Monday, September 16, 2013

What Is Your Story?

The last month has been busy, busy, busy!  I am so lucky to have a job right now and so grateful that I am busy.  I mentioned in a previous post that I am teaching a College Seminar course for seniors.  It is a course that I envisioned for the entire senior class, but 17 students will have to do. 

Last week, I showed the students the Lifetime movie, Homeless to Harvard, featuring Thora Birch, which tells the story of Liz Murray.  Liz Murray grew up in poverty, and her parents’ addiction to drugs did not help the situation.  Her mother would sell whatever she could to get a fix.  In all of this, Liz wanted something more for her life.  She graduated from high school in 2 years and was accepted to Harvard University.  I show this movie to my seniors because it is a journey that many of them can relate to in one way or another.  My students are Latino and may not identify to a Caucasian girl from New York City.  I asked them to look past that and to think about their journey- where they want to go.  As an adult I am able to look toward the future and imagine their acceptance into college, how I am going to cry at their graduation and that I know what outstanding professionals they will become.  Not all teenagers can imagine their life because of roadblocks.  However, it is what they do with their obstacles that will make the difference in their lives. 

We all have our own stories and it is up to us on how we want to live them out.  Liz Murray’s teacher tells her, about Harvard University, “It’d be a reach, but not impossible.”  Liz could not imagine her life at Harvard, but her teacher did.  Then, she believed it.  She did not use her obstacles as excuses to not overcome adversity.  She was awarded a New York Times scholarship.  She graduated from Harvard in 2009 and is pursuing graduate school.   When I think about her story and the stories of my students, I believe they can be great-as long, as they want to be.  I am here to help them be great! 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Supervision...the up's and down's

The new responsibility for the school counselor’s this year is supervision before school, nutrition, and lunch and after school.  These are the exact times of the day that students usually come in to see their counselor.  Although school has been in session for a month, I am still not used to the schedule.  The day goes by quickly and I do not get to see many students during the day because I do not want them to miss out on instructional time. 

The positives of supervision are being visible to students.  Even though students are very much in their own world, they do notice when an adult is around.  They do like to talk to me during my times in supervision so I feel somewhat useful.  I get to see students interact outside of the classroom, which allows me to get to know them as regular teenagers.  I get to learn about who’s birthday it is (birthdays are huge at my school site), who the couples are, and I get to chat with them about their weekend and what they plan to do after school.  Of course, I always put an academic and/or college twist to it. 

What am I doing so that this can work?

I am planning ahead!  I will have a decent amount of students on my individual counseling caseload this year, so I will email all of their teachers to work out a schedule.  The teachers appreciate the notice and I can plan better. 

I use a “Counselor Schedule” that I found in an online search.  I have changed the format of my planner yet again, but this works for me.  First, I make a “To Do” list in a form that I created in word to write down everything I need to do.  Then, on the “Counselor Schedule” I write down my tasks.  This allows me to cross off items on my list and to show what I do throughout my day.