The other day we were discussing counseling needs at our secondary schools and how the role of high school counselors has changed over time. Just like everything else in public education, it is likely that the changes will continue to happen at an ever-increasing pace.
Interestingly, our counselor to student ratio is about the same as it was some 25 years ago… about 300:1.
The conversation reminded me of a paper I’d written as part of my Master’s thesis about twenty years ago… so I dug it out of a tattered old file folder. The paper discusses a comparison between two junior high schools. One had a “teacher advisory” program while the other simply had “homerooms”. The paper discusses the importance of teacher advisors who did more than just take attendance and supervise silent reading. They made an effort to get to know, and connect with, the students in their “TAG”.
Even though not every teacher advisor was entirely committed to the task, 46% of students in the TAG school reported that the first person they would talk to about concerns at school would be their advisor. Only 9% of students in the other school said their homeroom teacher would be their first choice.
When counselor to student ratios are as high as they are, it helps to have other adults in a school who are recognized as front line supports for kids.
I’m happy to say that the “TAG” school referred to in my paper (although now a middle school) still has an advisory program.
The paper was published in the “Canadian School Executive” magazine in January 1993. (The magazine is now defunct but I think it’s still worth a read!… even if you just scroll down to the graphs.)
Read – Why TAG?