Collaboration between Classroom Teachers and a School Counselor through Literature Circles: Building Self-Esteem

By Stringer, Suzanne J.; Reynolds, Glenda P. et al. | Journal of Instructional Psychology, March 2003 | Go to article overview

Collaboration between Classroom Teachers and a School Counselor through Literature Circles: Building Self-Esteem


Stringer, Suzanne J., Reynolds, Glenda P., Simpson, F. Morgan, Journal of Instructional Psychology


This study describes how two second grade teachers along with a school counselor used bibliotherapy trade books with students within Literature Circles to build self-esteem in reading. Two second grade teachers and one school counselor worked collaboratively for two months. Twenty-six students participated in this study. The revised Tennessee Self-Concept Scale--Children's Form was administered at the beginning and again at the end of the study. No significant differences were found between the pre-test and post-test scores. A significant difference was found in only one score (Identify) when the two teachers were compared.

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Schools provide many services to students, in addition to learning the basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Support personnel such as counselors, enrichment teachers, physical education teachers and other support personnel need time to work with students; yet classroom teachers are pressured to provide quality instruction in less time due to the need for time for these activities. Collaboration between teachers and counselors is a logical option, when scheduling time for group counseling especially when their goals overlap.

One such area of potential for cooperation and collaboration is during reading class. Major emphasis is placed on reading in the classroom and when students lack in their ability to read, low self-esteem is certain to follow. Teachers who feel pressured to raise test scores and enhance the reading ability of their students tend to forget the need to work on self-esteem right along with reading. Self-concept is closely correlated with mathematics and reading achievement (Reynolds, 1997). Students who have higher scores in mathematics and reading were found to have correspondingly higher scores in most areas of self-esteem.

Teachers and counselors have similar goals (Myrick, 1987). Lee (1993) sited many studies in which a positive link between classroom guidance and academic achievement were found. Both work toward the mental health of students, but they rarely collaborate. The National Standards for School Counseling Programs published by the American School Counseling Association states that, "The school counseling program has characteristics similar to other educational programs, including a scope and sequence; student outcomes or competencies; activities and processes to assist students in achieving these outcomes." (Campbell & Dahir, 1997, p. 9). The most effective way for counselors to help prevent academic problems is by discussing developmental problems during large group guidance in the classroom. Therefore, self-esteem issues such as; behavior, peer relationships, self-control, physical development, stress, dealing with feelings and emotions, and school success are most effectively discussed in classroom groupings.

These concepts are also often included in the daily lessons presented by teachers, especially during reading classes. When counselors and teachers work together to co-teach academic subjects that directly impact self-esteem, more effective learning and high self-esteem for students can be accomplished. This project studied the results of a collaborative intervention by two-second grade classroom teachers and a school counselor using trade books with a self-esteem focus to teach reading in Literature Circles.

Review of the Literature

Self-esteem can be affected by the method of teaching. Cooperative learning enhances self-esteem as well as promotes student achievement (Lampe & Rooze, 1996). For example, the self-esteem of gifted students taught in heterogeneous cooperative learning groups increased (Johnson & Johnson, 1993; Melser, 1999). Cooperative learning involves the cognitive function of interaction with peers. Chandler, Lee, & Pengilly, (1997) found that expectations for success may have a causal relationship to self-esteem. In the Literature Circle environment students have opportunity for success while learning about interesting topics.

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