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Psychologists Appreciation Day

Working ‘to do our jobs better’
New York Teacher
Psychologists Appreciation Day
Erica Berger

Carmen Riera, a school psychologist at the Committee on Special Education 9, dresses like a superhero at the Nov. 12 event.

Psychologists Appreciation Day
Erica Berger

Lena Perez of the Committee on Special Education 7 in Brooklyn and Karen Mack of CSE for Pathways to Graduation talk shop.

Nearly 400 school psychologists on Nov. 12 attended this year’s Psychologists Appreciation Day, the School Social Workers and Psychologists Chapter’s first hybrid event. About 150 psychologists gathered in Shanker Hall at UFT headquarters in Manhattan, with the rest watching online.

Members attended two workshops: one about assistive technology and the other about intelligence assessments. Raul Garcia, the UFT chapter leader, picked the topics with the pandemic in mind.

Because of remote learning, all students have iPads and computers now, Garcia explained. He described an iOS app that transcribes spoken words in real time. A student who has difficulty hearing can use the app in a classroom.

“Now these psychologists can bring that back to their schools for students with hearing loss,” Garcia said.

Ann Rodriguez, a school psychologist at PS 86 in Brooklyn, said her familiarity with assistive technology had been limited to the referral paperwork she would help complete in order to get accommodations for students. The workshop on assistive technology, she said, gave her “a whole new outlook.”

“I have one student with dyslexia, and now I’m looking up everything I can for her!” said Rodriguez.

The workshop on intelligence assessments spoke to a challenge that psychologists share with teachers in the era of COVID-19: how to balance the typical demands of the job with COVID-related learning loss.

“We’ve been doing assessments for years, but they weren’t created with the pandemic in mind,” Garcia said.

He said he hoped school psychologists who participated in the workshop will be better prepared to make recommendations for students who are coping with multiple issues.

Carmen Riera, a school psychologist at the Committee on Special Education 9 in Manhattan, was excited to see her colleagues in person. She said she gained practical information from the workshops that she can integrate into her work.

“We all want to do our job better and do better for our kids,” she said, “and our union supports us in our role.”