It’s A Small World
By Sally Baas
“It’s a small, small world,” sang the little figures as Disney World recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of this exhibit. Its a jaunty song that has been playing around in my brain for days. It makes me think of our National Association of School Psychologists with approximately 25,000 professional around the country who are all focused on the same issues for children, youth, and family. In some ways, we are a small, small world as we practice school psychology (similar work, similar ideals, the same ethics, focused on a model of practice that looks very similar across the country), yet we practice in different venues (schools, colleges, hospitals, clinics) with different populations as we create access to services through collaboration, advocacy, and leadership.
We have much to celebrate about our work this academic year as we build a bridge to the bigger world of the future. NASP has a new look, with our updated logo reflecting health, wellness, and our pursuit of ways to help students and others thrive. We have focused on our strategic priorities of professional competence, professional advocacy, and leadership, and have added new position statements to our collection: School Violence and Prevention, Effective Parenting: Positive Support for Families, Safe Schools for Transgender and Gender Diverse Students, and Corporal Punishment. We have two new interest groups bringing members together to address collaborative issues: the Future Faculty and the School, Family, Community Partnering interest groups. NASP as an organization has been looking carefully at our governance structure in an effort to help us operate more effectively and responsively. In February, our Delegate Assembly voted to implement a new structure that will be responsive and relevant to a new generation of members, utilize the skill sets of leaders in ways that maximize their contribution to the profession and the association, be participatory in nature and support an effective mix of volunteer leaders and staff, reflect of the benefits of having a volunteer-driven culture with an experienced professional staff, respond to the changing nature of volunteer commitment, and become relevant and responsive to a new generation of volunteer leaders.
The structure will change the Delegate Assembly to a Leadership Assembly, which will focus on professional issues and related policy, recommendations on strategic priorities and activities, and state linkage. Information will be flowing from members, states, and workgroups to inform the work of the Leadership Assembly and flow to the Board of Directors, formerly the Executive Council, which will focus on strategic direction, setting policy, fiduciary issues, and operational oversight. A Leadership Development Committee will be established to focus on ensuring that qualified, informed, and committed leaders seek leadership positions within the association. It will serve as a resource for members seeking to become involved, develop a process for identifying members interested in serving NASP, recruit annual nominations to elected offices, and foster leadership development through a variety of venues such as leadership skill training and mentoring. Another addition will be having the regional leadership meetings at the NASP conventions beginning at the Orlando convention in 2015. The regional leadership meetings will focus on leadership development as well as state and national issues. It will be a time to update leaders on the strategic and program direction of NASP and strengthen ties among state leaders, delegates, and NASP staff. This restructuring will focus our association on being more responsive and relevant to you, a loyal NASP member.
Currently, we are in Phase II of the process, with subgroups of leaders focusing on each of the areas of change noted above as well as on evaluation and changes to our governance documents. How does that impact each of us? It gives us a model for our practice as we work in schools, colleges, and communities in our smaller worlds where we have the opportunity to model new ways of thinking for others. It helps us challenge the way our work has been done in the past and enables others to work in new and different ways (e.g., how to use data to be more effective and responsive). It points out ways in which we can lead by convening the right voices at the table and building trust among those with whom we work so that we don't miss important topics or concerns. We have great opportunities to lead from the place where we are—i.e., “leading from the middle.” Just as our organization is changing to become more effective, we can take that model and work pragmatically with what is while moving to what can be.
I am humming: “It's a small world after all, a small, small world.” We do live in the relatively small world of school psychology; however, we have the opportunity to make huge changes across cultures and continents as we work together helping students achieve in all aspects of their lives, making their dreams come alive.
I encourage you, as Steward D. Friedman has said in his book on leadership, to “be a leader in its most important sense, being the agent of your own life, influencing the things you care about most in the world to make it a richer life.”
Friedman, S. (2008). Total leadership: Be a better leader, have a richer life. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.
Sally A. Baas, EdD, is on the faculty of Concordia University—St. Paul (MN) and is president of the National Association of School Psychologists.