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A Day in the Life of a High School Counselor

A Day in the Life of a High School Counselor

Jim Starr

One of the things I liked about being a school counselor was that there wasn’t a “typical day” in the sense that there is such a wide variety of tasks inherent in the job description that it never felt routinized. Even when I was preoccupied with scheduling issues for several weeks in a row, I always knew that task was time limited and I’d be moving on to other aspects. Besides, even during those stretches, there were regularly “unscheduled” concerns to deal with – calls from parents, an inquiry from a Juvenile Probation Officer, a teacher expressing a concern about a student.

Unlike when I was a classroom instructor, my heart didn’t jump every time a bell rang. I didn’t have a prepared lesson plan. I was never bored at work with not enough to do. For instance, I often had a “work in progress,” such as a letter of reference, planning for a public presentation, or a report requested by the principal or district office, that I could keep returning to, time permitting. Our counseling office secretary scheduled students throughout the day; sometimes I’d have 7-8, other days only 1 or two, that is, after the start-up of school and the first several weeks of the second semester when we’d be inundated throughout the day with a flood of students with schedule concerns, no matter how carefully we crafted course requests in the Spring nor fine-tuned schedules in the summer months.

My favorite part of the day as a counselor

I really liked when the first-period bell rang and the halls quieted down. I’d entertained any concerns “drop-ins” had before school started, students were in their classrooms beginning their studies, and I could map out the day around whatever scheduled appointments I had in the book. I also liked the time to wrap up loose ends at the end of the day. In a previous career, I’d worked an 8-6 kind of job, so with school letting out at 3, I typically felt like I had ample time to get closure before leaving work.

My Year Outlook

At the risk of sounding trite, I really liked my job most all the time. I was always glad to get “settled” in the Fall after the fast and furious start-up time, i.e. usually midway through the first quarter. I’d say the Spring was a particularly nice time of year for me. I enjoyed watching my students who were playing baseball or softball, running track, or involved with the Spring musical. We did a classy Scholarship Awards Night production in May to acknowledge recipients, their families, and the donors, which was always gratifying. And, of course, the excitement of graduation time is infectious.

Inevitably, in spite of four years of planning, adjusting, compensating, and coaxing, there was a Senior or two on my caseload who would posture themselves to not know if they would complete graduation requirements until the results of their English 4 or American Government final exams, or their credit retrieval BYU correspondence test results, were known a day or two before commencement. It made for some tense moments, especially if Grandma was flying out to Nevada from Florida to watch Johnny or Susie receive their diploma. And, sometimes, they didn’t make it. At that point, the “damage control” option was to go to Plan B after the pretty profound sting of not “walking with their class” had slightly worn off, which usually meant getting them signed up for summer school to earn their last half-credit.

Read more from this series….
A Day in the Life of a Multimedia Teacher
A Day in the Life of a School Psychologist
A Day in the Life of a Special Education Teacher
A Day in the Life of a Third Grade Teacher
A Day in the Life of an English Teacher
A Day in the Life of a Music Teacher
A Day in the Life of a Computer Teacher

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