4 Things to Quit Worrying About as a Brand New School Counselor [Episode 128]


Here's What to Expect in This Episode:

I know when I first started out as a school counselor, I was incredibly nervous and constantly worried about both the small and big things that would happen in this role. And while this feeling was completely normal when first starting out, I quickly realized that worrying didn’t do me any good and that I needed to focus on my job and what I knew I could do. So, if this sounds like you, in today’s episode, I’m sharing four things to quit worrying about if you’re a brand new school counselor.

Since I’ve been in your shoes before, I decided to select the four biggest things that would’ve made an impact on being a brand new counselor. When I describe and discuss the things to quit worrying about, I also provide insight into why this shouldn’t be something that worries you in your new role. Additionally, I share insight and encouragement to trust in your experience, knowledge, and skills to not only overcome these worries but excel in this new role. 

During this episode, you will get a mixture of pep talk, tough love, encouragement, and finally, some next steps on how I can personally help you ease your continuous list of worries. Starting a brand new job, especially as a school counselor, can make you nervous and overwhelmed. But after listening to this episode, you’ll learn four things to quit worrying about that will make your first year as a school counselor a success! 

Topics Covered in This Episode:

  • 4 things to quit worrying about and why these are part of being a school counselor and how to get through them
  • Why you should focus on your own skills, knowledge, and experience while taking on this brand new role
  • A reminder that it’s okay not to know everything when you enter in this new role and why that shouldn’t be something you worry about
  • The next steps you should take when preparing to be a school counselor and how Counselor Clique can help you be successful

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Read the transcript for this episode:

Lauren Tingle 0:00
Okay, practically speaking, y’all, you know, I have a baby. And so he’s a hard. I’m just being honest right here as we start this episode, it is hard for me to find time to record an episode when it’s quiet in my house.

Lauren Tingle 0:14
And I know as we go into summer, it’s only gonna get harder, because I will have some help over the summer when school is out with my kids. But a lot of times, it’s hard to get them out of the house so I can record podcast. So I am being stretched to my capacity in all senses, being a new parent of three girls, but also in the podcasting and business world as well being able to sustain getting this out there.

Lauren Tingle 0:36
So I never miss an episode I never miss a week. And I have said before who knows what the future of this will be. And right now I’m still trudging forward and making time and being able to do it. So thanks for being here with me. I am so glad that you’re back for another episode of high school counseling conversations.

Lauren Tingle 0:55
I want this episode to feel like part pep talk, part tough love, we’re good at giving and receiving that as high school counselors, righ? Part encouragement, and then some next steps. So everything I’m saying in this episode, I would go back and tell myself as a beginning high school counselor. We’re going to be talking about things that I want you to quit worrying about as a brand new high school counselor. Let’s get into this week’s episode.

Lauren Tingle 1:19
Okay, the first thing I want you to quit worrying about, quit worrying about what the counselor before you did, or what they were like.

Lauren Tingle 1:42
So I know it’s tempting to compare yourself to someone, potentially someone that you probably did not even know. So you’re stepping into a new role, there was probably a person here doing this role before you, I say probably because maybe there’s a chance that you’re starting at a brand new school, or they got the opportunity to hire another position for a counselor. But probably like 80% of us are stepping into a role where somebody else has left that role.

Lauren Tingle 2:34
So you’re going to have students or parents come to you and say, but Mrs. So and so said this or promised this. And I want to tell you, I’m giving you permission, you can only do what you can do with the information that you have and what the rules are right now.

Lauren Tingle 2:49
I will say sometimes this is an opportunity for parents or students to pull the wool over your eyes and to get something that somebody else has already told them no to. And what’s coming to mind as I’m thinking about scheduling or things that were promised in the past. And I’m doing air quotes on promise, because who knows if they were genuinely promised, or if they’re just saying that to you.

Lauren Tingle 3:11
This might refer to how the counselors let students come in and see them and hang out in their office like they might be coming to you saying, Why are you making me go back to class, Mrs. So and so let me sit here instead of going to this class, I didn’t like PE and so she would let me sit in here during this time. Okay, you’re not a bad person or a bad counselor if you make students go to class instead of hanging out in your office.

Lauren Tingle 3:33
You know, that’s not what your role is, you’ve got tons of other stuff to get done. And who knows, maybe the reason that that counselor isn’t there anymore is because they didn’t have boundaries about stuff like that. So don’t let the ghost of the counselor before you stir up insecurities that don’t need to be there or don’t let those take up space in your brain.

Lauren Tingle 3:51
You got hired because you had valuable things to bring to this position, including your experiences. Even if that’s not a lot of experience. Maybe that’s just your experiences from your practicum and your internship. It’s expected that you would be a different person than the counselor who came before you like they hired you. They know who you are, what you have presented to them, and they want to you to fit into that position.

