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The Calming Corner: 5 of the best things about being a School Psychologist (and 5 things that are difficult, too!)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

5 of the best things about being a School Psychologist (and 5 things that are difficult, too!)

I've gotten a few questions lately from those starting out a career in school psychology, or contemplating starting a graduate school program.  The question I get asked most is one that I asked myself not too too long ago- Is school psychology the right career for me?

My answer is that I'm a believer that there is no "perfect" job out there.  Being a school psychologist is by no means easy, but it is  so worth it.

Today I thought I'd share 5 of the best things about being a School Psych, and 5 things that are tough for me, personally. In the end, I think it is a GREAT career, especially for a working mom.  Always feel free to reach out with any questions you might have!

1.  You get to watch kids grow from year to year.  This is probably my FAVORITE thing about this job.  I remember at my last school (which I loved), I would think every year if the next one would be the one where I looked for a job closer to my home.  Every time I'd think that though, there'd always be at least one kid that I'd want to see graduate before I left.  There is something so special about developing a relationship with a student for years, and being a person that can offer insight into their history and needs

2.  You get to make your own schedule (for the most part).  I know this varies by state, district, and even school.  I've had both ends of the spectrum-principals who fully trusted in me to get things done, and those who wanted to know who I was seeing and when.  Still, for the most part, I get to determine when I see groups, when I meet with parents, etc., and I like being able to have that control of my day.

3.  You get to be someone's person.  As a school psychologist, no doubt you will be entrusted in some capacity with helping out with a difficult student-someone who needs extra attention, support and strategies.  As school psychs, we get to be that listening person, when it seems like home life and school life and too hard, you get to be the one that says "come on it, let's just sit and play a game-maybe we'll talk?", and get that student to open up.
4.  You get to know everyone in the school.  I love this about my job.  I love that the gym teacher counts on me as much as the special education does.

5.  You get to help solve the mystery.  I know every school psych has their opinion on assessments and testing.  I'm lucky enough that I've been able to balance doing psychoeducational assessments with other parts of my job, so that I haven't gotten too overwhelmed with them.  Being able to be the person that helps figure out why a student isn't progressing in one area of another is often well received by my parents and teachers that it makes me feel like I'm helping them in one way or another.

1.  There's just not enough time in the day.  Kids these days have a lot on their plate.  And so many children in schools could benefit from extra lunch bunches, or friendship groups or problem solving strategies that I honestly think I could have 2 of me in my current school, and find work to do.

2.  You're the only one of you around.  Again, this varies by district, but I've always felt a little jealous of the special education teachers, classroom teachers, etc. who have grade level partnerships that they can bounce ideas off of.  I've had awesome special education team members, and a great support system in my last district, but sometimes I wish I could just walk across the hall and ask another psychologist what their thoughts are on an assessment.  In both my jobs I've had social workers that have been at my placements 1-2 days a week, but I always wish they were there full-time!

3.  You are often asked to make some difficult decisions.  Along with our training as school psychologists comes the knowledge that many other staff aren't prepared with, so when it comes time to weigh in on special education eligibility, or a difficult family case, it can be emotionally draining to be the person that has to make that decision.

4. You have to work with everyone.  Just as I mentioned above that you get to know and work with everyone in the school setting, this can also be tough.  You learn to adapt and manage difficult relationships with teacher, staff and parents, and in the end, do what's best for your students.

5.  You sometimes have to defend your decisions.  It's not often that you have cases where attorneys or advocates are involved, but when there are, it can be tough.  It took me a few years of developing tougher skin, and not taking questions or criticism of my work personally.  In the end, parents and teams all want what is best for these kiddos, but that doesn't necessarily mean we all agree on what that is ;)

What do you guys think are the best and toughest parts of this job?

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