Recent Posts

Celebrate good times...

Posted on May 03,2013 by shansenmspp

The truth is there are many milestones on the way to becoming a school psychologist; finishing a master’s degree, passing the first year exam, passing the first year, successfully completing the national praxis test, handing in your last portfolio, getting a first job – and the turning point of this week, taking our last final of classes.

Starting in the fall we will meet for a monthly seminar, but most of the year will take place at our full time internship sites. Our classes are over. This means that instead of finals, we will be completing educational assessments; instead of homework, we will be planning for social skills groups. Today felt pretty darn good. School is out. Our cohort toasted this accomplishment with afternoon margaritas and pizza – definitely a milestone worth celebrating!

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A Favorite Metaphor

Posted on April 23,2013 by shansenmspp

There is an oft-heard metaphor in mental health work that I particularly like: providers should remember that they have to put on their own mask before assisting others. That is to say that professionals who work in mental health must make sure to care for themselves emotionally in order to be whole and well enough to support clients.

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Mourning for my City

Posted on April 18,2013 by shansenmspp

Almost exactly ten years ago I embarked on an ambitious academic project to interview feminist female poets from Guatemala. Given the country's fractured and violent past, and its extremes of wealth and opportunity, I expected that many of the women originally became authors in an attempt to shift gendered attitudes and push for social change.

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Tagged School Psychology

Time for Fundraising....or is it FUN-raising?!

Posted on April 08,2013 by shansenmspp

Hi Folks!

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The beauty of messing up

Posted on March 31,2013 by shansenmspp

In our Groups Theory & Process class last week, our professor reminded us of the importance of making mistakes. If we aren’t making mistakes, we are not challenging ourselves, and we are not learning. And, we are role models for our students, and part of life is messing up – and trying again. Schools often (perhaps subtly) foster an environment where making an error is frowned upon or to be avoided at all costs.

Students who speak up in class, and are wrong all too frequently feel dumb, stop raising their hands, or cease taking risks. I was a quiet student – more inclined to sit quietly unless I was completely sure of an answer – shying away from potential mistakes made in front of peers. I now tend to take the opposite stance – and sometimes I’m wrong.

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I can't get up!

Posted on March 22,2013 by shansenmspp

"No, I can't get up...." my classmate mumbled in a muffled voice, as she turned her face to avoid eating carpet. Another classmate leaned over her, restraining her arms, while a third classmate held back her legs. The rest of us bit our lips to refrain from giggling at this demonstration.

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Lean on Me

Posted on March 14,2013 by shansenmspp

The well-known adage "It takes a village to raise a child...." has been running through my head recently. Although at my field site, it's more like it takes an inclusion facilitator, a guidance counselor, a school psychologist and her intern (e.g. me), a speech-language pathologist, a special educator, and a social worker to help many of the kids graduate high school. Some of the students I work with are balancing myriad challenges - chaotic family situations, mental health concerns (particularly anxiety), learning disabilities, asperger's, language disorders, etc. For these students to make it through high school academically and emotionally, multiple avenues of support are necessary. I feel privileged to work in a district that provides these resources, and ache for the students who face similar compounding obstacles but do so without a network of communicating, supportive adults. Two of the students I work with have been on the waiting list for outside mental health care for months; in the meantime, sometimes I start to feel like the Lone Ranger. But then I remind myself that there is a village (or at least a school community) that's got my back and we're all in this together.

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Mind your A's & B's

Posted on March 06,2013 by shansenmspp

The situation for evaluating students at MSPP is in flux. Previously all students received credit or no credit for a class, with “credit problematic” being the only intermediary option. Students had to obtain an average above 84 to pass a class. These vague classifications were supplemented with detailed qualitative evaluations from teachers.

This is changing of late – the clinical doctoral program is now giving students letter grades (A-F), or so I’ve heard. The school psychology program is in the midst of a (somewhat) heated debate about adopting a more traditional grading system. The arguments in favor of it include the ease of transferability of classes to other institutions, and the incentive grades will provide for students to do their best work (rather than merely “passing”).

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What's your problem?

Posted on February 21,2013 by shansenmspp

An acquaintance of mine (who works in education) recently commented that she once thought about studying school psychology but changed her mind – she didn’t want to work only with the “problem kids.” I cringed at the description, but am unfortunately familiar with the stereotype. Students who cannot sit still, who argue with teachers, who don’t finish homework, who hit, who fall asleep in class, who get angry easily, who cry too often, who talk too much or too little, who skip class, are often swiftly labeled “problems.”

My work at MSPP and my field sites has taught me just how complex human development is, and how many factors can play a role in defining students’ behavior and academic performance. Trauma/abuse, poor sleep hygiene, stress, low expectations, misfiring neurological connections in the brain (e.g. ADHD), lack of social or emotional regulation skills, depression, anxieties, learning disabilities, irrelevant curriculum content, and many other challenges may be impacting a child’s ability to participate fully in school – and usually more than one of these obstacles are present, with one exacerbating the other.

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Waiting for Nemo

Posted on February 08,2013 by shansenmspp

My commute home yesterday was a tad stressful. With words like “oligodendroglia” and “exocytosis” still churning through my head after our first neuropsychology exam, I was dismayed to find roads blocked by lines of cars outside of gas stations as drivers prepared for the impending nor’easter, Nemo.

I inched forward in my car and the car’s clock ticked towards 9:00 – I began to wonder why so many people needed gas. I mean, if you’re snowed in, where will you be driving? Maybe they need fuel for their snow blowers, was my ultimate conclusion. As I struggled to suppress the frustration and fatigue welling up inside me, I heard drivers honking, and several angry voices yelling choice four-letter words (in true Boston driver fashion). Apparently there was a car turning into the gas station and people became enraged that said vehicle was trying to “cut” the line.

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