I’ve had this nagging feeling again.  Most educators get it every so often; at least, I imagine, the good ones do:

Am I making a difference?  Is there anything more I can be doing?

When I left teaching to go into school psychology I (perhaps naively) thought that it would put me in a position to do a greater amount of good for a greater number of students than working as a teacher.  Now, almost two years later, it seems to me that my scope of influence has actually diminished from my classroom days.

So what’s a natural-born do-gooder to do?  I try to compensate in a few ways.  I co-advise my high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, not only because I think it’s a righteous cause, but also to increase the face-to-face time I spend with young folks.  I also volunteer to conduct professional development sessions at work and help teachers get comfortable using tools like wikis and podcasts to develop more student-centered, authentic projects.  Of course, there’s also the consultative role I play as part of my job, which I guess (I hope) is beneficial, too.

Reading up on education reform and going to conferences like EduCon and Constructing Modern Knowledge (if I can get away for three days!), although not directly related to my responsibilities as a school psychologist, are important to me because they prevent me from becoming too isolated in my practice and, more importantly, keep me engaged as a visible stakeholder and participant in the discussions I think we need to be having about education right now (many of which, I’m finding out through my reading, have been going on for decades, to little avail).

At EduCon two weeks ago, as much as I enjoyed it, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was the only one (psychologist) in the room at any given time.  As many of the conversations at EduCon focused around what teachers can do differently and how teachers can improve their practice, I continually wondered, “What can I do differently?  How can I contribute to some of these changes given the limited interactions I have with students?”  The teachers and administrators and techie folks all had at least a few kindred professional spirits to bounce ideas off of; I was not so lucky (this is probably fodder for another post).

I asked in a blog post almost two years ago what, if any, place psychologists have in the School 2.0/Unschool framework.  Let me expand that somewhat narrow question to YOUR vision of what school could/should be, free of movements or labels.

Maybe a better question for you progressive educators out there is this: what could I, given my skill set, do to support your efforts if I worked in your building?  Sky’s the limit; just put it out there.


  • I have a school psych in my PLN bootcamp. When we get to Twitter, you’re the first person I’m going to tell him to follow.
    .-= Dan Callahan´s last blog ..This week’s comments elsewhere (weekly) =-.

  • Thanks, Dan. Here are a few other school psychs in the Twitterverse:

    * seanjonesfoto
    * TriniGrlatHeart
    * studentsgrow
    * DLB_77

    Andrea, if you’re reading, feel free to add yourself to this list – I can’t find your Twitter username for the life of me.

  • Your questions and desire to see better things underscores your worth as a psychologist who is definitely still an educator! As a librarian, I share some of the same “how can I do more?” concerns. People in our roles see many (in my case, all) students. If you were in my school, here are some things I’d love to see you start or encourage or support:
    *teaching about how civility needs to be the most important part of everyone’s persona – in digital footprint and in face-to-face interactions
    *activities that give learners the energy to be more intellectually curious
    *real commitment to bringing the world in and sending the students (and their products, questions, etc.) out
    *increased support for the anxious – I know this is a tough one, but I see a lot of this in secondary schools and sometimes having a very visible support group triggers fear.
    *helping parents and community to support the arts in school
    * helping the school community to come up with more choices for students – beyond electives!
    * fighting the complacent “tracking = differentiation” idiocy. My son told me that within his honors classes, there was no allowance made for students who don’t need homework as an incentive to read, reason and write.

    You have a unique role; as an educator, you can teach faculty and students in ways that encourage real growth and as a psychologist, you can insist on change that yields a more flexible system for the benefit of students who need to be functional, active learners. I’m betting you’re already doing a terrific job.

  • I don’t know. I think a more useful question for you is: How do your passions connect to and align with your role as a school psychologist?Another question is: What are the needs in your school which are currently unmet that you could fill?
    .-= Marcy Webb´s last blog ..Fun Resource for Middle School Foreign Language =-.

  • @Melissa: Thanks for your kind words & your suggestions; all worthy of effort (especially the differentiation one, a pet cause/peeve of mine). I’m interested by your differentiation between psychologist & educator, though – although I’m not a classroom teacher anymore, I guess I’ve never stopped thinking of myself as an educator. Maybe I’m wrong?

    @Marcy: As I detailed in the post, I have done a few things to meet needs where I’ve seen them, but I’d like to know from teachers if I’m missing anything. As far as passions go… wow. Good question. This is hard to say, but I’m not entirely sure how they align with my job as the state of New Jersey has seen fit to define it (the job description of a school psych varies from state to state). I guess maybe that’s an inherent limitation of working in a position where I’m not in direct contact with students daily like a classroom teacher.

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