Being a good listener, analyzing data, administering cognitive assessments, and negotiating with multiple parties are all key skills for a school psychologist, second only to knowing how to play UNO and keeping a sense of humor around surly teenagers. I am working on all of these at my field site this year.
But one of the most intricate skills for school psychologists to acquire is a balance between being incredibly organized and punctual, while also remaining flexible and even-keeled. It is not unusual for my supervisors to attend three or four back-to-back meetings, preceded and followed by individual student testing sessions, supervision with myself and the other intern, classroom observations, or unexpected mental health crises. Time for lunch is a luxury. They keep track of their complicated schedules in tiny, detailed agenda books, and seem to always be on time for meetings at any of the three buildings where they work.
At the same time that school psychologists maintain a hectic schedule with little wiggle room for last-minute changes, last-minute changes are inevitable. Students fail to arrive for testing sessions, the copy machine breaks yet again, parents cancel a meeting, administrators forget to submit paperwork, teachers ask for extra consultation. Being a successful school psychologist seems to require a particular blend of “Type A” personality to keep track of the day-to-day routine along with the easy-going nature of those who are “Type B.”
While the years I spent living in Latin America honed my ability to expect the unexpected and to wait patiently for tardy meetings to begin, I also know that staying on top of all my commitments as a practicum student is one of my “growing edges.” The rotating block schedule at my site is different each day, further complicating matters. I am keeping a strict agenda, have purchased sticky notes, and spent yesterday labeling numerous manila folders, all of which seem like steps in the right direction. Wish me luck: mission “Type A” has begun!