On the Elementary Exchange FB group, there are often posts asking about transitioning between tier levels as school counselors. For folk out there that may be googling “high school counselor to elementary counselor,” or trying to decide which tier to get their feet wet in: this is for you! While I’ve stayed right in my lane as an elementary counselor, a colleague at a neighboring school rocked at being a high school counselor before moving down to the land of the littles. Rebecca was kind enough to let me “interview” her to get the scoop.
Why did you decide to make the change?
Since graduate school, I had always felt that I could work in either Elementary or High School. My first job was in a high school and I really enjoyed it, so I continued on that path, knowing that at some point I would still like to work at the Elementary level. High School counseling is really challenging, and even though our district is making strides to free up our time from testing and administrative tasks, I felt that there was never enough time to truly be a counselor. After 9 years at the High School level (and one in Middle School), I thought it was time to try something different.
What do you miss about being in the high school?
What surprised you about elementary? What do you wish you’d known?
What feels like the biggest change?
What’s the hardest/most challenging aspect of being in elementary vs. high school?
What skills do you think transferred? What skills did you develop in the HS that you still use?
As I write this, NSCW is about to begin. Thinking about advocacy for our work and reading Rebecca’s experiences, I’m interested in knowing if rates of burnout and caregiver fatigue are higher at the high school level. Talking with Rebecca about her transition also reminds me that the differences between the tiers are sometimes less about the age of the population and more about the difference in day to day tasks.