Thursday, August 25, 2011

Coming Back for a Change

By Patrick O'Connor    

The last week of August finds some school counselors saying goodbye to summer, while others have been hard at work for at least the last two weeks.  It’s hard to believe school can be in full swing for so many at such an early date, but that’s part of the change in our world we have to get used to…

…and if any group should be ready to make the most out of change, it’s school counselors.  Most of what we do is all about change; we work with students to change their academic behaviors to lead to better grades; we support parents as they look for ways to change the way they help their children; we offer new ideas to students, parents, and teachers as they try as students try to move beyond the past and build more solid futures.

Our training and experience tell us that change is often a challenge.  The need to change often comes when we’re dealing with a million other issues, and since change can challenge the way our clients see the world, it can be uncomfortable; this is why so many people decide it’s easier to stick with an imperfect status quo than build a different future.  Our clients tell us this in both their words, and especially in their actions; if every client we’d ever met simply did what they said they would do, there’s a good chance our world would be vastly improved, and we may even be out of work.

Knowing the challenge of change, it’s important for us to model the behaviors we like to see in our clients—and there’s no time like the present.  Settling back in to school, we often remember a part of the job we’d forgotten about over the summer, a task that may have nothing to do with counseling, and a chore we’d really like to get rid of.

On the other hand, it could be we look at a specific program we’ve developed for our students and think, “This could be better, or different.”  It may be the handouts need to be updated, or the entire program put on the school’s counseling web site—then again, it may be that your counseling office needs a web site in the first place!

In the interest of leading by example, now is the time to take five minutes and ask ourselves the questions we often ask our clients:

If there were one thing I would change about my workplace that I can change, what would that be?  How would I change it?  What would I need to change it?  When would I change it?  Who could I ask to help me change it? How would I know it’s been changed?

This is a busy time, and resources may seem to be in short supply—but change indeed can be inconvenient in its timing, and the road to being better can bring its twists and turns.

Still, there’s nothing more inspiring to many students than to know they aren’t alone in their quest to finding something better. As the new school year begins, now could be the best time to change the motto of the school counseling office to Lead by Example.

Enjoy the challenge of this great school year.

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