To complement ourSchool Counselor Advocacy Letter, the Students at the Center Hub team curated a set of tech-based tools particularly suited for counselors wishing to improve communication strategies and documentation with students and teachers. Based on feedback gathered from New England-based counselors, we developed a menu of web-based resources to respond to the counselors’ interest in finding better ways to increase efficiency, improve data collection and deepen relationship building.
The edtech resources are separated into three categories:
- Counselor Professional Development
- Communication & Collaboration
Tech Tools for Professional Development
During a school transition, professional development or other opportunities to adapt practice may be offered to classroom teachers. Yet school transitions can have major implications for all people in the building, including students and counselors.
A school community that strives to be more student-centered and personalized faces the challenge of not only changing instructional practices, but also redefining the roles of the people within the school. Professional development can be critical to giving school staff space, time, and resources to build a student-centered learning community. As a critical part of a vibrant student-centered learning environment, counselors can benefit from opportunities to participate in relevant and timely professional development (either with teachers, or on their own). One strategy that counselors and schools are starting to adopt involves using technology to facilitate professional learning experiences that counselors may not otherwise have access to, and to provide a platform to encourage community-wide conversations based on those experiences.
How counselors can use technology to enhance professional development
- Utilize online meetings and video conference–type tools and platforms to develop professional development opportunities for colleagues promoting synchronous and/or asynchronous learning.
- Practice, or model, strategies for using digitally-based tools and resources with their students.
- Join, or create, online professional learning networks and blogging platforms with colleagues in the same community, region, state, country, or even globally, to share best practices, gather feedback, and network.
Examples of how counselors can support professional development with technology including:
Vyewallows meetings and sharing content in real-time and anytime. Multiple users can upload images, files, documents, and videos in any room, anytime.
Formativeis a feedback tool that can be used to gauge learning for individuals and whole groups through formal or informal check-ins.
Counselor-focusedblogsare an invaluable professional development resource. School counselors share their insights, inspirations, resources, and tips, encouraging others to share as well.
For a full list, click here.
Tech Tools for Efficiency
Many school counselors have heavy caseloads and multiple responsibilities—conditions that create challenges to helping all students develop the short- and long-term plans they need to guide their trajectories through school. New technologies are making it possible to connect to more students efficiently, and at the same time encourage students to exercise their agency and responsibility to meet their current and future academic goals. An increase in student ownership has the added benefit of increasing student engagement in education.
How counselors can use technology to increase efficiency:
- Using “nudge” technologies to instantly reach students, family members. Counselors can use new “nudging” technology to send messages and request updates with specific groups of students, as well as influence positive behaviors. Research shows that technology-driven nudges and other gentle reminders support students in driving their own progress. Counselors can program these nudges in batches, increasing their time with students working on more substantive issues.
- Sharing and collecting data to further personalize students’ learning experiences. If data collection is ongoing and shared, it can be used to drive student progress. Often, data is collected in many places by many educators. This can create a problem of consistent and transparent use of data by school staff. Collecting data in one central place allows for a cohesive narrative that any educator can access.
Examples of how counselors can support efficiency with technology include:
ClassPageris a platform that educators can use to run classroom polls and instantly message students’ phones (while protecting privacy).
PowerSchoolprovides a central data hub for schools and districts to improve cross-role knowledge-sharing and collaboration efforts.
Remindis an SMS-based communication tool for teachers and school community members.
For a full list, click here.
Tech Tools for Communication & Collaboration
Deepening communication and collaboration across the school community can help support adult-youth relationships that lead to increased student engagement, youth development, and academic performance.
To create such an environment, structures must be in place to help students, their families, and educators communicate and collaborate in shared goals. Counselors can leverage technology to encourage and facilitate communication and collaboration with students and their families, as well as between students and other important people in their lives—teachers, peers, and families. The more students become active collaborators in their learning, the greater their engagement will be. Counselors can use technology to improve and increase communication and collaboration with students, as well as assist other supportive adults in communicating and collaborating better with students in a variety of ways.
How counselors can use technology to increase communication and collaboration:
- Manage a centralized platform to transparently track and communicate academic and social/emotional progress of a student to the student and other key stakeholders.
- Easily access information acquired over time from both staff and students that can be useful in conversations about college and career decision making.
- Utilize journaling as a counseling resource (which can be done on a variety of different online platforms, free or otherwise) to help students, teachers, and counselors gather timely qualitative data on student academic progress (in a less formal way than entering data in a student information system), as well as daily updates on social/emotional health.
- Provide new opportunities for parents and students to access relevant information related to student success.
Examples of how counselors can support communication and collaboration with technology include:
Navianceis a college- and career-readiness platform that helps connect academic achievement to postsecondary goals.
Seesawis a digital portfolio tool to support students in documenting and sharing their progress over the course of their academic careers.
For a full list, click here.