3 New Year’s Resolutions for the School Psychologist
Just like every year, there will be many “frustrating” moments where you are smiling politely on the outside and yelling “really?!” (or whatever word it is that you actually yell in your head that I maybe should not type into this article). Keep calm in the moment, breathe, and move forward. Remember all of the good reasons that you love being a School Psychologist.
Remember to Keep Calm:
…Even when the student you NEED to test today is absent…. AGAIN!
…Even when the referral list is longer than your grocery list.
…Even when you know that the BIP with so much potential was not properly implemented, and the teacher exclaims “nothing is working.”
…Even when people won’t stop calling eligibility meetings, Child study meetings, or any meeting you attend an IEP meeting.
…Even when he wastes time trying to erase with a pencil that has no eraser!!
…Even when the parent hands you the prescription for an IEP for the pediatrician.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink plenty of water and Chant “I don’t need that Dr. Pepper to write a report, I don’t need that Dr. Pepper to write a report…” But don’t rely on willpower. Plan ahead and bring tea, a smoothie, or a healthy alternative when you know you are vulnerable to dig in the purse for quarters and head to the soda machine.
- Support your immune system! Pack your essential oils to help prevent illnesses and boost your immune system. Schools are like a giant petri dish, so be prepared to battle those viruses. I take high quality vitamins and I use certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils that have antiviral and antibacterial properties. See also “Surviving the School Day with Essential Oils.”
- Be Active! Carve out time to exercise, because carrying 20 bags around doesn’t count. It only makes you lopsided. There is so much research showing how exercise helps our mental health, our cognitive health, as well as our physical health. Find your thing and keep it going. I cannot stress how important this is. Feel good and be a good example for the kids! Once you get it in your routine, you won’t ever regret it.
#3 Master the art of time management:
- Always have a backup plan. If you plan to test and you find out both kids you needed that day are on a field trip, start writing a report or do some observations. Stay productive, even when the day didn’t go as expected.
- Stay on top of your referral list. The referrals are pouring in. The time is soon coming when all of those referrals are due. Don’t fall behind. Most of us have been in the rut where we are writing reports the day or so before eligibility. That adds stress of worrying about whether the student is absent or cooperative and leaves no space for flexibility. When you have hit that point, it’s so hard to keep your head above water, and even harder to get ahead. Instead of working on future cases, you are finishing the ones due this week. That means next week, you have the same stress. It continues until you either have a break in referrals or the school year ends.
My suggestion is to stay out of the rut entirely. Believe me, that is an added stress in your life that you do not need! With early planning and discipline, you can avoid the last minute report writing rut. When the referral list is getting long, count out how many reports need to be written each week to ensure that you aren’t writing 5 a week in May. Carve out a plan and stick with it! The earlier you start, the better off you will be. Currently, I am in a 2 a week pattern. I plan out which two reports must be written each week (in pencil of course, because those names will need to switch around due to reality). Sometimes, I write 1 report and 2 partial reports when I’m missing rating scales or need to do follow up testing. It evens out in the end, if I stick with it. I have been known to work a little late on a Friday afternoon to get my second report in that isn’t due for a month. It’s worth it to keep the stress away. You can’t control all stressful situations in this job, but you do have some control over this.