I’ve learned something of great importance and stunning simplicity and that is how important placement in classes is for students. So many problems can be avoided or solved by making sure the kids are in classes that match their abilities and interests and additionally (if possible) see that they have teachers who are a match for them. Yes, of course, we need to be covering graduation and college admission requirements, but there should be quite a bit of leeway in how that is done. So often kids are choosing classes based on criteria that is not about who they are.
The problem, I believe, is in the competing interests that pull on our kids including expectations of parents, pressure from peers toward achievement that may not be realistic or toward repression of ability in order to not stand out, and the messages of our society about professions, college, money and success. I feel strongly that kids need to feel good about who they are and be connected to what they are doing in high school. It follows that placement in classes may well be the most important thing that a high school counselor does.