A love letter to my guidance counsellor peers across the country
Dear Fellow Guidance Counsellors, after living through the pandemic experience as a profession, I felt deeply that I wanted to begin the school year and convey in this Counsellor’s Corner a proclamation of my admiration for my fellow counsellors from coast to coast to coast. I feel so proud and fortunate to be a guidance counsellor and to work among such admirable company. I feel blessed and grateful.
What more noble a calling than that of service: giving back to our community, preparing our youth to fulfill their destiny; helping students realize their full potential. That is what we do daily in the Guidance Department, along with the help and support of our fellow teachers, parent community and administration. It is in the guidance office, where students tell us their dreams and we help carve a path forward. It is also in the guidance office where we hear from those students in despair—worn down emotionally, mentally, physically—where we offer and find them support to help them navigate through those trying times. We laugh with our students, cry with our students, teach our students and, ultimately, guide them, to the best of our ability.
The pandemic has presented guidance counsellors with many challenges. We have met those challenges and turned them into “opportunities”, at times, with enthusiasm and at other times with trepidation. We have learned to pivot with the best of them. We have embarked on an educational and pedagogical journey, learning multiple virtual platforms to the benefit of our students. In-person appointments became Zoom meetings; post-secondary fairs happened virtually; Grade 8 to 9 transition meetings were conducted via Google Meets; graduation ceremonies were planned and executed in the most creative of ways—all the while adhering to strict COVID-19 guidelines and protocols.
Guidance counsellors are many things to many people. At times, we are guiders to students and at other times, we are shoulders to cry on for students; for parents; for staff; at times, for our administration. We are the safe, caring adult in the lives of those we meet. We are experts in career and pathway planning, setting the way and paving the road to our student’s futures. We are witnesses to dreams achieved and those unattained. And throughout COVID-19, many of us became tech support to staff, students and the community, in their efforts to navigate remote learning.
Through pandemic learning, we continued to reach out to students who were struggling both academically and with their mental health. We learned new programs and adapted our methods of counselling. We continued to help students get to graduation, apply to apprenticeship, college and university programs; we advised and registered students for night and summer school; wrote numerous reference letters for scholarships and other opportunities; attended case conferences, parent-teacher interviews, worked on scheduling the school all while taking care of our own families, children, and parents.
So, as we begin a school new year, let’s remember that we will be presented with challenges as usual (we are “challenge” experts now), that we are guiders, dreamers, comforters. We are Counsellors. And with that knowledge, we know that we have an important job to do. We’ve got this. You’ve got this! This year let’s do what we do best: serve our students. In guidance, we work together in a daily, ongoing effort to make student’s lives better. We do this because that’s what teaching is all about: to make a positive, enriching imprint on the lives of students we teach, coach, and guide.
We wear many hats, but they all sit upon one head and, as we flip from hat to hat, we are ever mindful of those who serve. As a guidance counsellor, I love the work. I love working hard alongside a team of people who I admire. Our work is difficult and challenging but it is work worth doing. And, working with our outstanding guidance peers both within our departments, school boards, and across the country is the cherry on top. I am personally very thankful to work with all of you and to share our title of guidance counsellor. I feel incredibly fortunate to work in such a professional with such inspirational colleagues, not only at my school, here in Mississauga, Ontario, but within my school board, province and across the country.
I wish all my colleagues in Guidance and Career Education a wonderful year!
Now, with the beginning of another school year, undoubtedly marked with obstacles, potentially new virtual platforms to learn, and navigating a return that may or may not include various COVID-19 protocols….let us turn those challenges into new growth “opportunities” and let’s get to work!
With heartfelt admiration,
Your colleague and peer,