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A Day in the Life of a School Psychologist

A Day in the Life of a School Psychologist

Dr. Rebecca Bell

I arrive at my middle school campus today at 8:00am, armed with coffee, water bottle, lunch bag, bag of testing materials, my laptop, and a bag of toys. I greet the secretary in Spanish (she’s my own private language tutor) and grab a bunch of little notes out of my mailbox marked, “Dr. Bell, School Psychologist.” As I re-shuffled the weight of my zillion bags o’ stuff, a group of middle school girls came in the office. They were so cute and middleschooly awkward, and I smile and greet them. They give me the “I’m too cool to say hi to adults half-smile and squinty eye” and as I walk away, I overhear them:

Girl 1: Who was that?
Girl 2: Dr. Bell.
Girl 1: What does she do?
Girl 2: I don’t know exactly. All I know is that she LOVES kids.

That is the best job description ever. That is what I do. That is why I carry a zillion bags to 3 different schools every week. I am a school psychologist. Here is my day.

8:00am: Aforementioned shuffling of bags and lesson in middle school conceptualization of what I do.

8:05am: Accosted in hallway by vice principal. We walk and talk as I head to my little office in the back of the auditorium. It’s a State-of-the-Union address, middle-school style. Franklin needs a check in because he got into a fight. D’Andre is doing better in class. Cherie’s teacher wants to check in about reading difficulties. A teacher is out today. Karen’s mom wants me to call her about grief counseling. Special education meeting this afternoon for Kevin. Got it.

8:10am: Throw everything in office and read through mailbox notes. More of the same: “Do you have any strategies for anger management for Michael?” “Can you check in with Erin? She seems sad.” “Dr. So-and-So called and wants to talk with you about whether you think T.J. has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” “Is D’Andre doing his behavior chart?” “Padres Unidos meeting tonight at 6. Can you come?”

8:15am: Deep breath. Organize and prioritize! Review new items and existing list of students I had planned on testing and seeing for counseling today. Testing must be done today. I have to figure out why three of my students are failing. Learning disability? Emotional problem? Behavioral problem? Poor instruction? Bad attendance? Doesn’t understand English? Low ability? Peer difficulties? Do they need special education to be successful or can they make it in the general class with help? I am a detective gathering clues every day.

8:20am: Call parents back. Leave messages.

8:30am: Coffee now in bloodstream. Ready to go. Deliver “Talent Group” passes to 6th grade girls for counseling group that will occur after lunch. Squeals ensue. As I leave classroom, another girl yells, “I’m talented too! Take me!!!”

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