Collaboration with colleagues within any work environment is important, but it is especially important within the school workplace where students’ academic success is dependent upon the effectiveness of our teamwork. Though there are plenty of individuals we must work with on a regular basis, one of our most important collaborations is with that of the school psychologist. They are an endless resource of information when it comes to diagnoses, implementation of RTI, and even therapy strategies.
RTI: I think everyone within the education system can agree that the RTI process can be confusing and frustrating; however, given federal regulations, it is a necessity if we want to be able to provide students with effective strategies that may or may not lead to an evaluation. In my experience, school psychologists have been my best resource when it comes to how to effectively implement RTI. With their knowledge of academics, I oftentimes go to them to choose strategies that are evidence-based and relative to the student, as well as to the curriculum. School psychs have helped me with understanding county-based test scores and graphs, which allow me to see how the student is progressing or not.
Diagnosis: We all know how lengthy the diagnosis process can be with paperwork, signatures, assessments, report writing – the list and steps involved can sometimes be overwhelming. When you have someone in your corner, though, the burden can be somewhat alleviated. School psychologists can help guide you in your choice of evaluation tools and provide you with some insight into the student’s cognitive abilities, including attention, memory, executive functioning, and processing. It’s important to look at the entire child during the evaluation process and it is nearly impossible to assess language skills without understanding the underlying cognitive processes. Be sure to collaborate with the school psych to get the best and most appropriate diagnosis for the student.
Therapy strategies: When we think of providing therapy, we oftentimes don’t think of the school psychologist, opting instead to remain in our rooms and figure it out on our own. But school psychologists have a vast knowledge of emotional, behavioral, and academic development. They are frequently overlooked when thinking of therapy plans and strategies. I have used my school psychologist in many situations to gain insight into how to work with a student with complex emotional needs, as well as behavioral obstacles. Remember, school psychologists may not know that we are having an issue with a student, so ask them for guidance if you find a situation particularly challenging – you may be surprised as to what they have to offer.
It’s most likely that your school psychologist entered their profession because of their love of psychology and their passion for the education system, so don’t be hesitant to go to them for advice or information. This week is School Psychologist Awareness Week, so be sure to stop by their office and show them a bit of gratitude for the work that they do!