Hi, again! Here is your “What I wish I knew: Advice to College Grads, Part 2”. This blog will be focusing on your new job and what to keep in mind as you start your new job and school year.
Here’s some advice from one school psychologist to you:
- It takes 5 years. Just remember this. You may be a very good school psychologist, maybe even the top of your class upon graduating, but you won’t be a great school psychologist until you have about 5 years of experience under your belt. That’s not said to discourage you but to encourage you. You will be facing interesting situations and challenges that grad school tried to prepare you for, but until you experience it first hand, it’s just words someone else has said. You will learn with these first 5 years how to perfect your personal time management, how to prioritize evaluations, how to create rapport with teachers, admin, staff, parents, and students, how to utilize your abilities to their fullest, etc. This is your time to try new things and see what works best for you. And if everything is not always perfect, that’s okay. You are still learning.
- Time management looks very different for everyone. I have found that a white board and a notebook work best for me. You will need to figure out how to handle meetings, testing/assessments, reports, and if there’s time, counseling sessions. The key here is to NOT take everything home at the end of the day. I did that plenty of times and I do not recommend it. That report you are working on can actually wait till tomorrow. You definitely need some 'you' time, so try not to take work home. This is where your time management skills can come in handy. Figure out how to handle work at work. Also, you will need to figure out how to keep track of who you are testing, when they are due, and what needs to be done (especially if you have more than one school)
- You will probably be assigned to more than more school. It is very easy to feel overwhelmed but try not to. I recommend you plan your week by scheduling certain days with certain schools. Start each day at your school briefly touching base with your RtI coordinator/guidance counselor, admin, etc. It makes your day and timelines easier if you make sure everyone is on the same page. Don’t assume others will do this for you.
- A little rapport goes a long way. Spending a few minutes to chat with the front desk receptionist or calling a parent is very helpful. Being friendly and sociable can help the staff and parents see you as part of their school and not just a visitor. I have found staff and parents listen to my advice when they feel like we have a connection. You will also face less resistance to interventions if the staff and parents feel like you actually care.
- I know this one sounds silly, but it’s true. Really listen to your teachers and parents. Usually there’s a lot more going on with the student than anyone either realizes or wants to admit. Sometimes, you have to play detective to figure out what is going on and how to best help. Listening to others is the best way to learn about the child. Listening to the child is also very helpful.
Remember your first year out in the field is your learning time. Hit your 60 day timelines and learn in the process. At the end of the day, you became a school psychologist to help children. Never forget your passion and everything else will fall into place.
Author: Kelly Dale, School Psychologist