Lauren Tingle 4:15
So let’s file that away in our brain as a positive that you are not the person who came before you. So we’ve got to quit worrying about what that person did and what they were like.

Lauren Tingle 4:25
Number two, I want you to quit worrying about working over the summer. So if they tell you that your contract doesn’t start until July 1 or August 1, I want you to enjoy this while you can.

Lauren Tingle 4:37
There will be plenty of time for onboarding, getting your keys and your lanyard and your ID, setting up your computer and your printer. You may be the only new counselor in your school but you won’t be the only new person in general in your school. I can almost guarantee that.

Lauren Tingle 4:53
So your principal, their secretary or someone else in the school who this is their role, they definitely have some sort of onboarding checklists that they’re gonna go through to get you situated, especially in the high school setting. And that’s probably you, if you’re listening to this, you will most likely always find yourself working in the summers from here on out, or like just at least for a few days, if not a lot of days.

Lauren Tingle 5:14
So my advice is if they tell you to enjoy the remainder of your summer, listen to them, take advantage of it, work will be there when you return. Think about it, like pre practicing your boundaries, like in a really easy way before you’re even 100% immersed in this role. I say easy because someone else is telling you that someone is giving you this direction to enjoy your summer. So embrace it, and live your free summer life to the fullest before your real world adult job starts.

Lauren Tingle 5:45
The third thing I want you to quit worrying about as a brand new counselor going into the summer, I want you to quit worrying about making mistakes. Because I’m going to be honest with you hear you will make them so let’s not ruminate on those or lose sleep over them yet, because they will come.

Lauren Tingle 6:01
I have to laugh. I used to work with a counselor who was on her way out like she was only a few more years away from retirement. So she would always tell me if something goes wrong, blame it on me. I’m retiring soon anyways. And this comment mostly came out when I was the test coordinator of the required state exit exam in the 10th grade when I was just a 10th grade counselor. It also came out when I was in charge of the PSAT when I had 10th graders. So testing is a story for another day.

Lauren Tingle 6:28
But one that always made me chuckle. Like I laughed every time she would tell me that. And two it always gave me some reassurance. I don’t know if she meant it or not. But it made me feel at ease. Because I felt her loyalty to me and to her team as it like ooze out of her. It made me want to be that counselor in the future who could reassure a new counselor that everything would be okay.

Lauren Tingle 6:50
If I had miscounted test booklets, she’d calm me down and go through it with me, like I was almost in tears, counting test booklets in a closet with no windows. And again, I don’t mean to harp on testing, it’s not something that I want to do. It’s not something I endorse you doing. But she stepped into that with me and she would be in the closet going through those.

Lauren Tingle 7:12
And that leadership found its way into other areas too. Like I had a lot of panic moments where I thought, did I mess this kid’s credits up? Can this student graduate? And she would take out her ruler to go line by line. That’s how she would line it up on the transcript. And then this would be her version of picking through it with a fine tooth comb. She’d look at each line. And she’d helped me think through the graduation requirements and make sure that I didn’t make any mistakes.

Lauren Tingle 7:39
So there’s no denying that the stakes are higher at the high school level that elementary or middle school. Now, you know, I have zero experience there in elementary and middle other than my practicum and my internship but the graduation rates alone are enough to make you lose sleep, let alone the heavy emotional burdens, the retention rates, the failing grades. I’m not here to freak you out.

Lauren Tingle 7:58
Remember, it does feel like you’re juggling a lot because you are. Thankfully though you’re not in this alone. If you don’t have a team and you’re a solo counselor, there are teachers and administrators to lean on. Maybe you have the support of your district with truancy officers, dropout prevention specialists, social workers, mental health therapists, like lots of people.

Lauren Tingle 8:19
Like the Drew Holcomb and the neighbors song that I’m obsessed with right now. You got to find your people. I’ll spare you my thinking but go listen to that song. Find your people. Find the people that you need in your circle so that you can do your job well.

Lauren Tingle 8:32
But also find the people who encourage you to keep moving forward when you make a big mistake or the people who are going to be next to you encouraging you when you’re fearful that you did make a big mistake.

Lauren Tingle 8:32
The fourth and final thing that I want you to quit worrying about as a brand new high school counselor. I want you to quit worrying about the fact that you have no idea what you’re doing. Everyone started somewhere we all know that. Think of other are things that you started and then they became second nature, like you didn’t start as an expert.

Lauren Tingle 10:04
So storytime. My daughter has this personality trait that I know she gets for my husband, I’m certain of it. They’re both terrified of trying something new, because they don’t want to fail, well not fail. Like that feels really big. They just don’t even want to mess up.

Lauren Tingle 10:19
And it’s wild to me that something like this can manifest itself even in a six year old, y’all. She’s finishing kindergarten this year. So those of you coming from elementary school already know this really well. I know that thoughts like this are so much more magnified when you’re an adult, like you’ve lived a lot more life, you know, things can be a little bit more intimidating, there are a lot of things that you’re going to try that are going to be new.

