Upcoming Courses

40 Hour Workweek

Equity Resources, Teaching Tips & Tricks   |   Nov 3, 2019

4 things your school psychologist wishes you knew about sped referrals…

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

4 things your school psychologist wishes you knew about sped referrals…

By Angela Watson

My guest today is the school psychologist version of me.

Dr. Rebecca Branstetter and I met about 12 years ago when we were both new to education blogging, and it’s been amazing how our life paths have paralleled in so many ways.

She’s the author of the School Psychologist’s Survival Guide and several books on parenting kids with special needs, such as The Conscious Parent’s Guide to Executive Functioning Disorder and The Conscious Parent’s Guide to ADHD. Her expertise in supporting students with disabilities has been featured in media outlets such as NPR, Huffington Post, and The Greater Good Science Center. She speaks across the country on the topics of educator well-being and supporting school psychologists so that they can be champions for learning and mental health support for students in our schools. 

What’s really cool is that Rebecca is also the founder of the Thriving School Psychologist Collective, an online course and community. It’s sort of like my 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club, in that it helps school pyschs streamline their workflow and focus on what matters most.

I asked her to come on the show because anytime we get a chance to hang out and talk is a good time, frankly, but also because she is a wealth of information for teachers about supporting kids with special needs. She’s going to give you the inside scoop on what school psychs do and how they can make your job as a teacher a bit easier. Listen in.

Want to listen instead of read?

Download the audio, and listen on the go!

What the school psychologist actually does all day

ANGELA: So Rebecca, I can’t say that I actually know that much about what a school psychologist actually does. When I was teaching, we had to share a school psych with like five other schools, so I never really saw ours unless it was in an IEP meeting. I’m wondering if you can start by telling me exactly what the role of a school psych is supposed to be, and what they actually do from day-to-day.

REBECCA: One of the things that’s so interesting about that question is there are actually two parts in it: One is, what should it be? And then, what is it actually?

I’m going to talk a little bit about school psychologists as a profession. So, the recommended ratio of school psychologists to student population is 1 to 700. So, an elementary school of 700 would be the recommended ratio for us to have the most impact. And the reality is that it’s more like 1 to 1400 and in some communities, particularly in rural ones, it’s like 1 to 3000. So, you can imagine whatever your classroom size is, teachers out there — double that, now triple that, and then you would definitely have a different day-to-day experience.

What it’s supposed to be is to be working at all three tiers of intervention. When I say tiers, I mean universal prevention strategies, intervention strategies for some kids who are struggling academically, emotionally, or behaviorally. And then at a top tier, working intensively with students who don’t profit from those interventions, sort of an RTI kind of model response to intervention.

The reality is that with high caseloads, we end up working only at that top tier, which is an assessment for special education services. There are other things at that top tier, but normally, the school psychologist’s role in high caseload environments like the one you described, is being gatekeepers to special education and our only role is testing. And so, it’s test, IEP meeting, repeat.

And what’s so frustrating for school psychs across the country is we are trained to do so much more. We are trained to work with school-wide social-emotional learning initiatives, behavior support where you can do a consultation in the classroom, we can do small groups, we can do counseling, we can do consultation and parent-ed. And when we’re overburdened, we end up doing just special education assessments. So what happens is that the pervasive myth is that we are only special education gatekeepers, or our only role is testing.

What happens behind-the-scenes when kids are referred for sped services

Let’s dive into that a little bit more, this process for getting kids identified for special ed services. I will admit that this was also a mystery to me as a teacher. I only knew what my role was and then it basically felt like a waiting game for months and months on end with just some periodic meetings in there. I really feel like I had no idea what was going on in the process. So, can you give us a behind the scenes look at getting kids identified for services?

Yes, so this is something that comes up all the time — school psychologists often don’t feel that teachers, parents, and the school community really understand what the amount of complexity and work goes on behind the scenes from “I feel like this child has a challenge” all the way to the IEP meeting. And we can totally appreciate the frustration of a teacher who maybe if that student particularly is acting out behaviorally and is really having a challenge in the class that there’s a waiting game. And then, adding to the frustration is that sometimes you can wait months and months on end, you have the meeting and the student doesn’t qualify. So, you felt like you were just holding on for something to get them extra support that never happened.

