Please note: This post first appeared on March 9, 2014; I updated some of the resource links and resource names on November 13, 2014.
I have been talking a lot recently with School Counselors and Career Specialists around South Carolina about their Individual Graduation Plan (IGP) Conferences. It is clear to me that there are many very talented and passionate educators who are flirting with both burnout and boredom due to the “sameness” and repetition of these conferences.
I believe that burnout and boredom could threaten one of the most powerful tools School Counselors and Career Specialists have to make a difference in the lives of their students. After doing some brainstorming recently with School Counselors and Career Specialists in Lexington School District #1 and Spartanburg School District #1, I came away with the following strategies to help prevent burnout and boredom while providing the best possible IGP experience possible for the students, their families, and educators:
1) Eliminate as many of the redundant conversation items as possible. Items such as attendance policies, graduation requirements, and where to find certain resources are items that could be provided in a video format prior to the IGP Conference. Here is a great example from Gilbert High School: 10th IGP Presentation.
2) Personalize the IGP Process with Data. Conduct a “pre-IGP” Survey with the student (and possibly family) to determine the top 3-5 items/issues that the student/family want to discuss during the IGP Conference. Google Forms would be a quick and easy way to collect this data: How to Create a Google form.
3) Infuse Technology and/or Social Media. Consider creating an app (Yapp is an easy to use FREE app builder) and sending reminders to your students and families via Text (check out Remind), Twitter and Facebook. The best IGP conferences involve the student’s family.
4) Eliminate Non-Counselor Duties. If you cannot delegate IGP Conference to a clerical staff member (and even if you can do a hand off to a clerical staff member) you might want to consider a move to online scheduling and email reminders to improve efficiency and family involvement. To offer online IGP Conference scheduling, check out: Doodle.com and Sign Up Genuis.
5) Go Virtual. If your students and/or parents, can’t come to you; go to them virtually! Taking time off of work, finding parking at the school, and getting back to work can be difficult for many parents. Perhaps you have a student that is homebound? WebEx and GoToMeeting offer great, easy to use virtual meeting solutions that are desktop computer and mobile-friendly (Smart Phones and Tablet Devices). Take one of these tools for a test-drive by conducting a virtual team meeting or a virtual-PLC (Professional Learning Community) meeting!
Your IGP Conferences are too important to let them get stale (for yourself, your students, and your families)!
What are you waiting for? Try something new! You will be glad you did!
If you have other IGP improvement ideas that are working for you, please share them here by leaving a comment.