What’s disturbing is that while some people were mean spirited, the vast majority really didn’t understand they were being offensive. The idea of respecting culture was a joke, both literally and figuratively.
I’m about a week behind the 8-ball on this one, but if you haven’t taken the time to read this, you need to. It gives me a glimpse into the world of some of our most vulnerable students, the children of undocumented families. And, it just reaffirms some things I’ve picked up on in my ten years as a counselor: They have a strong sense of uncertainty, and preparing for something like college is only a distant dream. For many of these kids, there are more immediate, pressing needs. That perspective is best summed up in this passage:
The future is frightening for a student without legal papers. School provides some shelter from our reality, and we know that most of our teachers and counselors have done their best for us. But life gets a lot more challenging, and threatening, once we turn 18 and are out of school. Our family and financial pressures can get a lot more demanding, and the threat of detention and even deportation becomes very real.
We’re taking our fifth grade students on a trip to a local university later this year, and I’d love to be able to look all of them in the eye and tell them that this is a reality for them in the near future. Unless policies change, though, it’s going to be much more difficult for these students to attend college.
I love how this letter ends on such a positive note, encouraging us as educators to keep encouraging them, regardless of their immigration status. That last sentence sums up our imperative as counselors and educators. ”Someday the politicians will figure out what to do with us, and we need to be ready.”
Meaning, we need to get them ready right alongside of their non-undocumented peers.
I’d like to give a shout-out to Dr. Erin Mason‘s wiki SCOPE: School Counselors Online Professional Exchange. This project actually started out as a blog unto itself, but has recently morphed into a site (wiki) that will ultimately house a variety of resources for the school counseling profession. Already, I’ve found a few blogs that I didn’t know existed before, and I will eventually include our own program site as it takes shape. It looks like there are some recently-added pages to include Prezis, Twitter users (Twits?) and Vimeo, just to name a few. Don’t see your favorite social media/web app listed? Add your own! It’s powered by Wiki Spaces, so signing up costs nothing. The site is just getting off the ground, but like any community-supported project, will grow as momentum builds for the resources it provides. As far as I know, there are no other wikis out there solely devoted to the school counseling profession. This is just what the doctor ordered.
Many times, we can feel isolated in our profession when we have a particular need but don’t have a resource to meet it. SCOPE is a great starting place to connect with other counselors and find those lessons or ideas that help take your program up a notch or two. Thanks to SCOPE, we don’t have to be stuck with nowhere to turn. With 50 active members already, expect this project to only get bigger.
Once upon a time—back in the 1500s—the word bully was a term of endearment, meaning sweetheart or good friend. By the late 1600s, it had come to mean a tyrannical coward who terrorized the weak, today’s current definition. Apparently not everything improves with time. But with rising public awareness and condemnation, perhaps bullying, like its original definition, will fade away. Here’s hoping.
I remember learning that the counselor’s room should be a safe space for students. Within schools, counselors are symbols of acceptance, tolerance, peace, and understanding. Counselors are who kids can come to get the help they need. Sometimes, though, the kids don’t see it that way. There can be different reasons for this: cultural views towards counseling/help-seeking; negative experiences with other counselors in the past; perceptions about what counseling is in that particular school; or strict instructions to keep family business within the family. Sometimes, they just don’t trust you. Sometimes, they just don’t trust me. Trust doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time.
This counselor was describing an incident in which an emotionally distraught student was brought to her office. By “emotionally distraught,” I mean out-of-control behaviors that included tearing posters off of walls. A very similar incident happened my first year as a counselor. It’s a very helpless feeling, and the best you can do is keep that student safe until that emotional flood subsides. After that, lots of follow-up with caregivers and school staff, including a plan that addresses the specific needs of that student.
In some cases, I don’t think the preconceived notions of “seeing the counselor” come into play as much as there is an emotional state of that student overriding their cognitive abilities to maintain control of their behaviors. It can be during those times that trust is built.
Crisis intervention is an important part of what we do. It’s important to remember our ability to promote healing during those challenging times.
Many of these probably deserve a post of their own, but I thought I would share a few links with you and offer up a few comments about each.
- First of all, I should probably mention that I’m now on Google+ for any (both?) of my readers who are also. If you add me, let me know you’re a counselor so I can add you to the appropriate circle.
- Sesame Street has a new anti-bullying program. I’ve used the Steps to Respect program for years, but always wished I had some resources for k-1-2 kids. Although this isn’t a complete curriculum, it has a lot of good elements you can use. Trudy Ludwig alerted me to the program, and it looks like she is also a contributor/advisor. So is Committee for Children.
- Russell Sabella explains how to grow your counseling program to an ASCA-recognized model. Looking for resources to start this? Dr. Sabella has those, too.
- This isn’t new, but ASCA has a video describing a good principal-counselor relationship on their website.