Lauren Tingle 10:41
But for them, it’s not even like this perfectionist mindset, I would say they both are perfectionist. But it’s more like they’re concerned with looking dumb, looking stupid or being embarrassed by getting something wrong. And I tell them, you have never done this before. No one is expecting you to do it without messing up.

Lauren Tingle 10:58
So for example, my husband was like this when we went wakeboarding on a boat one time. He was so embarrassed because he had never done it before. It’s like we’re out here having a good time. No one cares if you don’t get it on the first try.

Lauren Tingle 11:11
And then my daughter, she signed up to take a dance class this semester. Well, I signed her up. And she was excited about it. And on the first day, she thought, what if I don’t know how to do the dance moves? I was like, of course, you’re not going to know no one has taught you that yet.

Lauren Tingle 11:25
No one is expecting you, as a high school counselor to do this job without messing up your human. It’s helpful to have my husband’s perspective for me to understand that my daughter is not like me, it’s not me, it’s not in my natural inclination to even consider this to be a stressor like looking dumb. I like don’t really care if I’m gonna look dumb, if I’m trying something that’s gonna be fun and new and different. And I’m all about the experience.

Lauren Tingle 11:49
So if you are a person who naturally goes to the worst case scenario, or has this inner critic yelling at you in your brain telling you that you’re headed for failure, let me be the one to encourage you and quiet that inner voice.

Lauren Tingle 12:03
Yes, you have a graduate degree in counseling. The counseling part is going to be the part that feels the most natural, you know how to do it. But unfortunately, there are a lot of other parts of this job that you did not learn back in grad school. And maybe you learn them on the job in your internship, or they’re scenarios that you have not had to walk through yet, until you are the one with the responsibility that can be intimidating.

Lauren Tingle 12:26
An angry parent marching into your office lobby, it’s coming. But maybe you hadn’t had the opportunity to handle that or bear the weight of that as an intern. A teacher turning on you and firing off an email for borrowing a student from their class, you’ll get one of those, you might get more than one of those. Admin overstepping their boundaries when it comes to confidentiality. Just wait, it’ll happen soon enough.

Lauren Tingle 12:49
You might not have had those kind of intimidating settings when you were an intern, because you had that shade covering you have your supervisor who could bear the weight of those things. There are just too many possible scenarios to run through. But I’m telling you, you will not be prepared for nearly all of them.

Lauren Tingle 13:06
Instead of turning this into a weakness as a new high school counselor, I hope you realize that the veteran counselors come up against the same weird one off scenarios. And they’re still working through those, they’re still consulting with others. I don’t want to say it doesn’t get easier, because I swear I do think it does get a little easier.

Lauren Tingle 13:23
But I think maybe just stop caring as much about what others think about you in this role, or stop worrying about getting fired. Because the likelihood of you getting fired is probably slim for just making a mistake. But I really just don’t want you to fear looking dumb when you make mistakes. It’s something you’re going to learn through and you will grow through.

Lauren Tingle 13:45
So for next steps, I can always direct you back to the new high school counselor podcast playlist with a compilation of all my thoughts and jumbling and advice for new high school counselors. So of course, you can search my blog for relevant blog posts, or you could head to Google and start piecing together what’s next for you as a brand new high school counselor.

Lauren Tingle 14:06
As someone who has been helping new high school counselors get acclimated to this role for a little bit here. I’d love to point you in the direction of the high school counselor kickstart audio course that you’ve been hearing about. It’s your roadmap for the journey, I know you’re ready to go on and you’re excited about going on this journey.

Lauren Tingle 14:22
We’re going to put off these four things that you’re currently worried about, and others more I’m sure I just mentioned four of them. And we’re gonna put on confidence, clarity and support. I want you to know exactly what’s inside this audio course. So I’ll point you to Episode 76 of the pod where I give you a more detailed tour and a peek behind the scenes because obviously I want you to join us inside the course but I want it to be the right fit for you right now.

Lauren Tingle 14:49
If you’ve made it this far, I do also want to give you an exclusive podcast bonus offer. When you check out use the code podcast20 for 20% off the course from now till the end of the month. You’ve got to few more days left to use it.

Lauren Tingle 14:56
If you end up listening to this episode at a later date than May 2024, when I put this episode out, I’m just going to tell you, I usually do a promo for this audio course once or twice a year, but I do always have it available without the promo whenever you want to jump in. So you can learn more about the audio course for new high school counselors by going to counselorclique.com/newcounselor.

Lauren Tingle 15:23
Remember, it’s open all the time, but now would be the perfect time to jump in and prep for your new role, if that’s something you’re moving into. And it’s also the perfect time because it’s on promotion with a discount. So remember to use that code podcast20 when you check out for 20% off. I’ll see you next week.

Connect with Lauren:

Cheers + Happy Listening!

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