National School Psychology Week is Nov. 8-12
National School Psychology Week is an opportunity to highlight the important role school psychologists play in helping students thrive, as well as how their work contributes to successful multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS).
“Though the work of school psychologists has always been important, the increasing mental health needs of children and youth, and racial unrest in the United States, has radically shown the need and value of school psychologists and the services they provide to all students within the school building,” said Mackenzie Riedel, NeMTSS SEBL specialist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Who are school psychologists?
School psychologists are school employees trained in the fields of mental health, learning and behavior of students. They help teachers work with students to address needs that may affect their ability to learn. School psychologists often partner with families to help create learning environments that extend beyond the classroom.
To be certified as a school psychologist, they continue their education beyond the typical four years of college to obtain advanced degrees, with coursework including psychology and education. They receive training to work with students from early childhood through high school.
What’s the difference between school psychologists and school counselors?
School psychologists differ from school counselors because they receive more psychology training, in addition to training in education and teaching. School counselors are frequently required to have teaching degrees and may have been classroom teachers in the past, while school psychologists are not required to have teaching degrees.
Counselors often help students with course selection and career and/or college preparations, while school psychologists help teachers and students with interventions and behavior concerns.
What do school psychologists do?
School psychologists are trained in a variety of skills to support teachers, students and their families, including:
- Data collection and analysis
- Academic interventions
- Mental health interventions
- Behavioral interventions
- Instructional support
- Crisis preparedness
- Family-school-community collaboration
- And more depending on the needs of the school(s) they work in.
School psychologists may work with students individually or in groups, providing academic interventions, social skills, group counseling or progress monitoring. School psychologists also work with teachers to help create and maintain a multi-tiered system of support — impacting all students in the building. They also are important voices in IEP meetings, helping to evaluate students for special education eligibility.
In Nebraska, many school psychologists are ESU staff and travel from building to building. Some districts are starting to hire school psychologists to work just with their district, as districts are recognizing the need for more personalized approaches within their district.
“School psychologists have a unique skill set that is very different than other educators,” said Riedel. “The field of school psychology creates educators trained specifically with a psychology lens. They are one of the many important ‘pieces to the puzzle’ when it comes to creating safe, equitable and supportive learning environments for diverse learners.”
How do school psychologists contribute to the NeMTSS Framework?
School psychologists play an essential role in supporting all students and ensuring they develop the social, emotional and behavioral learning (SEBL) skills needed to be successful in the classroom and in life. School psychologists are also an integral part of the NeMTSS Framework.
School psychologists contribute to NeMTSS implementation by:
- Being involved in school systems teams, where they share their knowledge and skills to help improve schools for students and staff.
- Joining shared leadership teams within schools and districts to share their expertise on student behavior and best practices to promote SEBL.
- Being trained in evidence-based practices for assessment and intervention.
- Partnering with all staff and community members.
- Sharing their skills to strengthen a school’s infrastructure for implementation.
- Being part of a layered continuum of supports for students at all tiers.
- Using data-based problem-solving in school meetings to support teachers and students.
To learn more about National School Psychology Week and find resources, visit the National Association of School Psychologists website. Join the social media conversation around NSPW by using the hashtag #SchoolPsychWeek.