The theme for School Psychologist Awareness Week (SPAW) 2019 is “Find Your Focus,” so we asked our THF school psychs how they find (and keep!) their focus in their work. Here’s what they had to say:
As school psychologists, we can get caught up in the hustle and bustle of busy workdays, demanding deadlines, and staff drama. Whether onsite or at home, I often have to remind myself that “finding my focus” means returning to the core value of Hello, which is to Put Kids First. When parents, staff, and teachers are coming at you with their thoughts on the evaluation, eligibility decision, or the student progress/behavior/etc., it is important that I first remind myself, and then them that my goal is to figure out what is best for the student. At the end of the day, I work for the students of Rochester and Pioneer School Districts, and I find my focus by reminding myself and others that I work to do what is best on behalf of the student.
In the chaos of work, I also believe that “finding your focus” can mean stepping away from work to do something that will benefit myself and make me more productive towards my end goal of working for the students. For me, this often means some form of exercise or outdoor activity. A mid-day run, or taking the dog for a walk has been such an amazing addition to my workdays and definitely help me to be more intentional and focused on my work. Even when I’m onsite, you’ll find me at my teeny tiny hotel gym, blowing off steam before/after a long workday. Taking care of myself can help me to refine my focus on my work to be most productive.
My initial thoughts on the theme were, “Hmm. I wish I could find my focus.” But then I realized I do overall, even if the individual days are sometimes scattered based on the needs of my buildings. When I’m at home, I find my focus through yoga and running. Both help me refocus and feel grounded. When I’m in-district, I find my focus through a strict schedule/to-do list that helps me accomplish what I need to that day (plus, I like crossing things off my list!).
Organization, organization, organization…
I know I always have room to be better organized, for example, I still need to get a bigger filing cabinet and a bookshelf for my home office. However, the way I find my focus relative to making sure I’m doing the best I can for my teachers, students and district is by making sure I have my data organized. The top three are: spreadsheets, calendar and checklists (google tasks). If I find myself feeling overwhelmed and have kids’ names swirling in my head, “who do I need to focus on, when is their evaluation meeting, what areas are we looking at…” I pull myself back to my spreadsheet and calendar, then make sure to update my google task lists. From a personal perspective, if none of that helps, I take a break, take a quick walk, deep breath and a drink of water 🙂
As a Hello There School Psychologist, I find my focus through learning my school’s culture. This year my school site is near a naval base where the majority of the students are from military families. Understanding this culture, connecting with teachers and families and learning how to support students with challenging needs has been so important in finding the focus for me this school year. Many of the families move frequently or have parents that are deployed, which can make life more challenging for everyone. Understanding this lifestyle for families is so important when making educational plans for the students I work with. As a school psychologist, we have a unique role where we really do get to connect the family to the school and I have found that through stronger relationships students thrive! My focus… “family and school culture!”
Focus is so challenging, but don’t they do it well? We love our school psychs!