As I write this blog, the weather in Rochester is beautiful. With blue skies, melting snow, and a balmy 40 degrees outside, I was lucky enough to wear shorts outside for my morning run! As spring approaches, I have been spending more time at East High School’s Foundation Academy for my school counseling practicum. I have been learning a lot about what it means to be a middle school counselor, and I am working on my system for navigating the paperwork that comes along with this job. While my time at East has been very rewarding, I have met a few roadblocks that I am struggling to overcome.
My chief struggle is pulling students out of their classes to come and speak with me. The main reason kids are in school is to get an education; everyone from teachers to school counselors to parents are supporting students in their effort to learn. For this reason, I grapple with the idea of removing students from their classes for a counseling session. While I know that it is equally important to sit down with the students and discuss, for example, the reasons they are failing and ways to do better, I simply don’t like to take kids out of class to do it. While I almost never take a student out of a core class (English, Social Studies, Math, or Science), I know that their other classes (Music, Art, Technology, and Foreign Language) are just as important in making them a well-rounded individual.
My other struggle is taking what I’ve learned in Counseling Theory and Practice II (my favorite class this semester) and applying it to a school setting. Much of what we learn in theory is applicable to adults in settings such as private practices or mental health programs. The students I work with are very young, and certain techniques we learn in class must be adapted to fit my younger population. However, this is not the only issue; there is often very little time to see an individual student. Often times, kids are seen for 20-25 minutes at a time so that they do not miss their entire class, and so more students can be seen. This leaves very little room for discussing deeper issues they may be wrestling with.
Not only is there often not much time to see every student, but there is often not much time to get everything done! I have met with a few practicing school counselors now, and all of them say the same thing: “Not everything you have on your list of things to do will get done every day, but you still chip away at that list anyway.” Counselors wear many hats: leader, advocate, consultant, data-collector, and collaborator are just a few. I consider the most important job to be seeing students, whether it is one-on-one, in a group setting, or in a classroom setting. Therefore, I spend much of my day with students. However, that leaves little room for everything else a school counselor must get done. Even when arriving at 6:45am and leaving at 5pm, I still feel as if I need more time!
Despite these obstacles, I feel that I am making a difference at East High. I love meeting with my students, and I feel that we have established a good rapport and are working on making positive changes in their lives. I still have much to learn, but I am confident that I will continue to grow as a student, as well as a school counselor.