Thriving School Psych Thriving Students

School Psychology Awareness Week: Monday

It’s School Psychology Awareness Week! More importantly, I actually remembered this year, unlike the last two years! This year’s theme is SHINE. Or something. I’ll do my best to shine all week, I promise. This morning, I thought: What better way to shine a light on my illustrious profession than to do another popular “Day in the Life” posting? Tens of people have written me and thanked me for showing them what the profession is really like. You just can’t ignore tens of fans.

I have debated if it is good to post a real-live day, as I think this week is supposed to be about positively promoting our profession and all we do. But honestly, some days, all I do is run around hitting proverbial brick walls and readjusting my day. I think maybe showing the frustrating stuff too will help people understand why I always look so frazzled.* So, I bring you, in the name of School Psychology Awareness, my day today:

6:00 am: Workout at gym before work. I had to throw that in to be a smug pre-work worker outer. Seek comfort that it doesn’t happen every day. Daylight savings gave me an extra hour. We’ll see how long it lasts.

7:00 am: Gather up 8 hojillion folders and test kits.

7:30 am: Assemble “urban camping” pack. There are no grocery stores, places to eat, or places to purchase items other than liquor and hot chips anywhere near my schools. Must bring non perishable snacks because fridge is broken at one school site. Also, no microwavable stuff because some sites’ microwaves are circa 1982 and they frighten me. Office space could be 10 degrees or 100 degrees. Dress in layers. Again, like camping, one must be prepared for shelter and food needs.

8:00 am: Drive to School A to test students for three year reviews of their special education programs at a non-public school (special schools for kids who have bounced out of general school programs and need a higher level of care) . One kid absent, one kid tried to scale 8 foot fence to get away from me/my testing, one kid refuses. And I think I just got some good information about how they’re doing, even though I didn’t get to see them.

8-9am: Drive to School B, waaaaaaaay across town. Listen to Spanish podcast and practice past tense verbs. Good info for my Spanish dual-immersion school, where I currently use only the present tense because it’s the one I know. I’m sure the Spanish-speaking parents think I’m very Zen and present.

9am: Arrive at School B with 5 other professionals to hold team meeting about a student with an intellectual disability. This meeting has been overdue for months. Parent doesn’t show up. Again. This is why the meeting is so overdue. It reflects badly on my performance numbers down with the Powers That Be at the special education department. But what are you going to do? Reschedule.

10am: Since it’s my 10th year of working in the pubic schools, I suspected our meeting may not go forward as planned, so just in case, I packed my bag for Plan B—testing a student at School B. Being a school psych requires mad executive functioning skills.

11am: Head to main office to get student. Director of school introduces herself to me even though I’ve worked at this school for 3 years, off and on.

11-12: Director gets a surly teen for me to test. She introduces me as Pamela, even thought I’ve worked there for 3 years, off and on, and have just told her my name. Whatevs. School psychs are constantly re-introducing themselves, because they are often all over the district. Test surly teen for an hour. She is totally not into it until I note she has the same last name as a student at School C who I tested. It’s her cousin. She totally warms up to me and my testing. Score.

12:01: In the middle of testing, giant crashing noise and screaming in hallway begins. Wild cursing and slamming of objects ensues (desk? chair? Hard to tell). Girlfriend I’m testing doesn’t even look up. It is a typical day. This is a school for students who have bounced out of their public schools for, well, this type of event.

12:15: Cops arrive and totally trap my car in the parking lot.

12:45: Glad I packed my urban camping snacks. Munch on trailmix and chat to various staff I needed to check in with.

1:00: Child in crisis now returns to classroom. I note he has a teddy bear earring in his ear, as if to remind everyone he is still a kid. I wonder if he will be one of my customers this year.

1-2: Drive to district office to write reports, because it’s a secret hiding place I go to get work done. It’s a horrible building full of “inspirational” quotes that do not make me forget that I greeted a person diving in our dumpster on the way in, and our school district has shabby facilities. Flying eagle posters are not sufficient to raise my spirits in this dump of a building. For example, I pass a sign that reads, “Air Quality Meeting: Under Stairwell at 2pm”.

2-4: Write reports. It’s kind of boring. I never write about it in my blog, because, well, it’s boring. But it’s a huuuuuge part of my day, every day.

I don’t know if this post does much for PROMOTING school psychology, but it certainly is an accurate portrayal of the stuff that lies between the great moments with children (you know, the good stuff, like teaching the children well, showing them the beauty they possess inside, giving them a sense of pride, letting their laughter remind us of how we used to be, and whatnot.)

Happy School Psychology Awareness Week! Woo hoo!

*Contrary to my head shot for this blog, I typically do not hang out by school busses with perfectly coiffed hair. I know, you’re shocked.

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Comments on School Psychology Awareness Week: Monday

  1. I loved the "air quality meeting" bit. That sounds like it came from a modern version of "Up the Down Staircase."

  2. Anonymous says:

    I love your blog. funny and real. Does all the traveling get tiring though?

  3. Rebecca says:

    @ Sioux: I know, it's ridiculous!
    @Anon: Yeah, sometimes going all over town can get tiring. You'll note in my post I only ate trail mix. No time for lunch on these days. On other days, I stay put though, so it balances out. Sometimes it's nice to leave for a new school though. Change of scenery and whatnot. 🙂

  4. Angela says:

    That was both entertaining AND informative. And I both idolize and pity you now. 🙂

  5. Anonymous says:

    These posts always make me glad I'm applying for school psych programs. I love to be all over the place and I hate doing the same old same old everyday and even the bad stuff like writing reports doesn't sound too bad to me. Thanks for writing posts like this I love it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I'm a new school psychologist this year. I was trained under RtI and the role I am in is still very "traditional". Any advice on where might be a good place to find good information on how to analyze discrepancies between WISC-IV and Woodcock-Johnson scores?

  7. Maria says:

    I want to be one of the tens and say thank you for this post. I'm a school psych grad student, and can't wait to get out there. We all must be a special breed of crazy, but it suits us. Thanks for giving me a glimpse into my future.

  8. ChristieP says:

    Change the surly teen to a pouty preschooler, and throw in a fire drill during a timed subtest, and it sounds alot like my Monday too . . . .

  9. Anonymous says:

    I'm an assistant principal at an NPS. I can say that I 100% understand your experience in trying to test 🙂 I find my day is a lot like yours in that I am constantly handling issues with students and parents on a daily basis, leaving little time for what I actually have to do! Though I am usually looking quite frazzled myself, I have to say I am never bored at work!

  10. Delia says:

    I love your blog! I'm a 2nd year school psych in Florida. I can relate so much to your schedule! I just found your blog today and I am hooked!

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