Wednesday, September 8, 2010

So you counsel kids?

When I tell people I'm a school psychologist, I typically get one of three responses:

1. "Oh, so you're a counselor?" (No, but I do some counseling. I do not, however, plan your high schooler's schedule, set them up with scholarships, nor listen to their college entrance woes.)
2. "Oh no, don't psychoanalyze me!" (I am. Every day.)
3. "..........." (Blank stares are awkward, by the way.)

Dr. Branstetter of the marvelous blog Notes from the School Psychologist said it best: "...if a teacher and a child psychologist had a baby, it would be a school psychologist." School psychologists have all the marvelous knowledge of education, classroom management, behavior and academic interventions, and special education, but also tap into a vast wealth of fun facts regarding mental illness, treatment/therapy options, and child development. If we want to go by what the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) says (which we should, for they are our gods), school psychologists "help children achieve their best. In school. At home. In life." How they do that is anyone's game, and really goes by a child-by-child, school-by-school, district-by-district basis.

And then there's me. I grew up in a Western New York suburb that was about as white collar, mid- to upper-class, WASP-ville as it gets. I loved school. I was in the top 20 of a class of 600+ students, took 6 AP classes, bled extra-curriculars, and wanted more. I'm still trying to figure out how I ended up working with kids that hate school. I majored in Psychology at a small private school in the Southern Tier of NY state and was 2nd in the College of Arts & Sciences, then completed my Masters/Advanced Certificate back in Western NY. I graduated in June 2010 and ventured into the "real world."

I was lucky enough to not only have been hired in a terrible education job market (I can still hear the choirs singing behind the glorious sun rays and fluffy clouds), but also in one of my top districts. The

-It's in one of the largest cities in WNY.
-It's a highly urban area.
-It's ethnically diverse (which I must stress is not a bad thing at all, just a bit foreign for WASP-y ol' me)
-My building is marked as "needing improvement" by the superintendent. (Read: low academic achievement and high levels of suspension-worthy shenanigans from the kids)

Maybe you're wondering why I'd want to work in a district that may seem to some to be something to steer 100mi clear from. I love a challenge, and these kids can be a challenge. Their lives are a challenge, and trying to get through to them is a challenge. It's a challenge for them to not only dream, but to reach their dreams and better their lives. But, with great challenge comes great reward, and that's what kids are... endlessly rewarding.

So, join me on my journey as I navigate the ins and outs of all the joys and pains that comes from being a new school psychologist in the world of education. In this blog, I hope to share anecdotes, blunders, cute kid sayings, advice, educational & psychological commentary, and who knows what other musings. Should be a blast!

Can you hear the singing too?

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