Can Someone Tell Me Why This Chicken Soup for the Educator’s Soul Keeps Burning My Tongue?

My last week of school was this week. I had lofty goals of meeting with each of my caseload of counselees and processing the end of our work together. I have about 10 students I work with weekly at my school site, and each one has made strides in their therapeutic goals. They have reflected on their behavior over the course of the year. Some have accepted consequences of summer school. Most have made friends. They have learned how to deflate bullies. They have survived their first year in middle school or gotten ready for their first year of high school. They have looked eagerly at me and asked, “Are you coming back next year? Can we still meet?” This is the stuff of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Except my final serving of Soul Soup actually burned my tongue and spilled all over my lap on my last day.

One of my students has struggled all year with fighting. He has been in and out of juvenile hall all year. He gets suspended. He hates school. His attendance in counseling is about 50%. On the days I got him, we built rapport and he opened up. On my last day, I saw him and said, “Great! You’re here! I’ll come get you after lunch.” He smiled and agreed. I was preparing myself for internal accolades about how we would connect and reflect on the year and I would give wonderful anticipatory guidance for the summer. He might reflect on his choices and we would have a powerful therapeutic moment together. Then, I heard a ruckus that woke me from my soulful journey down future memory lane. He was punching out a student in the cafeteria. Then, he ran away and never came back to school. A few of my other students were gleefully watching, saying, “Dr. Bell! That was hella tight! Did you see that?”

So much for my helping of Soul Soup, and my dreams of tying a pretty little bow on a therapy box. But as one of my supervisors told me, “Do you best, and let go of the immediate outcome. You never know what will be therapeutic in the long run.” Maybe when my boy returns next year, and I welcome him back with a smile, that will be what he needs, not a pretty little pre-planned therapy box. Stay tuned.

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