Hattie affirms that the most critical, yet reducible barrier is the effectiveness of teachers. Thus, the teaching profession should recognize the expertise and create a profession of collaborative experts. Changing the culture of teaching by creating collaborative expertise needs to begin throughout our Teacher Education programs.

According to Hattie (2003), expert teachers:

  • Can identify essential representations of their subject,

  • Can guide learning through classroom interactions,

  • Can monitor learning and provide feedback,

  • Can attend to affective attributes, and

  • Can influence student outcomes (p.5).

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