A Conversation with Norm Gysbers About Student Guidance

Norm Gysbers is a national leader in defining and promoting a comprehensive guidance and counseling system. Dr. Gysbers is a Curators’ Distinguished Professor in the Department of Educational, School, & Counseling Psychology at the University of Missouri. He is the author of “Developing and Managing Your School Guidance and Counseling Program,” along with several other related books and publications.
Shortly after Norm was sharing his expertise with school counseling leaders in Taiwan, he made time to have a conversation with Getting Smart about the importance of student guidance. His work will be further referenced in the next Smart Series paper, “Core & More:  Guiding and Personalizing College & Career Readiness,” which was released on May 29, 2014.
GS: What is the key to good student guidance?
NG: Just as I shared with leaders in Hong Kong and Japan, I think it is very important to treat guidance as a developmental process. It is important to start early and stay with students throughout their education experience.  We wouldn’t start teaching math in the 12th grade and expect our students to be able to be competent.
GS: What are the main changes you’ve seen  in school counseling in the past 50 years?
NG: The title says it all in a piece I wrote entitled, “From Position to Program.” This article was published in ASCA’s School Counselor, and it describes how, from the onset of counseling, counselors were given a title, a chair, and a list of duties. To adequately meet students’ needs today, school counseling ought to be under the umbrella of a program. The program defines the duties. It is still important to have positions, but within the context of the program, so that school counselors know what to do when and how to do it best.
GS: With so much emphasis on math and reading, how can schools be sure to devote time to student guidance?
NG: In Missouri we have grade level expectations, math, language arts and also guidance. Through mapping could connect with various subjects. That way we can compare and contrast. In order to deliver the grade level expectations, there are three typical models
1. Counselors deliver
2. Counselors team teach
3. Counselors provide resources and all staff teaches
GS: How do we help students and schools filter the information when there is so much?
NG: Sometimes we imagine a one time experience is enough to help. Think of medical people talking about dosage – how much do they need? Likewise, we need to “dose” students with the knowledge and skills they need for their future from early grades on through highs school.
GS: How does good student guidance translate into college and career readiness?
NG: As I wrote in the “Position to Program” article, A common vision shared among counselor educators, school counseling organizations and state departments of education is important. However, it does not guarantee that every school will have fully implemented and accountable school counseling programs. By working together states, districts, and schools can create a climate of expectation – an expectation that every school district will have fully implemented and accountable school counseling programs that are an integral part of the instructional process to ensure all students are college-and career-ready when they graduate.
GS: How do we provide more access to students, especially first generation and underserved?
NG: Good guidance programs are designed to provide access for all. We have an implementation gap. We still have school counselors and others not attending to this in a developmental way. Could be more impactful if development and dosage. Sometimes circumstances suggest they have to change. Has circumstances change they can make the shift.
GS: How do we leverage technology?
NG: There is no question today that we need to harness even better the power of technology. Social media. In a recent book Career counseling. american counseling association  we have a chapter on using social media in career counseling. Technology. How? I will leave to younger people. I do know it has to be done. Interesting to see how tools and interventions have aligned through the years. That’s what students are using today so we need to be on board and reach through the media.
Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 11.09.15 AMAuthor’s note: Norm has shaped the face of school counseling through the teaching of a comprehensive programmatic approach. I had the good fortune of meeting Norm through two colleagues in Washington — Dan Barrett, retired school counselor and Tim Stensager, who continues to influence college and career readiness programming as Assistant Superintendent for OSPI (Washington). The state’s program has strong support from Superintendent Randy Dorn and is now being led by former high school counselor Danise Ackelson.
To learn more about next generation advising, see the new Smart Series paper, “Getting Ready for College, Careers, and the Common Core.” To download the full paper and infographic, go to digitallearningnow.com/dln-smart-series or follow along on social media using the hashtags #SmartSeries, #CCR and #DigLN. 

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