How To Raise Awareness On Key Issues In Your School

If you ask a school counselor what comes to mind when we think about the month of October, you’ll probably hear about Red Ribbon Week, anti-bullying, financial aid, ASVAB, and PSAT.

The common denominator for all of these topics boils down to one word: awareness. Awareness is defined as the knowledge or perception of a situation or fact. A quick Google search of “October Awareness” will provide you with a pretty lengthy list of worthy causes that are highlighted during this month. Take a look at the 2018 National Educational and Health Awareness Dates here.

As a school counselor you are likely the one tasked with raising awareness on college, career, military readiness, as well as social-emotional subjects like drug abuse, bullying, and mental health. To say these issues are vital to the health and well-being of our students would be the understatement of the year, and providing opportunities to strengthen awareness regarding these topics is daunting since they often take a back seat to the many other “hats” school counselors wear on their campus.

Awareness is often minimized to dress up days, posters on the wall, and pep rallies providing little recognition of the messages that need to be conveyed. Even if hearts are in the right place, the lack of meaningful and relevant awareness offerings will negatively impact your campus.

Here are 3 simple ways you can add value to the awareness programs on your campus:

Work smarter, not harder.

  • The school counseling profession is full of knowledgeable veterans and innovative newcomers.  Utilize your community of peers to gather the best ideas possible for your program. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
  • Reach out to other school counselors in your area or expand that search to social media outlets, such as Facebook groups. The Facebook group School Administrators, and Counselors Networking Group (USA) is a good place to start.
  • Try state and national counselor association websites:

It takes a village.

  • Take advantage of what the members in your community can offer.  Invite speakers to come out to engage your students on topics related to their field of expertise. Officials from local crisis centers can speak on family violence. Poison control can talk about drug abuse. Police officers and firemen can discuss safety.
  • You may also want to integrate a comprehensive program that will allow for a more systemic, long-term approach. School assemblies, leadership summits, and peer-to-peer programming are great ways to tackle topics as they relate to building the foundation for a positive school culture.

Consistency is Key

  • In order to create a true sense of awareness for significant subjects relating to middle and high school students it must be more than just a Friday pep rally or video shown during homeroom.
  • Look at your “year at a glance” calendar. Incorporate ways to introduce topics. Continuously thread awareness activities into the school year.
  • Club sponsors, coaches, and teachers should find ways to continue discussions so students can internalize their newfound knowledge.
  • Creating a Counseling Google Classroom has greatly increased the effectiveness of my own counseling program by allowing me to share information and interact with my students easily, and on a regular basis.

When it comes to raising awareness on your campus, knowledge is power! The more invested the students are in your message, the more likely you are to see a positive school wide shift in culture. Please click here to use this free lesson as you prepare to tackle AWARENESS on your campus

Penny Knight
School Counselor, TEEN TRUTH

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