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School Psychology

Shadowing School Psychologists

The Tufts University School Psychology program wants to be certain that applicants are well informed about the field before they apply to our graduate program. Shadowing a school psychologist helps candidates learn about the roles and responsibilities of school psychologists, and to "try on" the career informed by real world experiences.

Volunteering with children, conducting clinical research, and working in schools are all great ways to develop a broader understanding of child development and the field of education. However, they are NOT the same as shadowing a school psychologist.

Shadowing provides an opportunity to observe practicing school psychologists as they engage with children and colleagues in the school setting. By observing school psychologists at work, applicants can see how they communicate and make decisions in complex situations. Applicants will also develop a more realistic understanding of what school psychologists, and schools more broadly, can and can't do for children and their families. If you shadow more than one school psychologist, you will learn see how school contexts influence practices, and also may observe how practice changes at different age levels.

Some questions to consider when shadowing

  • Can I see myself doing what this school psychologist does on a daily basis?
  • Can I see myself as a colleague of this school psychologist?
  • What are the joys and frustrations of this career?
  • Am I drawn to problem solving?
  • Am I drawn to assessment?
  • Is the school psychologist involved in providing direct services to children (tutoring, counseling, skills groups, etc)?
  • Does the school psychologist consult on a regular basis with classroom teachers?
  • What is the role of the school psychologist in special education and in regular education programs?
  • What is the difference between the roles of school psychologist and school counselor?
  • How does the school psychologist relate to and communicate with children?
  • How does the school psychologist relate to and communicate with professional colleagues?

Arranging a shadowing experience
As a prospective graduate student, it is your responsibility to make the initial contact with a school psychologist. Schools have different regulations regarding visitors, and you will need to find out what they are for any school you visit. At the very least, you will need to demonstrate that you understand the privacy and confidentiality afforded students and all professional interactions that occur within a school setting.

Strategies for finding shadowing opportunities

  • Contact the schools you attended to ask if you might return to shadow the school psychologist.
  • Network with friends and family to learn if they know any school psychologists.
  • Ask faculty from your university if they have any working relationships or partnerships with schools.
  • If you volunteer or have a college placement in a school-based program, introduce yourself to the school psychologist.

Your shadowing experience and applying to Tufts
Upon completion of your shadowing experience, we would like you to respond to the following question on your application to Tufts:

In 500 words or less, please tell us what you learned from the experience of shadowing a school psychologist.