Kelly Counselor's Conversations

A discussion about life and how school counseling fits into it all

Culture Shock

on November 7, 2014

I ended my maternity leave and began substitute teaching last week for two main reasons- income, and more importantly, to begin to establish roots where I now live. Networking and “who you know” is vital in the education field, and even more so in the school counseling profession, where jobs are not always mandated and often scarce.

I live in a much more rural area now, and it’s not bad, it’s just…different.

I now live in a world where schools don’t always lock their doors. Kids come and go as they please. Everyone knows everyone. And even though many are only half listening to the content, they’ll still likely pass the state tests and earn their “A” growth status. The banners are proudly displayed in the hallways.

I couldn’t help but feel a little (ok, a lot) resentful earlier this week coming to this realization, formally being the counselor in an urban, high-poverty, high English learner demographic. All the complaining about “teaching to the test” but doing it faithfully anyway, and telling our students if they work hard enough, they’ll show growth, led us still to earn an “F” last year. All this on top of how hard our staff works on positive school-wide behavior and classroom management.

As I reflected more, I found myself feeling a little guilty for the resentment. I always like to say, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” It’s not the students’ fault they live in a safer area, are more likely to live in a nuclear family setting, have generally higher incomes, and are Caucasian. We know these factors contribute to school success. And talk all you want about these tests being “standardized”, they are still written by adults having these general characteristics.

I hope this isn’t coming off as a scathing manifesto, because that’s not my intent. I suppose it’s just another rant about how the educational system needs to be changed. It’s also inspiration for me as a school counselor to keep advocating for those lacking the “right” demographics to still find success.

And if I do end up working as a counselor in one of these rural schools someday, I’ll passionately advocate for them too. They’ll still have needs and barriers- not bad ones, just…different.

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