To begin with, the entire experience has been incredibly surreal. There are still times when I walk into the intermediate school and think, “Another day of interning” before I realize, “Wait … I’m a real counselor!” Then, I have a mini moment of panic as I think about what I need to accomplish in the day.
For me, the hardest part of becoming a real counselor has been adjusting to the role. To work at a school I used to intern at has been quite an experience. As an intern, my caseload would be about 10 students. I would come in, call in my students, do some consulting with the teachers, go to a meeting or two, and then go home. My contact with parents was pretty limited. I didn’t have to worry too much about checking my email. Paperwork was nonexistent.
Now, all of that has changed. Since all of the 6th graders are “my” students (counselors stay with the same students all three years,) my case load has gone from 10 students to over 360. I come in to the building, head to a meeting, and then spend time in the sixth grade wing of the building. I help open lockers, gather books, and make sure that students get to class on time. Then, I head to my office and do my best to tackle the paperwork that I may have left on my desk the night before. I call down a lot of students, and sometimes students walk into my office needing to see me. I consult. A LOT. With everyone, from teachers, to the administration, to the other counselors in my building. I attend a lot of meetings. I check my email constantly. I swear, every time I log in to my email, I have five new messages! I consult with parents often.
But the best part about being a counselor is getting to introduce myself to all of my students. This past week, I have been going into sixth grade classrooms to tell the students about myself. I do a “paper bag” speech, where I put six items into a bag and then talk about how each item represents me. So far, my students’ favorite item is my tape dispenser. It’s shaped like a high heel shoe, and all of them (even the boys!) think it’s the coolest thing. They also love the replica of the Marquette Men’s Basketball Final Four ring from 2003 that I have. Whenever I mention that I went to the same college as Dwayne Wade, they shriek!
Recently, I’ve found myself referring to all the sixth graders as “my kids.” I guess it’s because, just like them, I am brand new to this experience. I know what the transition is like. I know what it’s like to be starting somewhere new. There are days when I’m lost, or confused, or don’t quite know where I’m going or what I’m supposed to be doing. But in the end, I figure it out. I ask questions, and encourage all of my students to do the same. I am not sure what the future holds, but I’m sure that my students and I, together, will conquer anything that comes our ways!