I am going out on a limb (risking a negative perception of myself, but also hoping that others may feel the very same way) - but I have the Back-to-School Blahs. Each and every end of August, I have a very difficult time saying goodbye to summer and hello to another school year. While reading the beginning of the school year excitement in a bunch of other blog posts, Tweets, Facebook statuses - I sometimes think that living this struggle every August makes me a horrible counselor/educator or that I'm one of a few who feels this way.
In my head, years ago, I created a list...I call it my "dread list" - a number of items about my job that make going back to school so very difficult. What I dread the most is the high level of stress - day in and day out. It exhausts me physically and emotionally and it certainly isn't one bit healthy. Most times I get home and just need to decompress on the sofa or head outside on the deck. Second on my list, the number of significant behavioral and mental health challenges/issues/needs that I am faced with during the course of a school year. This year, more than others years, I am worrying about this. Our support staff has been cut and I wonder how in the world we will be able to handle these somewhat unbelievable issues with fewer hands and expertise. Third, the schedule. The schedule is by no means bad, but my work day rarely ends for me at staff dismissal time. I'm either at school for a few more hours, at school for a few more hours and take home work, or take work home. My perfectionism and drive can be a downfall for me and these extra hours are proof to that. Finally, the pace. It is non-stop from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed. When arriving at school, the craziness begins immediately and doesn't end until I walk out the door (and many times beyond that time). So, all in all, I'm in the "end of summer funk" and truth be told, I struggle with it.
That being said, I will get over these "blahs" because I love my job as a school counselor in an urban elementary school. The challenges are never the same and keep me on my toes. Just when I feel like I've seen it all, I haven't! Once in the groove, I so enjoy working with my students and staff. I like planning great learning opportunities to do with them and giving each child the undivided attention he/she deserves. School counseling is an outlet for my creativity...I get to be as creative as I want in this role and geez, that is really fun! I like coming up with ideas for the benefit of students (sometimes [usually] out-of-the-box ideas) and having administration and teachers support them...giving me the green light. I get to talk and work with kiddos all day;I get the biggest kick out of their genuineness, spunk, and spirit. I could go on and on here...but, I will spare you!
So, this school year I have set a few goals for myself:
- Stay balanced between school and out-of-school life. Take more time time for myself, friends, and family away from the school work.
- Utilize some time-saving and exciting technology tools I learned about at ASCA 2013.
- Find each student's "spark" and keep it lit (thank you Mike Thompson - PDE school counseling consultant).
- Attempt (try really, really hard) to remain positive even when all hell is breaking loose around me. This goal is really a stretch for me, because, believe it or not I'm a pessimist (yeah a school counselor who is a pessimist - I hear the gasps!). Many I work with say I'm a realist...I don't know... but after doing a bit of reading this summer, I'm going to do my best with this goal.
- Continue to do what is right for kids - even if it means I'm standing alone.