How many times have I heard this: “You have 3-day weekends? Every weekend? That must be nice.”
That’s right. I have 3-day weekends, which means I only work 4 days per week. Must be nice, right? Sometimes it is. Most of the time, though, it’s just plain annoying and inconvenient. That’s because even though I am considered “part-time,” I am still expected to do everything a full-time School Counselor would do. I just have fewer days to do it all. Talk about stressful!
I did some math to figure out how much time I’m missing by being in a 0.8 FTE (full-time equivalent) position:
180 total days x 0.8 FTE = 144 days per year that I work
180-144 = 36 days = 7 school weeks and 1 day
36 days x 7 hours a day = 252 hours
So, I’m missing over 7 school weeks. That’s 36 school days, which is 252 hours every year!!! WOW!
That got me thinking…how much am I missing when I’m not there? How many students need to talk when my office is dark and empty? How many teachers need to tell me something when I’m out? How many important parent meetings am I not included in that I should be? How many parents feel frustrated when they call and I’m unavailable for an entire day? How many crises occur which need my level of expertise and I’m not there to provide what’s needed?
Every year, I experience the feeling of being “out of the loop” when I return to school after missing a day, and I hate it. I have to play catch up while still doing all that I had planned. Of course, we all miss a day now and then. But I have to miss a day EVERY WEEK! Ugh.
However, I’ve come up with a plan. I keep track of everything I do already; that part will be easy. The next step is to create a report of all I do and how much time I’ve contributed to each part of my program. Because a lot of what I do is ‘behind the scenes’ so-to-speak, I want to make it really clear and obvious.
Part of my plan will also be to document all that I miss when I’m not there. Every time there’s a meeting, phone call, student, teacher, parent, crisis, etc. that needs my attention and I’m not able to provide it, I’m going to write it down. Then I’m going to create a report of everything I could have done if I were full-time.
It may not propel me into full-time status right away, but it’s got to open a few more eyes to the needs at my school.
I realize it could be worse. I could be 0.6 FTE (3 days a week) or have to cover more than one school, or have a crazy caseload of 700 students. I don’t have to contend with any of those things, for which I’m very lucky. I also realize there are many other counselors who are up against too many students or schools and not enough time. If you’re reading this and are in a similar situation, know that you’re not alone!
School Counselors are advocates, not only for our students, but for our profession. Creating a report of what I do and what I could have done is my small way of advocating. Wish me luck! 🙂