Several factors are involved in the success of any school guidance program. This includes the effectiveness of the counselors in the school, the school structures, the support the school administrators, the cooperation of teachers and students, and several others.
Even the parents of the students and the community where the school exists are all factors that either make school guidance and counseling programs effective and successful or otherwise.
In this article, I will be highlighting 9 steps you should take as a counselor to maximise all these factors and make the guidance and counseling program of your school successful.
What is a school guidance program?
A school guidance program is a comprehensive and developmental program designed to assist students in making the most of their transition through school.
The purpose of the school guidance program is to address the problems of students, teachers, and all stakeholders in the school through a collective and structured strategy.
Organization of Guidance Programs in Schools
1. Conduct needs assessment
This is the first stage of any successful school guidance program. What you do here, basically, is to identify what needs to be addressed in the school.
What issues are prevalent among students and teachers? What negative trends are rising? And even, what is working that needs to be strengthened further?
For effective need assessment, you can administer questionnaires to the demography you want to focus on, assessing how prevalent issues you perceive to be needing attention are and then prioritize based on which issue needs the most focus.
2. Formulate goals and objectives
After identifying the issues that should be addressed during the school guidance program, the next step is to determine the outcome you would like to achieve.
For instance, from your needs assessment, you found out that poor academic performance among science students is the most pressing need of the school. Your goals should be around the level of performance improvement the school would like to see.
Ensure you employ your knowledge of setting goals and objectives as a teacher here. Your goals should be SMART— specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
3. Draft guidance program strategy or plan
This is the purpose of setting goals and objectives— to define the steps that must be taken to achieve that goal.
For our example of improving academic performance, the next step will be to come up with strategies that can help the science students with the basic components of good academic performance— understanding, retention, study habits, exam writing, time management, and so on.
Your strategy draft should not just be a highlight of things to do. It should contain the exact steps to be taken, the personnel that will do them, the time allotted to achieving each, the venues that will be used, the resources that will be needed, among others.
They should be detailed enough that the school guidance program can be implemented by another person in case of your absence.
4. Consult and sensitize other school guidance partners
The school guidance program cannot be effective without the support of other guidance partners. The guidance partners include the school administrators and teachers, and the parents (through PTA meetings).
Firstly, as the counselor, you should present your findings to them in a convincing manner. Explain to them the needs you have discovered and the effects they are having on the school, then show them the strategy you have drafted.
This is why I called it a draft because it is not final yet. Other guidance partners should correct and approve what you have come up with. You will be surprised at the number of grey areas you didn’t pay attention to when you bring it before others.
5. Establish the school guidance program committee
As much as the effectiveness of the school guidance program is a collective effort of everyone, everyone cannot be in charge of decision-making and implementation. Setting up the guidance committee is, therefore, paramount.
These are the people in charge of implementing the finalized plan and making adjustments as occasion demands. The guidance program committee should have representations from the administrators, teachers, parents, non-academic staff, and even student prefects.
Possible committees that will be necessary include the resources committee, counseling committee, consultation committee, orientation committee, and evaluation committee.
The steps that follow are now to be done by the committees.
Administration of Guidance and Counseling In Schools
6. Implement strategy
This is the main part of all we have been doing so far. This is where the venue is set, the students are gathered together or split depending on the strategy, the personnel that will talk to them are brought together, and many others.
It is easy to get caught up with frivolous activities and forget the main reason why everything started (the needs assessed) but you must ensure you stick with your plan and continue to remind all other personnel of the goals.
7. Effectively manage resources
Management is the effective use of resource for the purpose it was intended. The resources you possess during the school guidance program include personnel, physical structures, money, and time.
As a good manager, just like I said while explaining implementation, you must ensure that you don’t get caught up in doing other important things that are not the main thing you are to do. While having the most exotic hall for a career day program is great, you can make do with a neatly dressed hall if there is a need to bring on board external counselors with that money.
When external counselors come also, the time should be spent counseling students not greeting other staff members they haven’t seen for a while.
If implementation and management must happen, it will happen through adequate supervision. Although you must have acquainted all personnel on board with their roles and responsibilities, you still need to check on them from time to time to see how well they are faring and possible challenges that may have come up in the course of implementation.
To say things will always go exactly as planned is to deceive yourself, but through effective supervision you can always keep things in check.
Evaluation of School Guidance and Counseling Program
This is the last phase of the school guidance program and what gives direction to what will be done next. Evaluation is simply assessing how well the goals and objectives that were set in step two have been achieved.
You should evaluate the effectiveness of the guidance program, the program’s response to the need, the strength and limitations of the program, the students’ satisfaction with the program, and the effective use of resources, among others.
From the findings of the evaluation, if the program was successful, you continue to follow up on the issue to monitor how it progresses. If it wasn’t successful, the reason should be identified and plans should be made for further intervention.
It should be done by the evaluation committee set up in step 5.
Tools and techniques that can be used to evaluate guidance and counseling programs include questionnaires, interviews and observations.
There you have the nine steps you must take to conduct an effective school guidance program. It is a sequence that must be followed. For a recap, conducting a successful school guidance program starts from need assessment to goal setting, strategizing, consultation, setting up committees, implementation, management, supervision, and then evaluation.
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.