I am writing to correct a statement made in an earlier blog post.
Next Wednesday, the tiniest walking shark in Boston will be knocking on my door in search of treats. My downstairs neighbor turned two this summer, and this is the first Halloween that he is old enough to “get” the idea of trick or treating. I am excited to finally have a trick-or-treater come to my third floor apartment, although I don’t imagine many other costumed kids will be finding their way to my door.
I have been somewhat surprised to hear how thrilled the high-schoolers at my practicum are for Halloween as well, and not just for the free candy (although that is certainly a draw). They enjoy donning masks and wigs, painting their faces, and adopting a new persona for an evening just as much as the younger set (and some adults!). Halloween provides a much-needed outlet for kids’ imagination and the opportunity to present themselves to the world as someone else.
The smell of frying oil enveloped me as I stepped into the central classroom of my school district’s alternative high school. One student flipped pancakes, while another wolfed down browned sausage links. Strawberries, whipped cream, maple syrup, and orange juice had been laid out on the table. Some students pored over notebooks, while one slouched by the window with her smart phone.
I had arrived at the small high school for 18-22 year-old students to begin one of my first assessment cases as a practicum student. It was just my luck that Tuesdays happened to be breakfast day, and there were plenty of pancakes to go around. One student served up the food as I sat and began to meet some of her classmates.
Being a good listener, analyzing data, administering cognitive assessments, and negotiating with multiple parties are all key skills for a school psychologist, second only to knowing how to play UNO and keeping a sense of humor around surly teenagers. I am working on all of these at my field site this year.
The beginning of each school year in the school psychology department at MSPP includes a department lunch and meeting. Students and faculty gather to meet each other, discuss upcoming events, plan for the coming year, and of course, enjoy tasty veggie lasagna.
Sometimes I still get lost on my way to class. And I’m not totally sure how to print pdf documents off my computer. I love the sunlight pouring in through the windows, though I wish we had a dedicated “school psychology space” for our (sometimes) rowdy games of bananagrams. The new chairs are pretty comfy, and I am enjoying seeing and getting to know MSPP students from other programs.
In case you haven’t been on the school website lately, or read any of the recent 1,200 memos on the topic, MSPP moved this summer to a new building. As a school, we are no longer crammed into two small buildings straddling the VFW parkway. We have a shiny, new space to house us all. While my poor sense of direction has led me down a few wrong turns on my way to school, I’m starting to figure out the best routes from my apartment, and how to find nearby snacks. At least the never-empty candy jar has made the move, too!
I am officially a school psychology nerd. Tomorrow I will be giving a full cognitive assessment to a first grade student, and I'm excited! Who knew intelligence testing could be so thrilling? This will be my first full case to complete at my site, and the first evaluation of a student not yet in special education. The results of my work will largely determine his educational future. Gulp!
School psychology is a relatively unknown field, and is certainly not often talked about in the popular media. There are T.V. shows, movies, and mini-series about teachers, principals, doctors, clinical psychologists, police officers, lawyers, politicians, chefs, models, and even tornado-chasers (think Twister). Social workers make frequent appearances in the media (portrayed in both negative and positive lights); for better or worse I have yet to see a school psychologist in action in film or on T.V.
We are honing in on April break here at MSPP – which falls a mere 2 weeks before the end of the semester. While I had no specific plans for April break, a turn of events has changed that. I plan to be SLEEPING. I have been sick for the past 3 weeks or so, and a couple of weeks ago I learned that I have mono. Ew! I thought I was too OLD for mono (plus, it’s not like I’ve been playing spin-the-bottle in my free time!).
Getting mono towards the end of my first year of graduate school was certainly not on my agenda, but I’m finding my professors - and classmates- to be both accommodating and compassionate. They have agreed to allow me extra time to complete assignments, understand when I can’t make it to class, and genuinely care that I’m feeling crummy. While I may need an incomplete or two to make it through, I think most of my work will still get done on time. So, although I’m crossing my fingers that I won’t miss the tail end of this semester, I feel supported by my professors (and fellow students) to help me along if I do. And now, nap time…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……..
“Sometimes a starless night can leave you misdirected. Sometimes the road you choose is not what you expected.” – Red Molly, Summertime
While it has taken me many years to admit it, I like folk music. A lot. Even folk music that treads into blue-grass territory (yep, that means banjos). One of my favorite groups, Red Molly, recorded a soaring rendition of the tune Summertime that resonates with me, and my semi-abrupt turn into the field of school psychology after finishing a degree in public policy.