40. Dealing With Teacher Pushback As A School Counselor

In this episode, I dive into school counselors’ common challenges when collaborating with teachers. From encountering pushback on interventions to fostering a more collaborative relationship, I share insights and strategies to enhance the counselor-teacher partnership.

Key Highlights:

Understanding Pushback:

  • Identifying scenarios where teachers resist suggested interventions.
  • Exploring the frustrations counselors experience when met with resistance.

Navigating Challenges with Empathy:

  • Approaching conversations with teachers with empathy and understanding.
  • Recognizing the unique perspectives, experiences, and pressures teachers bring to the collaboration.

Building Collaborative Relationships:

  • Emphasizing the collaborative nature of the counselor-teacher partnership.
  • Validating teachers’ concerns and expertise as essential contributors to student well-being.

Overcoming Time Constraints and Frustrations:

  • Addressing the common frustration related to time constraints and challenging students.
  • Finding common ground to alleviate pressure and foster cooperation.

Effective Communication Strategies:

  • Providing insights on effective communication to bridge the counselor-teacher gap.
  • Emphasizing the importance of sharing research and data to support suggested interventions.

Tune in to gain valuable insights into navigating collaboration challenges and fostering a more productive relationship with your teaching colleagues.



Carol: You're listening to the Counselor Chat podcast, a show for school counselors looking for easy to implement strategies, how to tips, collaboration, and a little spark of joy. I'm Carol Miller, your host. I'm a full time school counselor and the face behind counseling essentials. I'm all about creating simplified systems, data driven practices, and using creative approaches to age students. If you're looking for a little inspiration to help you make a big impact on student growth and success, you're in the right place, because we're better together. Ready to chat? Let's dive in.