So  I want to talk a little bit about a second myth — that special education testing is like a blood test. Like you go in, you get tested, and you’re done. That would be great but there is no blood test for learning disabilities, or ADHD, or emotional disabilities at this time.

What it really involves is a whole lot of pre-testing legwork and consultation and post-testing analysis. So, I’m just going to talk about what is involved from start to finish including all that front end and back end work. And then I want to ask you a fun question. I want you to estimate how many clock hours you think it would take for a special education evaluation.

So, I’m going to put you on the spot real quick. I’m going to have you guesstimate first and then I’m going to tell you what’s involved and I’ll tell you what my school psychologists said it takes. So what do you think?

I’m going to say 10 hours, maybe 15 depending on the student.

Okay. Yes, it does vary by the complexity of the situation. So now, I’ll tell you all the stuff that goes into it.

And I don’t have to tell you that school psychologists are under some of the same system-wide challenges teachers are in which there are laws, and rules, and procedures that we know don’t serve students well all the time but we are still bound by them, and yet, we have no power to change them. This is an important consideration in special education, that there is actually a lot of legal and ethical considerations in the special education evaluation. So it’s not just, “I’m going to look at this student’s intelligence and that’s the main question.”

The main question for school psychologists is twofold. One — does the student have a disability as very defined in the law? And then number two — is that disability so severe that there’s no way that kid’s needs can be met in general education?

So, in that process, we do many things. First, a lot of times an unseen thing that we’re doing is to get the parents buy-in for an assessment. So, maybe the school has identified a challenge but the parent is not on board. So, we do a lot of education with parents in pre-referral meetings of what it would be like and educate them on special education, and get them comfortable with the process and comfortable with us and trusting that this is something that they want to sign onto. So, there’s a little bit of legwork there.

Often, there are pre-referral meetings, which sometimes in this neck of the woods in California, we call them SST meetings, but they’re called various things across the country. But it’s where you meet and problem-solve with a team, with the parent usually, about what it is that the child’s presenting a challenge with. And there are those meetings, including the scheduling around that, and consulting with parents and teachers about what’s been done already and taking data on what interventions have been tried. Looking at the cumulative folder, looking at attendance, looking at English language proficiency, looking at what interventions have been done before. And with all of that, I’ve never seen the student yet by the way.

At this point, we get permission to assess which requires a little bit of paperwork. Special education honestly is the department of the redundancy when it comes to paperwork. You’re like, “I fill out the same form 62 times.” So we all go through that process. We finally have permission to test. We go into your classroom. You may have seen your school psychologist lurking in the back of the class looking to see that child in context.

And here’s a quick commercial about those super long rating scales that we give you. Do you know what I’m talking about? Where you’re like, “Why are there 180 questions that ask the same thing?” The reason we do that is that we’re going to be working with a kid one-on-one and kids present so differently in the one-on-one than they do in the classroom context.

And also, just by Murphy’s law, the day I come into observe a kid in your class is the best day of their lives.  I don’t get to see the behavior that the teachers see — they’re on task, they’re raising their hand. It’s like a snapshot, but we need to get the scrapbook. And that’s where the teacher feedback is so important is because you all have the scrapbook. What are they like daily? Because they’re different in math then they are in language arts or they are in recess. So, that’s a commercial to please fill out our surveys because your feedback is so important for us to see the big picture.

By the way, I haven’t seen the child yet … we’re still working on that. So then I try to schedule around attendance, or PE is the class they like and they don’t want to come, or there’s a field trip. There are all these things. So, I get to work with a student and usually, it’s about 4-6 hours of one-on-one testing, hovering around four, depending on the age of the student and the level of cooperation. They may have to do multiple sessions with kids with attendance challenges or behavioral challenges.

Wait a second. Four to six hours of individual testing and there may be more than one session?

Oh yes, definitely. If we’re doing intelligence testing and processing testing, if some of us have to do achievement testing, sometimes that falls in the resource specialist or special educators, sometimes it falls in school psychologists. Sometimes we have to do social, emotional, and behavioral assessments and it takes a while to build rapport with the kids so that they’re going to be able to do it. We have kids fill out rating scales about how they think and feel about themselves as learners. So, all of these things can take up to probably around four hours at the minimum.

