November 17, 2015
November is national School Psychology Awareness Month. During the week of November 9-13, the value-added resources that school psychologists bring to their job will be recognized. Here are the top ten ways that school psychologists contribute to students, staff, and schools.
10. Special education eligibility. School psychologists are involved in the determination of a student’s need for special education services. It is a common misperception, however, that the role of gatekeeper is a school psychologist’s most important role. The nine following reasons describe equally important, if not more important, value that a school psychologist contributes when practicing a broad-based role.
9. Transition. School psychologists are trained for the continuum of instruction and services that begin at birth and end with a student’s graduation and transition to post-secondary education or to the world of work. They are aware of setting differences between each level of schooling (i.e., preschool to elementary, to middle or junior high, to high school, and to college, career, and adult readiness). School psychologists can help students, families, and educators negotiate a student’s progression across those transitions.
8. Data. School psychologists can help generate and interpret data for use in school improvement processes or to support the student team’s goal setting and progress monitoring efforts. Data is used to make decisions about programs and interventions at every level—district, building, classroom, and individual student levels.
7. Improved instruction. School psychologists can help improve instruction by reviewing curriculum, conducting classroom observations, and collaborating with teachers and administrators to address needed improvements. They can facilitate diagnostic assessment and analysis of student information.
6. Positive behavior supports. School psychologists are ever mindful of the culture and climate of a school. They understand factors that shape school climate, can identify when those factors are negatively contributing to school climate, and can assist in correcting those negative issues.
5. Behaviors and discipline. Analyzing behavior, designing and supporting implementation of appropriate interventions, and evaluating effectiveness of interventions are definitely a part of any school psychologist’s training.
4. Communication. Academic and behavior problems are best addressed within a community of support. A school psychologist can collaborate with parents and/or community-based providers to enhance the school’s ability to make a difference. Coordinating communication greatly enhances the effectiveness of interventions.
3. Student’s mental health. To support a student’s ability to learn, schools must support a student’s mental health. Mental health ranges from wellness (for example, using appropriate social skills, having a positive attitude, and demonstrating skills of resilience) to serious mental disorder (for example, depression, anxiety, or obsessive compulsive disorder) and includes risk behaviors (such as self-harm, drug abuse, or suicide). School psychologists are trained to recognize a student’s status in the range of mental health and to take action steps to address a student’s needs.
2. Crisis prevention and intervention. When school psychologists are included on a school’s crisis team, they can contribute to team development, prevention planning, staff training, and community collaboration. In the event of a crisis, school psychologists can provide intervention and supports to students, staff members, and community members.
1. Support. The number one value of a school psychologist is the capacity they have to support others. In developing caring relationships with students, families, staff members, administrators and co-workers, they are often considered a confidante or a shoulder to lean on. At ESU 10, our school psychologists are not only “there for” their assigned schools, families, and students, they are also there for one another. Here, at ESU 10, we can easily say, the sky is the limit when we support one another.
If you recognize the valuable resource you have in your school psychologist, celebrate his or her work during School Psychology Awareness week, November 9-13, 2015.
Reference. Reiser, D., Cowan, K., Skalski, Sl, & Klotz, M. (2010). A More Valuable Resource. Principal Leadership, 12-16, Retrieved October 21, 2015, from http://www.nasponline.org/resources/principals/school_psychologists-nov10_nassp.pdf
-by Patrice Feller, MTSS Facilitator