shansenmspp

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Thinking of applying to MSPP for a degree in School Psychology?

Posted on January 31,2013 by shansenmspp

Things to Know….

  1. There is no football team.
  2. There is a kickball team.
  3. There are clubs for practicing meditation, debating feminism, supporting LGBTQ students, meeting “non-traditional” students, doing yoga, watching films, and working in student government.
  4. The café at the new building closes by 3 p.m. Bring dinner with you. There are plenty of microwaves.
  5. Your days will start early and end late.
  6. You have to complete the master’s program before applying for the doctorate program – unless you are already a practicing school psychologist.
  7. All of your classes will be with your cohort. After spending 12-15 hours a week with them, you may know more than you want to about your classmates. There are no elective classes built into the program.
  8. You won’t meet many guys. Or, if you are a guy, you may be the only one.
  9. By the end of the second year the program faculty will all know your name.
  10. One of MSPP’s “growing edges” is experience in urban schools.
  11. The building closes at 9:00. If you are still there, take the stairs.
  12. Get ready to be challenged academically and personally – and to be supported in all areas.
  13. It’s (almost) never too late to send in an application!
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I've got the mid-January blues....

Posted on January 21,2013 by shansenmspp

Yep, it’s that time of year again. Winter begins to feel not only dreary but interminable, football fans’ hearts beat faster, and the last of the holiday cookies are long gone. While the smell of Superbowl Subs may be in the air for some, school psychology students spend the last few weeks of January preparing resumes, researching possible internship sites, and tracking down letters of recommendation. February 1st is the BIG DAY in the land of school psychology training; technically students cannot indicate interest or intent to apply to a training site before this date.

While this cut-off levels the playing field for graduate students around the state, it also means that by the first we must be prepared to send out our application materials as swiftly as possible. My constant struggle is trimming my resume down to the expected number of pages – I am told that in the education field this number is two. I have worked in many different fields and had a variety of jobs prior to my life at MSPP; determining what makes the cut can be a drawn out process. I suppose the imprending frigid weather will be a blessing in disguise – I can huddle up on my couch with my pup, a blanket, and my computer to start deleting. Hope you will be warm and cozy, too. Happy editing, Super-bowl watching, shoveling, or whatever it is that you do to fill the last few weeks of January!

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Too bad I don't drink coffee....

Posted on January 08,2013 by shansenmspp

Last year it was Manic Mondays. This semester its Trying Tuesdays. Or Tired Tuesdays. Or Tuckered Tuesdays.

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Thoughts on the unthinkable

Posted on December 16,2012 by shansenmspp

One of the major takeaways from my three semesters of MSPP classes and practicum is the following: complex problems require complex solutions. Challenges that are years in the making will also be years in the un-making. And so it goes with the horrific gun violence that has permeated the U.S. for decades. Perhaps this latest spate of killings – this time involving so many young children – will finally spark the dialogue and debate necessary to make meaningful change for our children, our society, ourselves.

Improved access to quality mental health services, destigmatizing mental health disorders, more restrictive gun laws, communities that embrace difference and diversity, a nurturing of boys and men to better cope with difficult emotions, and a conscious effort to steer children towards games that do not glorify violence are all pieces of the puzzle – and there are many more. There is no one avenue for healing a country inured to frequent mass shootings, a nation that hardly blinks at the stockpiling of guns in homes, a culture that normalizes violence in video games, T.V. shows, and sensational news headlines.

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Speed limit to be determined

Posted on December 09,2012 by shansenmspp

We are hurtling towards the end of the semester. I am not ready for the final onslaught of papers and exams, but here they come. Our cohort only has one more semester of “full-time” classes after this spring. Around this time last year the school psychology program felt interminable – I can now glimpse the metaphorical light at the end of the tunnel – almost. In the meantime I will do my best to “enjoy the ride,” and power through until the holiday break. Final social-emotional assessment assignment, here I come!

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Macho, macho man...

Posted on November 29,2012 by shansenmspp

There’s a new man in my life. He can be a bit macho. He hates to be alone. His favorite food is hot dogs. And, he groans loudly when he’s cleaning his ears. He’s incredibly smart, and runs around like the Tazmanian Devil.

I adopted a rescue pup a week ago. He’s affectionate, slobbery, gentle, and very anxious around trucks and plastic bags. This past week has been a sleep-deprived one as I balance caring for and training him with school, practicum, and other obligations.

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It's a great day to be alive!

