Whether school counselors should have teaching experience has been an issue that has been debated for several decades. On the one hand, there are those who have argued that if school counselors are to help students with educational as well as emotional problems, then prior teaching experience would best qualify them to perform this role (Fredrickson & Pippert, 1964; Tooker, 1957). Proponents of the teaching experience position have also maintained that having teaching experience would give school counselors first-- hand knowledge of school policies and procedures and facilitate relationships with teachers and administrators because "they've walked in the shoes of the educator" (Farwell,1961; Hudson, 1961; Rochester & Cottingham, 1966) On the other hand, others have maintained that teaching experience may actually have a negative impact on a counselor's ability to help others depending on what types of experiences they had as a teacher (Wrenn, 1951). In fact, Arbuckle (1961) states that "Evidence tends at least to point to the possibility that teaching gives one so many bad counseling habits that a major function of counselor education is to help former teachers to unlearn most of what they learned as teachers" (p. 54). This difference of opinion is even reflected in state statutes as approximately 21 states require school counselors to have a teaching certificate to become certified as a school counselor, although there are some variations in terms of the amount of teaching experience that is required of them (Kandor & Bobby, 1992).
Although the conventional wisdom has long been that school counselors who have prior teaching experience will be more effective in their roles, research which has been conducted in this area has not necessarily supported this position. Havens (1972) found no significant differences between school counselors with and without teaching experience with regard to perceived effectiveness, as rated by students, administrators and teachers, or employability. Indeed, Beale (1995) indicates that 55% of the principals in his study would be willing to consider applicants for school counseling positions even if the applicants did not have previous teaching experience.
Dilley, Foster, and Bowers (1973) had supervisors, principals and associates rate how effective counselors with and without teaching experience were in comparison to other first-year counselors the raters had known on five dimensions of effectiveness (implementing guidance services, staff relationships, working without supervision, adjusting to school conditions, and overall performance). The raters perceived counselors without teaching experience to be as effective or more so than first-year counselors the raters had known on the first three dimensions. In addition, two thirds of the counselors without teaching experience were perceived as being more effective in their overall performance. Unfortunately, Dilley et al. did not compare the ratings of counselors with and without teaching experience nor did they include teachers as part of their sample.
In a more recent study, Olson and Allen (1993) had principals rate counselors with and without teaching experience on 13 dimensions that were identified by Myrick (1987) as the major roles and functions served by school counselors. Principals of elementary and high school counselors did not perceive nonteaching counselors to be any less effective than counselors with teaching experience on any of the dimensions. Middle school and junior high school counselors without teaching experience were perceived to be less effective than their counterparts on only three dimensions (teacher consultation, individual counseling, and advisory committee participation).
Despite the fact that the research has not shown differences in the perceived level of effectiveness of school counselors with and without teaching experience, opinions regarding this issue continue to linger. …