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.
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 2020!