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I Promise Not to Sing: Reflections on School Psychology

What do school psychologists and Disney Princesses have in common?

Reflection! We love reflecting on our world as it is, and how we want it to be. At the end of school year, I love to dive deep into reflecting on my year, how to make peace with what did not go to plan, and strategizing ways to improve my practice as a school psychologist and educator.

Unlike a Disney Princess though, I do not need to look in a reflective water source to do so. Wait….does a cup of coffee counts as a reflection pool?

Reflecting in the reflection of my reflection journal…as you do.

Since I’ve had rather large cup of caffeinated water today, go ahead and lean into the fact that this will be a long post. To reward those of you who read to the end, I have two fun announcements to share (scrollers…see ya later, I know what you’re going to do. I forgive you.)  

Humble (and Ugly) Beginnings

When I first started Notes from the School Psychologist Blog in 2007, I had no idea what it would become. I was writing into the newly formed blogosphere to connect and share with other school psychologists. It was a visually ugly platform called BLOGSPOT, and I wish I had a screenshot of the “Before” picture of my blog to show you that I’ve come a long way, baby, with making the site not look like eye poison and all.

Back to the blog. Truthfully, I was early in my career, excited, and I wanted to share the joys and challenges of this crazy profession we call school psychology. With each notification that someone had commented, I was so excited to be connecting with other school psychs. I was no longer alone in my “silo of suffering” when days got tough and I could laugh at all the madness. Like the time I was asked to do a behavior plan for a cat? Or when I got dinged on my internship evaluation for my pants and started dressing like a Sister Wife from Big Love? Good times.

In my blog’s adolescence, I started the Facebook page for the group Notes From the School Psychologist [@schoolpsych] and this is where things got really fun. I got to really interact with you all. I got to see your faces and get to know you. I got to post your questions and you got to hear from your school psychs across the country—we started giving each other validation, support, and comic relief.

I recently posted a question “What is the worst professional development you have ever been to?” and I seriously almost wrecked my computer by spitting out coffee on it reading the answers (The winner goes to the school psychologist who wrote that her district hired a motivational speaker for thousands and thousands of dollars who told them to “water the bamboo” and then no one spoke of it again). Awesome use of district funds, guys.

What’s next? What does my blog look like all grown up?

Connecting and Growing Together

Born out of the joy of creating practical strategies and content specific to help school psychologists in their jobs, The Thriving School Psychologist Collective™ online course and community was born.

I was tired of “professional development” that had nothing to do with our jobs. I literally have sat in a 6-hour training on an assessment tool, gotten really excited to use it, and then learned that the district does not have, nor plan to purchase this said tool. Neat.

I wanted to create a positive community of like-minded school psychologists who, like me, are ready to take meaningful steps to making this career everything we know it can be—full of prevention, intervention, connections with our school community, and not meaningless paperwork.

I don’t want school psychologists to be in silos of suffering or just have an online space to post their frustration and not have any tools to deal with it.

I created the Thriving School Psychologist Collective because I was tired of seeing amazing school psychologists leave my district in search of greener pastures, or leaving the profession altogether. I was tired of feeling alone in my suffering and being torn between having a life and enjoying my family and keeping my job. Even when I was thinking of quitting, I knew deep down we have the potential to lead the charge to being more than testing machines. 

I also created the Thriving School Psychologist Collective because I know we can do better. Yes, it’s about learning to be more efficient so we don’t get overwhelmed, but it’s also about reinventing our roles and staying motivated and clear so we can be a force for good in our schools and inspire, and ultimately be “the sage” for mentoring new school psychologists. 

I’m humbled and honored that hundreds of school psychologists have already joined me in The Thriving School Psychologist Collective online course and community. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes us all together in years to come.

The Larger Mission: School Psychologists as Linchpins in Improving Mental Health and Learning Services in Schools

When school psychologists are given the tools and time to use their full skillsets, the larger school community benefits. My journey from being a blogger about school psychology to cultivating a professional learning community for us in the Thriving School Psychologist Collective has taught me so much. I am proud to be on a mission to help each and every one of us THRIVE and not just SURVIVE in this profession.

Real talk time.

We don’t have time to wait for legislation to be passed giving us a reasonable caseload.  We can’t sit around hoping districts start to see our value as more than testing machines. Until that happens, we have to show up on Monday. I have realized in my (gulp!) almost 20 years of experience as a school psychologist that change must start with US.  

