If we were making widgets…

There aren’t too many professions where the raw material a person works with is unique in every circumstance. It makes the process of creating an end product unwieldy, unreliable, unstable. It is inefficient to use unique and heterogeneous raw materials. In short, it is against every model of business practice known around the world.

Enter education, public, private, charter – any at all.

A teacher is expected to take the person that walks in the room, and bring all of the other young people in the room on a journey where they all reach a high-end result. It doesn’t seem to matter to the pundits whether the “raw material” being supplied is high-grade, low-grade or nonexistent. Somehow, teachers should be held accountable for the quality of the material being supplied to produce the end product.

It also doesn’t seem to matter to the pundits that there are external forces that weigh on students that have impact in the classroom.

No, none of that makes for good media.

So, as I teach my college Career Development course for future school counselors late into the night, as every piece of academic literature seems to consistently remind us to take account of the myriad contextual variables that all inform a person’s decisions every single day, I am reminded of one thing: Education is personal. What I am willing to put into it is defined by where I came from, what tools, both physical and mental I have been provided to work with, whether anyone fed me breakfast or not or if there was anything to eat, what’s it going to be like when I get home, how long will I be home alone, are my clothes clean, do I need to pick up and watch my sister, are the water or lights going to turn off?

Many have some of these or other burdens they carry throughout the school day, and some have none of these. And you, teacher, counselor, principal, custodian, cafeteria staff, receptionists, school data managers, teaching assistants, bus drivers, media center specialists, you work everyday to take an inconsistent set of variables and hopefully add them to at least 13. Hopefully, without any repeat or retention, but trying nonetheless.

June comes soon, to soon for some to pull it together. But you, there is a student who needs someone just like you to realize the variables can add up.

Eric Chancy
Eric Chancy was born and raised in Miami, Florida, and earned his master’s degree in K-12 School Counseling in 1996. Eric subsequently worked with the Hampton School District and the Pittsburgh Public School District, then moved to North Carolina in 1999. Eric worked as a high school counselor until 2013, and currently works as a Senior Administrator with the Office of Student Assignment, overseeing the transfer of students to and from 39 schools within the Wake County Public School System. Eric has also authored “The Mechanics of School Counseling Workbook”, a guide to help counselors acclimate to new counseling positions, and speaks with school and community groups about the proliferation of and cautions necessary when engaging in social media. Eric continues to learn about and share information on how technology is affecting our culture, and in turn how that technology is affecting relationships with students.