It’s School Psychology Awareness Week (SPAW)! This presents a wonderful opportunity for me to stop and reflect on the positives of my profession as a School Psychologist.
Why Become a School Psychologist?
I remember when I made the decision to become a School Psychologist.
Back then, I had been working for more than ten years as a Developmental Specialist. In that position, I provided in-home support for families with children from birth to five with different types of disabilities. In 2011, I became increasingly interested in supporting them in the transition from their home into the school system.
Although I was presently supporting them in the most important years of their development, when they reached school age, I often wondered… What’s next? Can I no longer support these families? What will happen to these children now?
Furthermore, I constantly wondered: Will the school understand these children’s needs? Will the school support parents and make them equal team members, and active participants in their child’s individualized plan? Will parents understand their rights?
Not only are these things critical to a child’s academic success, but the school staff should also understand that socioeconomic status, language proficiency and level of appropriate instruction also greatly impact a student’s performance.
That is when I decided to become a School Psychologist.
I wanted to keep a continuum of my advocacy and passion for children who learn differently. For example, severe health impairments oftentimes negatively impact a child’s academic progress. Also, these children may not have the emotional coping skills to regulate themselves when faced with challenges, or they may lack the ability to build or maintain healthy relationships. I wanted to advocate for them and become an open resource to anyone who worked with these students.
SPAW is about bringing awareness to our schools and communities. This week presents an opportunity to highlight available resources for children and their families.
What Does a School Psychologist Do?
The School Psychologist helps to form and bring a team together! This team can consist of the student’s guardians, teachers, resource specialists, administrators or anyone the parents wish to involve. In this team, our goal is to identify the barriers a student may face when it comes to learning, and to also focus on the early implementation of research-based, targeted interventions. These interventions are especially designed for those students who exhibit some learning difficulties early on, and they help to discourage the classic “wait to fail” model. It’s the difference between being proactive versus retroactive.
Lastly, when school staff are equipped with knowledge and the right tools and resources to best support students from diverse backgrounds and with different needs, they are able to unlock the student’s true potential. In addition, providing differentiated instruction shows understanding, and that acceptance can help a teacher to best serve the student through the ups and downs of their overall development.
What is the Goal of a School Psychologist?
The goal is to always try our best to unlock each child’s potential, no matter what the challenges are.
Let’s spread the love and understanding this 2018 School Psychology Awareness Week! Today especially, I would like to express my personal appreciation to my dear colleagues, and to all schools that have supported and welcomed a School Psychologist as part of their team.
Thank you also to the wonderful parents who constantly advocate for their children, and strive to learn new ways to best support them during their educational journey. It is true what they say… It takes a village! School Psychologists are proud to be a key part of that support system.