Posted on November 19,2012 by shansenmspp

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. I’m not sure I’m completely ready for the slew of family gatherings, holiday parties, and final papers that usher in the coming season. It is also “prime time” for counselors and school psychologists as my supervisors and the special education director at my school reminded me again today. The holidays bring all sorts of relational and economic stress for families. At the same time, students who have not been performing well over the semester start to realize how far behind they are, ninth graders notice that high school is not as fun or as easy as they originally thought, seniors discover that they should have started their college applications earlier, and mid-year exams loom. School staff is not immune to the craziness of the holidays, and unwittingly transmit this stress to students. Some children and adolescents dread the holidays and the inevitable loneliness, conflict, and/or confusion that accompany their family events.

While I might have expected elementary school students to act out or manifest their anxiety about the upcoming season in unproductive ways (as happened at my site last year), I had not thought about this time being difficult for adolescents as well. Today was a reminder of the future stresses that wait just around the corner; students in my boys’ counseling group spoke at a high volume than usual and fought voraciously over the existence of Santa Claus. School politics and rumors permeated the teachers’ lounges, and a group of 11th and 12th grade students broke down in tears. Special education referrals are rising sharply, as are parent phone calls and mental health crisis meetings. The need for mental health prevention and intervention – and the support of school psychologists, is exacerbated. As I am preparing to “ride the wave” of emotions (as Dialectal Behavioral Therapy founder Marsha Linehan puts it), I feel deeply grateful for the counseling and student management skills I have learned from classmates, professors, and supervisors thus far. Thanks to their support and encouragement, I feel ready to support and encourage my students. And....as country singer Travis Tritt reminds us, "it's a great day to be alive!" despite the intersection of challenges that the season presents. I am thankful for the reminder, especially on days like today. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Maybe I should invest in a set of crampons?

Posted on November 13,2012 by shansenmspp

8 professors, 1 daunting first-year exam, 35 credits, 11 rigorous courses, a teacher licensing exam, 200 hours of practicum, and uncountable hours of studying later….we had made it! Well, sort of. If you want to be a school psychologist, getting a master’s degree is a bit like turning the hill on a hike and seeing a beautiful vista – and then realizing there are still hours to go before you reach the summit (not to mention the journey back down).

Still, this past Saturday was a milestone. My classmates and I organized and participated in a small ceremony to recognize completion of our master’s degree. While we still have a year of classes, a year of internship, and a praxis exam to go (at the bare minimum), we all made it through to this important step. We were honored to share the moment with our families and friends, and touched by the presence of faculty members who chose to come to school on a Saturday to attend. One of our professors gave a heartfelt speech sharing his words of wisdom as we trod along on our way to a challenging, rewarding, and often befuddling career (wait, what do school psychologists do again?).

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Spotlight on.....Chris!

Posted on November 08,2012 by shansenmspp

Chris is a third-year in the school psychology program. He has been a teaching assistant and research assistant, and has some amazing hidden talents (like flying!) - he also was the first person to tell me about the program at MSPP. I had never heard of MSPP when we met at an elementary school in Concord. I appreciated his perspective as a fellow "career changer." Now, two years later, I am slogging my way through law & ethics, and Chris is in the midst of his internship year. He was kind enough to share with me his thoughts on being a school psychologist, MSPP, and advice for future students.

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Succumbing to Sandy (and School), or Embracing the Unexpected?

Posted on October 30,2012 by shansenmspp

This time last week I had no idea a hurricane was even in the weather forecast. Now, two canceled days of school, two postponed classes, 24 hours of whipping wind, and countless Twitter updates later, I can’t imagine Sandy not being on her way. At times during the past couple of days, it has felt like there was nothing happening anywhere except for this hurricane – and I was reminded of the hurricane that landed just a few days before I started school at MSPP and which derailed my transportation plans in an instant. While the collective memory of Irene has mostly been replaced by the downed power lines, flooded streets, and fallen trees of Sandy, last year’s hurricane has been present in my mind.

Irene dropped a giant (and I mean, HUGE) tree branch on my car last fall; it shattered the front windshield, tore through the roof, and knocked out the side windows. There was also water damage inside, and the frame of the car was compromised. I saw the branch crash through my car, and felt fortunate that I was inside safe and sound with my family. After first declaring the car a loss, my insurance company eventually decided that the 8-year-old car could be repaired. I was also left wondering how I would get to MSPP for my first days of class.

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