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Sunday, May 11, 2014

STEPPS and Practicum Wrap-Up

This past Thursday, I experienced my second STEPPS encounter. STEPPS consists of two simulated, standardized parent feedback sessions. I had two days to review two reports. After presenting an agenda for the meeting and establishing parent concerns, I explained the tests that were given, the results, and what they meant using the referral question as the framework for feedback. The parent actors were great and gave great feedback. The best part is that I felt MUCH more comfortable and confident in explaining the reports than I did last year, which was my first STEPPS experience. Another cohort member and I attempted to allay the fears of two Year 1 Ed.S. students before beginning. I wish everyone the best of luck!

As mid-May is approaching, I am wrapping up my practicum requirements and getting everything I can out of the last few weeks. I have three Fridays left at my practicum site and upon reflecting, I really have had access to diverse experiences. I have conducted evaluations from early intervention to high school, consulted with many teachers and faculty members at various levels, experienced some counseling-based services, continued to polish the “perfect report”, and most importantly, gained confidence in my abilities throughout the process. And that is really the entire point of practicum... Having the experience to apply what we have learned in coursework and practice and sharpen our professional skills. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Well April flew by...

It’s that time of year in schools... after spring break and the PSSAs. The weather starts getting warmer, and the year just starts to fly by. Well, at least for me anyway.

This Wednesday in our crisis prevention and intervention class, a professor from the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, Immunology, and Forensic Medicine at PCOM came to speak to us about suicide and child abuse. It was nice to get some cross-departmental interaction, as we have little knowledge about the field of medicine and non-school related law.

It was a very informative and interactive presentation, although depressing at times. We discussed identifying manner of death (which is not as easy as you would think!), how to recognize signs of child abuse, and suicide. We talked a lot about how traumatic it would be for a young child to discover a loved one who had taken their lives. While this would be disturbing for anyone, let alone a child, and certainly require some mental health intervention, I thought more about the person actually committing suicide. What was going through their minds just before? What brought them to this point that suicide was viewed as the only option? Where were the warning signs? I wrote my prevention program proposal for class on suicide prevention programs in youth, so I was particularly interested in this guest speaker. I’ll leave you guys with something a little more uplifting. This is a video clip that our practicum professor shared with us after a night of heavy topics. There is a whole series called Kid Snippets in which kids come up with a dialogue that is acted out by adults. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring time

You know it's spring at PCOM when you're a school psychology student and you get out of class before dark falls. Last Wednesday, the EdS year 2 cohort only had one of two classes this trimester and got out around 7 pm. As I walked outside, I felt a cool breeze (not the bone-chilling cold of the winter) and my eyes barely had to adjust from the light in the classroom to the light outside.
Philadelphia skyline from the top of the parking deck after class.

Some things to look forward to in the upcoming warmer months:

Neuropsychology club

One of the students in the PsyD Clinical Psychology program came to class recently to request our signatures for a new Neuropsychology club. The cohort expressed interest and a desire to bring together several programs under a common interest. Hopefully, she got enough signatures because that club sounds awesome!

STEPPs Year 2

During the EdS program, we have the opportunity to experience the "Standardized Patient" program each year during the three-year program. Last year, I remember being very nervous and not confident in explaining a report to an actor pretending to be a parent during a mock parent feedback meeting. However, this year, I feel a tad more confident in my ability to succinctly and efficiently provide feedback and advice to the "parent".

Guest speakers during practicum class

This Wednesday in class, a guest speaker from a charter school in Chester County will be speaking to us so that will be an informative and interesting presentation. We also have a few more scheduled guest speakers this semester so I will keep you posted!

No summer classes!

Our last class of the trimester is June 4th. After this class, we are off until internship starts in the fall. Some in our cohort are planning to relax and just enjoy the summer. Some are planning to start studying for the Praxis II. Whatever we do, it's nice to know that we have some time off before the craziness of internship year begins!

About 15 months until graduation...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

PCOM Open House

This past Saturday, my friend Megan and I volunteered for the Open House at PCOM. All graduate programs were represented, tours were given, and faculty, staff, and students were available to answer any questions from prospective students. Megan and I hung out at the School Psychology table and answered so many great questions about the MS and EdS programs, as we have experience in both. A lot of prospective students were coming from the education field and wanted a new and different experience within a related field. Some even made a road trip of it and came down from New York for the day! After about an hour of manning the table, faculty members presented about the background and need for the field of school psychology and program specifics such as admissions requirements, course sequence, and experiences throughout the programs.

Best of luck to those who have applied and everyone who may be considering a great graduate degree experience at PCOM!

Megan ready to get everyone excited about School Psychology at PCOM!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Summer is here!

