School Systems: Organization, Structure & Theory

Instructor: Allyn Torres

Allyn has taught high school chemistry, and has a master's degree in curriculum and instruction.

In this lesson, you will learn why a school psychologist needs to understand the school structure. A few common theories and models of school systems will also be discussed.

Why Should a School Psychologist Understand the School Structure?

When you think of a psychologist, what do you imagine? You might think of what you've seen on TV and in the movies. Right now you may be picturing a professional office with a muted color palette, a few pieces of modern art, and a couch with an emotional patient on it.

Or you might be picturing Dr. Frasier Crane (depending on your age/access to a Netflix account), radio psychologist on the TV show Frasier, whose life was often more chaotic than those of his callers. Regardless of what you may picture, one thing is for sure, your image probably doesn't give a full picture of the job of a school psychologist.

A School Psychologist Working with a Small Group
school psychologist

School psychologists must have an excellent understanding of school structure because they play such an important role. The goal of a school psychologist is to improve the school as an organization. School psychologists act as advocates for students and may be the main source of communication between the school and parents. They are also responsible for evaluating the classroom environment and the school organization as a whole. School Psychologists often observe in classrooms to ensure that specific students have been placed correctly and are receiving the best education possible.

Due to the importance of school psychologists, it is crucial that they understand the various theories and models that come into play within the school organization. Some of these theories and models will be discussed below.

School as a Moral Community

Schools are not just in place to educate children academically. Since schools have access to children at developmentally critical times, educators and school administrators bear the responsibility of fixing a lot of the problems in our society. Character education programs have been in place for many years in an effort to address problems we face in society. Anti-drug, anti-alcohol, and anti-bullying programs are just a few examples.

It is the belief of society as a whole that the school must work in tandem with parents to mold children into responsible, law-abiding citizens. School psychologists play a major role in the moral community, as they may be the ones conducting character education programs.

Some issues arise when it comes to teaching morals in school, however. Everyone does not have the same set of values. Some public school administrators hesitate to talk about moral issues because they fear a backlash from parents who do not agree with the principles that are being taught.

For example, a school might teach students about contraception and safe sex. Parents may become upset if they believe that abstinence is the only form of sexual education that should be taught.

On the other side of the coin, private schools often take pride in teaching students a specific set of morals. Parents may send their children to religious, private, and military schools for the purpose of specifically teaching them the values and behaviors that the school imparts.

School as a Productive Organization

Schools systems can also be interpreted as an organization. Its effectiveness relies on many intertwining factors, such as school climate, administration leadership style, and school safety.

The climate within a school affects student achievement in many ways. If the administration fosters relationships with their teachers, teacher turnover rates are likely to remain low. Therefore, it benefits administrators to support their staff. Administrators can support their teachers by conducting informal observations and by being friendly and available.

Low turnover rates mean students are taught by experienced teachers with a history of successful teaching. When teachers are given the proper guidance and professional development, students' learning is impacted in a positive way.

Relatedly, safer school environments result in higher achieving students. If we think about this, it makes sense. Of course, you're not going to be able to concentrate in class if you're afraid the kid next to you may have a weapon in his backpack. Also, schools that communicate high expectations to their students produce students who believe in themselves more and are more motivated to do well in school.

Teacher satisfaction and student environment are huge factors in how productive a school is as an organization. School psychologists contribute to the productivity of schools by giving suggestions for improvement and ensuring a safe environment for students.

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