Decisions, decisions

Posted on April 17,2014 by aliatmspp

As tax day approached, so, too, did the deadline to respond to invitations graduate programs. I think back to a year ago when I was buried in my own decision-making process; I had spreadsheets, pro-con columns strewn about, and the counsel of friends and family. The factors included in my process were the following:

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Tagged Change of Career, Clinical PsyD, Counseling Psychology, School Psychology, Applying to MSPP

I guess that's why they call it the blues

Posted on March 07,2014 by sthurstonmspp

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Tagged Personal Growth, School Psychology

Tips for Surving the GRE

Posted on February 27,2014 by aliatmspp

For some of us, standardized tests are the last thing on our bucket lists. The truth is if you thought you were done with filling in bubbles with the SATs, I have some tough news for you: not only do you need to bubble-in like a champion for many national voting procedures, but equally bubble-riffic are exams like the GRE and the Examination of Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). However, depending on where you take it, it’s likely that your exam will be administered on computers, so you can put your #2 pencil away. As you may know, the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required for entrance to MSPP’s Clinical PsyD graduate program; it is an optional application material for the Master’s programs, and the PsyD programs in both School Psychology (“strongly recommended” that you take the GRE for the School Psych PsyD program) and Leadership Psychology. This post will take a closer look at the GRE and offer some tips to employ when tackling that computer screen’s challenges.

As previously mentioned, for most test takers, this exam will be computer based. Please note that there was a significant overhaul of the GRE a few years back, so for those of us who may be rusty, let me offer some conventional wisdom: from what I understand, the “newer” (as of 2012, I believe) GRE is adaptive between sections, not within sections. Knowing this takes the pressure off those first five questions that had been touted as the most important in the previously adaptive GRE. Also, you can skip questions, flag questions, and scroll through questions. This is helpful for those moments when you’re stumped and feel the need to move on but not completely abandon ship. One overarching theme I might advise is to be sure that you understand what each question is really asking. This applies to both verbal and quantitative questions. If you’re not sure about a response, it’s okay to flag it and come back to it.

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Tagged Change of Career, Clinical PsyD, Organizational Psychology & Leadership, School Psychology, Applying to MSPP

Preemptive Nostalgia

Posted on February 25,2014 by sthurstonmspp

As has been previously mentioned, I am a graduate of Wesleyan University. That’s Wesleyan. Not Wellesley. Don’t ask me why, but every time I told someone where I was going, they said “Oh, the all-girls school?” I believe there was even a shirt printed joking to that effect sometime in my sophomore year. Our desire for clarification had nothing to do with the caliber of either school, but rather was related to our fierce pride in all the things Wes had to offer, in the way we believed we were pushing boundaries and being someone new. Last night, How I Met Your Mother had a scene depicting a flash forward to two of the characters dropping their son off at their alma mater, Wes, and then heading to the local watering hole (Eli Cannon’s!). As the writers are Wes Alums, these types of scenes happen occasionally and always make me smile with happy memory.
Bear with me. I am going somewhere with this. I am graduating from the MA/CAGS program in June (yay!) and am positively SHOCKED that three years have gone by. And while the glories of grad school are far different than the memories of college, there are the same moments of self reflection and growing edges that I will look back and reflect upon with misty smiles. I expect we all feel proud of MSPP, of the education we have had here, the field expectations, and its new building that finally reflects the quality within. I sometimes still get the blank, confused stare when I say I attend MSPP, but then, I am used to that. It is happening less and less often as reputations of the quality professionals take root in the area, and I look forward to the day when conference presenters make reference to “1208” and The Great Debate About Free Printing” and I can chuckle at the memories along with the crowd.

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Tagged School Psychology

Pearls of Wisdom... no, really!

Posted on February 06,2014 by sthurstonmspp

Among the myriad of Facebook posts (Side note: Facebook is 10?? Really? It makes me feel old to remember a time [high school!] before Facebook existed) there was the all too familiar link to a quasi-deep post that makes my eyes roll before I even finish reading. Then, however, I noticed who had posted it. Not a typical person to go in for the Oprah-like messages of transcendent learning. So I checked it out. And, I have to say, you should too.
One the reflections offered was the following:
Do not carry broken people who are not in the process of rebuilding themselves.
There have been a lot of professors who have said this in a lot of different ways. One metaphor that has stuck in my mind was shared by a man who taught us counseling: “As school psychologists we are flashlights. We can shine a light on a person’s growing edges, show them the way to bettering themselves, but it is up to them to change, to want to change.”
I truly believe this. You can lead a horse to water, and all that. But in some places, such as schools and courts, our clients are not seeking us out for change. They are assigned to us, or mandated. The real task, then, lies in guiding the person to desire change as if it were their own idea. I have been struggling with this for almost 3 months with one of my students, until today when she finally said “I wonder why I don’t have as many friends as Sarah.” Bingo, a way in! Wish me luck!

