Friday, October 23, 2015

My reports are my lasting legacy

There's a student in my school right now whose behavior is eliciting panicked reactions from teachers and support staff alike and rightfully so. This poor kiddo is currently experiencing massive withdrawal symptoms from not taking his prescribed medication while simultaneously trying to adapt to a new school setting. Once I heard this student's name, I raced to my computer to look up his records. I was aiming for either my report on him (depending on when I wrote it) or the notes from our team meeting.  Why the caveats in my search? Well approximately 3 years into my career as a school psychologist, I learned that I spent an awful lot of energy trying to explain the evaluations I used in layman's language, rather than telling people what I learned about the student I was testing and what was important about what I learned.  Even now, I still come across reports where there is such lack of information about the actual student that I cringe.  So I head to the team meeting notes, where the note taker has accurately captured all my thoughts about the kiddo down onto a page.  After going through the motions for a little while, it occurred to me, why can't my report resemble the notes?  Why couldn't my report reflect my voice, my tone and my feelings?  Why did it have to be so stuffy?

At first, when I became a psychologist, I know that I was incredibly intimidated by my job. In my neck of the woods, despite what I learned in school, everyone looked to me and my report to be final confirmation of student's eligibility for special education services. I wanted to sound credible and trust-worthy, so I made sure my reports sounds very official. Then later on, I moved on to a role where I was inundated with evaluations.  I gave the bare minimum I could in my report, because I simply didn't have the time to give the embellishments I wanted in my report. With three very active children at home and a household to maintain, I was working very hard at maintaining work-life balance and so very very rarely did my work cross over into the threshold of my home. I lived and breathed by my process and report template.

But one summer, I came across a report that I wrote a while back when I had both the time to devote to my thoughts and the confidence in my evaluating ability that I didn't feel the need to convince anyone of my worth. This report sounded like me! It was full of really great information and I barely spent time on the tests I used, but instead spent time on how this student learns and what would be best for the student to succeed.  It was a really great report! This was the report that I wanted to hand out to everyone at a meeting, knowing that they would walk away from the meeting informed and somewhat able to see the whole picture of who the child I evaluated. After that moment, I tried to make every report I wrote sound like me. I'm great in person, my challenge was to be great on paper.

So here's a tip - Write up your report, and then read it aloud to yourself.  Think about all the things you wanted to say about the child you evaluated.  Are any of those things reflected in the words you heard? No?... well then put them in. Yes? dude! up top!  That's it at the end of the day right?

Make your reports your lasting legacy.

The Burgeoning School Psychologist is on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Five years of burgeoning as a school psychologist.

This 2015 - 2016 academic year, I will mark 5 years of service as a school psychologist.  This is especially important for me because I am beginning to apply for my Professional License as a school psychologist this year. For the last five years, I've had an Initial license.

As I sit here and eat my lunch on a very gray and rainy day, I'm taking stock of myself as a school psychologist. What have I learned in the last 5 years, that preempts my move from Initial to Professional licensed school psychologist? Now before you go any further with reading this post, please understand that I am in the beginning stages of trying to live mindfully in all aspects of my life, and this decision has had a massively negative impact on my stress-eating habits, but yielded incredibly positive changes in my waistline. When stressed, rather than re-actively reach for the nearest piece of chocolate or race to the nearest doughnut shop for two sumptuous chocolate frosted donuts, I've been allowing myself to experience my stress and examining the reasons behind my compulsions.  I know, I'm rationalizing the fact that I am a bit dour and cranky today. I could wait to write this post when I am in a better frame of mind, however, seeing that my last post was published this past April, I'm striking while my writing irons are hot.

I could spend several hours and attack you with giant blocks of text on screen in my bid to share the highlights of my 5 years as a school psychologist, however I am choosing to exercise some restraint and come up with just 5 things that my job has taught me. One lesson for each year I've spent burgeoning as a school psychologist.
  • My reports are my lasting legacy. 
  • Books in your office look nice, but get dusty
  • Eating in the teacher's room is over-rated
  • Sometimes it's okay to know and still say nope
  • This is just a job
I'm hoping that in another 5 years when I'll have to renew my professional license, I will have 5 more incredibly profound lessons to share. In the meantime, I'm going to spend the next few weeks frantically counting up my PDPs to make sure I have enough to meet the states requirements. Come back next week to read my first lesson - My reports are my lasting legacy.

The Burgeoning Psychologist is on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

My space

Late in August, I excitedly posted a picture of my sweet new office space in one of my school buildings.  Now many of you who've followed my blog for years (something that still astounds me by the way) know that I've paid my dues enclosed in a teeny cinder block room.  The fact that I now have a natural light option to brighten my space is exhilarating!

At the request of a few people, I'm sharing images of my space all set up.  Next week, I'll post pictures of my other office.  The one that does not have quite as much natural light as this one - but I still LOVE it, because it's mine! All mine!

The Burgeoning Psychologist is on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The joy of doing "Nothing"

For the past glorious week, I've been on spring break.
Away from the noise of school - which included the noise of testing, of meetings, of teachers, of parents.
I've been home with my children, being an awesome mom and a lousy school psychologist by putting no limits on electronics, making no schedules or following any routines. I can proudly state that I don't know if my children bathed at all while they were on my watch.

And while we all wallowed in our filth and sloth, I re-inflated my brain.  I took great lengths to ensure that I was as distraction free as possible. People, I cancelled my personal facebook account and just relished the semi-silence of my world.  I played video games constantly and read rubbish. It was GLORIOUS I tell you, GLORIOUS.

I came back to reality on Friday.  On Friday, I dusted off my computer and turned it on.  I deleted a bunch of emails, accepted a few meetings and wrote 2 reports in a record 2.5 hours.  I felt, ... feel like a new person.  Don't get me wrong, I am not looking forward to going back to the crazy that will be the rest of the school year, but I can say that I am definitely rejuvenated from this break. I needed this one this year and I am exceedingly glad I did exactly what it was that I wanted to do.

Absolutely, positively, NOTHING.

The Burgeoning Psychologist is on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

PBIS in action

I love that in an effort to keep his kiddos quiet and adhering to behavior expectations when walking in the hall, my elementary school music teacher plays his guitar softly while he walks his classes to the next place they have to be. If they can't hear the music, they're too loud and when they listen to the music he can play song requests.

A unique interpretation of the PBIS expectations in my school and expressed in a most unique and fun way. 
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