There have been some difficulties this year. At the first staff meeting of the year, in each of my schools (elementary and middle), I outlined what I do as a professional school counselor.
Despite this time spent in educating the staff, there are still people who think I don't do anything. One person thinks all I do is hug kids - that's it - and it's only a matter of time before I get in trouble for hugging kids. I don't put too much stock in their opinion. I have no respect for what this person does. I realize their job is necessary, I just don't think they do it well.
I have tried to take the criticisms I've received and use them to help me become a better counselor. Luke Kelsey, the middle school principal, sat me down one day to relay some staff concerns that had been brought to his attention. He is a good principal, who is obviously concerned for all the people in his building. When he offers criticism, I don't get defensive at all. Part of that is my personal growth, part of that is the spirit in which he offers it. I know that if push comes to shove, Luke will support me.
I was surprised that the concerns weren't brought to me by the people who are concerned. Do they not have the guts to confront me? Are they so insecure that they can't offer constructive criticism? Or is it that they just like to complain. At the beginning of the year, they didn't listen to me so they have no idea what I do.
Nothing I can do about inconsiderate people.
The problem is really one of perceptions and I wrote a "Counselor Improvement Plan" to address those perceptions. I have definitely changed my routines, and I don't like all the changes. But the behavior changes have addressed the mis-perceptions about my responsibilities and how I spend my time.
I am currently the President-Elect of the Idaho School Counselor Association (ISCA). When I agreed to run for the office (unopposed, I was so surprised when I won!), I didn't think I was qualified, or capable. That personal perception has changed, due to several factors:
- Anne Jensen, she is the ISCA President this year. She is an amazing person to work with. So efficient, so capable, so compassionate, and highly respected within the counseling community. Being around her is not only making me more confident, it's making me more capable. She and I are moving ISCA in a positive direction, and the ISCA Board is supportive of the changes we have initiated.
- I attended the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) national conference and Leadership Development Institute (LDI) this last summer. Both were amazing experiences. Those experiences showed me that I can run a state association, and that I don't have to do it alone. We have so many incredible counselors in Idaho. As next year's ISCA president, my job will be to tap that talent.
- I have presented my name to current ASCA board members, letting them know that I would like to be involved on the national level. At the conference I set a personal goal of being ASCA President in 10 years. Check back in 2018 and I'll let you know what happened.
That spreadsheet has continued to evolve. This year at the ISCA Fall Conference, a copy of the spreadsheet was given to every ISCA member. I copyrighted the format even. Where will it go? I don't know. I do know that it seems to be practical, useful and user friendly. At least one school district is now requiring it's counselors to use my program for reporting.
The question is: What will 2009 bring?
I don't know, but won't it be exciting to find out?