Enhancing Student Learning by "Building a Caring Climate": School Counselors' Experiences with Classroom Management

By Goodman-Scott, Emily | Professional School Counseling, September-August 2018 | Go to article overview

Enhancing Student Learning by "Building a Caring Climate": School Counselors' Experiences with Classroom Management


Goodman-Scott, Emily, Professional School Counseling


School counselors are responsible for meeting students' school-based academic, career, and social/emotional needs through a comprehensive school counseling program; the ASCA National Model (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2012) is one such framework. A component of the ASCA National Model is delivering school counseling core curriculum to all students, including classroom lessons. School counselors use classroom management to maximize the impact of classroom lessons, with the goal of improving the classroom climate, student engagement, and outcomes (Geltner & Clark, 2005; Greenberg, Putman, & Walsh, 2014; Korpershoek, Harms, de Boer, van Kuijk, & Doolaard, 2014; Mitchell, Hirn, & Lewis, 2017). Although effective classroom management can assist with the delivery and results of classroom lessons, research on school counselor-specific classroom management strategies is limited (e.g., Buchanan, Mynatt, & Woodside, 2017; Quarto, 2007). In this article, I describe a qualitative thematic analysis focused on school counselors' experiences with classroom management (N = 221), with the aim of filling a void in the literature and providing applicable classroom management suggestions for practicing school counselors.

School Counselors and Classroom Lessons

According to ASCA (2012), 80% of school counselors' time should be spent serving students directly or indirectly. One component of direct student services is the core curriculum, which includes school counselors delivering systematic instruction for all students through classroom lessons. Classroom lessons are a vehicle to meet students' academic, career, and social/emotional needs, such as those detailed in the ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors standards (ASCA, 2014).

Classroom lessons are an introduction to the school counselor for many students and a strategy for school counselors to proactively and preventatively work with all students on their caseload. Developing a positive relationship with students during classroom lessons may increase students' familiarity and comfort with the school counselor (Geltner & Clark, 2005). Also, given the high student-to-school-counselor ratios throughout the country (Glander, 2017), classroom lessons can be an efficient strategy for school counselors to serve every student.

School counseling classroom lessons are recommended as a professional best practice, and they remain a core component of school counselor roles, being implemented throughout the country. In multiple national studies, school counselors reported designing and delivering classroom lessons (e.g., Goodman-Scott, 2015; Lopez & Mason, 2018; Mullen & Lambie, 2016). For example, Lopez and Mason (2018) conducted a content analysis of school counseling lessons plans (n = 139) uploaded on a national platform, the ASCA Scene, examining both content and quality. In national studies, both Goodman-Scott (2015; n = 1,052) and Mullen and Lambie (2016; n = 693) analyzed school counselors' responses to the School Counselor Activity Rating Scale (Scarborough, 2005), finding that school counselors reportedly conducted moderate levels of classroom lessons on a given 5-point Likert-type scale, including topics such as career and personal/social.

One key aspect of effectively facilitating school counseling classroom lessons is the use of classroom management strategies (ASCA, 2019; Geltner & Clark, 2005; Geltner, Cunningham, & Caldwell, 2011; Quarto, 2007). According to Geltner and Clark (2005), school counselors' use of effective classroom management strategies can enhance students' development and the creation of a positive classroom culture and is therefore a crucial dimension of implementing classroom lessons. Similarly, the ASCA School Counselor Professional Standards & Competencies (2019) recommends that school counselors demonstrate effective classroom management when leading classroom lessons. The next section describes classroom management as applicable across K-12 education, followed by research on school counseling-specific classroom management. …

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