Virtual School Counseling? How do you do that?
Working as a virtual school counselor, the first question I was usually asked when I told people what I did was "How do you do that?" And then the next was, "How did you find that job?" I would love to tell people just how I did do what I do. My motto for virtual school counseling was that I can do what a traditional school counselor does, but I have to put a virtual spin on it.
1. Classroom guidance
Yes, I did classroom guidance, just as you would in other school setting. The difference was mine classes were done on the computer. Me being in one place and my students being in various places all across the state. The biggest thing was to be engaging, which isn't much different from being face to face with students. But you may have to be more interactive in a virtual setting. Slapping a PowerPoint in the virtual class and talking through the slides won't be very effective. I tried to make my lessons as interactive as possible. I utilized videos, interactive worksheets, group work to keep the students engaged. And my younger students I got some help from my friend, Spikey. Spikey is baby orangutan puppet that would come to class sometimes and read to the students or ask questions. Some other tolls I used were Kahoot! which is an online game that could "test" students on the information covered in class that day. If students didn't have a phone or tablet to play on, they were able to open a 2nd browser to be able to play. I also used Pow-toon to provide information instead always using a PowerPoint to make it more engaging.
My 3rd year of working in a virtual setting I had the crazy idea to do a virtual career fair. The company my school was under did a national one every year, but I didn't feel that my students participated in it much and so it wasn't meaningful for the students I worked with. Just as, planning a career fair can be a massive task in a traditional setting it can be in the virtual setting as well. My next blog post will go in detail how to get a virtual career fair set up done.
3. Building relationships and develop rapport
One misconception of working with virtual schools is that the teachers and students don't know each other and that isn't nearly impossible to develop meaningful relationships with students that you will rarely or will never see face to face. This couldn't be father from the truth. One common thread I saw and heard when talking with my teachers is the relationship they had with students. I can recall one teacher even saying that she felt she had a deeper relationship with the students she worked with in the virtual than students she worked with in a brick and mortar school. One of the reasons I feel this is possible is because we have to be intentional in everything we do.
Although these three things aren't all that we do, it provides a good basis on what we do and how do it with a virtual twist.