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Finding Balance: The Emerging Relationship Between AI and School Psychologists

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will not replace School Psychologists. But what it can do is help practitioners to become more efficient.

In this article, I will share my thoughts on how we can find the balance between leveraging AI as a tool while continuing to propel and advance the work of my #SchoolPsychFam.

From New York City to Los Angeles, I have been privileged to travel the country, speaking and meeting school psychologists who care deeply about the field and the school communities we serve. What’s striking to me is we find ourselves at a crossroads. As AI becomes increasingly advanced, I wonder how we might ethically and responsibly incorporate its usage into our profession without losing the heart and human connection essential to our work.

There needs to be more clarity between what AI offers and what professionals fear might be lost in translation. This exciting and challenging tension beckons us to explore the symbiotic relationship between machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the indelible human touch.

Let's delve deeper into this intersection, understanding its implications for our field and, more importantly, our students.

AI Is Not A Replacement for Clinical Judgment

It's no secret that AI brings unprecedented precision. From analyzing learning patterns to flagging potential signs of distress in students, it's like having an omnipresent assistant. However, where machines handle data, humans manage emotions. The wisdom in interpreting the context, the nuances of a child's behavior, or the undertones in their words cannot be replicated. What AI offers isn't a replacement but a complement.

It's not about AI or humans, but AI and humans.

There’s a lingering concern. Will we become overly reliant on this evolving technology? It’s worth noting that tools are only as effective as their users. While an AI system might suggest changes to classroom dynamics, the teacher understands the intricate interpersonal relationships between students. AI gives us a vantage point; our professional expertise determines the direction.

Privacy, Trust, and Transparency

Using AI, especially in monitoring emotional well-being or ensuring physical safety, treads a fine line between care and intrusion. The answer lies in transparent communication. Students, educators, and parents need to understand the intent and mechanisms behind these tools. Let’s be clear, it’s about trust, and trust can not be automated; it's cultivated.

The Road Ahead - AI As A Tool

How do school psychologists navigate this rapidly evolving and confusing landscape of artificial intelligence? By viewing AI as a tool. A very potent tool. A potent tool, and with it comes a level of responsibility and care that we have to consider. It’s essential to remember that AI tools are born from human ingenuity. They’re designed to assist, not replace. By leaning on AI for data-driven insights while trusting our intrinsic human ability to empathize, connect, and understand, we find a synergy that benefits our primary concern: the well-being and growth of our students.

The Future of School Psychology & AI

The future of our field is promising. At this moment in time, we have a unique opportunity to leverage AI as a tool to stand in the gaps where we have seen minimal progress. Importantly, we don’t have to relinquish the core of our profession. Despite the shortages in our field, I do not believe AI will replace school psychologists. Instead, we can expand our toolkits by leveraging AI, large language models, and generative AI. If we can strike the right balance, AI tools can ease the burden and potentially save hours for many school psychologists, helping ensure every child has access to a high-quality education, support, and services.

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