Our New Y(ear)’s Resolution (#23)

As we say adieu to 2020, we propose an idea and an easy-to-meet resolution for a better and brighter new year. 

Inspiring School Counselors
Inspiring School Counselors
Our New Y(ear)'s Resolution (#23)

This Week's Storyteller: Our Own Matt Fleck

photo of Matt FleckMatt is the director of the nonprofit Inspire Success. He has served as a high school counselor, a state school counseling specialist and Indiana’s state director of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. He alsohosts this podcast. 


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Hi everyone, welcome to Encouraging Words for School Counselors. I’m Matt Fleck with Inspire Success. I don’t know when you are listening to this podcast – on the front side or back side of the new year – but happy new year nonetheless. We’re sponsored today by RAMP Ready, a new online learning platform with three levels to help you adopt a comprehensive counseling model. RAMP Ready Level I is totally free to help you adopt an effective comprehensive counseling model relatively quickly and easily, Level II Ascent helps you implement the ASCA National Model over a six month period from January to June, and Level III Summit offers personalized support to help you prepare a RAMP application step by step. You can find out more at inspiresuccess.org/rampready.

This has been quite the year, hasn’t it? And that is probably the biggest understatement of all time. From a worldwide pandemic to Black Lives Matter to protests around the world, in addition to an unusual and divisive presidential election. It’s amazing we made it through it, fully acknowledging that some did not.

Reflecting on 2020, I started to think about all the things I appreciate now more than I did at the start of the year…from healthcare and frontline workers to an appreciation of my role in reversing social inequities and injustice – to simply appreciating something as simple as a face to face conversations over a cup of coffee (without a mask).

Perhaps it’s corny, but a major takeaway from 2020 for me is just the value of listening. Researchers and pundits tell us that in order to heal the major political divides in our country we have to listen more. It seems obvious – right? But also counterintuitive when we’re angry, or frustrated, or both.

Years ago, I was meeting with a high school student of mine who had some major struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. For some reason, our central office student services coordinator was visiting our school that day and he asked to join our one-on-one conversation. Dr. X sat down and related to this student his own prior struggles with addiction in a story that just got longer and longer as he spoke. I remember looking at the student and actually seeing the growing disconnect in her eyes, the emotional retreat – it wasn’t a conversation about her anymore – it was about him. He had really good intentions and a high mental health and counseling degree — much higher than mine – but I couldn’t help but think, why did he miss that she needed to be heard more than to hear him?

Listening is such a basic skill but I forget it all the time, too. Really trying to hear what not only the other person is saying but also feeling and experiencing – is really hard – active listening is truly a skill. One I’m going to try and remember to practice – in-person or virtually – in the new year.

By the way, thank YOU for listening throughout 2020 to Encouraging Words for School Counselors. And as a segue, on the topic of listening, we would love to hear YOUR stories of working as a school counselor over the last year or the last decade or century. We don’t have measurable proof of this but we believe – anecdotally – that listening to stories from fellow counselors can actually be therapeutic. You can even share your story quite easily while on winter break by using your phone, your tablet, or your laptop. Just go to our virtual sound booth at inspiresuccess.org/podcast.

You can also subscribe to our five-minute Encouraging Words for School Counselors podcast on any of your favorite apps – and that way – if you make a new year’s resolution to “listen more to others” – you can check that one off. See? It all fits together. 2021 is already off to a good start.

Thanks for listening. Happy New Year! Have a great week.