Most schools, both public and private, employ school counselors to fill a variety of guidance roles for attending students. A middle school counselor works in a professional administrative capacity with students attending middle school, typically children in grades six through eight. Unlike elementary school, which serves as an introduction to education and lays academic foundations, middle school prepares students for high school. A middle school counselor plays an important role in guiding students who are preparing for their academic future.
In most districts, a middle school counselor is required to have a master's degree at minimum. Some counselors may start out their own career as teachers, working into a counseling role over time by furthering their education. Others begin their career in education administration as guidance counselors.
A middle school counselor’s role is to provide academic guidance by helping place students into the appropriate classes and monitoring their academic performance. He or she fields questions from students and parents regarding academic placement, test scores, and grades while a student is in middle school. Counselors may also help with career planning, advanced placement, and help students who want to earn high school credits while in middle school.
In addition to academic guidance, middle school counselors may also be involved in disciplinary and social guidance. Middle school can be a difficult time for many students as they struggle with social acceptance and behavior problems at home or at school. A counselor is often a parent’s lifeline when their child is struggling in school in general, rather than just one specific class. Oftentimes, social and behavioral problems lead to academic problems and a counselor is poised to help students, parents, and teachers alike to cope with and work towards correcting the problem.
School counselors are also equipped with skills to identify the difficult problems and potential problems that some younger teenagers experience. Complicated social issues like drug use, suicide, teen pregnancy, and abuse are common social issues that a middle school counselor may face with a handful of students. By working with parents and other school officials or child social services if necessary, a counselor helps by addressing issues of concerns and providing resources that might help.
In most academic administrations, the school counselor is not directly involved with disciplinary actions, but in cases where behavioral, mental, or physical disabilities are the cause for behavior issues, the school counselor may work with the student directly. Instead, most direct contact with students is regarding class scheduling, academic testing, placement, and other academic achievement issues.
Though a school counselor’s role may be varied depending on the school district, it can be a rewarding career. In many ways, an involved middle school counselor helps open up doors to academic possibilities for children at a critical time in their lives and can help pave the way to greater academic success for students entering high school.