What I Wish I Knew as a Beginning High School Counselor [Episode 73]


Here's What to Expect In This Episode:

Starting your career as a beginning high school counselor is so exciting, but it can also be overwhelming, to say the least. There are certain things that are helpful to be prepared for ahead of time that you probably didn’t learn in college. Hearing from counselors who have been in your shoes can make all the difference.
That’s why I’m taking a trip down memory lane in today’s episode to share what I wish I knew as a beginning school counselor. If I could go back in time and speak to my younger self, these are the things I would emphasize. Whether you’re just starting out in your career or have yet to experience these challenges, take note – these three lessons are opportunities for growth and learning!
I hope these tips are helpful to you. Just remember, as a beginning high school counselor, you’re not alone. There are resources and support available to help you succeed. And if you’re preparing for a high school counseling interview, check out my free three-day video challenge. Sign up here!

Topics Covered in This Episode:

  • 3 things I wish I knew as a beginning high school counselor
  • Mistakes that beginning high school counselors might make and how to handle them
  • The importance of meaningful professional development and how it can help counselors stay on top of new trends
  • The reality that not everyone will like you as a high school counselor and how to handle difficult relationships with colleagues and parents
  • Tips for framing conversations with parents and reassuring them that you are on the same team
  • Advice for dealing with students who are difficult to connect with, including leaning on established relationships and giving yourself grace
  • Encouragement to pursue opportunities for growth and learning as a professional, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Read the transcript for this episode:

Hi, you’re listening to Episode 73 of High School Counseling Conversations. Have you heard I’m putting together a new resource to bridge the gap for new ish high school counselors. If you got the job and you’re excited, or maybe you’re anxious thinking now what, you’ll want to listen up. If you’re that newish high school counselor listening to this podcast, you’re gonna love my new private podcast feed, with episodes specifically designed to help you make an impact on your students early on in your career.

If you’re curious about what this action driven audio course is that’s coming soon. Put your name on the waitlist for more deets, as I roll it out, Counselorclique.com/audio to make sure you don’t miss a beat.

In this episode, I wanted to go back in time and share what I wish I knew as a new school counselor, really what I tell myself if I have the opportunity to speak face to face with me, as a new high school counselor. I think you’ll appreciate these if you’re early on in your career, an encouragement of sorts. And if these things haven’t happened to you, maybe just know that they might be coming down the pipeline and that things will be okay even if they do happen. These three things feel big in the moment, but there’s just opportunities to grow and learn. So let’s dive in.

You got into this profession to make a difference in your students lives, but you’re spread thin by all the things that keep getting added to your to do list. I can’t create more hours in the day, but I can invite you into my counselor clique where you’ll finally catch your breath. Come with me as we unpack creative ideas and effective strategies that will help you be the counselor who leaves a lifelong impact on your students. I’m Lauren Tingle, your high school counseling hype girl here to help you energize your school counseling program and remind you of how much you love your job.

First up, you will make mistakes. Some of these mistakes will be more stressful than others like miscalculating credits needed for graduation or misplacing test booklets that need to get sent back to the College Board. You’ll counsel a student in wish you took something back that you said or wish you said something you didn’t say to begin with.

Yes, all of those things have caused moments of panic for me, but they did all work themselves out. The year I worked with 420 Seniors was the most stressed I’ve been in my entire life. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. I had checked and rechecked my seniors graduation requirements and prayed each night that I didn’t miss anything. I knew it was on them too, but I felt a lot of weight to get them across that stage.

We talked about that pressure back in episode 71 where I talked with my old principal Eric Williams. I stayed at school late counting and recounting and wondering where I misplaced test booklets all while cursing the day I got assigned test coordinator. Frustrated because that didn’t fall into my acceptable job responsibilities. According to Aska.

You’ll “Reply All” to an email to the whole staff and be embarrassed that you did that. You’ll forget about a meeting that was on your calendar. You’ll forget that you scheduled a meeting for Monday morning before school even starts and you won’t show up but the parent will be there. You’ll miss an important voicemail. You’ll need an extension on a deadline. You’ll upload first semesters transcript instead of second semesters. You’ll fill out a form incorrectly.

I’m telling you, there are so many mistakes that you could make in this job. It’s really not if you make a mistake, it’s when you make a mistake. This doesn’t make you incompetent at your job at all. It makes you human. Counselors juggle so many moving pieces at all times. Let’s normalize making mistakes. You are no less of a human or a person or a counselor because of the mistakes that you make. These mistakes do not define you.

Next, find ways to light your fire through meaningful professional development. This could mean just staying on top of your state and national membership so that you have access to the monthly magazine with PD or a website full of journal articles. This also does mean though, that you have to take the time to read them and complete the trainings if there’s something that requires taking action.

I’ve always been encouraged each time I’ve also attended a state or national conference like my state school counseling conference or the National Aska conference. I come back with new ideas and really just a renewed sense of energy to get after it just from hearing from others excitement in their presentations.

School Counseling is always evolving and changing. There are new trends stay on top of them by reading things and listening to things to educate yourself but also to keep that fire going. If you’re listening to this podcast now you’re probably doing a version of that. If you find a topic that you’re specifically interested in learning more about, don’t be afraid to take a deep dive into it. Then incorporate it back into your program. Put your learning into action from those PD opportunities that you’re immersing yourself in.

If you’re thinking about moving into a new role as a high school counselor or you are are a new high school counselor, keep your eyes peeled for my newest resource to equip you through that transition and to support you as you grow into this position. I mentioned it at the beginning of the episode, but a new audio course is in the works. And then as always, I have a membership for high school counselors for continued and ongoing support called the click collaborative doors open to that twice a year.

