I never planned on being a Middle School Counsellor. Having taught in High School for the majority of my teaching career, I had never considered a middle school counseling position. But as I was ready to step into counselling, the high school positions were nonexistent so I left the known security of senior high and stepped into the waters of middle school.
That was eight years ago, and here I am stuck in a middle school.
Feeling stuck is an appropriate metaphor as it encompasses the feelings and experiences of many of the adolescents I encounter. Students are striving for independence and freedom. They desire choices yet are consistently frustrated by the rules and constraints that surround them, both at home and at school. Students are struggling to define themselves and to discover their own identity amongst the pressures of their peers.
Relationships with peers at school and online are a constant challenge. School itself is a struggle for some and not challenging enough for others.
School can seem like a never-ending journey where planning for the future seems unnecessary as it feels light years away. Students can become so focused and fixated on the details of an incident, that they seem incapable of stepping back to see the bigger picture or others’ perspectives. Today’s mishaps and misunderstandings are experienced as great catastrophes.
Although initially I too, felt stuck in the middle, I now see myself choosing to remain. Middle school has provided me with a myriad of opportunities for learning and practicing to be a better counsellor. Each year has brought a new set of students and a new set of challenges. Although the themes are consistent: self-esteem, social skills, friendship, bullying, social networking, anxiety, and home concerns, each year is unique. Through individual and group sessions or classroom and school wide guidance programming, I have opportunities to teach and connect with adolescents without the rigors of assessment and evaluation. It offers flexibility and challenges my creativity. I am hopeful my students too, become unstuck and discover the countless opportunities that middle school can provide.
Over my next few blogs I’ll elaborate on why I find being a middle school counsellor a rewarding profession. I will share my top tips for those stuck in middle school like me. I also invite you to share your successes and strategies.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA