The Multi-Talented School Psychologist
“What would you like to do when you grow up?”
This is a question often asked of children, particularly adolescents, as they start investigating fields of study or professions to pursue after high school. You’ve probably received all sorts of responses—some commonplace, and some out of the ordinary, or creative; but we’re still waiting for the day when a student responds,
“I want to be a school psychologist.”
School psychologists are often mistaken for school counselors, education specialists, or administrators. There are many well-known jobs in the field of education, but unless you have had a child served in special education, you may not have even heard of the multi-talented, jack of all trades, school psychologist. While they tend to operate in two worlds—general education and special education; they often maneuver behind the scenes; for example, educating teachers about how to employ positive behavioral supports, consulting with school teams about improving systems, and participating in problem solving meetings when students start to struggle. In the world of special education, they perform more direct services, like psychoeducational assessment, counseling, and running social skills groups for students with disabilities.
School Psychology Awareness Week is November 13-17, and we posted this verse in their honor:
Ode to the School Psychologist
Authored by: Louise Sawyer, LEP, ABSNP, NCSP
“What is a school psychologist?” you ask.
Well, to describe what they do is no easy task.
They are tactful diplomats
Who wear lots of hats.
Their specialized skills could be superpowers.
They are often found working well after hours.
“But don’t they just test and determine disability?”
No! They help all students with humble servility.
Best practices they are constantly discerning
As they find ways to promote all student learning.
Perpetual pupils of research-based intervention,
For behavior, learning, executive skills, and attention.
Impromptu threat assessments, they are prepared for a crisis,
As their evaluation list grows and continually rises!
When schools face a quandary outside their purview
And nobody knows just what to do,
It’s the school psychologist they often will call.
“This student is not learning; we’ve hit a wall!”
And so, they analyze and look for clues
“Show me the data,” they often muse.
Fully informed of the scope of school law
They keep this in mind with conclusions they draw.
They stop to consult when deadlines are looming,
Never mind, they have caseloads which are constantly zooming!
With loads of reports they still need to write,
They sometimes find time in wee hours of night.
With teachers, students, and classes to observe
They bounce between multiple campuses they serve.
They run social groups and use therapeutic tactics
And help teachers to differentiate their didactics.
Memory, processing, and cognitive ability,
They explain complex findings with simple utility.
The big problem which herein lie
Well, they are massively short in supply!
So, let’s take a moment to appreciate what they do.
They are unrecognized heroes we all look up to!