So, once that kid leaves, then we have to score it, analyze it, and here is the big chunk — write it into a legally defensible report which is about 10 to upwards of 30 pages long depending on who’s involved.

We also have to collaborate with all the kid’s providers. Do they have a speech therapist? Do they have an occupational therapist? Do they have a private tutor? Do they have a mental health therapist? We’ve got to get their opinions, too.

And all of this data analysis written into a report takes many, many hours. And I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I can’t churn out a report in less than six hours, tops, and I’ve been doing this a long time and I have really great templates.

Finally, by the time you see that school psychologist at the IEP meeting, she’s done upwards of about 20 and in some districts, a recent school psych community here in the Bay area have taken actual hard data on start to finish for one child how much it’s takes was 30 hours. So, by the time you see the school psychologist in the IEP meeting, she/he has done a ton of work figuring out how this kid learns best, what’s getting in the way, and do they qualify for special education services based on very stringent criteria of eligibility.

And so, I think that when people say, “Well test this kid for special education,” we think of it in what teachers understand a test might be, like, “I’m going to do the DIBELS reading evaluation.”

They don’t know that assessment is not just the testing; there is a whole lot of work and there’s also the IEP. Sometimes, we have pre-meetings with the parent to go over, because when they’re getting a diagnosis, it can be like a grieving process. So, we’re with the parents and being like, “Your child is on the autism spectrum,” and processing it with them and explaining what that means all before you see us.

So, I often say that school psychologists are like ducks, and when you see a duck gliding over the water so smoothly, like they are gliding. But underneath, they’re paddling like heck and a lot of work is being done. And so, that’s your school psychologist and that’s why she looks so crazy flying down the hallway and hounding you for surveys. It’s because she doesn’t have this one child she has a caseload and some of us run 10, 15 cases at a time so we not only have to do what I’ve just described to you, but we also have to balance it with all the other students who are on our caseloads.

So, it could be like 30 hours for one student and you have 10 to 15 students at a time?

Yes, that’s why school psychologists, like teachers, are overworked and also underutilized. If we’re spending all of our time doing assessment, we can’t help teachers in the classroom with infusing social-emotional learning, which we know can prevent students from and give them access to those great learning skills. And so, when we’re working in this one-on-one intensive, there is a definite need for that. There are some students who absolutely need that level of inquiry but there are some students who would profit from school psychologists being engaged at that tier one, tier two-level, which is preventing the challenge from occurring in the first place or preventing that learning or emotional behavioral challenge from getting so bad that they need to be referred for special education.

And here’s the real problem–that at a lot of schools, special education is the only game in town for getting kids extra help. That is the third myth, which is that special education is just extra help and this kid needs extra help, so let’s all turn to special education. I’m being a little tongue in cheek but it’s at schools where we’re looking around and it’s like, “How are we going to help this kid?” A lot of folks see special education as the only route.

What gen ed teachers can do to provide interventions in the meantime

I think a lot of gen ed teachers haven’t been properly trained on how to provide the proper interventions in the classroom. Getting a kid to qualify for services is not necessarily the end goal in every case. And as you mentioned, you may go through all of this and then realize that they don’t qualify. So, what do general ed teachers need to understand about providing interventions in the classroom?

So yes, again, with the third myth that special education is just extra help. So, if it’s the only game in town for helping students, then that’s problematic.

School psychologists are bound to these legal criteria that makes the range of who qualifies fairly small. It’s really reserved for kids with disabilities that are so severe that their needs can’t be met in general ed. And then, of course, there are kids who meet the first criteria, they have a disability, but they don’t qualify. And this one’s a real head-scratcher for people like, “Wait, they have processing challenges, they have emotional challenges.” I would encourage you to sit down with your school psychologist and talk a little bit about the eligibility criteria because it’s a two-part deal, it’s not just, “I have a disability,” but it’s also, “I have a disability that’s so severe my needs can’t be met in general education.”

