Role of College Counsellor
How do you see your role as School Counsellor at the College?
My role as the School Counsellor works at many levels:
• Consultation: To work collaboratively with teams within the College, parents, teachers and any other professionals to positively influence the learning and emotional well being of students. This involves collaborating with others about learning, social and behavioural problems that students may be experiencing. It also involves the development of individualised strategies to enable students to work through their concerns or difficulties as well as supporting parents and teachers in working with and supporting students. Collaboration also involves strengthening working relationships between educators, parents and the community to maintain a safe environment conducive to learning.
• Education: To support the entire College community by providing information that supports the cognitive, behavioural and educational well being of the students. This also involves conveying this information to parents, school personnel and the community. In the role of an educator training to Masada staff can be offered in the use of classroom management strategies, learning and information processing ,as well as emotional issues and behavioural difficulties. Support to parents is also offered with regard to personal or child management matters.
• Assessment: This includes individual psychological and psycho-educational assessment, behavioural observations, assessments of learning profiles and parent/teacher interviews.
• Intervention: This involves supporting families and students, help with solving problems and conflicts related to learning and adjustment, working directly with students and families, counselling, social skills training and any other appropriate interventions.
What does having a full-time School Counsellor offer students?
Students are able to access the counsellor at any time within the week as are teachers and families. Being full time allows time for a greater involvement with students, teachers and families, as well as the opportunity to support the development of appropriate programs, class involvement around relevant issues such as bullying, the development of dynamic programs and evenings for the community, psych-educational assessments and maintaining ongoing communication and feedback where appropriate to the College Principal, Heads of School, teachers and families. It would be very difficult to engage at so many levels without the provision of time. Furthermore, as Head of Learning Support ,there are a number of additional areas of responsibility on top of the Counselling role.
In what way are you involved in learning, planning and studying processes?
I work very actively with all students around study strategies, time management and organisational skills. Support is given to students struggling with stress and anxiety. A variety of materials including a calendar with study tips, weekly time management sheets and a study booklet have been developed to support students. Students are also able to drop into my room to use the massage chairs. I work very actively with the Year Patrons, teachers and parents to ensure support for students in as many areas as possible.
Could you talk about the innovative software that is used at Masada?
Several months of planning went into researching and commencing the implemention processes of a very exciting and dynamic package of support for students. This comprises two software programs that enhance learning, support students with specific learning issues, enrich and extend the average learner and challenge High Ability learners within a diverse number of learning areas. These programs are Reading Plus, Lexia Cross Trainer and Strategies for older students. Masada was the first school in NSW to be offered the Reading Plus program. Reading Plus is a comprehensive, evidenced based software solution for reading assessment and improvement for students reading on all age levels. It is the result of over 70 years of research and development in the area of reading improvement technology. It addresses all the elements of reading-phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension and most importantly, fluency in silent reading. Additionally, Reading Plus provides training in attention and concentration, visual functioning and perceptual skills. It provides targeted, individualized reading instruction. It makes reading comfortable, productive and enjoyable. It prepares students of all ages with the essential skills they need for academic and vocational success. The Lexia program consists of a selection of research based software which allows educators to identify barriers to learning and then implement solution programs for any specific problems identified.
Lexia Reading Strategies for older students is a reading skills development system designed especially for older students, ages 9 through adult, presented in a mature interface. The activities provide practice in decoding skills, early comprehension and keyboard skills. Students control their own activities providing motivation, but each student must show competency and fluency in each skill before moving to the next stage. At each level students navigate independently through an increasingly complex sequence of engaging, skill building activities. User friendly database capabilities help to monitor individual and group performance.
Lexia Cross Trainer is an exciting and motivating suite of interactive software programs designed to improve cognitive development and perceptual skills in students aged 7 to adult. The software helps students with learning difficulties, mainstream and high ability students strengthen their thinking, memory and problem solving abilities, improving performance across subjects as varied as reading, mathematics, science and social studies.