Thursday, August 8, 2013

Regaining Confidence

With exactly one week left of summer before I am back in my office for my second year as an elementary school counselor in Vermont, right up until my shower (where I do some of my best reflection) last night, I was feeling even more overwhelmed than I was last year at this time. As my fantastic co-counselor/mentor/friend/lifesaver, Rebecca, pointed out, this was because last year, I was oblivious. I didn't know what I wasn't prepared for. This year, I'll have about 40 additional students, more responsibility, and as Johnathon, a "fellow" school counselor so aptly pointed out on his blog, less room for error. As he wrote, "Last year was new and shiny. If I made a mistake, it was easy to revert back to the ol' 'oh I'm new- whoops!'" I also have the weight on my shoulders of everything that I didn't get to this summer. I had a long, unrealistic list of things that I wanted to accomplish this summer (including two 4-day conferences and course work for 4 credits), not recognizing that I would really need the time to decompress and re-energize after a challenging (but fulfilling) first year.

Once I accepted the fact that I would be going into the school year with that long list of things to do (okay, I'll be honest, there's actually at least 4 lists) still hanging out in my folder, I also had to remind myself of my own blog post from February, and Rebecca's "pep talk" from the School Counseling on Air Back to School Chat (which I'm literally watching AS I write this blog post (multitasking queen)).

My current workspace
(note the broken laptop monitor --
apparently the year took a beating on it too).
I do A LOT. And even on days that I don't feel like I got a lot done, I was there, and I was a comforting person, and I gave a boost to someone. So I may not have written up my Drugs and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Unit for Rebecca to use this year, or decided on a way to keep notes on students, or prepared for our presentation at the VT School Counselor Association conference this year, but I am going to be there on the first day of school, refreshed and ready to give hugs and high fives to my "old" students, dry my new kindergarten students' (and parents') tears, and calm nerves, just by being a familiar, helpful face.

There were so many awesome moments at the end of the school year last year that made me realize that just being there is enough, from thank you notes and hugs from parents and my 5th graders, to a little moment at field day, when one of my neediest 1st graders was looking around for someone to help him open his popsical wrapper and when he locked eyes with me, he said to himself, "Oh, yeah, Miss Wheeler. She always helps me because she's nice." It wasn't particularly grand or eloquent, but for some reason, it really hit me. I'm nice, and I help. And if that's all my students learned from me last year, that was enough.

And with that, I'm ready (and excited) to start my second year. Maybe I'll even remember to take time to blog :-).