10 Reasons I Love Being a School Psychologist
Being a School Psychologist is not an easy career, but it IS a worthwhile career. To be honest, there are intense days, when the needs of so many children pile up, with solid timelines looming, reports to write, children to evaluate, behavior plans to tweak, etc. There are difficult meetings, where standing firm in what you believe is not easy. There are times when I’m angered and horrified by what some of my children have been through or are going through. People will occasionally say to me, “I don’t know how you do what you do.” I do what I do, because I want to spend my life in a career that makes a difference. School Psychologists make a difference.
Since I have worked more than 10 years of School Psychology, I will list ten reasons I love being a School Psychologist. Difficult? Yes! Worthwhile? Double yes!
1. Seeing a child “rise above,” make positive changes, and blossom. I love watching a child with seemingly the bleakest future, change and get on a path for success. I have seen some students who have had behaviors so severe they were getting very close to going to an alternative school placement. I love when interventions work and those same students make lasting changes, and have positive peer and teacher relationships. I can think of a particular student who went from earning his way out of the office every single morning because behavior was so severe, to reaching his goal of making straight A’s three years later and becoming a role model for younger children in the process. He made a journal of all of the teachers and school staff who helped him over the years at that school. I have no doubt that I witnessed the course of his life change, and it warms my heart.
2. Solving the mystery of why a student is having difficulty learning. School Psychologists go to Child Study Meetings and hear the concerns from perplexed teachers and parents who can not understand why a student is having difficulty learning. If the team decides to evaluate, School Psychologists get started testing. We get to be the detectives, determining the child’s strengths and weaknesses and hopefully solving the mystery of why the student is struggling. School Psychologists also get to make suggestions based on those strengths to help the student learn.
3. Seeing his self image change. Children displaying behavioral problems often view themselves as a “bad kid.” The best way to change a behavior is to create a plan that helps the child be successful while changing his self image. It is great when a behavior plan works, more so when the child’s attitude and world view also change. Children who believe they are “good kids” will make life choices based on that perception.
4. Collaboration with a wonderful team of Psychologists. I am blessed to have a close network of other School Psychologists for support. They are invaluable not only for brainstorming on difficult cases, but to have as true friends. The Psychologists in my school system have a standing Wednesday lunch date, where we can come together and process our more difficult cases and support each other.
5. Connecting with parents and families from a variety of cultures. My world view has certainly changed and I have learned so much by working with families from different cultures other than my own. I enjoy learning about their history and experiences. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with students who are here as refugees. I love working in a diverse community.
6. Having the opportunity to attend workshops and expand my knowledge. School Psychologists have to be current and knowledgeable in a number of areas. We must continually learn and gain new information in order to be up-to-date. I have been blessed to attend the National Association of School Psychologists National Conference and have been to many other worthwhile workshops.
7. Hugs in the hallway. I love the excited wave or the hug from a child I have been working with as we pass in the hallway.
8. Supervising my Practicum Student and giving back to my field. I have had a great experience the last several years being a Practicum Supervisor and helping a future School Psychologist gain actual field experience. Working next to someone with a fresh vision and excitement motivates me.
9. Observing in a classroom with amazing teachers. I love seeing positive teaching and exciting activities taking place in classrooms. There are many special teachers who have made such a dramatic influence in their kid’s lives. The creativity, compassion, and energy is inspiring.
10. Summer break. I must be honest: I do love having a job where I get a little time off during the summer to rejuvenate and prepare myself for the next school year. After a year of all that intensity, a little time by the pool with my own children is needed!