Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Out of the Mouths of ... Facebook!

Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Out of the Mouths of ... Facebook!

Article excerpt

Did you know that there is a Facebook group, "I'm a school PSYCHOLOGIST, not a counselor, DAMNIT!"? No kidding. And it has more than 1,700 members. NASP has a Facebook group as well, with more than 4,500 members and lots of current information. On cursory review, a number of school psychologists belong to both (including us) and it is easy to imagine why. In one simple, annoyed exclamation, the "I'm a school PSYCHOLOGIST" group name sums up the frustrating reality for so many within the profession. Many of our important constituents do not really know what we do and how we differ from like-minded school personnel, especially counselors. As one group member shared, "love it!! I just explained this 2 times today!"

While Facebook and other social networking sites offer a terrific opportunity to bond with others sharing the same interests or frustrations (and, in this case, quite a good chuckle), the underlying problem warrants more purposeful attention. It would be hard to overestimate the number of reasons that make it critical that key constituents know who are, what you do and how it differs from other school personnel, and why you make a unique contribution toimproved outcomes for students and schools.

Consider the most general of lists: Ongoing economic difficulties. School budget cuts. Increased needs of students and families. Growing on the use of data to inform school improvement efforts. Accountability pressures. School reform that can shift roles and narrow your scope of practice. of Medicaid funding in some states for services provided by school personnel who are not licensed for private practice. Increased numbers of community practitioners providing services in schools. Competing interests for the allocation of resources. Just being able to do your job better because others recognize and appreciate your skills.

Does any of this sound relevant to your work? If so, the last thing you want is for the decision makers in your world not to understand your role. Do you know how easy it is for the local school board to finally understand the importance of kids' mental health and then direct increased funding exclusively to more counselors? Or for a principal to bring in a community mental health provider to do crisis counseling because he thinks the school psychologist does assessments (and that's it) ? Or for the superintendent to recommend reducing the number of school psychologists in the district because behavior specialists are cheaper and can "do the same things"?

Believe us: We know how tiresome it can be to have to explain again and again what a school psychologist does. This is not a sound-bite profession by any means, and the answer can look different depending on where you work. NASP Past President Gene Cash has provided the closest thing to a sound bite, saying that "A school psychologist knows more about education than anyone in psychology and more about psychology than anyone in education." But even this doesn't really make clear to others why this matters.

The hard truth is that effectively communicating your role is an ongoing commitment that requires intention and a few basic skills. It really should be taught as a competency in graduate school and emphasized as being as important as writing an understandable IEP.

That said, effective communication is not rocket science. This column has been devoted to giving you tips, case studies, and resources to make effective communication easy. In the past year, NASP has devoted specific attention to reaching out to administrators and other school leaders because, as alluded to above, these people can help, hinder, or eliminate your job.

Given the very real continued pressures from the economic crisis and the model licensure act issue, we have made a dedicated effort to provide resources for members so that you can be equipped to be effective advocates for your positions as well as for the field in general. These resources have been created at a prolific pace over the last 18 months, so we have summarized some of those that you might find most useful. …

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