I’ve had this nagging feeling again. Most educators get it every so often; at least, I imagine, the good ones do:
Am I making a difference? Is there anything more I can be doing?
When I left teaching to go into school psychology I (perhaps naively) thought that it would put me in a position to do a greater amount of good for a greater number of students than working as a teacher. Now, almost two years later, it seems to me that my scope of influence has actually diminished from my classroom days.
So what’s a natural-born do-gooder to do? I try to compensate in a few ways. I co-advise my high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, not only because I think it’s a righteous cause, but also to increase the face-to-face time I spend with young folks. I also volunteer to conduct professional development sessions at work and help teachers get comfortable using tools like wikis and podcasts to develop more student-centered, authentic projects. Of course, there’s also the consultative role I play as part of my job, which I guess (I hope) is beneficial, too.
Reading up on education reform and going to conferences like EduCon and Constructing Modern Knowledge (if I can get away for three days!), although not directly related to my responsibilities as a school psychologist, are important to me because they prevent me from becoming too isolated in my practice and, more importantly, keep me engaged as a visible stakeholder and participant in the discussions I think we need to be having about education right now (many of which, I’m finding out through my reading, have been going on for decades, to little avail).
At EduCon two weeks ago, as much as I enjoyed it, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was the only one (psychologist) in the room at any given time. As many of the conversations at EduCon focused around what teachers can do differently and how teachers can improve their practice, I continually wondered, “What can I do differently? How can I contribute to some of these changes given the limited interactions I have with students?” The teachers and administrators and techie folks all had at least a few kindred professional spirits to bounce ideas off of; I was not so lucky (this is probably fodder for another post).
I asked in a blog post almost two years ago what, if any, place psychologists have in the School 2.0/Unschool framework. Let me expand that somewhat narrow question to YOUR vision of what school could/should be, free of movements or labels.
Maybe a better question for you progressive educators out there is this: what could I, given my skill set, do to support your efforts if I worked in your building? Sky’s the limit; just put it out there.