This week is National School Psychologist Awareness Week! Surprisingly, I haven’t heard one salutation, no flowers, no candy, no cards, nothing. Why? Because I forgot to tell anyone. I’m my own worst P.R. agent. The National Association of School Psychologists gave me fair warning, too. In fact, they sent a real shiny poster of happy children with their school psychologist to display kids’ resilience. And the poster is smashed in my trunk next to all my test kits. I meant to put it up, really! I just got busy. I had 5895729857938 meetings and 58495723875983 kids to test and 879845793875 messages to return, and the week slipped away.*
And herein lies the problem. Besides being known as the Lady Who Puts People in Special Ed, I don’t make time to explain how school psychologists are so much more than special education assessors. Why? Because I’m usually assessing a kid. Now I love doing assessments because I get to have positive interactions with kids, but I am also trained to do prevention, intervention, counseling, consultation, and program development. That’s tough to squeeze that in between assessments.**
We as school psychologists must advocate for ourselves and push our districts and legislators for expanded roles if we want our profession to be viewed as more than special ed gatekeepers. In fact, I’m going to get that poster out of my trunk tomorrow and proudly display it in my janitors-closet-turned-office. And fret not, you still have tomorrow to lavish me and/or your local school psychologist with accolades!
*I never exaggerate. EVER.
**Made up school psych fact based on my own experience (N=1): The average assessment for a learning disability from start to finish, including the IEP meeting takes about 10 clock hours. Assessments for more complex disabilities such as Emotional Disturbance, AD/HD, Autism, etc. take about 20 clock hours. I carry on average 10 assessments at one time, all due in 60 days (including weekends, so it’s more like 45 school days). Assuming half LD, half others, I average 15 hrs per assessment.
Assume there are no field trips, assemblies, minimum days, tests the kid can’t miss, or absences. There are about 250 instructional minutes per day (about 4 real testing hours) after lunch, recess and transitions, so total about *beep boop beep boop calculator noise* 180 hrs for testing and I have 150 hrs of work. That’s if I don’t have to drive to another school, do any paperwork, go to a staff meeting, or talk to anyone. And that, my friends, is why one of my counselors at a school said I should get roller skates so I can move quicker from one student to the next.