School Counselor Stories: Angela Bassett
SCHOOL COUNSELOR STORIES is a series of first-person insights from preschool, elementary, middle and high school counselors. This series, brought to you by the new online masters in school counseling program through Counseling@NYU, aims to highlight the tremendous impact these professionals have on our schools and communities across the country.
Our first school counselor story comes from Angela Bassett, a licensed professional counselor who has worked as an Elementary and Middle School counselor in the Austin area for over ten years. Read her story below where she answers the question: Why am I a school counselor?
As an elementary school counselor, I enjoy watching students and their parents walk into school each morning. They interact in a way that tells their unique story; it’s interesting to observe their interactions. Will a parent encourage their child to participate in their own problem-solving, or will they do it for them?
I recently witnessed one of the parents at my school exhibit incredible patience and love with her son. She listened, demonstrated boundaries, and patiently stood on the boundary line for him to feel safe and take responsibility for his behavior. Being a parent changes the way we look at life. Parenting with intention — definition — helps us grow and change; we step it up and become stronger.
Like parenting, school counseling is complex. Being a school counselor has helped me grow in ways I didn’t realize I needed to. I had believed that becoming a school counselor was a natural, personal progression for me — first teaching, then my master’s program. I knew I enjoyed helping and encouraging people, so I figured I was ready for the task at hand. However, my desire to help and encourage people was not enough to keep me motivated. I was on the fast track to burnout and knew it was time to change my thinking. I couldn’t please everyone all of the time. I had to learn to delegate and let others lead. There were going to be times when I had to stand on the boundary line and not give into expectation.
Being a school counselor is rewarding and filled with rich experiences. We have the “inside look” into the nooks and crannies of people’s life, gaining a deeper understanding of what makes them unique. As a school counselor, we see students, peers, and parents and the interactions between all of them. Understanding this dynamic also allows us to build a stronger case conceptualization for our students. Strong case conceptualizations are essential for school counselors. We look at all aspects of student and family life to help form opinions of how to improve academic and long-term success. We look at factors that could contribute to positive and negative behaviors. We ascertain developmental concerns and family changes for the purpose of providing feedback that will help families in treatment.
SCHOOL COUNSELORS HAVE THE “INSIDE LOOK” INTO THE NOOKS AND CRANNIES OF STUDENTS’ LIVES.
One of my favorite parts of being a school counselor is helping parents and students navigate the process of students being diagnosed with learning disabilities. It’s important for school counselors to understand how we can work as a community with the school to teach and reach students differently to help them achieve their best.
For example, at the beginning of this past school year, I worked with a new student from another state who was going through family changes. He was angry and had difficulties with peers and adults. I watched him work through conflict in “fight-or-flight” mode. I watched him struggle with anger and problem-solving. We worked to be consistent and built rapport. Eventually, we got him the support he needed and established a relationship with him that contributed to his trust. During this time, I documented observations and behavioral interventions and created behavioral plans. By the end of the school year, we watched him thrive and enjoy school.
I BECAME A SCHOOL COUNSELOR TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, ONE LIFE A TIME.
I have faced 10 years of many different kinds of conflicts and watched people go through life transitions. There have been times I needed to think about if I wanted to continue. There is no doubt I have changed. I have become stronger, braver, and capable of handling many different situations. I have learned how to let go of trying to control everything. It has been a unique gift in my life. I am honored and privileged to be in the position of leading and guiding lives. I became a school counselor to make a difference, one life at a time.