Starting the School Year as a New School Psychologist

school psychologist

Starting a new school year can be difficult--beginning the new school year as a school psychologist, even more so. Organizing your workload, getting to know your students, and assessing their needs, all while managing your time efficiently are key to starting the year off right.

The first piece to tackle is setting a routine. Figure out what time of day is best to catch up on interdepartmental email, return phone calls, set up referrals, assessments, or conduct testing. Setting aside time to fill out paperwork, make copies, and do administrative tasks can also help prevent a backlog of work from piling up. If your school district has a particularly busy time when it comes to meetings or faculty development, ask around to try to figure out when that is. For some it’s spring, and for others the busy time can be during the holiday crunch. Understand your students, and take the time to reach them at various points throughout the day. Engaging with them if you see them in the hallway can also be beneficial, creating a supportive and welcoming educational environment.

Organizing your students’ needs and meeting/exceeding them is another key point when beginning the school year or starting out at a new district or job. Being sure to classify each student’s needs, and get them on the right track–whether that is eventual integration into a mainstream classroom, an IEP, or further testing, is important. If a student is receiving psychological services due to behavioral concerns, setting up a plan of action is important to that child’s success both in and out of the classroom. Encouraging and rewarding students for positive behavior can see them transformed, and able to hit goals and milestones that may have once seemed impossible. With the start of a school year comes a new batch of students, and scheduling individual sessions for as many as you can (that have been identified as needing services from their past school, or brought to you early in the year) will be helpful. If your district is large, consider passing out a flyer detailing your office hours to pass out to students, making them aware that you are available to speak to should they have questions or concerns.

During the year, networking with faculty may also be helpful. Topics such as abusive relationships, eating disorders, homophobic bullying, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, gun violence, and self-harm may be present in your school. Presenting yourself and your office as a safe space to those that identify on the LGBTQIA spectrum (or whose parents are LGBTQIA) can be helpful to maintaining a safe environment for all students in your school. Self harm and eating disorders are another trend which can raze through a student body. Making appointments to speak to classes along with health/PE faculty can have a greater impact than just these staff members alone. Knowing that they have someone to talk to can help students open up about their own health and safety concerns to an adult that will listen without fear of being judged.

There are many ways to overcome the stresses and challenges a new school year can bring, and hopefully these tips will help you succeed.

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