After joining in a discussion thread about feeling misunderstood by classroom teachers and other staff, some of whom can be quite unsupportive and downright rude, I became inspired to write about it. Writing is my thing, so I hope this helps others like it will me.
Since that discussion thread was born, and dozens of counselors wrote in agreeing and venting, I got to thinking about why our profession seems to be so misunderstood. Yes it’s relatively new compared to the teaching profession, but the problem goes much deeper than that. And then it hit me…..
A while ago, I saw the book-made-into-a-movie called “The Giver.” Interesting concept, but the character that intrigued me most was the Giver himself, played by Jeff Bridges. If you haven’t seen the movie, Bridges plays the one person who holds all the memories and information for his entire community.
Now I know why I identified with his character so much! As School Counselors, we are essentially the “keepers” of all information for our school community. Just like Bridges’ character, we hold onto important details and histories that we cannot share with anyone! While we can share some things with our supervisors, classroom teachers, and parents, there is so much we cannot ever share.
School Counselors are basically the “dumping ground” for the information that other people know but don’t know what to do with.
Have concerns about a child’s home life? Who do you tell? The School Counselor.
Have suspicions of child abuse or neglect? Who do you tell? The School Counselor.
Worried about a child’s mental health, depression, anxiety, anger, defiance? Who do you tell? The School Counselor.
Perplexed that a child won’t stop touching himself/herself right in the middle of class? Who do you tell? The School Counselor.
Need a break from a child’s difficult behavior in class? Where do you send him/her? The School Counselor.
Don’t know how to help a child who doesn’t have a winter coat or boots? Who do you tell? The School Counselor.
Frustrated that a child is still not completing classwork or homework even after interventions? Who do you tell? The School Counselor.
Noticing that a child is often alone and has no one to play with? Who do you tell? The School Counselor.
Two students in your class causing a ruckus because they just can’t seem to get along? Who do you tell? The School Counselor.
Fed up with the group of girls wasting class time being upset because “she gave me a mean face” for the 73rd time today? Who do you tell? The School Counselor.
Concerned that one of your student’s parents is drinking too much or using drugs? Who do you tell? The School Counselor.
Confused about which parent your student is allowed to visit with this month due to DHHS/CPS involvement? Who do you ask? The School Counselor.
Trying to figure out what makes the students entering your classroom this year tick? Who do you ask? The School Counselor.
At a loss of how to help a student who calls herself “stupid” every time she makes a small mistake? Who do you tell? The School Counselor.
Feeling helpless when a student screams he’s going to kill himself in the middle of your math class? Who do you tell? The School Counselor.
Holding concerns that another staff member isn’t doing right by a needy student? Who do you tell? The School Counselor.
Issues with social skills, study skills, organizational skills, personal space, friendship, attendance, self-esteem, bullying, conflict, behavior, testing, food insecurity, homelessness, crises of any kind, or students using words like sex, fag, or gay? Who do you tell? The School Counselor.
So, teachers and staff, we are the keepers of all of this difficult and sensitive information. And teachers, we cannot tell you about it. There are a million things we do in a day that you will never hear about. We do not advertise our successes because they are the confidential and private successes of our students. We cannot share all that we may know about a certain family’s dynamics because we were asked not to and we need to be a safe person for the child/family to tell future information to.
So, teachers and staff, there may be things you think you deserve to know or have the right to know, but that doesn’t change what we can tell you. Confidentiality is the building block of our relationships with students and parents. They need someone who will not only listen, but keep what is told to themselves.
So, teachers and staff, please know that we want to be where we are scheduled to be every second, but sometimes, our jobs prevent that from happening. We are sorry that we have to cancel classroom guidance with your students, AGAIN, but we cannot plan when crises occur. Please understand, teachers, that after we’ve had to cancel on you or decline to come and talk with your upset student, that we cannot offer an explanation any further than “sorry, something came up.”
So, teachers and staff, we may not do reading and math assessments, spend hours filling out report cards, or be in a classroom of 20+ students all day everyday, but we hold knowledge and skills to serve 100% of our students that you do not. We are the positive cheerleaders while being the holders of the negativity, and we do it all with a smile on our face. If we are doing our jobs well, you may never even know it.
We are the keepers.
We are School Counselors.