"School psychologists should help schools develop challenging but achievable cognitive and academic goals for all students." - NASP, 1997.

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It is so important for School Psychologists to be grounded with a fundamental knowledge of learning theory and instructional strategies. Perhaps even more than the classroom teacher, the School Psychologist must be aware of a wide range of instructional practices that have been proven effective with a wide range of learners. Particularly, the School Psychologist must have knowledge of effective instruction and the development of cognitive and academic skills for students with exceptional learning, behavioral, or social/emotional needs. Moreover, it is the School Psychologist's role to assist school staff in helping students become increasingly responsible for their own learning and self-assessment.

Level of Competence in Effective Instruction and Development of Cognitive/Academic Skills = intermediate

Evidence
I have provided descriptions of coursework from my Master's of Education program as well as undergraduate courses that have allowed me to gain a broad knowledge base of empirically supported instructional practices for use with students with diverse learning needs. I have also included three assignments that clearly illustrate my level of competency in this area. Also, an annotated bibliography of a textbook that I think every teacher and School Psychologist should have is included. Also in this section, I include the citation for a useful, relevant article that highlights best practices for cognitive interventions by School Psychologists. As a testament to my use of effective instruction and fostering the development of cognitive and academic skills in my students, I have included a performance review from my teaching practicum as well as a reference letter from my practicum supervisor. And lastly, a reflection statement will connect all of these pieces together as they relate to my competence in this domain of School Psychology.

Course Descriptions

APSY 641 - Human Development, Learning, and Cognition: Child and Adolescence
This course will highlight the interface between development, cognition, and learning in childhood and adolescence, as evidenced within major theoretical positions. It provides a basis for study in more specialized areas of human development, cognition, and learning. Theories are discussed in terms of their educational application to typical and atypical children and adolescents.

APSY 693.65 - Interventions to Promote Cognitive, Academic, and Neuropsychological Well-being
This course focuses on evidence-based interventions aimed at promoting cognitive, academic, and neuropsychological development. The theoretical and empirical basis of interventions will be explored, as will the principles and processes involved in specific interventions. Student outcomes will include knowledge child development, theories of learning, and cognitive/neuropsychological strategies and their application to the design and implementation of interventions to promote student learning at an individual and group level. Students will also learn principles of student-centered learning and best practice and their use in the development of self-regulated learners. Empirically demonstrated components of effective instruction methods for students with diverse learning needs such as those individuals diagnosed with neurological issues, learning disabilities, and language disorders will also be explored. Finally, students will gain knowledge in planning and instituting interventions (including overall best practices in decision making, service planning, outcome evaluation and accountability) in several areas pertaining to executive functions such as attention, memory, problem solving etc., as well as areas pertaining to academics such as reading, writing, and mathematics.

EPSE 472 - Issues in Inclusive Education
Inclusive classrooms provide unique challenges to teachers. Key issues, research findings, and recommended practice are examined to support the development of inclusive classrooms. Foundational literature and research is examined to provide recommendations for best practices and research-based strategies to develop and design inclusive classrooms.

Assignments

The following documents are three assignments that summarize and provide examples of my competence in effective instruction and development of cognitive/academic skills as a School Psychologist. The first is a best practices in special education paper that highlights the practice of assessment for learning. Specifically, I discuss the role of assessment for learning in promoting the development and learning needs of all learners, but particularly those with learning exceptionalities. The second assignment is a diary of my learning from the course APSY 641. This series of reflective thought details a number of teaching practices and makes reference to my own experience and evaluations of various instructional strategies as a teacher. Finally, the third assignment is a powerpoint presentation describing empirically supported instructional strategies and interventions for students with language and communication disorders.

"In the end, educators best serve students by helping them be more self-reflective. The only way any of us can improve - as Coach Graham taught me - is if we develop a real ability to assess ourselves. If we can't accurately do that, how can we tell if we're getting better or worse?" - Randy Pausch, from The Last Lecture, 2008.

Influential Readings

Karten, T. J. (2005). Inclusion strategies that work: Research-based methods for the classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

This book is a comprehensive reference book of empirically-based instructional strategies for teachers in inclusive settings. The book details strategies that are best practice for all learners, but particularly those with special needs. The book also offers specific modified assignments and strategies for approaching curriculum with struggling learners.

Naglieri, J.A. (2002). Best practices in intervention for school psychologists: a cognitive approach to problem solving. In Thomas, A. & Grimes, J. (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology (pp. 1373-1392). Bethesda, MD: NASP Publications.

This article focuses on research that has shown that cognitive interventions really do make a difference. It also highlights the importance of the link between appropriate and effective assessment and specifically targeted interventions.

Cushing, L. S., Clark, N. M., Carter, E. W., & Kennedy, C.H. (2005). Access to the general education curriculum for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 38(2), 6-13.

This article provides an excellent overview and concrete examples of modifying and adapting educational programs and instructional delivery to include cognitively impaired students in the general education classroom. The article describes how to conduct classroom observations, develop and implement adaptations, and how to develop and monitor an effective individualized education plan. This is an excellent resource for classroom teachers and School Psychologists to discuss effective instruction and development of cognitive/academic skills.

Performance Review and Reference Letter

The following performance review and reference letter highlight my abilities as a classroom teacher in providing effective instruction and development of cognitive and academic skills for my students. Specifically in relation to School Psychology, this highlights my knowledge of the application of learning theory and cognitive strategies to the instructional process.

Reflection Statement

During my time as a teacher, I have learned to provide a wide variety of instructional methods to meet the needs of a diverse range of learners in my classroom. While at times this entailed tailoring my instruction to individualized education plans with modified learning objectives, it also involved conducting ongoing formative assessment with all of my students to constantly adjust my instruction to meet their learning needs and level of development. Throughout my coursework in the Master's program and through feedback on assignments and presentations, I have expanded my knowledge of effective instruction to not only include a broader and more diverse range of instructional strategies, but also a deeper understanding of how and when to apply and/or modify these techniques in the classroom based on the developmental and learning needs of the students.

I strongly support inclusive practices in education but I firmly believe that teachers need ongoing professional development and support in order to continue to teach effectively to the growing range of abilities in their classrooms. As a School Psychologist I would be in a unique position to not only mentor teachers in their instructional practice with special needs learners, but also in how they can employ techniques that will reach and be good for all learners. After all, that is the basis of inclusive education.

Due to my previous University coursework in Psychology, Education, and Special Education, as well as my experience in teaching and modifying curriculum for a wide range of learners, coupled with my coursework and assignments from my Master's program, I feel that I have reached an intermediate level of competence in this domain. I look forward to gaining more experience in this area over the course of my internship and as I begin my professional practice as a School Psychologist.