The role of the school counselor has changed over the years. In the past, they helped upperclassmen apply to colleges and dealt with troublemakers and students who were referred to them by teachers. In today’s school systems, they have a much larger role and play an important part in the academic and interpersonal success of students. One of the best ways for a school counselor to have success with students is to build a good rapport with them.
School counselors interact with students in an interesting way. They must be able to help students with their high school curriculum planning as well as helping them plan for the future, whether that entails college or a transition into the job market or the military. But they also must be able to forge closer relationships with certain students who are having problems with their studies, their home life or even problems outside school.
These relationships can be complicated and often call on the utilization of many different strategies. An important part in the counselor / student relationship is establishing good rapport with students. Many school counselors have stories about not being able to get very far with a particular student until the student began to trust them. Certain students, especially those who are having personal problems, won’t open up to a counselor until they begin to trust him or her.
To build trust, counselors must be accepting. They must have an understanding of student culture, as well as individual likes and dislikes. This is a process that takes time, but counselors who are trusted by students have success in helping them.
Counselors must also remember, trust is a two-way street. As they ask students about their personal lives and their life at home, they will often find success in building trust by sharing some of their own personal stories. This helps the student relate to the counselor. Even just finding out that their counselor also played baseball when they were in high school can make the student understand, “Hey, this counselor is a real person and was once a kid like me.” That can make all the difference in getting them to open up.
It’s such a simple task, yet so few people do it well. School counselors must be attentive listeners. Whether a student is questioning which college might be right for them or discussing problems at home that are affecting schoolwork, counselors must listen closely.
Not only must they listen to what is being said, they often have to figure out what is not being said. School counselors almost act as private investigators or detectives sometimes. They figure out what chain of events led to the problem or issue at hand. Counselors must treat every student equally and listen to them so they can help them to the best of their ability.
School counselors provide a crucial role in school systems across the country. Often they act as an intermediary between teachers, parents and students. A great school counselor knows that having success with students means building personal relationships through establishing trust and listening carefully.