I’ll link some posts and podcasts about finding more professional development opportunities and getting money from your admin to sponsor these, because I know both of those things can be challenges too. I hope that me telling you to keep with it reminds me that the learning doesn’t have to stop after grad school. You will always be learning and always be growing as a high school counselor.

It’s time to level up your confidence for your upcoming High School Counseling interviews and help you secure the job of your dreams. When you sign up for my free three day video challenge, you’ll get a few short videos to watch on your own time. These will come to your inbox over the course of three days to help you prepare for your next high school counseling interview.

Join the hundreds of other school counselors who have gone before you and watch these same videos. I think I legally can’t guarantee that they’ll get you the job. But they’ll sure as heck make the interviews feel more approachable. Grab my free job interview video series by going to counselorclique.com/interviews. Now, back to the show.

The last thing I tell myself as a new high school counselor is not everyone will like you. This is actually really hard to say out loud or admit. Because honestly, I want people to like me. Maybe that’s me being vulnerable. Or maybe that’s just saying what we’re all actually thinking. Okay, so who am I talking about? Who might not like you as a high school counselor?

Maybe it’s the old school counselor who stays in their office and doesn’t understand why you’re out seeing students all day. Or maybe it’s a co-counselor who doesn’t understand why you seem to be dragging them along and all of your new endeavors and exciting ideas because what they’ve been doing all these years has worked just fine. And it probably has. That’s some tough stuff right there because when you’re new to the role, and you’re excited about some new ideas that you are certain will impact students for the better, it’s hard to have somebody shut those down or to say that they don’t matter. That’s not right.

I can almost guarantee that there’ll be a parent or two who won’t like you. Sometimes it can be resolved with some clear communication and just trying to get back on the same page again. But sometimes that relationship can be severed pretty badly. I always try to think of this from the perspective that maybe they’ve been burned in the past or something has gotten them to a place where they’ve had to build up walls, and they just can’t trust you. And it’s not always something that you’ve done. That’s something really important to remember. You might just be the person who’s taking the fall for it.

Without going into too many details, just know that all of this has happened to me before. That’s why I wish I knew about this earlier on in my career. Because something like this can feel like a really personal attack. And sometimes it can be both certainly a very personal attack, like an attack on your character or just something that you’ve done. Someone is coming after you.

But remember, it’s not a reflection on who you are as a person. And you probably did nothing to deserve it if I had to guess. I always tried to reassure parents that we were on the same team, I was on “Team Help The Student” in whatever way that uniquely looked. And I would like to think that the parent was also on that team too. So how do we frame the conversation to remember that we are indeed on the same team? For more parent tips head back to Episode 57, your guide to navigating parent relationships. I’ll link that in a similar blog post in the show notes for you too.

The last person I’ll mention that you might run into some pushback with is, dare I say it, students. I remember one of the first students that this happened to me with. It truly came as a shock because honestly, up until this point, I did not have a problem making connections with students. I was a high school counselor for crying out loud like this was my superpower. I should have known though inevitably I’d get a tough egg to crack.

Let’s call this student Jack. Not his name, but let’s protect his identity. All the stars aligned to get Jack into my office. A teacher referred him because they felt like something was going on. But they really weren’t sure what his grades were all failing. So I was gonna see him whether that teacher referred him or not. I saw his name on the report. His mom called me and asked me to secretly check in on him without telling him that she called. I hate when parents do that, by the way.

I had enough Intel to know that Jack’s parents were going through a divorce and he gave me every single indication that he would not be talking to me about any of it. You know, arms crossed, not looking me in the eye, telling me that he wasn’t going to answer my questions.

Running into a student who doesn’t like you, doesn’t want to talk to you, and doesn’t want to use your help feels really defeating. And I wish I knew that in my first few years. I guess I just never expected it to happen. So prepare yourself that these types of students will force you to dig deep in your counseling toolbox. Lean into the relationships that you’ve established in your building already. And then give yourself some grace. You will be a better counselor because of students like Jack.

So if you need a recap of three big things that I would tell myself, if I went back in time to the beginning of my role as a high school counselor, I’d tell myself that I’d surely make mistakes, but that it would also be okay.

I’d also tell myself to keep chasing after whatever is lighting my fire or whatever I feel like I want to learn about at that point in time, whether that’s a new attendance Initiative, or how to help student athletes to how to create a space for first generation students to thrive. There are always opportunities out there to grow and learn as a professional. I just need to find them and pursue them.

Then lastly, I’d remind myself that I won’t be liked by everyone, whether that’s a teammate, a parent, or a student. All of those are hard to hear or work through, especially if you’re used to being a helper or a peacemaker. But those opportunities will be places to grow and learn as well.

I hope this episode gave you some things to think on as a newer school counselor. Remember to grab those interview videos I mentioned to your email inbox by going to counselorclique.com/interviews. Were these helpful for you and getting the job? Join the hundreds of other counselors who have watched these videos and found success and then send me a DM and let me know. I love hearing your success stories.

Join me back here next week to hear about some of the differences between elementary and middle school counseling and high school counseling. I know that this episode will be helpful if you’re trying to decide if making the leap is the right move for you. I’ll see you then.

Thanks for listening to today’s episode of High School Counseling Conversations. All the links I talked about today can be found in the show notes and also at counselorclique.com/podcast. Be sure to hit follow wherever you listen to your podcast so that you never miss a new episode. Connect with me over on Instagram. Feel free to send me a DM @counselorclique that C L I Q U E. I’ll see you next week.

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Cheers + Happy Listening!

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