Yes, we can streamline the monotonous parts of our job to make way for the “real work” we do with students. I teach that all day long in the Thriving School Psychologist and data shows that these strategies cut down on report writing time. It’s only the first step though.

More importantly, we have to stand up for reasonable caseloads and get the support we need to do our jobs fully. We have to practice self-care and keep ourselves and our talented colleagues from leaving the profession. We have to work towards changing the broken system.

If someone was going to show up for us and make it happen for school psychologists, it would have happened by now. We have a choice: accept “what is” and slog through our careers, or band together to get real change on the grassroots level to make this career what it was intended to be: helping prevent student failure and improving student outcomes in school and life.

Sounds Like a Me-Monster Moment, but it’s Actually about YOU.

Okay, so if you didn’t just skip to the announcement, thanks for diving into the reflection pool with me. I didn’t even get to sing a Disney Princess song about school psychology hopes and dreams. Shoot. Next time.

Okay, here you go! Your reward for reading my manifesto!

Two cool things just came off my vision board, y’all.

Announcement #1:

I recently spoke with the fabulous new president elect of the National Association of School Psychologists about what we’re doing at the Thriving School Psychologist Collective and….

…wait for it….

I just found out I’ll be a featured speaker at the National Association of School Psychologists Convention in Baltimore in February of 2020!

I’ll be sharing with you all how self-care and prevention of school psychologist burnout is critical to our movement to be leaders at our schools. This will be an über-practical session about how to work within imperfect systems to be so much more than “testing machines.” I’ll be talking about ways we can stand up together to be advocates for school mental health and learning services we know our kids deserve.

I. Cannot. Wait.

I’m so excited to present and meet y’all in person! I know it’s a long way away until February, but who is joining me at NASP2020???

Announcement #2:

This post is also a ridiculously long way of announcing that I have a brand new Instagram account dedicated to the larger mission of making sure that school psychologists get the support they need in schools so that they can do their jobs.

I know, I know, I’m 2000-and-late with the Instagram, but I stand behind the hashtag #latebutworththewait, in addition to my Thriving School Psychologist (TSP) hashtags: #thrivingschoolpsych and #tspgoals.

Follow me on Instagram @thrivingschoolpsych here!

The Instagram account is for the NEXT LEVEL advocacy and larger mission that the NASP Convention stands for this year: 2020 Vision: Leadership in Focus.

We are all leaders. Step one is to join us in the conversation about the bigger movement for school psychology as a profession. We will be posting practical ways to unshackle ourselves from our laptops and be more than testing and report writing machines so that we can do the work we’re meant to do.

[Climbs off soapbox]

So, in summary: Nothing will be changing about the blog or Notes from the School Psychologist Facebook page.

I will still post resources that school psychologists need as well as pictures that no one else would get but us.

Like this one, where I accidentally painted my nails WISC red (and hats off to the school psych who commented that I paint some of them red, some of them white, and some of them half red and half white next time). Ha!

I’m excited about this next level and can’t believe it all started with a random blog post in 2007. I’m delighted that Notes from the School Psychologist blog was the catalyst for the growing Thriving School Psychologist movement. To summarize the shift, I’ll leave you with words in the spirit of the poet J-Lo:

“Don’t worry about the new Thriving School Psychologist Instagram I got, I’m still Rebecca from the blog.” 🙂

All the clicks to Be a Part of the Thriving School Psychologist Movement

Click here to follow Thriving School Psychologist on Instagram.

Click here to follow Thriving School Psychologist on Facebook.

Click here to follow Notes from the School Psychologist on Facebook (15K+ strong and growing…whaaaaa? SO. AWESOME.)

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Comments on I Promise Not to Sing: Reflections on School Psychology

  1. Gabriela Eisenberg says:

    This was my first year of receiving Thriving… I enjoyed it lots. Good luck to you this coming year, but first, and most importantly, hope you have a relaxing Summer and lots of time to enjoy you, your family and friends.

    1. Rebecca says:

      Hi Gabriela! Thanks for posting, glad you enjoyed being a part of the Thriving School Psychologist Collective! 🙂 Enjoy your summer too!

  2. Sara Baskin says:

    I love your posts! Not only do you offer useable tips and strategies for making the daily life and long term life of the career easier but I also really enjoy seeing pictures of WISC red nails or blogs titled something to do with Disney princesses.
    Congratulations on NASP!!

    1. Rebecca says:

      Thanks Sara! I can get the name of that nail polish for you, if that’s what you’re asking. 😉 Ha! Seriously though, thank you for taking the time to share your kind words!

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