The Casting Dock

lessons learned on the job

I have been a school counselor for two years now and I must say, I love it. As with any job, there are certainly ups and downs, but over-all I feel it suits me well and was an excellent choice for this time in life. Five, ten, fifteen years down the line? Who knows. This girl works one year at a time. But for now, it’s fabulous and I am SO thankful.

In reflecting on the past couple years, I’ve definitely learned more about myself, the real life (not theoretical) expectations of this role, and just life in general…here are a few lessons learned along the way…

1. Every day is unpredictable. At times there is a certain sense of anxiety to that idea, but such is the case when working with people. In a school of nearly 600 kids, 100 adults, and parents just a phone call away, it is unavoidable. A huge part of me loves that you never know what is coming next, that you have to be flexible and think on your feet. It keeps things fresh. I remind myself of this on the days when I long for a boring, predictable desk job. The reality is, I would go out of my mind in about a week. But every once in a while, the idea is enticing.

2. Kids are awesome and hilarious. No matter what the day brings, their smiling faces and funny little comments put things in perspective and provide the perfect spark of joyfulness and entertainment. They are the best part of every single one of my days.

3. The crazy days where it seems the poo hits the fan and I end up there hours after the closing bell making phone calls and tying up loose ends, while exhausting, are always more invigorating and life-giving than the standard days. Seems counter-intuitive, but it was a good lesson in knowing thyself (and another reason why the desk job really wouldn’t be so great).

4. The loudest voices, while usually a shockingly small minority, often dictate policy for the masses. It can be annoying, but it’s life.

5. Kids want to do well and they desire to please. If they are not succeeding in either of those areas, it’s not because they are manipulative or “bad seeds”; it’s because they don’t have the skills to succeed. While sometimes their reactions or behavior can be frustrating or confusing from an adult perspective, I have found this always to be true. They want to do well. Some just need a little extra help.

6. The vast majority of people–teachers and parents–are hard-working, understanding, compassionate, and level-headed team players. Don’t ever let the small minority who are not taint your perception of the whole. This has been a huge life lesson. I am so thankful for my devoted colleagues and supportive parents!

7. Documentation, while often a giant pain in the arse, can most definitely save your arse. An area of constant focus and improvement.

8. I am a pretty easy going person and I tend to engage life with a positive presupposition. I assume that others have good intentions and are generally caring and competent. I assume that most things will work out in life and there aren’t too many true “emergencies” that we will face on a daily basis. I also assume that children will make mistakes, many mistakes, because they are learning. But most of the time I take those mistakes as simply learning opportunities–kids being kids–not as alarming situations where kids are acting with ill intent or out to harm. While in general I think this is a positive trait, I have learned working in a large public school that sometimes my threshold for what should be flagged as concerning or a potential emergency is higher than other peoples’. And regardless of whose perception is more accurate, I need to lower my threshold a bit and exercise the “better safe than sorry” rule even if that means sometimes reacting in an overly cautious way.

9. Kids are hilarious. Have I mentioned that? If so, it bears repeating.

I’m sure there will be more to come as I learn and grow, but now I have a starter list at least…


1 Mama Logan { 03.07.13 at 7:27 am }

Passed this on to my co-worker, Katherine. We both enjoyed it so much. Truly made us remember what we are working so hard for during these current months. Thanks!

2 Noche { 03.08.13 at 1:03 pm }

I also passed on some of your learned lessons to my principal. Good post Lisa. I worked at a desk job for 5 years… Boring work… Nice adult people, but not nearly as refreshing as high school kids. New challenges every day are invigorating …never boring. You are blessed to have a job you love.

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