Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Silencing my inner critic

In an attempt to keep my promise to myself to keep blogging, I'm firing off a post I wrote back in March 2014, but never posted. Based on how it reads, I was probably too tired to post it. But it's a good one and I thought I'd share!

Being a school psychologist and a parent is wicked tough. And I'm going to step out on a branch and say it's tougher than  being an average person being a parent. Why? Well because the "judgey" voice in your head that regularly belittles your parenting skills is awfully well-educated! 

Today is one of the those days when my school-psych "shaming voice" is on full blast. My boys have been in front of some electronic device since 8am this morning and it's only been since 8am because the house rule of "no electronics till 8 am" is now part of their DNA. I hammered the sucker in there. So between the television, the xbox, our (parents) old iPhones, my iPad, my daughter's nook and a Nintendo DS, these boys met and raised their radiation caps to new levels. The only reason I didn't list computer is because I am using my computer for work. I won't bore you with my reasons for not getting my children their own computer, suffice it to say, if and when they need to use a computer for school work, I make mine available for them to use. If they just want to play games, there are ample electronic play things in my house for them to entertain themselves (go back three sentences).

After fielding off requests for my computer, breaking up two fights about minecraft, and mediating a heated discussion of what to watch on TV all by 10 am, the well-informed school psych voice decided to chime in and let me know how I was failing my children yet again. I was not -

1. Encouraging my children to read instead of using electronics. After all reading fluency won't improve if the boys aren't actually reading.

2. Engaging in active play with my children like all literature purports that parents do.

3. Actively monitoring my children's electronic game play. Playing the xbox in the basement while I was upstairs is not the recommended way to monitor your child's electronic activity.

4. Engaging my children in rich cultural activities like going to the zoo or the local children's museum. That's what weekends are meant for!

And on and on and on the voice prattled in my head until finally at 1pm, I passed out on the couch. I napped, in the daytime, with my children within calling distance. It was nirvana! When I woke up from my glorious nap, I realized that I had a way to silence the voice in my head - evidence based data

First piece of data - my nap! I was tired, duh! But why was I tired? I was tired because for the past 5 days, I was caring for sick children and trying to catch up on work. All my children fell prey to this crazy vicious virus that is currently making its rounds through the school system of my town. Flu-like symptoms but no flu. Both boys had it and today my daughter is currently laying in bed dealing with it. I've been operating on 4 hours of sleep daily this week. I've been up in the wee hours of the morning dealing with the groans of ailing children, writing reports since I've not been at school to test and keeping the house relatively germ-free since neither my husband or I could afford to be sick. 

Second piece of data - today was not the norm. A look at my historical behavior shows that although my rules about electronics are lax on the weekends, even this level of electronic access is not the norm. After a couple of hours, everything goes off and then there are books and puzzles and outdoor play that ensues. Today, I just didn't care to fight the initial fight of going into electronic blackout. I was spent. But a funny thing happened right around the time I decided to take a nap. My oldest son decided to go ride his bike around the neighborhood looking for friends to play with. Unfortunately all of them were home with the flu, but he just kept riding till hunger and rain brought him back home 3 hours later. My younger son decided to go play with his Legos and spent about an hour just playing and building. Then he played with his action figures, then he decided I needed to read him a book. All of this non-electronic activity occurred with no prompting from me. 

That's another piece of data - boredom. The children got bored with the electronics and turned to other alternatives, ones that we considered healthier and more stimulating.

All in all a good day.  My inner critic was silenced.. . For now. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Kids need to move.

Image from Varier furniture
 I've lost count of how many times I've mentioned to parents, teachers and peers that children cannot be expected to sit completely still all school day long.  When I'm called into a classroom to conduct an observation of a student, not only am I conducting an observation of another typical peer, but I am also conducting an observation of the teacher. I note how many times the teacher moves across the room, how many sips of water the teacher takes in between talking, how many times the teacher changes the position of his/her body in response to some stimulus in the class.  I've found that the teachers who have the most successful students and come to me with the least amount of concerns are the teachers who let their students move.

Monday, October 20, 2014

What bores you?


Sitting in a meeting where I am not a stakeholder bores the living daylights out of me! These are the meetings that I am invited as a the school psychologist to fill a slot - not because I have anything to give, but because I bear the mantle of school psychologist. 

Have you ever sat in one of those meetings where nothing seems to be happening and everything around you is just devoid of refreshment. There are the meetings when even the words coming out of your own mouth are dusty and dead.

Those are the meetings I look like this on the outside

but I really feel like this

These are the meetings I hate, because I get bored. And when I'm bored, there is absolutely nothing more painful than trying to stay attentive.  I look out the window, count the teeth I can see in the mouth of the person speaking, balance my budget, plan out my week at home and in school, think of what I am going to make for dinner, think about what I actually want for dinner, think of everything I'd rather be doing than sitting in this boring dry, absolutely meaningless meeting!

Has that ever happened to you?  

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Friday, October 17, 2014

How does your practice reflect you?

I am a singer. Not professionally, I just sing all the time. My children will tell you I sing All . The . Time! It's my thing - I love music. When I'm in my car, I'm that crazy lady who's doing a full breakdance session in the driver's seat. When I provided counseling sessions, my students got used to me humming a tune, playing some music, singing down the halls on my way to pick them up. 

In some of my groups, I let the children pick music to listen to - I had rules about explicit stuff and what not. Some days we had jam sessions, other days we just had Jazz in the background. I learned on the days I listened to Jazz that "modern music has words now Ms. S". 

My singing gives me an in with my kiddos at school. Music is the universal language that I find transcends all problems, all cultures, all peoples. It's a language I speak fluently and its reflective of me in all aspects of my life. 

What part of your practice is unique to you? 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Solitude, a welcome burden?

Language has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone - Paul Tillich

Starting a new job is exciting, at least for me. I've always enjoyed the challenge of starting over, taking what I've learned and creating a new version of myself - better, stronger faster than the previous one.  Based on the reviews I've received so far in my new role, I'm succeeding in this endeavor. Yay me!  

What I'm dealing with now, is getting past the "loneliness" that comes with making a change in jobs.  I spent the last three years getting to know the people I worked with. I found a grove not just in my job, but in the relationships that I maintained.  When you start over, you plunge yourself back into the frigid waters of solitary existence until you find a connection with someone that you can grasp onto. I have no real bonds formed with any of my teachers; I'm still the outsider looking in on a family dinner where jokes are shared, looks interpreted and deep laughter is understood by everyone but me.

Since I took the plunge and headed to a new district, I'm neck deep in the aforementioned icy waters, but I'm in no hurry to yank myself out of them just yet.  While I've not really mastered managing the loneliness, what I'm enjoying now is my solitude.  Ever since I started my new role, I've found myself more productive, more focused and at first, I attributed it to my being a super school psychologist naturally. But then I really gave it some thought and I realized that solitude affords me the opportunity to focus on my work. I plan my days better, I multi-task less and dedicate more brain power to the completion of things. I'm not always called from my office (no one really knows where I am), no one stops by just to chat (no one really knows where I am) and I am in full control of my calendar and time, well for the most part - I'm still invited to several meetings.  When I feel the need to chat, I walk out of my office and go talk to someone, usually my poor TEAM chairperson, or I find one of my students to play a game with.  I choose when to break my solitude.  It's very empowering. 

I fully expect the status quote to change, however for now, I will enjoy the glory of being alone. 

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