Tuning in to Your Inner Student

TwilightBy Sabrina Bong — When I was mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters during my last year of undergrad, my little sister excitedly told me that she was reading the Twilight series.

After telling me about all the characters and how much she enjoyed the books, she suggested that we have our own little book club. As a result, I found myself heading over to the local library to check out the first two Twilight books. Emily was delighted that I was reading the same thing that she was, and she proudly told all of her friends that her “big sister” knew all about the Bella and Edward and Jacob.

I must say this about Twilight: I didn’t particularly like it. At all. But I was happy that Emily was reading. It gave her a chance to ask someone questions about the book, such as whether high school was really how Stephanie Meyer portrayed it, or whether vampires really existed.  We talked about the main character, Bella, quite a bit as well. Emily asked a lot of questions about her, especially in terms of Bella’s role in a relationship. This allowed us to talk about relationships, even though Emily said she “never” wanted to date.

As a counselor, I now see how incredibly important it is to be “in tune” with the latest fads and what is important to students. You can relate to students in a number of different ways, which can lead to multiple ways to “break the ice.” I’m sure that I never would’ve had that conversation with Emily had Twilight not afforded us the opportunity. Even though I got a lot of grief from my friends for reading about sparkly vampires, it made my relationship with Emily much stronger.

This is why, as a future school counselor, I have promised myself to stay in touch with the latest technology and what students are excited about. If the middle school students love Justin Bieber, I may listen to a few of his songs. During my internship, a lot of the elementary school students loved movies like Despicable Me. Maybe I should be sure to watch some of the new movies that are coming out. My high school students were always abuzz about television shows like The Voice and Jersey Shore; I might spend a few minutes getting acquainted with the characters. It may not always be easy, or what I like, but it is what will connect with them the most.

People may laugh and joke about my vast array of interests (I think one of my supervisors teased me about being able to talk about football with the boys, and then turn around and talk about the latest fashion trends with the girls!) but it has really helped me. Students find me more approachable as a result, since I can relate to them on a wide range of things. From music, to books, to hobbies, I am able to relate to each and every one of my students on a personal level.

So, this summer, get acquainted with what students know: Read a Percy Jackson book, watch the latest Pixar movie, or spend a minute watching Duck Dynasty. Whatever it is, I’m sure your students will appreciate this attempt to get to know them better.

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