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From the Mouths of Babes…What is a School Psychologist?

Happy School Psychology Awareness Week! (SPAW! SPAW!)*


Our profession is a difficult one to explain. When I tell people I’m a school psychologist, I often get “Oh, you’re a counselor!” Then, in order to avoid taking up that person’s hour with all the roles of a school psychologist, I simply say, “Kind of! But more like if a counselor and a teacher had a baby. And that baby grew up and helped figure out what is getting in the way of learning for students and works with students, parents, and teachers to develop and implement a plan.” And because this year’s SPAW theme is knowing your strengths, I’m going to add that I help figure out what is getting in the way of learning and what is helping learning. And how zeitgeisty am I for picking my new school resolution to do a strengths survey? Toot toot! (my own horn).

In honor of this week (which I actually remembered this year!) I asked my lovely Facebook Page school psychologists what kids have said about what it is we do. Here’s a sample of the responses.

I love.

  • You’re the lady that reads people’s minds! 
  •  The one who comes in and takes kids when they don’t do their work.
  • One
    of my kiddos I tutor told me that I was the person who “made sure she
    wasn’t forgotten”.
  • School psychs “do plans to help kids.” 
  • One kid asked me if I could move things with my mind.
  • “They ‘testis’ kids with the ‘Wiscer’ 4.”
  • I
    asked my 6 year old son: “They be nice to each other every night and
    they do nice kind things for kids and teachers. Ya know – that kinda
  • Several
    third graders recently asked the learning specialist, “Who is that
    girl?” (referring to me). She said, “Oh, that is the school psych.” and
    one kid said, “Oh, the person who digs up bones?” and then the other kid
    said, “The school psychopath? I didn’t know our school had one of
    those!” She came to tell me this later – it totally made my day.
    Sometimes I feel like the school psychopath… :)
  • :)I’ve
    had a preschool boy say “Hello, Officer” to me several times this week.
    It must have been the Teacher-I mean School Psych-Look I gave him when
    he was acting out during nap time a few days earlier. :)
  • I had students obviously trying to discuss and decide who I was, then one asked, “You’re a spy aren’t you?!”
  • One
    time I had a few kids refer to me as being with the FBI because I kept
    “snooping” around in their classroom taking notes and observing everyone
  • The answer I get most often is “they help people.” Yes, we do!
  • Several times kids asked me if I owned the school. =)
  • “Helps special needs kids and helps out teachers when they need a little help”– says my savvy son!
  • The “brain teacher”. :)
  • I have been called the “behavior police” and the “thumbs up lady” :)
  • I’ve
    heard kiddos say that our school psychologist’s job is: “to type on the
    computer all day” and “the school counselor’s assistant”
  •  I had a kid tell me last year I was, “The lady for when you’re sad.”

And my personal favorite:

  • “The teacher that walks around the school!”

 So as you are walking around the school this week, feel proud of all the things you do–spy, help, dig up bones, type, teach about the brain, own the school, and give the Wiscer 4! Or keep it simple…as one of my kiddos said when I asked what a school psychologist does, “I don’t know, but I think they love kids.”


*Every year. I cannot help myself from cawing like a bird when I say it’s “SPAW.” 

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Comments on From the Mouths of Babes…What is a School Psychologist?

  1. I was excited about this great idea and even got as far as talking to my teacher about it – and that's how far I got it.

  2. buffalomama says:

    I have deep respect for the job you do. And I know this is a lighthearted post. But it really bothers me that kids report seeing the role of school psychologist as a "spy" or an enforcer ("takes kids when they don't do their work" or "behavior police"). My own son was having anxiety problems in school and thought the psychologist was "spying" on him when she came to observe–and it really increased his anxiety. I hope and believe that you're not complacent or just amused when kids say things that suggest that they don't trust the school psychologist to put their interests first….

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