Using Service Learning to Achieve Middle School Comprehensive Guidance Program Goals (Middle School Counselors)

Service-learning classes taught by professional middle school counselors and teachers can help middle school students meet comprehensive guidance program goals related to academic/learning development, life/career development, personal/social development, and multicultural/global citizenship. An example is provided of a service-learning class where middle school students received comprehensive guidance curriculum instruction and then taught a similar curriculum to elementary school students. Results from a phenomenological evaluation describe yielded five major themes pertinent to middle school student development and demonstrate comprehensive guidance program goal achievement: personal awareness, social skills, learning skills, career interests and character education. The themes were personal awareness, social skills, learning skills, career interests, and character education. Middle school students struggle with significant issues unique to early adolescence involving physical, psychological, and social changes. They have been characterized by their need to (a) explore a variety of interests; (b) connect learning to practical life and work; (c) release energy through activity coupled with frequent fatigue due to rapid growth; (d) develop personal identity found through peers’ affirmation; (c) separate self from parents; and (f) rely on friends to provide comfort, understanding, and approval (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], n.d.). With comprehensive guidance programs striving to reach all students (ASCA, 2003), middle school counselors find themselves employing various methods to meet the unique developmental needs of these students (ASCA, 2004).

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