A few of you have been asking how my the new school year has been going.
Generally; pretty damn good.
Am I exhausted? Yes.
Am I running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off? Yes
Has my work load increased ten-fold? Yes
Do I love it? Yes.
You kind of always walk a line of exhaustion when you’re an educator. I’d love to say it gets easier then longer you do this, but I’d be lying to you, and I don’t wanna do that.
So, for those that don’t remember, I am at a new high school this year because mine closed at the end of last year. Last year, I was, more or less just, a school counselor.
This year, in this new position, I am a school counselor as well as a department chair of our learning disabilities program. That additional title requires A LOT of work and additional responsibility that I didn’t have before. Like I said, it’s all good stuff, tiring stuff, but I’m really enjoying it.
I am the designated school counselor for all of our students with learning disabilities. In a school of about 500, we’ve got almost a quarter of the population, which is a lot. There are varying degrees; some barely ever use their accommodations, some use all of them religiously. But all of these young ladies are all mine (well…mine and our learning specialist’s).
It doesn’t sound like a lot to some, but considering they all have greater needs than your “average students” it’s like having a caseload twice that size. Plus, their parents are also typically a lot more involved because they want to make sure their children are being cared for in the best way, which I completely respect. And, this is a private school, so when parents are paying the hefty price tag for education; they can demand quite a lot — or at least try to.
On top of all the hats that come along with being a school counselor, I am also a co-department chair of our Resource Program with our Learning Specialist. We have a really good balance in our roles; she handles most of the academic aspects of the program and I handle the counselor/relationships/personal growth side. It’s working really well. We get along really well. And if you know my struggles with my co-worker from last year; let me tell you, having a co-worker I get along with is beautiful.
We even have similar personalities, which is helping a lot. We find a lot of the same things funny; both have an appreciation for 90’s sitcoms, are both the same age and even are a little similar in appearance. It’s kind of weird. But in a really good and relaxing kind of way.
Being chairs, we are responsible for the full success of the program. For this year, that means completely re-vamping how it is run and what services we want to provide our students. We are re-creating a study/academic skills curriculum as well as a counseling curriculum for each grade level (since we have all four grades in the program). It’s taking a lot of work hours, but we ultimately want to make this one of the most comprehensive programs in private schools in our area – since not too many private schools have full programs for students with learning disabilities.
Having a leader role also means….you guessed it! More meetings! Yay! So, I get to stay after school more afternoons a week and attend long meetings where a lot of things are discussed and maybe one or two things actually get resolved. It’s very time efficient (said no one ever). I also have to be present at open house events and prospective student breakfasts, etc.
So, a lot of my life is finding the balance between all the new administrative tasks I’m required to do and actually being a counselor. It’s basically like I have two jobs now and I’m still trying to figure out how to balance all of it so that I’m giving all my roles adequate time and attention.
Despite the juggling and work, I’m really enjoying my new school. I’m the only new faculty member this year to come into a leadership role, so I thought that might be a bit weird for many people who have been there for a long time, but it’s really not. My role, specifically, was really explained well to the faculty and the community so I think there’s an understanding of how a “newbie” came in and has a leadership position; it’s not what I was going for, but it’s working.
Plus, I work with a lot of really great people. I genuinely like a lot of my co-workers. I am normally such a naturally introverted person, but I feel a bit of my extroverted tendencies come out at work. I’m content to talk to everyone and walk into people’s rooms and offices and just sit down and have a conversation. And the majority of the faculty is willing and open to people doing that. There’s a popular open door policy for all faculty in the building; that if you walk by an open door, come in and have a conversation. It can be about anything; just get to know the people you work with. And I actually like it, it really works well.
I keep joking around with everyone that I feel like I’ve worked there for 10 years already. Partially because I’m exhausted, but partially because I never really felt like the “new kid”. This school is really welcoming to new faculty and just made me feel at home within days.
I do still miss my old school, but I do really like my new one. It’s an amazing fit for me and considering we’re celebrating our 150th anniversary this year, I really feel like it’s a school that I can be with for a very long time.
Now the commute….I could do without that…but that’s a story for a different day.