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Effective Counseling Techniques for Students with Behavioral and Academic Challenges

It’s no longer anecdotal. Study after study backs up what teachers and administrators have been expressing for years – that student challenges and poor behavior are growing at an alarming rate. Issues like bullying, attendance issues, and chronic absenteeism have increased, and the impact is far-reaching.

Behavioral issues can have a detrimental impact on a student’s ability to perform well. This can influence a child’s future after school. Behavior problems in school are a strong indicator of dropping out, which results in poor life outcomes.

Students who act against accepted norms negatively affect their wellbeing and academic standing. The entire school can feel the effects, with a sense of insecurity fostered in other students, and a lack of confidence in the administration coming from the community.

Aggressive behavior puts other students at risk, as well as their peers and staff. Unless handled appropriately, there is little incentive for students to change and little direction on how to do so.

For these reasons and more, school counselors must find ways to effectively help children with challenges for the good of the student, the academic environment, the staff, and the entire community.

Growing Challenges and Effective Counseling

Teachers across all grade levels have noted an increase in behavioral issues, and it’s impacting classrooms as a whole. Students are distracted as a result of problems, and teachers spend valuable time on correction and punishment.

As behavior challenges increase, so do the academic ones. Problems like truancy, discipline issues, bullying and violent tendencies, and chronic absenteeism are closely tied to poor academic performance and high dropout rates.

Teachers point to a need for training on their part and more support services on the part of the district. Social workers and counselors are critical to the mix in improving the classroom and the lives and performance of students with behavior challenges. Effective counseling means helping students as soon as a problem is identified. And that requires an early awareness of issues.

To do that, counselors and staff need a new set of tools that can record data and track issues over time, as well as provide a path forward in helping students in positive and meaningful ways. In the form of both frameworks and technology, these tools would alert counselors to growing issues and provide insight into a student’s entire academic career. Then the right strategies can be leveraged to help the student, the teacher, and the classroom.

Using Social-Emotional Learning Practices

One of the tools for effective counseling of students is the Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) framework. SEL is a process for helping students develop self-awareness and emotional management while understanding and practicing social awareness and relationship skills.

SEL can be an effective counseling tool for behavior and, subsequently, academic challenges. By setting positive goals and building empathy for others, SEL has been shown to increase academic achievement and reduce poor behavior.

What SEL teaches children goes far beyond bettering their educational experience and that of other students. The skills learned as part of SEL are important life skills, increasing an individual’s chances of success as adults and in the workplace.

The sooner that the SEL framework is used to help children, the sooner they will adopt the positive skills that are needed in a school environment. The strength of SEL can also be a weakness. It is highly adaptive, not prescriptive, so to work well, it must be both customized and measured.

The Improvement Cycle and Counseling Effectiveness

As previously stated, the key to effective counseling is early awareness so that the right program can be put in place to help curb behavior and subsequent academic issues. To get the information needed to build an SEL program that is right for a child, counselors need accurate and timely data.

Interventions alone are not enough. An appropriate and useful process with one student may fall completely flat with another. While there is still work to be done on understanding how and what to measure with SEL, measurement is still critical path to improvement.

Surveys and direct work with students is part of the puzzle but leaves some pieces missing. Self-reporting is a good measure but can be unreliable. Direct observation limits the data to what is seen in the moment. Effective counseling relies on having the entire picture to draw from.

That entire picture must include day-to-day information on behavior and incidents as well as overall academic performance. Counselors should look at the entire spectrum of behaviors across multiple years to answer questions like “What were a student’s grades like before problems started?” and “Can we map a general increase in incidents?” to gauge if interventions are moving the needle in the right direction.

That requires the ability to quickly view data across a student’s academic career, from grades to attendance to corrective actions. From there, counselors can build a picture of past, present, and future that puts the student back on the right path.

Behavior challenges are not localized to the individual child. Instead, they put pressure on the entire academic community. As these pressures increase, counselors need new tools for support to develop effective interventions.

Support, however, can’t begin until a problem is identified. The sooner challenges are noted, and support is initiated, the more options there are for effective counseling to take place. Data is crucial in both beginning support, defining a program, and iteratively improving upon it, ensuring children get the right help at the right time.

ScholarChip offers a solution called Alternative Behavior Educator (ABE). This innovative program enables counselors to identify, monitor, and improve student behavior throughout a student’s career, while giving administrators and teachers powerful data-driven reports that quickly flag at-risk students, helps monitor and chronicle progress, and support decision-making tasks. ​The ScholarChip system incorporates the complete spectrum of behavior and integrates student rewards, interventions, and tracking with PowerSchool®, Infinite Campus, and other popular SIS platforms.

To learn how ScholarChip can help keep your schools safer and more secure, learn more about the many solutions ScholarChip provides, or to get free recommendations, feel free to contact a ScholarChip representative today!