Tips for Surviving Internship

As I've mentioned before, becoming a school psychologist takes lots of time studying the processes of learning, psychology, and educational theories.  In addition, it also takes a full year of guided professional practice (called an internship) to become a fully credentialed school psychologist.  Because of this, I thought I would write this page to offer some suggestions to young school psychologists which may hopefully can make life a little easier on you.  The following suggestions are listed in no particular order.
  • Always keep a pen and paper handy.  Teachers and administrators will often give you good information in the hallways, so make sure you have a way to write it down.
  • If you have an itenerate position (meaning you have to drive to multiple school buildings), your vehicle will become a mobile office.  I'd suggest keeping some office supplies in the backseat.
  • Link your phone to your distric email/calendar. Scheduling meeting becomes easier when you can send a virtual invitation from anywhere.
  • Buy incentives/rewards to keep in your office(s).  Make the time you spend with students enjoyable for them.  Young students like stickers, older students enjoy candy.
  • Post your office hours and contact information by your office door. No one should every tell you that they had a question but didn't know how to reach you.
  • Schedule times to walk into classrooms to introduce yourself and services to the students.
  • Take a nice lunch break on some days and skip it on other days.
  • Learn all you can about state assessments. 
  • Lock your file cabinets.
  • Start a resource library with books or materials for faculty and staff to borrow from you.
  • Keep your school(s) phone number(s), bell schedule(s), and other critical information nearby.  If you have more than one office, keep a copy of this information in each building.
  • Live (and die) by your planner.  Don't be afraid to tell someone that you're busy.  Don't be afraid to leave a meeting when it's still in session.  You have plenty of other places you need to be.
  • Document phone calls made with parents.
  • Get a date stamp and use it to document when you received important paperwork.
  • Make and utilize report templates to save time when completing your reports.
  • Prioritize.  Don't feel bad if your top priority is not the same as the teachers think it should be!
  • Organize the paperwork you take to meetings in the sequential order in which you'll need to use them.  It's embarrassing when there are people watching you fumble for the right documents you need in the middle of a meeting.
  • Keep your computer/software login information in a secure place.
  • Find out what type of candy your secretary (or para) likes.  Buy it for them regularly.
  • Get on the good side of your IT staff.
  • Visit with all your building administrators and special education faculty regularly.  Make them know you care about their concerns.
  • Make friends with the building secretary.  The same can be said for your building custodians.
  • Work hard during school hours; you'll be proud of what you accomplished.  
  • Try not to take work home with you.
  • Understand that your work will be there for you in the morning, it's okay to leave it there overnight.
  • Your mental health and well being are important; you need to be on your "A game" so you can fully serve those around you!
  • Try not to take things personally.  Realize that working in schools can be challenging for everyone.
  • When you are asked tough questions, realize it's because people believe you know the answer and are willing to help.
  • If you get an upsetting email, do not reply to the message in an email.  Talk in person or on the phone.
  • Sign up to help with school/community events.  Your coworkers will see you as more approachable and you'll make connections outside of the office.
  • If you're asked a question to which you do not know the answer, you can say, "I'm not 100% positive, but I will get right back to you."  Then get back to them!
  • Go to as many annual IEP meetings as possible.  This is especially important during your internship year so that you can get to know your students.
  • Keep up to date on current events in education, politics, and local news.
  • Be visible in the hallways during passing periods.
  • Buy things from school fundraisers.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. 
  • Call your colleagues to brainstorm (or just for a pep talk.)
  • Remember to do no harm, and to be an advocate for all students.
  • Limit who has your personal cell phone number.  Give out your work phone number.

If you are looking for generic tips for surviving your first year of teaching (many also apply to school psychologists), you could look here or here.