Well, almost. This is our last trimester until we’re off for the summer with no classes until the fall. We are currently taking the last of three seminar classes for practicum. This time, the focus is on family-school relationships. Next week, some of us will present a report during a mock parent feedback session with one of our peers playing the part of the parent. Through STEPPs (which I’ll be writing about soon as we get ready to go through our second round) and presentations in practicum, we will have some good practice presenting reports before internship. It’s hard to strike the right balance between a detailed and jargon-free presentation, so that is why practice is so important! We are also taking Effective Prevention and Crisis Intervention. I am looking forward to this class because I honestly have minimal knowledge on how to effectively deal with crises. I want to get as much out of this class as I can before I encounter any sort of crisis during internship year. 

Things are moving along at my practicum site. Today I spent my time at middle school. First, I evaluated a 12-year-old student in 7th grade who was very excited to be tested for the gifted program. He worked quickly and confidently and we connected over our shared love of aquariums. After I scored the cognitive assessment, I consulted with the 6th grade guidance counselor about one of my practicum requirements. She gave me the schedule and background information about a student currently struggling with academics. My next step is to consult with a few teachers and possibly observe the student in class to identify potential factors that are affecting his difficulties in class. I then observed a student in 7th grade to get some more baseline data for my behavior consultation case. By the time I knew it, the school day was over! 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My week at NASP

Hundreds of school psychologists
at the Keynote Address.
So that was a quick few days in Washington, D.C.! Three of my cohort members and I drove down in the snow last Tuesday morning and arrived at the hotel to register for the convention. We immediately scoped out the place and planned the sessions that we wanted to attend. First up… a mini-skills presentation about Assessment for Intervention in SLD Using the Cross-battery Approach. While this was a very comprehensive presentation about CHC theory as it applies to cognitive assessment, it was not totally over our heads! It was also very interesting to learn about the contrast between the discrepancy model and strengths and weaknesses approach regarding assessment and SLD identification. When we attended NASP in Philadelphia two years ago, we had only been enrolled in our Master degree courses for eight months. Now with almost three years at PCOM under our belts, we actually kind of knew what all these really intelligent and published people were talking about. After that presentation, the four of us split up to attend Evaluating the Utility of Common Reading Assessments for RTI and Fading of Check in-Check out to Self-Monitoring. After each presentation, we filled each other in on the highlights. After lunch at the hotel pub, we attended a presentation on Developmentally Appropriate Social Skills Interventions for Children with Autism and called it a day. Of course after a long day of learning, we caught up on the Olympics back in our room.

Wednesday morning we attended the Praxis II preparation presentation. This was helpful and alleviated some of our fears about the upcoming test. PCOM dedicates four classes to preparing for the Praxis II in a small group review format during our internship seminar. In addition to studying during the summer, these classes will definitely help our cohort to prepare for the test. Next we attended another presentation before the Keynote Address. We mainly attended the Keynote to cheer on our former professor, Dr. Terry Molony, who won the School Psychologist of the Year Award! Throughout the day, we ran into former PCOM professors and made some new connections. We also checked out the exhibit hall where we saw a demonstration about the WISC-V digital interactive block design subtest and stopped by the PCOM booth and NASP's booth featuring the Convention next year in Orlando. We thoroughly enjoyed the event put on by the Association of School Psychologists of Pennsylvania at a nearby restaurant with great food and drinks.

By Thursday, we were NASPed out so we ate a glorious breakfast buffet at the hotel and left with valuable resources, free pens, and fond memories of NASP convention 2014.  

Fun props at the NASP 2015 Orlando convention booth!
Upcoming NASP convention locations are:

2015- Orlando, FL        
2016- New Orleans, LA
2017- San Antonio, TX
2018- Chicago, IL

Saturday, February 8, 2014

NASP preview

It’s that time of year again. It’s time to bust out that convention planner and try and fit in everything you want to do in a few days at the NASP (National Association of School Psychologists) annual convention! I first attended the convention two years ago when it was conveniently held in Philadelphia. This year, it will be held in Washington, D.C. from February 17-21. I will be attending with a few girls in my cohort from Tuesday through Thursday. There are so many networking events as well as presentations and poster sessions that we plan to attend. Here are a few things I’m looking forward to:

Tuesday February 18

Strengths-Based Approach to Evaluating Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders 10-11:50am

Assessment for Intervention in SLD Referrals Using the Cross-Battery Approach mini skills presentation 12pm-1:50pm

Gifted Students: Perspectives for School Psychologists 2-3:50pm

DC Welcome Party 9pm-12am

Wednesday February 19

Preparing for the School Psychology Praxis Exam 8-9:20

Keynote Address 10:30-12:30am

Development and Initial Validation of an Emotional Risk Screener 3-4:30pm

Reception for ASPP and NJASP 5-7pm

PCOM School Psychology Alumni/Student Reception 5-7pm

NASP Awards Ceremony 6-7pm

Graduate Student Outing 9pm-12am

Thursday February 20

Distinguishing Emotional Disability and Social Maladjustment: Law into Practice 10-11:20am

I’ll provide a full re-cap after NASP with resources and details on what I learned!