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Final Reflections on Myself, My Portfolio, and the Buena Vista University School Counseling Program By Doug Hatch

Personal and Professional Growth Three years ago I started my journey to becoming a professional school counselor. I have always wanted to be a counselor, and I couldnt wait to get into classes and develop myself as a teacher, counselor, and a person. The classes have been challenging, and my cohort has been awesome, and three years later I am a better person, teacher, and counselor. I still feel today as excited about counseling, as I was when I applied, my experiences along the way have been many and great. The people I now know and confide in and lean on have changed my life. I have developed several strengths as a counselor, and I have some areas I can still learn about and become a stronger professional school counselor. I will talk about those areas, how the Buena Vista program helped me to grow and close with my final thoughts. I started that first class not really knowing what to expect, how it would go, or how much work would there would exactly be. It was a little intimidating being surrounded by some of the brightest (and young) minds I had ever met, but little did I know this would be one of the most important aspects of the Buena Vista program, the cohort. I will talk about this later in my paper, but the cohort is the main reason I survived, and it helped me to believe in myself, and attain a counseling position. I feel we were very fortunate, a perfect storm so to say, in that our first professor was Mrs. Ogren. She did such a wonderful job of bonding our cohort and giving us a

support circle that we could all count on each other. She also prepared us very well for this adventure, by giving us great background knowledge, and just enough information about the coming topics. She also set the tone for this coursework, it would be challenging, rigorous, but also very rewarding. I came out of this class with a new appreciation for counseling, and thinking with hard work, I might just be able to do this. It seems that the first two classes influenced me the most during my journey into school counseling. Every time I have a student in for counseling, I am thinking back to experiences from almost every class but especially those two classes. These two classes along with the other wonderful classes are represented well in my portfolio.

My Portfolio and evidence of growth I believe my portfolio shows I have had very significant growth over my counseling curriculum during the past 3 years. My career development, classroom management, and curriculum, have all become my strengths through coursework, advice, and help from professors. I think by looking through my portfolio you will also find a lot of evidence of growth in the areas I listed as weaknesses. My portfolio contains many items that signify my growth, but not everything can be put into a portfolio such as having strong mentors and a great support system along the way, to help get through all the tough times and decisions. Starting with career development my portfolio shows evidence of my growth with examples of students work, lesson plans, notices that are available in my office, documents that show students have been at work, and lesson plan outlines. The first two examples demonstrates that I can use a variety of ways to check for a students

understanding and that I encourage creativeness. It also shows that the students get a lot out of the assignments. Another example on the page shows that I indeed do concentrate on goal stetting and building. The final three examples show that I am also preparing various students for the future with things like I have a plan Iowa, ACT tests, PLAN tests, and building off of great lesson plan ideas. Under standard 9, my videos convey all that is in a small and large group classroom of mine. If you took the time to watch either one, you would hopefully see how important a well-run class and how important building relationships is to me. My monthly counselor duties is listed next to show that I have a plan and all of my duties and activities are well thought out and planned ahead of time. The next artifacts show my 23day lesson plan outline for my small groups on character education and careers. Finally the last artifact that I feel cant be overlooked is my seating arrangement. The horseshoe seating arrangement I feel changed the management of my classroom 100 percent. Every student has a front row seat and can see other more easily to learn to read emotions and body language and thus raised their own personal emotional IQs/ Recommendations for future changes Artifacts in standard 10 again show my growth in planning out lesson for a variety of ages and learners. You can also see how the kids use technology in my classes in various ways. All of the artifacts are from ideas created in, or beginning in, my Buena Vista course work. The standard 2 series of artifacts shows a lot of the seminars, classes, and roles, I have taken on as a counselor to better myself and reach out to different groups. I have

also included a survey I wrote, conducted, and analyzed for South Hamilton. All of these data collection skills I learned through Buena Vista University. The group work I have done has centered on developing and instituting a crisis plan. This past year I had to put this plan into effect unfortunately with the passing of a current student and a former student. It was a big learning experience that I grew a lot from. I also collected and developed a grief support page with articles and links to help what is a weekly occurrence, a student or staff member dealing with grief in some way. All of these artifacts reflect the strong influence Buena Vista professors, and the cohort has had on my growth. I also believe my artifacts reflect my own personality, creative, loves technology, and trying hard to be a dream builder. I see this collection as a small look into all og the great things I have learned while at Buena Vista.

Significant aspects of the Buena Vista Counseling program and my growth as a professional school counselor, and Personal Support.

The level of personal support I received during the past three years was amazing. Let me start with the professors. I reflect daily on things they taught us or said in class. If that is not enough for me all of my professors are an email away, and they always respond with kind, heartfelt advice. I am sure I will continue to use this level of support and I hope someday I can relay on what they have taught me to the next line of counselors. The most unexpected and biggest level of support came to me from my cohort. This group of academic go-getters has continuously pushed me to be my best, day in and

day out. Need advice, or ideas, or an ear, they are all there. I also feel we all have talents that compliment each other. We have English teachers who can give us advice on how to write papers unbelievably well, we have special education and at risk teachers who can help us with that side of counseling that many of us may never have had to deal with before in education. We have a great blend of mature and young, so we can draw from the experiences and knowledge of both. We could draw knowledge from a history, PE English, Science, Special Education, and even a TAG teacher, for ideas, curriculum, and ways to meet different learning styles. We had people from a variety of backgrounds, economically, academically, and spiritually. We had new moms and dads, experienced moms and dads. Our cohort even has a couple very talented singers. I drew so much from each of our cohorts different life experiences and backgrounds I cant begin to convey how important this cohort was to me and my development as a professional school counselor. They are just the greatest bunch of people I have ever been involved with. I have noticed not all masters programs have this aspect, I feel the cohort is the most important part of this program.

Recommendations for changes I see very few changes needed in the program. I would like to see a bigger section on dealing with and counseling for grief. This is a daily occurrence in the life of a counselor, so more information would be very beneficial. I would also like to see more emphasis on 504s and dealing with the accommodation side, and background into special education. Finally I would like to suggest the introduction of brief counseling

earlier, so that counseling sessions can be based on this and practicing of the skill can go hand in hand with the ideas in the book Brief Counseling That Works.

Closing In closing I would like to say I am so thankful for each and every experience during the past three years that has helped to mold me into a professional school counselor, and become a much better father and person. I entered this program knowing it was what I wanted but I leave with a fuller understanding of being a great counselor and more importantly being a better human being. I feel so lucky to have been around great professors and cohorts that allowed my experience these past three years to be unbelievable. I now have a bigger zest for life, academics, school, family, and counseling than I ever had before. This program taught me how to care even more for my students and others, but also it taught me how to like myself, and that I may have some value to others. I am a goal driven person so I knew I would get through this and graduate, but all of the ways this program changed me, for the better, I never saw coming.