With a new school year upon us, I hope you have been able to cross off everything on your “back to school” shopping list. Let’s see, I have new pencils, batteries for my stopwatch, protocols, a new pair of school shoes, and finally building supplies. Yes, you read that correctly…building supplies. As members of the Ohio School Psychologists Association we are commit- ted to “Building Bridges for the Future.”
A bridge is defined as a structure carrying a pathway or roadway over an obstacle. In our profession, we often are the structure and pathway that must carry students, parents, and other professionals over the various obstacles which stand in the way of student academic, intellectual, and emotional success. Sometimes the obstacle is quite simple to cross, but other times it can be difficult and even require bridges which we are not comfortable or terribly familiar with building. But as school psychologist we recognize we do not have any option but to research, practice, and build the best bridge possible. After all, the future of students and families are depending on and rely on our expertise and support.
Speaking of the future, this academic year I have asked the OSPA Executive Board’s main focus to be on those who are just be-ginning their careers as school psychologists. The Early Career Taskforce is committed to designing services and providing support to school psychology students, interns and first and second year professionals. I am excited about the many opportunities the Executive Board has committed to establish for this group of individuals. If you are an early school psychology professional, continue to check the TOSP and the website for updates and information especially for you!
Building bridges doesn’t happen over- night—depending on the divide you are trying to span, they can take years to construct. Over those years, much ad-vancement will be made in the technology of building and those who started building the bridge may not be the ones to finish the construction. Yet many of the original designs in bridge construction are still seen in modern day structures. In that same vein, new school psychologists are not just for the future or to carry on the past, they are actively shaping the present state of School Psychology.
Ohio’s educational landscape and the field of school psychology continue to face nu-merous challenges and opportunities this year. Your participation in OSPA allows our professional association to be strong in its effort to effect positive change for children as well as to advocate for school psychologists. I would encourage both the new professionals (as well as those that have been around a while) to grab your toolboxes and join an OSPA Committee or become involved in your OSPA regional affiliate. The regional affiliates and OSPA Committees are just one way that we can build bridges of support and collaboration for each other, in turn building a strong and integral profession.
Until next time, put those building sup-plies to use and together will be “Building Bridges for the Future!”
You are extraordinary! Yes, I said you are extraordinary. Any person who decides to spend a career caring for the academic, intellectual, social and emotional wellbeing of students and families is an extraordinary person in my book.
Like many individuals across the world, I have recently been reflecting on the life of the Former CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs. Here is a man who was seen as an extraordinary inventor and innovator. He was responsible for bringing us products, technology, and animation. He is known by most as the man behind Apple Computers, the iPod, the iPad, iTunes, and Pixar Studios. But do you have to be as high profile as Steve Jobs to be extraordinary? By working to change and improve the lives of students, families, and educators, this makes you extraordinary! In fact, I would suggest we are not just extraordinary, but like Steve Jobs, we are inventors and innovators.
School psychology is not the same today as it was when the first Macintosh Computer appeared. In fact, it is not even the same as when the first iPod hit the shelves. Why has the field of school psychology changed? If you ask me, as the world of technology has evolved we have also strived to improve.
We have used technology to improve our practice. Technology has changed the way we can gather and analyze data on student performance. Does anyone remember graphing student progress solely on graph paper or playing the audio recording for an IQ test on a tape recorder? Technology has also drastically changed the environment which students learn and function. Just consider how much information on any given topic is available for students to access on the internet. Or consider how quickly students today receive feedback from others through social media such as Facebook or Twitter. School psychologists must be able to adapt educational and adaptive recommendations and interventions to meet the changing needs of students in this technology driven society. In other words, we have had to take our standard practices and invent new ways to look at data and student achievement.
As an innovator and inventor, we look at each student, situation, and educational environment with a careful eye. We are constantly seeking information on how to improve the educational experience for students and their families. Using our psychological tools, we are excellent at achieving baseline measures but we need to look deeper into the student to develop new and improved techniques and strategies to help the student maximize their educational experience.
Innovation comes not just out of experience but out of a fearlessness to try new techniques. It is a philosophy that even though something works today, we have to find better ways to make it work in the future. We are constantly challenging ourselves to find the best and most innovative ways to communicate, develop relationships, and intervene with students, parents, and other educators. It is our ability to adapt and push forward which makes us true inventors and innovators.
Any person can be trained to administer a psychological test. What makes a school psychologist exceptional is not only the ability to understand the assessment results but how to meet the needs of the student to reach their maximum potential. It is that deeper understanding and commitment to the well being of others that makes us truly extraordinary!