So, what I want teachers to think about is that school psychologists are not just gatekeepers and special ed testers. That’s an important role in special education assessment. But what I want everyone to reframe and think of us as is your consultant and thought partner.

So, you guys are all experts in teaching. Many school psychologists have never taught in a classroom, so we don’t know that element. And we’re experts in supporting kids with learning differences — social, emotional, behavioral challenges. Together, we’re a powerhouse.

Instead of waiting for some magical solution outside of your classroom that if we write this down in an IEP then suddenly, the child’s behavior will change. No, I wish. But really, an IEP is a protection sometimes for students, it entitles them to accommodation supports they otherwise wouldn’t be entitled to, but it’s not the magic solution.

If you partner with your school psychologist we can co-create solutions for a particular student.

And here is the most interesting thing about consultation with school psychologists. You can come to me and say,  “I have a student with ADHD symptoms and I really want to help them start and finish their work without interrupting their peers.”

If you and I partner together for that particular student around strategies for helping with task initiation, task engagement, and you know in the context of your classroom can tell you what’s working and what isn’t. I, as a school psychologist, can bring my executive functioning knowledge lens to you and we can co-create a solution for that particular student.

Guess what? You have just added to your teacher toolkit a skill set for any other student with that same challenge in the future. So, any other kid who comes in your classroom who has challenges starting with, sticking with, and finishing work, now you have increased your own skills as a teacher.

So it’s not just, “Take this kid out, test him for special education and let’s see if the IEP team can come up with a great solution.” That’s a waiting game and that may be the end goal, but guess what? In the meantime, maybe we could work together.

Because let me tell you, I pooled school psychologists about what they want teachers to know, and they’re like, “Oh my God, let them know we want to be their partners, we want to be consultants with them. We want to be part of our school communities. We want to be on problem-solving teams. We want to go to grade-level meetings. These are our kids, not just special ed kids. These are all of our students.”

So, we want to partner with you guys. That’s one of the core messages that school psychologists have is to think of us as consultants and thought partners before you think of us as special education assessors.

No time to finish reading? Download and listen on the go!

So, if I’m a teacher and I have a student in my class this time of year who I am concerned about and I think that they may qualify for something, they’re really struggling in the class, and I have referred them for services or maybe even if I haven’t, what are some of those next steps so that it doesn’t feel like a waiting game, hoping they qualify for services? What kinds of interventions, supports, and resources can I tap into now to not feel like we’re biding time but that I’m actually working now even without an IEP to make sure the student gets what they need?

Yes! So, let me ask you this: You have been a teacher before obviously, and are still a teacher, but when you were in the classroom, how many students would you say percentage-wise, once they were assessed for special education, left your classroom say for a special day class or a higher level of care?

Not a ton.


And not for long enough. That was the other thing, too. Not for all the subjects they needed help in. It was very rarely enough.

So, the first thing is a mindset which is, “This is my student and even if this student gets resourced, this is still my student.” And if you are at your wit’s end with a student or even if you’re not, and you’re just like, “I just don’t know how to move the needle for them.” I would suggest working within the pre-referral systems that exist at your school, grade level team, or problem-solving teams. Hey, invite your school psychologist. Maybe she has time to pop in on your grade level team and then she can serve as a consultant about what’s working in other teacher’s classrooms that we can pull from into your classroom.

Maybe you need to enlist her support in chatting with the parents. Maybe there are some strategies the parents have at home that are working. If it’s a straight-up learning difference issue with reading, writing, and math, your school psychologist can partner with you on adaptations. How can you help them access the curriculum? If there’s a behavioral or emotional layer to it, that’s really where your school psychologist has a wealth of knowledge. I think that we really need to peddle back from, “What do I do with this one kid in this classroom?” to “What is my relationship like with my school psychologist?”

If she is a blur in the hallway on the way to an IEP meeting, it’s going to be really hard to grab her and sit down and have a nice problem-solving session with her, but that doesn’t mean that she or he doesn’t want to do that with you. So, invite her to grade-level team meetings, invite your school psychologist to RTI or MTSS meetings which are pre-referral and school-wide interventions. Invite her to leadership team meetings and discipline team meetings. Most school psychologists, even though we are seriously busy individuals, see the value of working with teachers and families in schools in the intervention and prevention levels. So, I would consider first off, do you know who your school psychologist is? Do you know their name? If you’re someone who has one at a school site all day, every day, congratulations. Go write that down in your gratitude journal tonight.

