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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Why I Love School Counseling

Last night when I was making dinner and salsa, I was thinking about all the reasons I love school counseling and why I wouldn't want to do anything else. Since I am between school counseling jobs, I have extended family sharing their opinions as to what they think I should be doing. One family member, said I should be a substitute in Bethlehem Area School District. I'm already in the process for signing up to sub. Another family member suggested I work with adults with disabilities because in the past I've enjoyed working with students with special needs. They also suggested that I look at Catholic schools, which is not something I'm interested in at all, and Catholic schools don't always have school counselors. Then a family member's friend "asked how I was doing" and suggested that I move to another state, causing my family member to tell me that he was sure I would be able to find a school counseling job right away if I would just pick up and move without the funds to do so. What's wrong with this idea? 1) I'm not interested in living in another state. I will be looking to live in another town or city in the Lehigh Valley. 2) I am not certified in any other state. I would need to look into another state's requirements, possibly take more classes, which is more money out of my pocket, and then take that state's certification exam, costing me more money again. Then I might not even find a job in that state and I will have no income to pay for a house for myself.

As much as I enjoy receiving uneducated and unsolicited opinions (sarcasm... I do not, and I don't know anyone that does), I would be much happier if people kept their opinions to themselves, unless I ask for it (like when I ask people in my PLN for suggestions about what to do to gain experience). What works for one person does not work for everyone. Everyone comes with their own unique personality, interests, goals, etc. In counseling, we work with our students to find a solution that addresses their unique needs. We don't give them a standard solution and tell them to figure out how to make it work. So all of this had me thinking, why do I love school counseling? Here are my top 20 reasons:

20) I love teaching class lessons. I like finding Julia Cook books (or books from any author) that fit the topic I want to teach and creating fun activities to do with the kids to reinforce content. I love that students stop me in the hallway to ask when I'm doing another lesson.

19) I love doing small groups. It's fun to sit down with the same group of kids 6-8 weeks in a row to talk about a specific topic and get to know the kids.

18) I love helping kids. I love being the person a student can talk to about anything, because I didn't feel like I had someone like that when I was in school. I love just being there for them.

17) I love that my office is the fun place to go or the place to calm down. I love having toys, sensory bins, Play-Doh, calm down buckets, etc. I love that I get to draw with kids while we talk. Even if my drawings are horrible, we laugh about it. I can be my silly, genuine self and not feel embarrassed about who I am.

16) I love that my job is more than just giving "guidance." I'm not here to give my unsolicited opinion as to what career path to take. I address personal/social, academic, and career topics in a variety of ways.

15) I love doing observations. Behavior has always been interesting to me. I like being able to make suggestions for interventions, writing observation reports, and writing positive behavior support plans based off what I actually see.

14) I love that advocacy is a huge part of what I do. I've always spoke my mind. I have a strong personality and I'm not afraid to stand up for what I believe in. This job allows me to put that part of my personality to good use.

13) I know it sounds crazy, but I love writing 504 plans. I needed one at Lehigh for my migraines. I rarely used any of the accommodations, but it was nice knowing they were there, allowing me to access the curriculum. I like being able to help students access their curriculum by selecting the appropriate 504 accommodations for them.

12) Paperwork does not bother me. It's part of the job and I'm happy to do it if it's going to help a student out.

11) I love that I'm part of the child study team. I am part of the solution, not the problem. It's just another way I get to help the kids.

10) I love writing Counselor Connection emails each week. I like that my staff knows what I'm up to (provided they read my emails). I like being able to give small suggestions teachers can utilize in their classrooms and I like giving Shout-Outs to staff so they know I appreciate them.

9) I love that I'm not just there for the students, but the staff too. When a teacher has a tough cookie that they need to talk about I'm there.

8) I love consulting with community mental health professionals and collaborating with staff members and stakeholders to benefit students.

7) I love that self-care is important enough to be an ethical standard. Sometimes I neglect to take care of myself. I'm glad that there is a standard pushing me to take care of my mental and physical health and to grow on a personal level.

6) I love learning new things, so finding engaging Professional Development to meet my Act 48 credits is exciting to me. I love that I am pushed to grow on a professional level.

5) I love having a Professional Learning Network of School Counselors on Twitter and engaging in Twitter Chats with individuals who love this profession as much as I do.

4) I love that most days when I go home, I feel loved by the kids. There are many stressful things about the job of a school counselor, but seeing the kids grow and getting hugs from them makes me feel like all the stress was worthwhile.

3) I love that when you see a kid a few years later when they're in middle or high school, they still stop you to say hi, update you on their life, give you a hug/ bro hug/ fist bump, etc. You know you touched their lives as much as they touched yours.

2) I love the relationships I get to form. In an elementary school I get to keep students for 6 years depending on if the school is K-5 and provided the family doesn't move. And frankly, I don't want to give some of them up at the end of the 6 years. Goodbyes are hard for me.

And the #1 reason I love school counseling is... You never know what you're going to do that day. You walk in with one idea or plan for the day and you leave having done something totally different. Every day is an adventure. You have to be ready for anything.

School Counseling gives me a sense of purpose. I'm proud to have chosen this profession, although I honestly feel like it chose me. Considering I feel this way, why would I want to do anything else? I have had people tell me they would never want to do my job, which is fine because I wouldn't want to do theirs either. It takes a special person to choose this profession, but I wouldn't change anything about it. So maybe the next time a family member tells me I should pick up and move, I should use my counselor skills and ask them why they think that's a good idea and politely tell them that they had the opportunity to live their lives the way they wanted and now I will make my own decisions. Or maybe I will abandon my counseling skills and smile and nod while I sing King of Anything by Sara Bareilles in my head.

Why do you love being a school counselor? What do you do when people give you their unsolicited opinions about your career? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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