Carol: Hi, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of Counselor Chat. I'm Carol Miller, your host, and I'm so excited that you are here with us today. It is just me, and I really want to apologize in advance because my throat is a little hoarse and you might notice that my voice is sounding a little raspy. Hopefully this recording sounds okay when it's all said and done, but I am very glad that you're here. Have you ever noticed that sometimes when we are working with teachers, we get the pushback, we get the you're wanting me to do what with a kid, or I don't have time for this. Or I'm really struggling with this kid, but I don't have time for this intervention, or I already tried that. It's never going to work. I'm sure you guys can relate because it seems like no matter where we are, there's always going to be teachers that we're working with who seem to push back on every strategy that we suggest when we're working together with a student. And today we're talking all about pushback. As school counselors, it really is our job to collaborate with teachers to support students academic and emotional well being. However, I want you to know it really isn't uncommon either for us to encounter resistance or pushback when we're suggesting strategies or interventions. I think it's sometimes par for the course, but today we're really going to explore some approaches that maybe could help navigate these situations and really help us to foster a more collaborative relationship with our teachers. Because first and foremost, my friends, it's really essential that we approach any of these conversations with empathy and understanding. We have to remember and recognize that teachers really have their own perspectives, they have their own experiences, and they have a whole lot of pressure. We also have to really take the time to listen to their concerns and validate their expertise as the classroom teacher. And when we can do this, this is really going to lay the foundation for a more productive discussion. I think if we really recognize that we do understand they're under pressure to perform or have their kids perform for tests, and that they do have that kiddo that's quite challenging and that we can understand how it is so frustrating and that it can take away from class time. We sometimes have a little bit of an in, but we also have to make sure that we let them understand that we know that their time is valuable and precious. Because after all, when we're working together, we might be suggesting all the strategies and coming up with the interventions. But really, our classroom teachers, they're the ones that are carrying everything through and they're already feeling like they have all this stuff on their plate already. So when we add just one more thing, no matter how helpful it is, it's going to feel really overwhelming, like, I have one more thing I've got to do. This might be the straw that's going to break the camel's back. And so we have to, I think, really come in understanding that and keeping that, I think, in the forefront of our minds when we're coming up with these strategies and these interventions. We also want to really make sure, I think, that whatever strategies or interventions that we come up with, that we provide some research and some data that really supports these recommendations that we're providing. Because I think when teachers see that we're coming with data or that we're coming with a success story or case studies that demonstrate how this strategy or intervention can really positively impact a student, they're more likely to try it and they're less likely to say, done that already. And we also want to make sure that if they're saying, oh, I've done that already, then maybe we ask, well, how much fidelity was put into that? Did you do it every day for a certain amount of time or was it tried a couple of days and then given up on? Because a lot of interventions take a good 20 days or so to really show some growth and some impact. So we have to be able to look at the numbers and how sustainable the practice and the strategy is. I think it's also really important to emphasize that we are collaborative in our role as a school counselor. We have to really frame our suggestions as a partnership and that we're working together to really support the student's overall well being. And if we can highlight our expertise along with their expertise and that we're both bringing something to the table, we're going to eliminate some power dynamics and we're also going to foster a sense of shared responsibility. This is really important because I think a lot of times teachers also see us as kind of a quasi administrator and we don't want them to think of us as their boss in this situation because certainly we're not coming to them with a suggestion as a power over them. We're coming to them as a partner and as their equal. And we really want to emphasize that. And sometimes teachers mix up that role a little bit and so we really want to work on that with them as well. If you have been to any type of professional development and you think, wow, this has been a really great resource. I think that's a great thing to share with teachers, too, something that they can hold on to that maybe you could say, oh, I found this online, or here's the link to it, or here's something that I thought was this could be really good, and let them explore that on their own time too. That could be another great way to have them feel like they're taking ownership of this strategy. Because even though we are their partner, they're really the ones doing most of the work. And we do want their buy in. We do want them to take ownership in this. I know. I have teachers that are saying to me, my kid is so they're being so disrespectful, or they're so bad, or their behavior is just getting in the way of the learning. And now it's starting to impact the rest of the kids in the class. And I'm not sure what to do about it, or this is taking up just so much time. Can you guys relate to that? Because I certainly can. And so I know in this partnership that I have with my teachers, I'm going to say, all right, so here's what I'm bringing to the table. I'm going to bring in I'm going to take the kid from you for a little bit, and I'm going to work with them, and I'm going to really try to dive in deep as to what's going on. Like, what do they love about school? What kind of is holding them back, what are the things that they struggle with? And I'm going to be looking at kind of an academic interest inventory with them, like, really, what makes them tick while they're in school, what pushes their buttons, what makes them motivated? And I'm going to start there, and I'm going to get all that good information, and then we're also going to work together, and maybe I'm going to develop a survey as to, all right, so what are some of the things that you're struggling with? Let's try to figure out the top three things or the top three behaviors that are really a struggle for this kiddo. Is it staying in their seat? Is it blurting out the answers? Is it saying mean things to other students? Is it wandering around the classroom? Is it they're unmotivated to do the work on their own? And so maybe we'll put together some sort of a checklist. And I'm going to ask the teacher, can you check off when you see these things? So I know which one or which behaviors are the most prevalent because those are the ones that we really want to address. Or maybe they already have that data, and I'm going to take that from them. And then from there, we're going to make kind of a mini behavior plan, and we're going to write out, like, what are the things that this kiddo really needs to work on? Or what do we need to work on with them? And then I'm going to also take that student and I'm going to do a forced choice inventory with them. And if you aren't familiar with the force choice inventory, it really means you are finding out what kinds of things motivate them while they're in school. Is it if they do something well and they are given some sort of incentive, what kind of incentive would really make it so that they want to accomplish this goal? Is it you're going to call home? You're going to send something positive home? Is it you're going to write a good job on their paper? Is it seeing their paper pinned up in the classroom? Is it maybe getting a special treat or a special reward? Is it being able to be in elementary school, the line leader because everybody wants to be the line leader or the caboose right? Or a special job or a special task. And so we're going to find out what types of things really motivate kids and what kinds of things do they want to try to earn for accomplishing everything that we're putting a behavior plan together for. Because the kid hustle is a big part of this plan or this strategy. We're making these interventions for them so they have to be the ones working on it along with us. So I think when we can do that and we are all working together, we kind of all have our own role, our own part, but we also then have to be kind of consistent in meeting and reviewing and looking at the data and collecting the data. And I think we have to figure out as counselors, easy ways to collect and analyze that data and then show the teachers how well it's working. When I'm working with teachers for behavior plans, we kind of get together every couple of weeks and we take out all those pieces of paper and we count, hey, how many times did the student meet the goals that we had? But we're all working together. So I think it's really important that we really show how we're sharing all this responsibility, that we're consistent, that we make a plan of when to meet, that we check in often. And then if we see that something isn't working, that we really have a sit down with the teacher and we try to figure out, well, what are the reasons why this isn't working? Is it because it's not being really implemented with fidelity? Is it because it's too time consuming? Is it because are you really just satisfied with how things are and not really looking to change things up? Because sometimes we have to really shake things up to get the changes that we want to see happen. And sometimes people aren't really willing to make those changes. Maybe they like to complain about it, but really that's easier for them than to actually make the change because change can sometimes be hard. So we have to think about all these things, and so we have to be able to share this with our teachers and to really have good conversations with them as to really what's the problem if there is one of really working through and incorporating the strategies. And if all this fails, I think we also have to remember that it's okay to involve other members of our school support team. Maybe we need our principal to step in, or maybe we need another member of our mental health team, or maybe we need another grade level teacher to sit down with us to figure out what we can do. Because really, the ultimate goal is to ensure that our students needs are met, and sometimes a team approach is necessary to achieve that. Well, my friends, I hope that this was helpful and that these strategies and suggestions will actually assist you in navigating some of those challenging conversations that you may have with teachers. So remember to use empathy, to use research, to really collaborate, and to seek input into really what's going on if they're having some problems actually implementing this strategy so that you can really improve your relationship with that teacher as well as provide a supportive relationship to them. Anyway, my friends, if you have any questions or you need additional support, please don't ever hesitate to reach out. We're here to help you navigate this rewarding yet sometimes challenging world of school counseling. Anyway, thank you for tuning in to Counselor Chat. If you have a suggestion for me for any upcoming episodes, send me a DM or reach out on Instagram or Facebook or send me an email. I'd love to hear from you. And if you'd be so kind to leave a review, I'd really appreciate that too, because your reviews actually help this little podcast get into the hands of other school counselors. Because sharing and collaborating and collaborating is really what it's all about. Anyway, until next time, have a great week.

Carol: Thanks for listening to today's episode of Counselor Chat. All of the links I talked about can be found in the Show Notes and@counselingessentials.org Forward Slash Podcasts. Be sure to hit, follow or subscribe on your favorite podcast player. And if you would be so kind.

Carol: To leave a review, I'd really appreciate it.

Carol: Want to connect? Send me a DM on Facebook or Instagram at counseling essentials. Until next time. Can't wait till we chat. Bye for now.

Carol: Up. Bye.