It’s 2020: a new year, a new start. That phrase is much easier said than done.
It is so comfortable to stay with what we know because it works, right? Ironically, sometimes we stay in unhealthy patterns because at least we know that it doesn’t work. There is comfort in knowing how a situation is going to end, even if we wish it would end another way. However, often we are unsure how to create a new pattern/habit that might lead to a different more positive result, even when we try to observe and understand our behavior.
As a new counselor, I have been observing a lot. I observe how students interact in the hallways, lunchroom, in classrooms and at activities. I notice that students feel stress, happiness, frustration, accomplishment and many other emotions at school. Observing has given me great insight, but it doesn’t tell me the whole story.
When I have the opportunity to engage in conversations with students, they share information that I could not observe. These conversations give me that “aha” moment of why a student acted in a certain way. Without these conversations, I might have assumed why the behavior happened instead of understood why it happened.
The most challenging part for me is that each student has unique needs, and so I am often left wondering: How do I meet the needs of each student? How do I meet them where they are at in their teenage journey? What works for one student doesn’t always work for the next student. This is where the new year, new start concept is being developed at the high school.
The high school counseling department will create two focus groups in the next few months. There will be a student and parent group to help the high school counselors better understand the needs of our students.
On Jan. 7, we met with our student group to listen to what is important to our students in order for them to be successful. We want to empower these students to know that their concerns will be heard, and we want to work with the students to seek solutions or ways to improve. We also will create a parent focus group by using a computer-generated random chooser to pick four parents from each grade. We will listen to concerns and ways we can best support the students and their families at Hutchinson High School.
I look forward to the conversations and the ideas that will be generated. Listening is an important part of creating a positive school culture. We encourage you to have open conversations with your child about school and ask them what they do or do not like and why. Feel free to communicate those concerns with the counselors.
We know some patterns need to change, and we want to hear from our students and families. Our goal is to have a deeper understanding of how to best help each student. We know we cannot do this alone; we need families and the community to support Hutchinson High School students. It will take honest conversations and a plan to create a positive learning environment for our students.
Chanda Kropp is a counselor and Spanish teacher at Hutchinson High School. You, Your Kids & School is a twice-a-month column from Hutchinson Public Schools.