As diversity in Oklahoma classrooms increases, teachers and counselors need to be prepared to address the variety of cultural differences, issues and trends associated with the change. According to Oklahoma Watch, "Diversity in Oklahoma classrooms is increasing, but the teachers leading them remain mostly white."
How to Prepare for Counseling in Diverse Environments
Schools in Oklahoma are working to address the lack of diversity among teachers as it compares with the student population. School counselors can improve the situation by learning theories and strategies that will help them in their roles as guidance counselor or career advisor in a diverse learning environment. Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SOSU) offers a 100 percent online Master of Education in School Counseling program that addresses diversity in one of the core courses.
Along with courses on school counseling orientation and ethical practice, career counseling and development, psychopathology and treatment planning in counseling, counseling children and adolescents, and a counseling pre-practicum course for the counseling practicum field work, the SOSU School Counseling master's program addresses social and cultural diversity issues in counseling.
The Social and Cultural Diversity Issues in Counseling course "includes studies that provide an understanding of the cultural context of relationships, issues and trends in a culturally diverse society. Also included is an overview of social and cultural theories, strategies and roles to be applied by the pluralistic counselor to establish an environment for optimal client wellness and successful counseling outcomes."
The School Counselor's Role
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recently published an updated position statement on "The School Counselor and Cultural Diversity" in which the role of school counselors is addressed. "A school counselor, in the role of cultural mediator, engages in prevention, intervention and/or remediation activities that facilitate communication and understanding between culturally diverse human systems ... that aid the educational progress of all students."
School counselors can teach tolerance and help promote an environment of nonviolence and social justice. By collaborating with students, teachers and other stakeholders, they can promote the success of all students.
Challenges for School Counselors in 2017
Eric Sparks, ASCA assistant director, recently enumerated ten of the biggest challenges facing school counselors in 2017, and several of these are directly related to diversity. Gender issues, disparity in income within schools and districts, and issues related to immigration are three of the top ten challenges. Related challenges are bullying and stress. Mastering strategies for dealing with these challenges is a key component of the SOSU Master of Education in School Counseling program.
The program consists of 14 courses equaling 42 credit hours. This includes a practicum course in which students are required to complete a minimum of 100 hours of counseling-related services, 40 of which must include direct client contact activities. The courses are flexible so students can continue to work full time while pursuing their degree.
Learn more about SOSU's Master of Education in School Counseling online program.
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