Thursday, February 14, 2013

Reflections On Being a High School Counselor, by Karen Halle

“So, like, I didn’t know if you were the kind of counselor I can talk to, or one who only does your schedule.”  This is the comment a student made to me this week, after coming in upset and talking with me about serious stressors in her life.  This statement exemplifies the many hats school counselors wear and the resulting confusion from sometimes conflicting roles.

Yes, I am that kind of counselor, as we all are.  I have a master’s degree in counseling, which is awarded based on knowledge of counseling theories and practice.  But, yes, I am the kind of counselor who does schedule planning and adjustments, and more adjustments, and more adjustments.  A great deal of our time is spent with these adjustments, based on need and desire.  Today, in the 5th week of the semester, a student requested changing one elective to another.  And I got to be the kind of counselor who says, “No!”  So sometimes I’m the good guy, sometimes the bad.  Sometimes this is with the same student, very confusing.  Ultimately I am an advocate for my 370+ students.  Which many times equals being like their mommy at school.  And sometimes mommies have to say “No.”  We have to keep the bigger picture in mind, which is not always easy for teenagers, and many adults, to comprehend.  We have to be fair.  We try to protect the integrity of the classroom, so that teachers can teach, the main reason we are all here. 

Being a school counselor is a rewarding career.  We share in the extreme highs and lows that our students experience during their teen years.  I appreciate being a part of several innovative movements at North that have directly affected my role.  Our counselor alignment with students has been adjusted twice since I began 19 years ago.  First I was responsible for half of the juniors and half of the seniors, divided by alphabet.  After a few years, we decided to expand that division and each have one fourth of all grades, allowing us to stay with the same students for four years.  Recently North has moved into our Smaller Learning Community structure.  The counselors have been realigned to match with the students in an SLC.  So I have all students in the Arts and Humanities SLC.  I wanted this assignment very much, since I am passionate about music.  However, I was, as we all were, sad about relinquishing responsibility for my current students who did not move to my SLC.  But I know they are in excellent hands with the other counselors.  And best of all, I have met some really great students that I would not have had the privilege to know!


Karen Halle

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