Social media feeds, school board meeting conversations, and news stories across the nation are filled with commentary about how challenging this school year has been and how educators across the K-12 spectrum are burned out and making a mass exodus from the profession. Just in the past calendar year, headlines from “Teachers Are Not OK, Even Though We Need Them to Be” to “Teacher Job Satisfaction Hits an All-Time Low” to “School Counselors and Psychologists Remain Scarce Even as Needs Rise” have documented how incredibly difficult this year has been for anyone who works in a school setting.
And it makes sense that counselors and educators are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. The past two years have been more challenging than any in recent memory. School counselors have been at the forefront of working with students and families through these unprecedented challenges.
With this in mind, it is vital that we check in with our counselors and educators to understand how their roles have changed over the course of the past school year; best practices that have supported success; where they see the biggest needs for support and professional learning going forward; and what is driving them to continue to give their tremendous efforts to support students and families. It is critical to hear directly from these counselors who have been doing the work day in and day out to understand the many facets of their experiences.
With this, SchooLinks has published an eBook, Counselor Conversations: Reflections on this School Year, that analyzes and reports the findings of counselors from across the nation. Responses came from counselors across the K-12 spectrum and a diversity of geographic locations. Though responses were by no means monolithic, themes of relationship-building, a desire to return to post-Covid normalcy, and authentic hope for the future of education emerged.
It is clear from survey responses that K-12 education is at an inflection point. This backdrop provides an opportunity for educators to take lessons from the past two years, analyze which practices and approaches best support their students, and move forward with a thoughtful approach and clear intentions. By harnessing the passion, hard work, and creativity from this time, educators and counselors can forge a path forward that builds on the positive elements of teaching and learning prior to the pandemic, eliminates practices and strategies that no longer serve students and educators, and creates new structures and ways of doing things based on the wisdom that has emerged from the past two years–all to catalyze student success, happiness, and fulfillment.