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Guiding Students: Shifting from Engagement to Empowerment

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

Our job, as Christian guidance counselors, is to guide students through their school years preparing them to meet the challenges of the next phase of their lives, be it middle school, high school or life. Our hearts yearn to see students succeed academically as well as mature both personally and spiritually.

a teen boy wonders about his impact as he looks over a mountain range

Are We Truly Making an Impact?

With this desired outcome, we obviously want our interventions and guidance to be effective and impactful. How are we doing? If during guidance activities, your students are attentive and listening, you are doing something right. But what happens next? Do they really understand or are they just well managed and obedient? Are they really digesting, thinking thoughtfully and applying the information to their lives?


Experts say we must engage students in the material to increase effectiveness. But what happens next? Do they take action? Do they make different choices? And dare we seek an even higher outcome, for students to be so inspired that they lead others in initiating change? This happens when students gain a sense of ownership of their lives. When this happens, they are much more than “engaged” they are inspired, motivated, empowered to find and create solutions for their lives.


How do We Inspire Ownership?

As counselor’s we have a great deal of content we must convey to students and parents. One idea is to consider that guiding students is less about the content and more about starting conversations that lead students to believe they have choices and their choices matter to their future.


An insightful image by Bill Ferriter, illustrates “Engaging students means getting kids excited about OUR content, interests, and curricula. Empowering students means giving kids the knowledge and skills to pursue THEIR passions, interests and future!”


There are two messages here:



a teen gets in the driver's seat of the car to represent giving students control of content

1) We need to be willing to give up the driver’s seat, putting content direction in student’s hands. The idea is to “move next to our students and take the journey together.” AJ Juliani and John Spencer


2) We need to be ready to name those skills and give them opportunities to practice or “drive”.


Guiding Students Means Empowering Students

That sounds good, but where do we start? We start with our mindset and then we engage students in these conversation, empowering them to take hold of the content themselves and find ways to use it to change their lives for the better? We have to be willing to reexamine the topics of our guidance sessions and how we are delivering them?



a middle school student demonstrates confidence as he stands in front of the class and gives a presentation

The goal is to help the students build the confidence and skills they need to take action. Engaging content and activities are a great start but empowering student’s changes how they view themselves and life challenges. Put them in the driver seat and get in the car.



Their future – your influence – our tools! Want to know more?

Prep4Success Curriculum is specifically designed to provide you with the tools to connect to your students as you explore timely important developmental topics together. You can inspire, you just need the right tools. Join us!

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