But first, honestly, it’s an awareness. Who is your school psychologist? What is her caseload like? Does she have time to meet with you and chat about strategies? Does she have time to talk to you about what special education is and what kids would and wouldn’t profit from with services?

It’s that first layer of awareness and I have to shout out to School Psychology Awareness Week at this point. It’s always in November. This year it’s the 12th through 15th. It always falls on that Veterans Day week. So, there’s a reason that we have an awareness week and not an appreciation week —

Right1 Can you just acknowledge my existence first? One day we’ll get to appreciation and gratitude but first–I’m here.

Yes, I have this visual that a school psychologist posted for her team at her school — she put a note on her door of this owl looking at her like, “We are aware of you. Happy School Psych Awareness week.”

So, get to know your school psychologist, have a chat like, “What’s your caseload like?” We want to help you. We want to partner with you. We want to make your lives easier, not harder. We want to be involved in those intervention prevention and problem-solving teams with you. Be aware of your school psychologist, especially on School Psych Awareness Week, November 12th through 15th.

And then, if you have a school psychologist who you have a relationship with and you’re thinking, “Wow, it’d be great if we could support her because if we support her, guess what? We get more support for our students. We get more support for our teachers, and our parents, and our administrators.”

If you feel like there’s a school psychologist who would profit from resources, not unlike the ones you offer in the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek, which is streamlining bureaucracy, workflow, productivity, and engaging in self-care so you don’t burn out, and being a problem-solving member in a school team and a member in a school, then I have free resources at thrivingschoolpsych.com.

So, be aware of your school psychologist, get to know him or her, let her know that there’s support for figuring out ways to do more than just test, IEP, repeat. School psychs don’t want to be doing that. We love assessment, we’re very good at assessment, that’s our zone of genius — unpacking one individual student’s learning needs — but let us help you before it gets to that level of challenge.

I love that you’re saying that and that you’re emphasizing that actually — this just makes things better for everyone, it makes things better for the school psych, it makes things better for teachers and for kids when that partnership is there. Because I think it didn’t really occur to me to reach out to our school psych because I just felt like it was obvious she was so busy and I was so busy and she was so busy and it’s like I don’t want to try to put more work on top of her. But I think you make such a good point that this collaboration just makes,  getting with kids’ needs so much easier for everyone. And I cannot imagine that it feels good to just come into a school and be disconnected from the teachers there, disconnected from the students, and just holed up in a room and test and then come out. I can imagine the reasons why school psychs are getting into this profession is because you want to be part of that community.

Absolutely. And we can end on a little story, something to bring it down to what the essence of what I’m talking about is to involve school psychologists in more. Because honestly, if you involve us at prevention and intervention levels, our special education referrals will go down. Now there are students who definitely need special education. It’s a “do not pass go” kind of thing like getting students on the autism spectrum who are unable to communicate verbally. That would be very challenging for a general education teacher to work with the student at that level of severity. But in some of these learning disabilities and attention challenges, there is room for partnership that can serve not only that target student, but all students with that challenge. And then as a principle of universal design, all students in your class and you as a teacher.

So, at one middle school where I worked, I was getting I don’t know five or six referrals for eighth-grade boys for ADHD every year and I was like, “How can they all contract ADHD in the eighth grade? What’s going on?” They were not finishing their work and they had this huge portfolio assignment, and the problem was this portfolio assignment in April/May, they hadn’t done a lot of work all year to the standard. And so then, they were having a huge challenge. At some point, I sat down with my team, my principal and the teachers’ eighth-grade team and I said, “What’s happening? Why so many referrals? How can they all have ADHD?” And they’re like, “Well, I don’t know if they all have ADHD but they have challenges in executive functioning, planning, and starting with and sticking with tasks particularly when they’re emotionally overloaded with, ‘Oh my gosh, I have so much work to do if I don’t do this portfolio. I don’t graduate from eighth grade.'”

