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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!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Expect the expected?!

Let me first preface this post by saying that I love making lists. What do I love more than making lists? Checking things off on that list one by one, of course! Now it’s important to understand that a typical day in the life of a school psychologist will often be interrupted by various happenings that will change the planned schedule.Expect the unexpected” is one of the unofficial slogans for the field. A student might be absent, the weather might not cooperate, or there may be an assembly, bus duty, or crisis situation to attend to. None of these things will be accounted for on the previously compiled list of things to do that day. But every once in awhile, things may go as planned… like today! I feel like a day in which I completed everything that I wanted to complete should be cherished.

I started off the day evaluating a student for her senior reevaluation in order to update her record for any post-high school plans that she may have. I administered cognitive and academic assessments as well as a few self-report rating scales to get a better picture of her executive functioning and social/emotional/behavior functioning. We finished early so I scored some protocols in the conference room until noon when I had the room booked until. I’ll hopefully finish up testing with her next Friday and have the report written by Monday. I then met with the 10th grade guidance counselor in order to check on the progress of a student I have been following since the beginning of the school year. Her grades have dropped significantly since the fall. We’re hoping to get her math and reading screeners in soon to give us a better idea of where to go next. After a quick consult, I met with a student in 11th grade to continue CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) sessions as a requirement for the CBT class that I am currently taking. We discussed what CBT is really all about and applied key terms and concepts to her experiences of test anxiety. We will meet next week to pick a strategy that might alleviate some of her stress. I finished up the day at high school observing a 9th grade student in English class. The student had previously been referred due to behavior concerns, so I wanted to establish some baseline data to get an idea of her current behavior functioning.

So, that was my day! While I can’t expect next Friday to go as smoothly, I can certainly plan with another list…

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Career Fundamentals for Professional Success Presentation

During this time in the program, many of us are applying to and interviewing for internship sites for next year. So, the Assistant Director of Student Affairs for Career Development and Planning visited our class to give us some pointers. We discussed the difference between a resume and CV, how to develop a resume/CV that will get the interview, and interview skills and attire to finally get the internship or job. One of our brave cohort members even volunteered to go through a mock interview to supplement some of the tips that we talked about.

Career services at the Office of Student Affairs offers student support to develop lifelong career management skills. Career services offers career/professional development advising, career development and planning workshops, CV/resume critiques, mock interviews, self-assessment inventories, online career resources, and classroom-based workshops. More information can be found at: