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Teacher vs. counselor: how can you best help children?

10.22.2015 | By: Texas Wesleyan University
Deciding between a career in teaching or school counseling is difficult. We can help you decide what is in the best interest of you and your students.

There are many careers that allow you to work with children. You can be a preschool teacher or teach third grade math. You can go into special education or work at a summer camp. You can even go into the medical field and work for a childrens’ hospital. Two of the most common career paths that those who love to work with children are teaching and counseling.

Teachers help children learn about and explore the world around them, but when it comes to dealing with troubling family situations or helping them decide what they want to be when they grow up, those tasks typically belong to the school counselor. If you’re thinking of applying for a school counseling master’s program and are currently teaching, you have a big decision ahead of you. So, in order to best help children, which role should you play?

How Does Your Dream District Work?

Every district, while needing to adhere to certain standards, is different. The roles that teachers and counselors play can differ drastically. Some districts put counselors in charge of testing or grant writing, which is very time-consuming. Other districts require a lot of out-of-the-classroom meetings and obligations for teachers, like volunteering. Making sure that the role you’re looking to hold in a specific district is exactly what you think it will be.

Are You Looking for an Office Job?

Some people thrive in an office. Other people need to be up and moving and constantly presented with new environments and situations. A counselor works an office job while a teacher may find themselves switching classrooms, looking over study halls, going on field trips or taking their students outdoors. That’s not to say that a counselor never leaves their desk. They help to arrange career fairs, go on college visits and take part in school-wide activities like all faculty and staff. Your school counseling master’s program will break down the day-to-day activities you may find yourself doing, impacting the community, the district and the students.

Do You Want Face Time with Students?

When you picture a school counselor, you probably picture them sitting across a desk from a student, talking through behavioral or social issues the child may be having. However, many tasks that a counselor is in charge of are administrative, which means that they spend a lot more time alone or with other adults than you may realize. Teachers get much more face time with students and get to see more students on a regular basis. Your school counseling master’s program will help you understand all of the ways you will be contributing to your district, where you will be able to have a more broad impact than you may have as a teacher.

How Do You Want to Be Evaluated?

Each district evaluates their faculty and staff differently, and each state has evaluation standards. In Texas, school counselors are evaluated on how well they meet the more than 30 state standards. By comparison, teachers are often evaluated not on their performance but on the performance of their students. Pay raises are often dictated by how well student test scores are, or how many pass their classes. Teachers are also evaluated using observation and self-assessment surveys. Evaluation processes are always being refined, but counselors and teachers are evaluated very differently.

If school counseling sounds like a better fit for you than teaching, it might be time to think about applying for a school counseling master’s program. Give our admissions counselors a call to find out more.

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