Thursday, January 9, 2014

First Year Reflection

My poor blog has been neglected for far too long. As has my Twitter. As has my personal life. As has my gym membership. Le sigh.

I had imagined that I would be blogging up a storm in my first year. Passing on my words of wisdom if you will. Well that didn’t happen the way I planned.

The truth is I felt as though I had no words of wisdom to pass onto you. I was (and still am) treading water so I don’t drown (completely). My first year has been one obstacle after another and I have barely been able to keep it together. I have cried (and laughed, I promise!). I have had long days and longer nights. I dream about kids and the mountains of paperwork and the kids I don’t get to that I should. I worry about going to “PPT jail” for mistakes I may or may not have made. This learning curve was far steeper than I ever imagined it would or could be. Overtime, I have learned to be okay with that. I like learning; I really do. But…if I could have had a little bit more time to settle into my school and role, I would have been far happier and confident. Don’t you wish there was a pause button on life!

At the end of this past summer I was interviewed by my alma mater about my experience in the program and how it prepared me for my first job. I had forgotten about the interview until the photographer emailed me to set up a chance to get some “action shots.” Well, seeing as I was 2 hours away from Boston, we agreed to meet on an upcoming visit home and take photos outside a local school. After this encounter I, again, forgot about the article until one day a friend texted me a photo of myself on a mailer for my program. I immediately emailed the women who had contacted me from the start and managed to get my hands on the article and additional mailers I was featured on (scroll approximately halfway down in the link)

As I read the article, I couldn’t help but wonder who the young woman was that was describing her experience. It sure wasn’t me. She was far too confident. Far too sure of herself. It couldn’t have been me.

Well, it was. Before I had any real experience, I thought I could conquer the world. I had it all under control and I was going to make a difference! Little did I know that my daily life would be paperwork, meetings, and little interactions with students. I felt sad that my “dreams” of what a school psychologist did were slipping away.

Rest assured, I KNOW I am all of those things. I KNOW I can make a difference and do every day. You forget this until you have someone remind you of it or you have a success story to share. There is always a challenge, always copies to make, always a crisis to handle. There are pressures and stressors that I never imagined, including teacher evaluations, which are an added weight to my already heavy load. (I have trouble understanding how I can be evaluated on my work with children when I rarely get to work with children. But that is a conversation for another day!).

This post is not meant to be a sad and depressing one, but rather a vulnerable account of a reality check I have had this year (well, I guess it is kind of sad/depressing #debbiedowner). Things are not always the way we imagine them. We are dealt a deck of cards and we need to figure out how to best organize and triage and service needs. I want to be in the classrooms more. I want to work with kids far more often than I am. However, that is not my first year. I can only do the best that I can do. I am setting too high of expectations for anyone to attain so early in their career (or maybe ever!). I cannot be my version of the perfect school psychologist, but I can be someone else’s version. Instead, I will be my “best self each and every day” (taken directly from our school pledge!). This year is a learning year; to figure out the moving parts. Next year I will conquer something different and so on for years to come.

I want this post to serve as a reminder for all of us, the newbies and the seasoned professionals, that we are always learning and adapting. We must push ourselves every day, but understand that we can only do so much. At times (or most times) our job feels like it is an impossible task for one individual. In response, I challenge you to advocate for what you need, seek supervision, and remember your best you! I have to remind myself this daily, especially the part about asking for help J. I really love having the backing of all my school psychs from near and far to be supportive of and support me. I can now see that I retreated when I needed them most. I hope you all can forgive me…pretty please!

Now that I've dragged you down, time to pump you up!

Until next thyme,


  1. Nice post. Reflection is purposeful.

  2. Amen to that. Great post. That is exactly how I am feeling this week. I am also a first year psych and I am in a dual role position (psych/counselor). It is a lot to balance and I definitely feel like I cannot get to every child I'd like to work with and feel as I am constantly letting teachers down as a result. I agree, I think it is easy to set ourselves up for failure by creating unrealistic expectations for our first year in an incredibly intense role. It is nice to know there is someone else out there feeling the same way. Thanks for your post. It was exactly what I needed tonight..

  3. Thank you for this post! I am already feeling a lot if not ALL of the things that you describe in this post, & I am only an intern. The fact that you are feeling all of these things only shows that you have a true passion for the kiddos & what you do, & I am sure that the children & adults you work with all can see that.

  4. Nice post! I'm following up with all the new school psychs that I interviewed for my blog. Might I use this post as a follow up?