What exactly does a school psychologist do? I’m sure this is a question many educators might have, since the role of a school psychologist can be rather vast depending on states, districts, and schools. school psychologists can fill a number roles; however, they are most commonly and traditionally viewed as the professional who “tests” kids for special education. This, however, is only a portion of what a school psychologist can actually do to help teachers, administrators, students, and parents.
Guest post by Laura from Discovering Hidden Potential
It is important to know that school psychologists are highly trained in both education and psychology. They must complete a specialist level degree which includes 60 graduate hours and a year-long internship. This training prepares them to be specialized in learning, behavior, curriculum, instruction, assessment, school law and motivation. So, what can the school psychologist do to help you?
School psychologists support student’s emotional, social, and behavioral health. They evaluate eligibility for special education services and make referrals to help coordinate community services. The also teach parenting skills and help enhance home-school communication.
In practice: Some ways I have worked with parents in the past is designing and implementing a “Parent University” with in a high poverty school. This program helped parents learn different techniques to use with promoting academic success, remedy behavior problems, and promote positive communication with the school. Another way that I work with parents on almost a daily basis is explain and interpret learning problems in a parent friendly manner. This is done by breaking down the barriers to learning and providing recommendations to assist with learning difficulties.
School psychologists help administrators collect and analyze data related to accountability and school wide improvements. They promote best practices that ensure safety of all students and respond to crises by providing leadership and coordination with community services. They also help with designing a school wide mental health programs.
In practice: I have to admit some administrators do not utilize the school psychologist to their full potential. School psychologists can play a vital role in boosting student achievement as they are trained in examining and interpreting data. In the past, I have worked on school and district leadership teams to assist with implementation of Response to Intervention. Additionally, I have provided hundreds of professional development sessions with teachers covering topics regarding best academic and behavioral practices. I have also dealt with crisis situations from threat assessments to suicide.
School psychologists help teachers to identify and resolve academic barriers to learning. They help design and implement academic and behavior interventions, as well as provide progress monitoring tools to measure student growth. They assist in creating positive school and classroom environments, and help support individual instruction for students with learning problems.
In practice: Consultation with teachers happens on a daily basis for most school psychologists. This is done through conversations in the hallway, to eligibility meetings for special education services. I like to incorporate weekly emails giving behavior tips and lots of classroom observations in order to give teachers additional assistance for struggling learners. Two wonderful resources for teachers are Intervention Central and FCCR. I regularly access these sites for all types of ready to use interventions, and best of all, they are all research based!
As you can see a school psychologist can fill a number of roles in your school. In many cases the psychologist’s time is stretched, since caseloads can sometimes be high. However, it is important to know which types of services could benefit you and your students.
As part of giving teachers additional tips today, I have included a FREEBIE!!! Visit the link below to get a copy of my Statement Cards. This resource is designed to help students use their behavior strategies, and can greatly increase desired behaviors. Check out my blog, Discovering Hidden Potential, where I often give tips, tricks, and more freebies on how to implement these interventions and many others!
Laura has worked as a school psychologist for the past 10 years and is currently a Special Education Coordinator in South Carolina. She is married with two sweet daughters and loves sailing, running, and spending time with her family. Check out her blog, Discovering Hidden Potential, Facebook, Pinterest, and her Teachers Pay Teachers store for more behavior resources and classroom management techniques, as well as early learning resources she has created for her own children. For more information about how school psychologists can help in your school or how to become a school psychologist, check out The National Association of School Psychologist website.