So, we sat down and we peeled back the onion of, “Okay, wait instead of me spending 30 clock hours on these five students — which would take up my whole time for the rest of the year and then you wouldn’t even get the benefits of that information, because they’d be in high school — what if I trained up everyone on executive functioning coaching. And so, I got some school psych interns from Berkeley, my Alma mater. I trained them on how to support these students in starting with, sticking with, and finishing tasks. And guess what? They all passed their portfolio assignments.

None of these kids, by the way, had a history of attention challenges prior to eighth grade. It’s very rare to develop ADHD in the eighth grade. This is a lifelong condition and there were really no warning signs. So, it wasn’t like we were ignoring the fact that these students had challenges but we were asking ourselves, “Is special education the only way to support them?” And it wasn’t. And so these students built their skills. The school psychologist interns and I built out a great program, and by the way, I’m no longer at that middle school and they’re still doing it because the teacher skills got built up, too. So, there’s a ripple effect of your school psychologist being able to engage in that prevention intervention level that ripples out to the school community at large.

I love the idea of focusing on the prevention and intervention level because it’s just so much more empowering than just saying like, “I can’t do this. Let me just refer and then someone else can tell me what to do and hopefully I’ll get more help.” It comes from such a desperate place for teachers because I think in a lot of classrooms, close to the majority if not the majority of kids present with some sort of trauma executive function issues, attention issues, learning disabilities, they are working below grade level. And it can just feel so overwhelming to teachers when they don’t have a lot of support.

Yes, and school psychologists want to work openly and collaboratively to find solutions, and I know this because I’ve worked with hundreds of them across the country in my online course and community, Thriving School Psychologists Collective. We want adults and students alike to thrive in our schools and we totally believe that a rising tide lifts all ships. But we understand, we empathize with that stress and the limitations and the aggravations in your job and we want to help prepare you not only in moments of crisis when it’s gotten really challenging, but to set you up for success to prevent future problems and to really empower your students.

We really want to be your thought partners and also, a quick commercial for patience, you as a teacher know what it’s like. If someone’s coming to you, “Do you have this yet? Do you have that?” You’re like, “Wow, I am just trying to keep afloat.” Just be patient with us. We are doing the best we can under the circumstances and often untenable situations and caseloads and that is why it can be a source of frustration on both parts. So, we promise we’ll be patient with you if you promise to be patient with us. Because we’re all in it together and we’re all in a system that we all see is not set up for success sometimes, and we work the best we can in the system we have and sometimes that means your school psychologist is overworked and underutilized. And so, just be patient with us as we all navigate this together.

Yes — be patient and tap into them for further resources in the meanwhile so that you’re not just waiting because there are probably things you can be doing in your classroom that would benefit all of your students. And it could just be some new strategies in your toolbox that you could get from your school psych who could really make a big difference in how well kids are able to succeed.

I think it’s a big fat commercial for universal design. Like the suitcase was invented for people who couldn’t carry the suitcase, like the elderly, but guess what? The wheelie suitcase? Everyone benefits from the wheelie suitcase. There’s not a person in an airport who doesn’t have that because it helps everybody. And the same true principles of behavior and social-emotional learning, there are strategies, tools, techniques, relationships, and building activities that benefit all of your kids, not just kids with social, emotional, or behavioral, or learning challenges.

What’s something that you wish every teacher understood about the process of identifying kids for special services?

I think that we all have to understand that the system for special education is flawed. School psychologists know that. What is encouraging to me, Angela, is that there is a zeitgeist, if you will, around prevention, intervention, infusing social-emotional learning into this base level of what all kids need. We also bear the burden of the system trying to make it work the best we can to benefit the student. We often have limited resources, and particularly authority, to make any changes happen on the special education law front. But what we can do is before it even gets to that process, which is needed, necessary, and underfunded, is to ask, “What is the most bang for the buck for your school psychologist and what does she really enjoy doing?” It’s collaborating — it’s being a consultant and not a gatekeeper.

