If you think you have a bizarre story about something that happened while online with a student, wait until you hear this week’s story from Chloe Benjamin.
This Week's Storyteller
Chloe Benjamin has more than 10 years of experience in student services and education consulting. She served as a School Counselor for Stanford University’s Online High School. She has written and spoken on topics related to innovative counseling in an online environment. Chloe worked in Morocco as an International Student Services Consultant, designing career and college planning curriculum and workshops for institutions like the US Embassy and EducationUSA. She is involved in initiatives to integrate career and life coaching methods into all levels of education within the state of North Carolina and offers career coaching to students from teen to adult. Chloe is a licensed school counselor in the state of North Carolina and works with Inspire Success on our school counseling initiatives.
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Welcome back to the Encouraging Words for School Counselors podcast. I’m Matt Fleck with Inspire Success. Happy to be with you again this week. Sending positive vibes to everyone as we wrap up the month of September and continue moving through another bizarre school year with everything from school board protests of CRT to monitoring school bathrooms because of the latest Tik-Tok craze. Do you ever go home and your spouse says, “Tell me about your day,” and you say, “How much time do you have?”
In the category of surviving craziness comes today’s story from Chloe Benjamin who is a professional school counselor most recently providing career coaching to students at the University of North Carolina.
Like many of us during Covid, Chloe did a great portion of her work from her home office. And that’s where the story begins.
We’re all working from home, or most of us are working from home during COVID, and I am working with a student as usual, just going about my work. We’re having a conversation about what the student is going through and that the student is sort of getting a little emotional. And at that same moment, I feel the sort of presence to my left side. And to my left side is my window. I turned my head. I was kind of resistant to look — I’m trying to pay attention to the student, you know — but, I turned my head and looked and there was a man standing outside my window, like, staring at me with very wide eyes. And he looks really like, uh, someone you don’t really want to have staring at you through your window.
Chloe — who was alone — apologized to the student saying, “Um, there’s a strange man staring at me outside my window and I’m going to go check it out.”
I go to my front door after giving the student my general contact information to make sure that I’m safe. And when I opened the front door, this guy says, “I’m the electrician. Your landlord wanted me to come by and check out the light bulb in your closet,” (that I had reported, like, two months ago). And I was like, well, I’m in the middle of an appointment with a student right now. This is not a good time. I’d like you to come back later. Can you please call me and make an appointment? And he’s like, “No, no, no. No, no, no. We’re coming in right now. We’re doing this.” And I was like, I think the problem kind of fixed itself. And he’s like, “Oh, you never know with these things. I’m coming in right now.”
If you’ve ever dealt with a pushy student or parent, perhaps you can empathize. Chloe says the electrician barges in and then the situation gets even more bizarre.
And he’s like, “You’re talking to a student. I want to talk to your student. I heard you work at UNC. I love UNC. I’m gonna talk to your student.” I was like, no, this is not appropriate. This is a confidential meeting with a client. You cannot talk to my student.
The electrician moves in front of Chloe’s computer and waves at the student, which is when Chloe, who has had enough, says, “No, this is not appropriate, you need to leave the room NOW,” and leads the electrician to the light fixture telling him to let himself out when he’s done.
About five minutes later, I’m continuing my conversation with the student. The student thinks it’s funny. You know, students are very gracious about real life entering our worlds during the pandemic. But then he comes up behind me and he says, “I’m going to talk to the student.” And I said, no, you’re not. He said, “You’re so serious. I’m talking to the student anyway.” And he takes out a flashlight and he’s like, “I’m going to do Morse code.” So he starts flashing his flashlight at the webcam from the other room. And he’s like, “I’m doing Morse code for help because you’re too serious.” And I was just like, you have to leave! Go now!
Finally, the electrician DID leave and the student — well, he thought it was hilarious.
This is just one of the stories about the crazy things that you can never expect. And I think probably a lot of counselors have similar stories where maybe they were at home and something happened that was a little over the top, that’s very memorable.
I think what Chloe is saying is a challenge. Maybe YOU have a story about an online experience with students -– or a bizarre electrician -– that can top Chloe’s and we would love to hear it. The fastest and easiest way is to go to our online soundbooth at inspiresuccess.org/soundbooth and record it there and then we’ll compare.
You can also send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – especially if you have a suggestion for our Encouraging SONGS for School Counselors playlist which we’ll share with you in October.
Thanks, Chloe, for your story and thanks everyone for listening. Stay strong, stay sane, and we’ll see you next week.