Thursday, August 29, 2013

Meet The Teacher Night and Occam's Razor

Last night was my Falcon school's "Meet The Teacher Night". My Wildcats' "Back To School Night" was on the evening of the second day of school- not too much to report since school had only been in session for about 48 hours :) But as always, it was nice mingling with parents, discussing what the school counselor does, and getting tons of hugs!

But tonight's Falcon night was extra special for a me for a couple reasons. First, it was my daughter's first big event as a Kindergartner. We got to "meet" her teacher (whose classroom is 100 yards from my office), "meet" her friends (who I do lessons with quite often and my wife already knew most of from church, soccer, or teeball) and "meet" her Principal (who signs my paycheck). But Kendal was as excited as can be and it was an amazing experience to see her want to share EVERYTHING about her daily routine with us.

Sadly though, after wearing "daddy" hat for a little bit, I had to take it off and put on "School Counselor" hat to meet/ greet all the other parents. And one experience tonight made me think of Occam's Razor.

According to this principle, when introduced with a scenario, the simplest and most expected answer or outcome is the correct one. The old adage states "when you hear hoof-beats behind you, you think horses and not zebras". Yea, both make hoof-beat sounds when running, but it's not very often you see zebras... most people are more familiar with horses. Despite it being most likely, this razor is not truth. Maybe a zebra really is running up on you!

And tonight I had a zebra run up on me! A parent came up to me who seemed very determined to talk. I LOVE having opportunities to meet with parents so this was not unusual. However, usually I get horses (my student is being bad, fix my student, why won't my student sit still, you need to see my student daily, etc.). So, I straighten my school counselor "hat" and prepared for her discussion. 

What I got was a mother determined to thank me for what I do. She was grateful for the grief group I ran last year for my 4th graders. Her son as in that group after his grandfather (the mom's father) passed away. Her and I proceeded to talk for almost 20 minutes about her son, her father's death, and the impact it had on the family. As we know, it is almost impossible to console someone else when we ourselves are grieving. What could she say to her sons while her heart was also breaking? How could she help him through the stages of grief when she didn't know what stage she herself was in? 

I prepared myself for a horse and what I got was a zebra, coming up to me with her heart in her hands thanking me for getting her son through his first family loss. Because of that group, he no longer blamed his mom for the death, his grades improved, he had a closer group of friends that were going through the same stages. That group helped heal him.


I went into Counseling because my Granny passed away when I was in 3rd grade about all I remember of that loss was the Counselor at my Elementary School. She helped me and I am now able to pay that forward and help him and more just like him.

You will have people tell you that it "must be nice to sit around and play with kids all day". Or that what you do doesn't matter like teaching math or reading matters. Or you'll have people wonder why you are constantly pulling kids out of their reading block. Or get upset when you won't share what kids tell you. 

I am here to say that what you do DOES matter. It matters to your students. To their families. It mattered to that mother and her sons. You matter. So Keep Calm because you are a School Counselor and you do help!


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