The doctor is in… that’ll be a nickel, please

When I started teaching, I wanted to heal the world. I had really wanted to be a psychologist, but discovered being a teacher could accomplish similar results and  faster, albeit without the similar income!  So for years, my counseling skills have served me well as I dealt with friendship issues, divorce, low self-esteem, and such.

What’s been fascinating and frightening in turn is that over the twenty years that I’ve been teaching, I have had to increase my hours for counseling. Now really, I haven’t actually increased my hours, but I have been spending a hell of a lot more time counseling my kiddos and their families it seems than teaching.

Counseling is teaching of a sort. I’ve had to counsel many parents whose children, they were convinced, had become possessed by the devil. Being he or she was their first-born, we had to have discussions on puberty and what it does to the poor child’s emotions.

Dealing with divorce has been a mainstay in my repertoire, as well as Catty Girl Syndrome. I’m an expert on friend issues, having suffered my fair share of abuse from them as I grew up. But recently, more issues have been popping up that are both fascinating and puzzling.

There is a preponderance of kids who don’t give a flying hoot about ANYTHING. I am totally serious. There is no fire in their eyes, no spark in their spirit, no desire, no sense of urgency. And this is the youth who will eventually be our leaders. 

This has been my toughest battle yet. But I am armed with Stephen Covey’s Habits and the Northeast Foundation’s Responsive Classroom. My teammates are right by my side as we fight to save their souls from abject apathy. Everyday we have a morning meeting, I’m counseling these kiddos and slowly, maybe as little as one kid at a time, I’m making a dent.

I’m thinking about hanging a shingle outside my classroom door. You know the kind that Lucy from Peanuts has hanging up? The doctor is in… 5 cents.


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