School psychologists walk the line between being part of a school and being an outsider. Many times, school psychologists have 3-5 schools they are assigned to. Being thought of as a part of a school all depends on how you present yourself to the school and how much you utter the phrase, “I’d love to talk, but I have to go to my other school now.” I try as much as possible to infuse myself into the school culture from day one. Otherwise, it’s like when an outside consultant or a higher-up comes to you and tells you how things should be, or provides advice, and you nod, smile, and probably silently think, You don’t know crap about how things work around here.
New school psychologists should drop what they think their roles are the first few weeks of school and pitch in when needed. The first week of school, you may go a long way to being thought of as an insider by helping set up the classroom, being there on the first day of school to show students and parents where the main office is, attending science fairs, and sometimes even doing hallway patrol or yard duty. The wonderful side effect is that you get to know the teachers, students, administrators, and parents in a non-emotionally charged way (basically, before an SST, IEP, or teacher meeting about student behavior).
Sometimes the best efforts are not sufficient. HA! Bet you didn’t see that coming. You thought I was going to tell an inspirational tale of how being a part of the school helped a child. Nope.
I was at one of my schools, waiting in the lobby for a parent, with the secretary. Two teachers came in and the secretary and one teacher started talking about a teacher who was going to leave next week. They were not talking favorably about said teacher. The second teacher asked them who was leaving, and the secretary looked around to see who was around (only me, no kids), and spelled out “Ms. S-A-R-A-H.” Ok, so apparently I’m not only an outsider who is not privy to school gossip, but I also am assumed to not be able to spell. Guess I need to spend more time having lunch in the teacher’s lounge.