Kelly Counselor's Conversations

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

Words Aren’t Enough

I had the privilege of meeting several awe-inspiring students today at a local Gay-Straight Alliance meetup, as I will be our school’s first advisor beginning next year.  I also fortunately was able to meet Peg, an advisor at a nearby school who told me something still resonating with me.

Like many GSAs, Peg’s group had some push-back getting the group started, both by students and staff.  Members were frustrated as to why they felt unable to convince the protesters of the facts supporting that LGBTQ students didn’t “choose” their lifestyle, aren’t sexual predators, are much more like every other student than not, etc.

Peg told them, “the reason they’re not listening is because words aren’t enough, because their minds were made up before you even started.  Co-existing with them, serving with them, hanging out with them beforehand is the key.  If they know where your heart lies in other areas before you even have this conversation, while you may not convince them fully, you made a chip in their thinking.  A lot of chips can add up.”

WOW.

I think back to my post “Customer Service” where I mentioned listening to others but really just waiting for our turn to speak.  I worry especially in this day and age, with the immediacy that technology and social media provide to say whatever is on our minds (whenever), that this action is further exacerbated.  We can fact-check to death, Google search this and that, prove our point, take offense when someone isn’t “PC”, and argue and create a Facebook thread a mile long, but without the relationship and ACTION, most of it is meaningless.  It just is.

Thoughts dictate action, and action dictates change.  Let’s all be a little more mindful to not just say what we’re thinking, but do it as well.  A small chip to our routines can add up to a lot as well.

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An “Island” No More

Many elementary schools across the country do not have a fully licensed, trained school counselor on their staff; much fewer schools are blessed to have more than one. This often results in the elementary counselor feeling like an island amongst their own staff, even with good collaboration and advocacy. Add that to inappropriate professional development geared towards classroom teachers that counselors often have to take, and one can see why elementary school counselors often feel alienated.

I know I sometimes felt that way, and I loved my former school and staff, and know they “got” me.

So when I began at my new high school, I was thrilled to finally be working with ANOTHER counselor in the SAME building!

And then I quickly fretted- when I was the only one, at least I could make all the decisions for my program, and only blame myself for my mistakes. There was comfort in that. What if the only other counselor I was now with didn’t jive with me?

I soon felt silly in that fear and should have trusted my principal that he not only hired me for my scope of work, but also in thinking of the relationship I’d have with my “teammate.” With her being a first-year counselor and me being new to the secondary world, we have a lot to learn, but with passion, drive, and immense respect for one another, we’ll move mountains.

Thank you, Anastasia.

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National School Counselor Week- Reflections for Any Profession

Like many other aspects of work lately, the weather certainly put a damper on #NSCW14, with us only being in school three days this week. But in the midst of the damper, some good things happened as well.

The biggest message I took away from the week is a message all of us, school counselors or not, can keep close to us always- take care of your students (clients), take care of your staff (colleagues), and take care of each other.

1. Take care of your students (clients):
Admittedly, I scaled back on this aspect in terms of announcements, stickers, pencils, etc. this year. I wanted to be more intentional with what I SAID to my students. I made it a point to give extra hugs, words of affirmation, and notes letting certain students know I am thinking of them. The smiles I received meant more than anything else I could have given, and it was all free.

2. Take care of your staff (colleagues):
If your staff is similar to mine, food is the closest way to their hearts. I got a wonderful idea from another counselor two years ago who feeds her staff lunch every year during NCSW, and I decided to do a theme every year. Last year it was Valentine’s desserts, this year it was a summer cookout theme (considering the weather):

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It really was simple stupid, and cost effective- hot dogs and cheeseburger sloppy joe’s in the crockpot, chips, watermelon, and punch. The thank you’s and words of affirmation I got were priceless.

3. Take care of each other:
I was so proud that one of our local newstations ran a series recently called “Guidance Counselor Crisis” in which local school counselors and members of the ISCA board were interviewed regarding growing student-to-counselor ratios and impossible workloads. I know through social media this has at least been spread as far as the East Coast! You can read and view the three part series here:

Part One:
http://www.wndu.com/home/headlines/Guidance-Counselor-Crisis-And-then-there-were-none-242499901.html

Part Two:
http://www.wndu.com/home/headlines/Growing-student-to-counselor-ratios-in-Michigan-and-Indiana–242497551.html

Part Three:
http://www.wndu.com/home/headlines/Guidance-Counselor-Crisis–242819241.html

The best way we can take care of each other is to ADVOCATE.

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