Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

School Psychology Awareness: A Positive Approach

Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

School Psychology Awareness: A Positive Approach

Article excerpt

COMMUNICATION MATTERS

A recent parent visitor to the NASP website made two informative observations: (a) Wow, NASP has a lot of really helpful information; and (b) Wow, I hope my child never has to see a school psychologist! At the most basic level, this visitor summed up the contradiction imbedded in the role of the school psychologist and our efforts to connect with the broader school community. We spend much of our time dealing with the tough stuff that most people would prefer didn't occur. A school psychologist is kind of like a paramedic: You hope never to need one though you sure are glad to see them in an emergency.

MAKING POSITIVE A PRIORITY

Being the "go-to" person who understands how to deal with problems and help struggling students succeed is truly something to be proud of and promote. We want administrators, teachers, and parents to view us as an invaluable resource for effective problem solving. Although wellness promotion and a strength-based focus underlie everything school psychologists do, our "positive side" can easily get overshadowed by our "problem side." Why does this matter? First, a significant portion of the school community is not particularly problem-oriented or aware of the complexities of issues with which school psychologists deal. This can make us appear less relevant to the broader school community. Second, we know that if parents and schools engage in prevention strategies and focus on children's positive possibilities, children are more likely to be successful. The role of the school psychologist is not just to help put out the fires that arise. By attending to the entire continuum of intervention, we not only help promote better outcomes for students, but we also solidify the essential value of the school psychologist to the broad school community. Finally, leading with the positive offers comfortable common ground with a wider range of people and can serve as a bridge to more effective collaboration and problem-solving around the tough issues. Just like we learnedin Communicating With Parents 101: First tell mom what Billy does well, then discuss his disruptive behavior. Leave mom with a positive outlook about what will happen for him.

Shining a light on the positive aspects of our work and the possibilities in students' lives is the focus of national School Psychology Awareness Week, November 9-13, 2009. The theme, "See the possibilities in you. We do!" is directed to students more so than to other adults in the building. The program involves aseries of resources and activities that school psychologists can use to reach out to school staff, students, and parents to help students achieve their individual goals.

We are introducing a number of new components this year: a certificate for recognizing students, the "Student POWERAward" (in addition to the certificate recognizing colleagues); a Congressional resolution proclaiming National School Psychology Week; a national event based in Washington, DC related to school psychology awareness; an activity to help foster gratitude in students; and a partnership with Fishful Thinking, an outreach program sponsored by Pepperidge Farm to help parents promote optimism and resiliency in their children (see inset box). Additionally, the two certificates are permanently named, as opposed to changing each year with the theme, in order to build brand recognition among our colleagues and stakeholders.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES

School Psychology Awareness Week is one opportunity to concentrate activities among school psychologists across the country, but the activities suggested here are worthwhile any time. Ideally, effective communications should occur throughout the year. We urge you not to reinvent the wheel. Start by using the downloadable and adaptable resources under School Psychology Awareness at www .nasponline.org/communications.

Display the "See the Possibilities" poster in student common areas. …

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