If you’re a Psychology student nearing the end of your undergraduate years, you may be wondering “what’s next?” Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Psychological Science opens many paths, but which is right for your interests and goals?

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Professor Anita Phillips

Here at Castleton, we have launched Vermont’s first graduate program in School Psychology this year!  If you are interested in working with children, working in a school setting, or combining your interest in Psychology with interests in Education, you might want to consider School Psychology.  But what does a School Psychologist actually do? In the post below, Professor Phillips describes “a day in the life” of a school psychologist. Read on to find out if this is a career path that may interest you!

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A typical day in the life of a School Psychologist

Typical, what’s typical? The role of a School Psychologist is multifaceted and filled with many different experiences. Conceptualizing exactly what happens in a day is best described by this visual representation:

school-psych-pie-chart

 

So, what does this really mean?

“WITH STUDENTS”, the happiest moments (usually) doing counseling, crisis intervention, assessments, or chatting about a student’s day whether it be formal and tied to a behavior plan or informal.

“AT DUTY”, yes this means lunch duty, bus duty, hall duty, and other stuff! If you are hired by the school district, employees usually have a duty depending on the school. Mine was hall monitoring in the morning-what a wonderful way to become part of the school culture in a different way!

“TEACHING A LESSON”, and a very exciting one at that-most School Psychologists make connections with teachers and talk about topics that the student body may benefit from. Social workers are great partners to pair with when teaching lessons. Common topics to teach are: Tolerance, Diversity/Accepting Individual Differences, Character Building (Be Safe, Positive, Responsible), Good & Bad Touches, How to Build Good Friendships, and other fun stuff!

“IN MY OFFICE”, means leave me alone-in a polite School Psychologist kind of way of course. School Psychologists do a plethora of paperwork from writing psycho-educational evaluations, counseling treatment plans and progress notes, to Individualized Education Plan Drafts and more informal interventions, etc. Office time is sacred for returning calls to concerned parents/guardians, service providers, and medical providers. Oh…and don’t forget the e-mails…mostly to touch base with administration and teachers. Yes! School Psychologists are often called the glue or the web that holds everyone together.

“VISITING A CLASS”, this is never a dull moment! Oh the things you learn when you observe students in the classroom environment…very different from the way he or she may act in your office. Visiting a class tells the rest of the story-gives a true picture of the student, teacher, and peer interaction! This is when you receive a true education of the lingo and nuances of “what’s in” according to students and the influences on the student at the moment.

“OUT OF THE BUILDING”, this will take some time…Could be a crisis meeting at the county building for a student or to the district/central office to meet with administration. The number one best reason to be out of the building (my opinion of course) is to find the others…yes the other School Psychologists who do what you do. Maybe you are borrowing a test kit/assessment or trying to figure out the scoring on a BDI, WPPSI, or a BASC (no worries-there are an endless amount of acronyms). Whatever the reason, it’s time well spent and validation that others do what you do!

“IN A MEETING”, oh…yeah and last but never least School Psychologists attend many meetings to provide data and information on a behavior plan or functional behavioral assessment. Or…maybe it is a committee meeting to determine if a student has a disability impacting his or her learning based on a multidisciplinary evaluation—of which the School Psychologist is a big part. Meetings are held for an endless number of reasons and could be formal or informal, small or large group. Regardless, they all have one thing in common-meetings are for the benefit of students and are based on data and systematic observation within the school context …a microcosm of society.

And of course, there will be moments for quick breaks when I am catching my breath and taking a moment to refocus and regenerate. Maybe a trip to the car? Maybe a trip to the coffee shop? Maybe a quick chat with a colleague? Who knows, but it’s probably for a great reason to be at our best to serve the unique needs of students and staff.

That does it! Simply put…School Psychologists strive to gather evidence based data within the parameters of the school district to best serve the needs of students… unique learners that may need a voice to help “level the playing field” to promote learning and growing to become a functional and successful adult.

 

So why not join in on a rewarding and invigorating career. Castleton University’s School Psychology Graduate School Program is in full swing! Don’t miss the chance of a lifetime.