So, get to know your school psychologist and ask, “What is the day-to-day life like?” Ask the questions that Angela has asked in this podcast. What can we do together to think systemically so that we can prevent students from having to wait until they fail enough to need that high level of support? Because school psychologists want to partner with you. We are all in this, these are all of our students and we love nothing more than collaborating with you guys,

So, let’s make that the action item then for everyone listening to this to get in touch with your school psych, find out how you can partner together, and let them know about your resources. Because you have an amazing collective of school psychologists where you have 16,000 school psychs in your community which is half of the school psychs in this country. Is that right?

Yeah, I mean there are estimates that range between 30-40,000 school psychs in the country. It just speaks to the fact that school psychologists don’t have a lot of community at their school sites because they’re the only one.

Right exactly. And that’s the beauty of what you’re offering to them is a place to collaborate and share and get resources. And I think that could be so helpful for someone listening to this who is thinking, “Well, Rebecca sounds amazing but I don’t think my school psych actually has the time or the energy to do anything to help.” But if their school psych is in your community, then they have a network of people to bounce ideas off of and figure out how to offer that support, right?

Right. And it’s often I think that I see this thing floating around Instagram and I always lock them in my brain as truths, which is sometimes, the best PD is another school psychologist. The best PD is the teacher down the hall. Only we understand what we do all day long and ways we can move the needle to support our schools, teachers, and students better. Thrivingschoolpsych.com is the clearinghouse for people to go. There are 16,000 people in our Facebook group and then there’s a smaller group of those who are in my online course and community, and that’s the real deep dive of, “Okay, let’s unpack how to really move myself from being a testing machine to having the freedom to be with students, to be with teachers, to be thought partners and consultants.”

So, guide your school psych to thrivingschoolpsych.com. And also be aware of them on November 12th through 15th. You’ll make their life, I guarantee you, if you know that it’s school psych awareness week, which actually, the acronym is really quite funny — SPAW — which it’s not going to the spa but for me, for whatever reason, this is a total non-sequitur but that’s what I’m like. So I’ll just be me. I’ll be authentic. Every time I see SPAW written out I have to call it like a crow like, “SPAW, SPAW.” So say, “Happy SPAW,” to your school psychologist! We like to laugh and have fun at the Thriving School Psychologist because there’s a lot of stress in our jobs and we’ve got to lighten the load. We’ve got to have fun with it.

Yes, absolutely. And I’m glad you mentioned your course too, because it’s sort of like the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club that I run for teachers. You’re doing something very similar for school psychologists in terms that the end goal is similar. For them, it’s to really manage their time and streamline their processes so they can focus on what matters.

Exactly, yes! I joke that whenever I share out your resources with my school psychologists, I say, “She’s like my teacher spirit animal.” I don’t know how on different sides of the coast we both created this thing, me for school psychologists and you for teachers, and I think it’s because we both have that shared vision.

None of us got into this profession to be doing paperwork or feeling like what we’re doing isn’t mattering or that we’re just going through the motions. We got into this work to help students. And when we take care of ourselves, we’re better equipped to do that. So, that’s exactly what the Thriving School Psychologist collective does and what the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek does, as well. So, you’ve been a real inspiration to me here on the west coast in creating my program, as well.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something, at no additional cost to you.

This episode is sponsored by ViewSonic Education. They’re the creator of ViewBoard, an interactive whiteboard for the classroom and myViewBoard, a digital whiteboarding app. Together they help teachers create engaging lessons at home and present them in the classroom. Search the internet, open your favorite apps, and play educational videos — all from your digital whiteboard. Finally, a solution that teaches the way you do. To learn more, visit viewsonic.com/education.

Truth for Teachers podcast: a weekly 10 minute talk radio show you can download and take with you wherever you go! A new episode is released each Sunday to get you energized and motivated for the week ahead.

See blog posts/transcripts for all episodes

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes

Subscribe to the podcast in Spotify

Subscribe to the podcast in Google Play

The Truth for Teachers Podcast

Our weekly audio podcast is one of the top K-12 broadcasts in the world, featuring our writers collective and tons of practical, energizing ideas. Support our work by subscribing in your favorite podcast app–everything is free!

Explore all podcast episodes
Apple Podcasts Logo Spotify Podcasts Logo Google Play Podcasts Logo

Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
Browse Articles by Angela

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion? Feel free to contribute!