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Planning Your Summer of Advocacy
We made it! The school year is winding down, and some of us are thinking about how we want to use the next 2–3 months. So much of our work as school psychologists is rooted in advocacy: personal, professional, practice, and policy. Our advocacy as school psychologists centers on the needs of our students and families and how we can best meet those needs, from advocating for an individual student in their IEP, to working with school administrators to implement effective crisis planning, to building support for increasing the number of school psych positions in the district. When we’re done, self-care becomes a form of self-advocacy.
Summer is an excellent time to lay the groundwork for this localized advocacy. Here are a few suggestions on where to focus your efforts and how to get started.
Focus on Self-Care
Reflect and identify friction points.
While the year is fresh in your mind, jot down notes for yourself. Which strategies or practices should you maintain, and which practices should change? Hold on to routines and strategies that served you well and make room for new approaches to replace those that didn’t go so well.
Learn about and adopt a few new strategies.
Our needs change, and so must our self-care strategies. Even if this year went well, next year may require a different approach. View self-care tools, resources, and mobile apps for new ideas.
Remember the importance of care for the caregiver.
Given this has been one of the most challenging years educators and school support personnel have ever faced, now is an excellent time to take care of yourself. Review guidance or the Ask the Experts webinar on care for the caregiver to prevent burnout.
Use the Summer for Planning
Prepare for full-time, in-person learning. The return to in-person learning for many schools will require providing students comprehensive academic and mental health supports. Check out NASP’s Return to School resources and webinars, including the newly released guidelines on retention and special education referrals, our latest Ask the Experts webinar on lessons learned on supporting students’ academic and social–emotional needs during COVID, and our joint guidance with ASCA on school reentry SEL supports.
Prioritize an equity lens in your schools. Listen to Episode #2 of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion podcast on creating welcoming, affirming, and inclusive schools. Review social justice lesson plans for school staff and schedule a training with relevant staff over the next few months. Or read through this Communiqué series on health disparities, written by members of the Social Justice Committee.
Regroup with your crisis team before the school buildings reopen. Many students and staff will return to school with increased levels of stress, anxiety, and, for some, trauma. This Communiqué article provides strategies for planning for reopening using the PREPaRE model. Concerns over safety may be high as well. Review our new joint guidance on armed assailant drills, our handout on conducting all drills appropriately, and our updated guidance on behavioral threat assessment and management.
Build up your CPD hours while you have more time.
Limited space remains for the virtual 2021 Advocacy Academy on July 21 and 22. Register by June 30 or until all spots are full, whichever comes first. NASP is also hosting a live webinar every Wednesday in July at a special bundle price—only $99 for members while space remains.
Understanding the basic communications and advocacy skills can bolster your efforts. The Communication Matters column in the June issue of Communiqué, “Planning a Fresh Start,” offers a number helpful tips and strategies for getting off to a great start this fall.
No matter what your goals are this summer, I hope you see how advocacy can be threaded throughout much of what you do. And I hope you found something in the suggestions above to get you started.