Is guidance a bad word?


I will be the first to say that there is much room for improvement at my school toward an actual comprehensive school counseling program. I know that. However, I also know I’ve made a lot of changes in the last three years at my school. One of the biggest being consistent, regularly scheduled classroom lessons in all grades. This has been a HUGE upgrade in the counseling program and the ways it can impact students’ social, emotional, and behavioral success. It’s also one of the pieces of my program that I’m most proud of.

When I was hired at my school, I had interviewed for a “guidance counselor” position, not a “school counselor.” When I started working there, the word “guidance” and “guidance counselor” was everywhere I looked. It was on folders, signs, paperwork, emails, everywhere! And to be honest, I was guilty of just going with the flow because that’s what people seemed to be comfortable with.

Well, I realized that the shift to “school counselor” was much needed to be able to shift the view of what my role was and was not. I slowly started making changes to reflect this need. I changed my email signature, I changed most of my folders to say “counseling” or “counselor,” I made multiple signs that say my name and “school counselor,” I made a t-shirt that says “school counselor” that I wore the first day of school and open house night, I changed my program brochure, and I’ve started saying “school counselor” and “counseling program” a million times a day.

Is that enough?

I don’t know. What I do know is that one of the things that I’m finding the hardest to change is what I do in classrooms. It is still called “guidance” by teachers and students. In older grades, I often call what I do with students in the classroom “Community Circle” because it fits. But I haven’t heard a name that I’m comfortable using for the younger grades. I’ve heard “Class Councils,” “Classroom Counseling,” and “Counseling Sessions,” and I’m not real satisfied with any of them.

Then I got to thinking, is calling what I do in classrooms “Guidance” really so bad?

I looked up the definition of guidance and this is what I found: the act or function of guiding; leadership; direction.

And isn’t that what we’re doing in classrooms? We’re guiding students toward education and skills they need to be successful students, friends, and citizens. Makes sense to me!

So while I continue advocating for all of us to be called “School Counselors,” I’ve decided I’m really okay with a little “guidance” now and then.

What are your thoughts? This topic has been written about by many other bloggers – check out what they had to say: Savvy School Counselor, Scrapbook of a School Counselor, Classy Counselor, and School Counselor Blog.

And join the conversation!


3 thoughts on “Is guidance a bad word?

  1. I completely agree about trying to change my title to “School Counselor”. I use it wherever I can but it sure has been a process. I wonder about my classroom time, too because I always call it classroom guidance. I like your belief but would love a new name for it, too! Great post!

  2. While I’ve always been referred to as a School Counselor, or simply “the Counselor” the term “guidance” doesn’t bother me at all. I use it to describe the classroom lessons I deliver, and don’t see myself changing that anytime soon. I’m fortunate to be in a district, and on a campus that values my role and sees the bigger picture of how the counseling program impacts student achievement. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I was just discussing this topic with a colleague today.

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