Ongoing professional development is critical to the success of professionals. Without the ability to learn and grow we don’t change. And if we aren’t changing, how can the work we do improve? Our power as school counselors lies in our ability to learn from one another. We need opportunities to dialogue, discover new things, share, and problem-solve. The depth and breadth of school counselors’ tasks and responsibilities makes it particularly important for us to partake in professional development, keeping ourselves apprised of current standards and practices in our field.
When I arrived at Monrovia Unified School District, I was fresh out of graduate school and quickly observed that the district had spent millions of dollars on professional development for teachers with little investment on the development of school counselors. While this story is dated by nearly 30 years, arguably it remains true today. Too often, school counselors express feelings of isolation and helplessness because of limited opportunities to engage in meaningful connections with the school counseling community. Academic literature also identifies the systemic lack of professional development for school counselors. What's more, when school counselors receive training, it is often at the request of school counselors, not a district level decision. The lack of capacity-building professional development becomes a vicious cycle for school leaders who need their school counselors so much – a day away from school or the absence of the entire team for a one- or two-day training seems impossible or is prohibited. School counselors are culpable, too, due to our concern about being away from students. In many cases we have no backup, so return to work with the stress of catching up. Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon each of us to make PD time. We want our dentist and our doctors to keep up with the latest, right?
The CASC Board of Directors has deeply considered how best to meet the PD needs of California school counselors. Over the years, CASC has aggressively acted at the policy and systems change level, engaging in policy discussions in Sacramento and in supporting legislation to provide more PD funds and opportunities to support the work of school counselors. Providing dynamic PD across the state and deep discounts for CASC memberships is CASC’s commitment for 2018. This coming year, CASC is expanding our outreach to the local level, offering trainings to meet a wide variety of PD needs. With the state annual conference “a high-quality experience like no other,” an important CASC goal is to bring an equally high-level PD experience to those that may have had limited school counseling-specific PD.
What we have in store for you for 2018
2018 CASC State Conference
October 17-19, 2018; Riverside Convention Center, Riverside, CA
Planning has begun for the CASC 2018 conference. As in 2017, we anticipate more than 1,300 attendees and over 100 experts from around the state and nation providing the latest information, techniques and strategies related to the school counseling profession. Mark your calendar for October 17-19, 2018, at the Riverside Convention Center. Attendees will be able to choose from more than 70 topics including effective technology integration, social/emotional learning, strategies for student transition and college and postsecondary training. Surveys from 2017 conference attendees show overwhelmingly positive feedback from this event. Registration will open in March 2018.
Northern California Conference and National School Counselor Week Celebration
Monday, February 5, 2018; HS Lordship Restaurant and Conference Center, Berkeley, CA
This inaugural event serves a dual purpose: celebrating 2018 National School Counselor Week and providing long overdue professional development in Northern California. Utilizing the 2017 annual conference theme, Evolve, Engage, Empower, CASC will host a mini version of the annual state conference on the beautiful Berkeley Marina. Space is limited to 350 and filling up fast, so register now: www.schoolcounselor-ca.org.
Regional Advance Training Seminars
At regional workshops, school counselors in the same geographic area can network and share innovations and best practices. From weekend extensive training series to TGIFs to webinars, 2018 will have ample opportunity for school counselors to develop their skills and expertise locally. The 2018 Weekend PD Series begins February 10-11 in Long Beach at the Universal Technical Institute. This certificate-level training introduces the fundamentals of Restorative Practices. The training is a prerequisite for advanced coursework offered by the recognized authority in RP, International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP). Future trainings under consideration include legal and ethical issues, addressing undocumented youth, and taking Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher campaign to the next level.
If you have ideas for professional development or want to host a professional learning day in your area, please contact me directly at Loretta.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s keep learning together in 2018!