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Tagged Personal Growth, Counseling Psychology, School Psychology

Kid President

Posted on January 31,2014 by sthurstonmspp

Maybe some of you are more in touch with trending videos than I am and have heard of Kid President. Maybe this is new to you, too. Regardless, you should watch some of his videos, like the one here:

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Tagged School Psychology

And so the Pendulum swings back...

Posted on January 07,2014 by sthurstonmspp

Many of us are aware of the negative effects of suspension and expulsion on children. And yet, it happens anyways. I have often been referred to as “the softie” when I advocate for other means of consequences for a child’s actions by the adults who think that suspension is the only way to change a student’s behavior. Unfortunately, it is those adults who usually have the final say.
Zero tolerance policies have increased this behavior in adults, and we hear sensationalized stories of five year olds being suspended for having a rubber band on the bus. Rumor has begun, however, that indicates the pendulum to finally be swinging the other way. Hooray!

Zero Tolerance Reconsidered by the New York Times

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Tagged School Psychology

Season's greetings!

Posted on December 20,2013 by sthurstonmspp

Santa’s elves have been skipping through the hallways of the elementary school all morning. While the day before a vacation always puts an extra spring in everyone’s step, today’s cheerful imps are buoyed by the gifts and good cheer they are spreading to their teachers.
A lot of my students this year are old enough to bake themselves, and proudly tell me so as they pass over a bag of sugar cookies. Students who have been loud and boisterous all year in the lunch groups I facilitate are suddenly shy and whisper their “Merry Christmas” but look up and grin when I exclaim over the home made card and pin it up on my wall.
I am happy to say that most boys and girls use their pleases and thank yous. But I notice that very few realize how much a small gesture of their own work can make the adults in their life feel special. The candles and chocolates are lovely and will be enjoyed, but the hand made card from your little one brings me joy all year round!

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Tagged School Psychology

Problems that Sparkle

Posted on December 13,2013 by sthurstonmspp

I have recently made a new friend. She is all about fashion, with flashy purple glasses and outfits full of glitter and glitz. What I know about her is that she is NOT a morning person, she loves books by Mo Williems, and that she has a gorgeous smile when she is proud of herself.
I also know that reading and math are hard for her, and that it is frustrating when she wants to be a good student but feels like she can’t. At those moments, her brain gets “stuck” and her feet carry her out of the room. Her arms begin to wave, the tears stand out in her eyes, and she begins to escape, then turns to come back, then turns to escape again. The war between wanting so very much to be a good student and the panic at her own skill gaps plays out with each step of her booted feet.
She is grateful for my presence, but she is not ready to hear my voice and make a plan. She is not in a state where a caring gesture would be helpful. To her, that is a signal that she has lost her struggle to be with the group. She comes to an abrupt stop, the tug of war at a momentary stand still. This is my window.
“We are going to go for a walk,” I say, and she stalks down the hallway away from her classroom. I stay a few steps behind her power walk, as she is still not ready for interaction. On our second lap of the school her small fists have slowly unclenched themselves, and the clicking of her boot heels on the tile floors have become less forceful. “Whoa,” I say, with all the inflection I can muster, “Look at that!”
She stops, and gives me a side eye glance. She knows what I am up to, but she allows it to happen. Her boots take her over to where I am standing, and her breathing slows as whatever it is I have pointed out on the bulletin board allows her to disengage from the fight in her head and pauses long enough for me to help her.
“Let’s keep walking. To the gym,” I say, and this time we walk side by side. We begin a casual conversation, about her likes, and what she has to look forward to this weekend. We start to label how these things will make her feel, what “zone” she will be in. Then, as we reach the gym and about face to make another lap of the school, we circle back to the current situation and talk about our zones again. By the time we near her classroom, we have made a plan to go back inside.
Sometimes, my friend is able to use her walking feet to scoot right back into her room and to her desk. Sometimes, her feet screech to a halt just outside the door and her face begins to close up again. We keep going, another lap or two, and try again.
These are my favorite parts of the day: it may seem time consuming, but I love being able to help this student. Not just because of the sparkle her style brings into my world, but because she is trying so hard to do her best. And that is the best kind of student!

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Tagged School Psychology

Tis the Season to be Thankful

Posted on December 03,2013 by sthurstonmspp

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Tagged Personal Growth, Experiential Education, School Psychology