Hey everybody, I figured I'd get this ball rolling a little bit. I've talked with some of you, and many of you WANT to talk with folks, but it seems intimidating. You're right, it is, but once you do it a few times, it becomes second nature. The only bit of anxiety I feel is wondering what their response will be, as in how they feel about our message.
I just thought I'd give some tips. First thing is be confident. You have the knowledge of our field, they don't. They often ask me questions that, to me, seem silly, but to an outsider, it's an honest to goodness thought. They look to us for insight into these issues. The second is to be honest. If you don't know, admit that you don't know, and let them know that if it's something you can find out, you'll do so and follow up. Third, is have an opening statement so to speak. Have it thought out of what you're calling them about. I've even jotted down notes before I dial just so I know that I don't forget something. Once the conversation gets going, it will flow easily, it's getting started that is likely the intimidating part to many of us.
Here's a statement that might be helpful for you all in getting a conversation started if you've never spoken with or had previous contact with these folks:
Hi Senator/Delegate ___, my name is ____ and I'm a school psychologist with ____ schools. I was hoping I could take a minute of your time to talk about the state of mental health in our schools, and legislation that will be proposed in January? (If not, ask if there is a better time to speak with them, and schedule that if possible). Ok great! Our state school psychologist association has worked closely with Senator Chris Walters over the past few years on a bill that would seek to place a ratio limit of students per school psychologist. Previous versions haven't made it through, so some revisions were made to this upcoming proposal. The proposed bill would seek to create a maximum ratio of 1800 students per school psychologist, and this would have to be in place by the 2023-24 school year. This is a better and more fiscally realistic bill than previous versions. This bill is important because: (here just speak from the heart, give your own reason as to why this bill is important for you. For me it's to be able to do more than just testing, to actually be able to meet with kids and help those who are in need and at risk. I also talk about my own district ratio and how it limits my abilities as a school psych. Give some examples of situations where you could've really benefitted from extra time on your hands).
Hopefully that's helpful. PLEASE don't hesitate to call or contact myself or Karen if you have questions. We have made HUGE strides this year, and if even 10 more of you started calling, we could really get this through.
My cell is 304-550-7523. Call day or night, doesn't matter, this is SO important to me, so I'll gladly give you my time.