RATE for school counseling program eval

Seize the Moment: The Art of Failing Forward

Typically, we associate “seizing the moment” with some sort of victory.

I’m not talking about that kind of “seize the moment”. I’m talking about the moments in life when we fall flat on our face, when we feel like crawling under the covers for the next 48 hours (or so), when we question why we even bother fighting the good fight.

The ability to seize the moment in the face of adversity is the difference between allowing something to make you bitter or better. While this philosophy can be applied to life in general, it is essential for all school counselors!

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now. I know it’s a post that needs to be written.

Think of how many teachers are in your building. When things go foul they are able to support one another.

While my teacher friends have been there for me, they can never truly understand all of the stress that comes with the job, the feelings of failure when our students do not respond to our services, the agony of having to tell everyone that you can’t work with students for 9 weeks because you are the MEAP coordinator…

We need to be able to hear one another’s stories in order to realize that it’s “not just us”. We all go through ups and downs in our career. No one bats 1,000…nobody should demand 100% performance at all times…

In the wise words of Macklemore, “The greats weren’t great because they could paint. The greats were great because they painted a lot.” (Check out the song 10,000 Hours by Macklemore!)

Sure we are going to spill some paint along the way, we might use the wrong brush, or fail to prep our canvas’ properly. However, these mistakes can lead to greater things we didn’t even know was possible. Sure mistakes can be time-consuming and challenging, but those misadventures can be used to hone your knowledge, skills, and counseling program.

My English teaching mentor called this FAILING FORWARD. It’s about trying something, analyzing how it went, and making adjustments for next time. While nerve raking at the time, the lessons I learned will stick with me throughout life.

What??? You want me to fail? <- No, that’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is, “Take advantage of your setbacks.”

It can be something small…

  • Bucket of several 100 crayons fell all over my office floor giving me the opportunity to get rid of all of my broken crayon nubs. <- happened today ๐Ÿ™

Or something with a little more “teeth” to it…

  • Teacher asking, “Who the hell do you think you are?” when I told her that the district’s money collection policy changed (for our Angel Tree program). This lead me to develop my, “I’m not an administrator’s mouthpiece” policy. If an admin wants to implement a policy, they should be the one to break it to the staff. There’s something to the expression, “Kill the messenger.”

What about all of those other moments? The career of a professional school counselor is filled with these “learning opportunities”. A school counselor’s day can become one of those failing forward days at the drop of a hat.

A school counselor must be ready to deal with anything and everything that walks through their door at any given moment. While it would be really considerate for a crisis to schedule itself in advance, it doesn’t.

There really isn’t any way to prepare for this part of the job in grad school, but it’s vitally important to learn how to use the situation(s) to make you better (and not bitter).

Here are four easy steps to RATE your problem and grow your school counseling program:

R: Reflect

Take time to review what happened. What was the desired effect/outcome? What was the actual effect/outcome?

A: Analyze

What factors contributed to the outcome?

T: Tweak

What can be changed/adjusted to reach the desired outcome?

E: Execute

Put your new plan into action!

I made this freebie too! Hope you find it helpful!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Just click on the image to download.

RATE Evaluation Elementary Counseling Free Download

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5 responses to “Seize the Moment: The Art of Failing Forward”

  1. Kayla Marston Avatar

    Thank you for this post! You are right – it did need to be written. School Counselors have so many tricky scenarios of varying difficulty that we deal with, that it’s inevitable we will make mistakes. We will fail sometimes. And as awesome as our colleagues often are, if they’re not School Counselors, they may not fully understand the intricate layers of our role. Sharing stories, both successes and failures, is so helpful to not feel alone. Thank you!

    1. Heather Thomas Avatar

      Hi Kayla! Your comment is spot on. Thank goodness for our online PLN!
      ~Heather

  2. Beth DiStefano Avatar

    I was just saying this earlier today!!!! Thank you!!!!!

    1. Heather Thomas Avatar

      Hi Beth! You’re welcome…I think it’s on all of our minds. That’s why I’m so thankful for the school counseling community on FB. ๐Ÿ™‚
      ~Heather

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