At this time of year, many sports enthusiasts think about March Madness, the single-elimination tournament to determine the men's/women's National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I college basketball national champion. However, for the life of a school psychologist, this time of year can also feel maddening. Deadlines are looming, student behavior in the school setting is increasingly becoming difficult due to impending spring break, and school staff are also feeling the need for a break. Now is the opportune time to practice self-care, even as hard as it is to steal time away to yourself. Even using a quiet 15-20 minutes each day to practice deep breathing helps! It doesn't have to involve money, so much extra time or leaving your house.
It's so imperative, at this time of year, to make time for you and the things that bring joy, even in hectic school environments. Below you'll find a great mantra regarding self-care, as well as some self-care tips that don't take much time or money!
Originally started as Negro History Week in 1926, the week was extended to a month in 1970 in order to recognize the countless contributions made by African Americans and those who identify as Black. According to the American Psychological Association (APA,) about 4% of psychologists identify as African American/Black. However, there are countless African American psychologists that have provided greatly to this field.
Follow the link below for information on 10 African American psychologists who have helped blaze a path for psychologists to come:
According to the National Association of School Psychologists, about 5% of school psychologists are African American. A huge push has been made, recently, to recruit more practitioners of color to the field. Research shows that, in the education field, students are more likely to make connections with educators that they can identify with, particularly according to race/ethnicity. For more information about the field of school psychology, visit the NASP website at www.nasponline.org.
I can think back to when I was in elementary school, and the motto was "Preparing Students for the 21st Century." It was the 1900s, which probably seems like centuries ago to K-12 students. I remember thinking how far off the 21st century was...and then how far off the next decade (2010) would be. And, now finally, we're in the year 2020! It's been 30 years since 1990s, which to some people was just yesterday!
The overwhelming theme is that time progresses quickly. With that being said, we should make the best of the time we have in front of us. Some people, in a new year, set "resolutions" or goals for themselves. Many of these goals surround topics such as weight loss, self-care, healthy eating, more time with family, etc. Research tells us that we're more likely to reach goals for ourselves if we work bit-by-bit, a little at a time. Instead of saying, "I'll lose 30 pounds by May!" think about what actions it will take to lose A POUND. A better goal would be, "I'll add 30 more ounces of water to my daily intake," or, "I'll work out 3x a week." Engaging in those behaviors may, ultimately result in losing 30 pounds!
Whatever goals, intentions, resolutions you've set for yourself for the new year, truly take the time to reflect on the past year - 2019 - and what went well and what were opportunities for growth. Don't beat yourself up if you didn't obtain that goal you set, etc. Instead, think about what minute changes you can add/take away to get yourself there.
Wishing you and yours a VERY Happy New Year!
Saw this story from Humans of New York and couldn't help but think maybe it was about a school psychologist? And, even if it wasn't, I'm pretty sure it's about some other helping professional in the schools - a school social worker, school counselor, perhaps. As we're plugging around in our roles, sometimes we forget the impact our positivity and connectedness may bring to the lives of students whose presence we interact. Also, it sheds a light on how many educators can help students just by not disregarding their stories and personal narratives and connecting to them, on some level. Here's to all the mental health professionals working in schools...you are appreciated and you are seen.
For many students and staff in K-12 settings, the holiday season is one that, although stressful, can be joyous and a time to look forward to. However, for many of us working in schools, the holiday season can bring extraordinary hardship to families, students and even us, personally. PBS.org has a great article with tips on how school staff, particularly student services staff (counselors, psychologists, social works, etc.) can help buffer this time of year for families:
In addition, this is a great time of year to, as student services staff, check in with yourself and ensure that you're taking care of your own personal needs. Haven't scheduled a doctor/dentist appointment in a while? Do it NOW! Need to get to the gym? GO! Even scheduling something as simple as time with girlfriends can help rejuvenate one's spirit during this time of year.
One of the most important things we can do, as professionals, is acknowledge that there isn't one right way to celebrate this time of year - but, we can make our students' lives better by being present at work (both physically and mentally,) and providing a safe space for them.
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy holiday season!
We're almost halfway into National Bullying Prevention Month! Started in 2006, National Bullying Prevention Month was founded by PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention. Initially, it was celebrated for just a week's time, but then expanded to a month in 2010.
According to PACER, bullying is an intentional behavior that hurts, harms, or humiliates a student, either physically or emotionally, and can happen while at school, in the community, or online. Those bullying often have more social or physical “power,” while those targeted have difficulty stopping the behavior. The behavior is typically repeated, though it can be a one-time incident.
It's best to not call a person a bully, as we ALL have the potential to engage in bullying behavior and not even realize its effect on a person or persons. So much of the work in regards to bully prevention focuses on reactive measures, but what can anyone do to prevent bullying from happening? Practicing kindness, acceptance and inclusive measures are steps to make sure bullying doesn't happen. What does that look like in practice?
For more information, the following websites are awesome tools to use to assist in bully prevention efforts:
September 8th through the 14th is National Suicide Prevention Week. Death by suicide takes more teenage lives than automobile accidents. It's imperative that adolescents are encouraged to reach out to their supporters, including parents/guardians, teachers, coaches, etc. to disclose whether or not they are having negative thoughts about their current life situation.
Having a sense of belongingness to your school and/or home community can also help ward depressive thoughts and ideas. We all, even as adults, can have dark days, but it's important to practice good self-care strategies and share with others how we are feeling for help with ways to cope.
If you struggle with suicidal thoughts and intrusive negative thoughts and are not sure where to turn, you can always reach out to a school counselor and/or school psychologist at your school. In the absence of speaking to one of those persons, the following hotlines are available to reach out to someone anonymously:
I love these BTS tips for a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) over at Kinedu. I use the Kinedu app to help track the development of my toddler, SJ, and it has never let me down! See below some great tips for BTS !
1. Set up expectations
We want the ‘back to school’ feeling to be joyful and stress-free! The best way to get our little friends ready is to set up expectations. That means chatting about what that first day is going to look like, who will be in their class, and what fun new activities they will get to try. We want to give a good amount of information, without overwhelming them. You know your child best, maybe she would benefit from a small daily amount of info during the last month of vacations or maybe it is best to wait until the week before—trust your instincts on that one! The most important thing to remember is to use positive language to set her up for success!
2. Get excited
“Get to” language is not just for adults! Kids greatly benefit as well. Whenever you can pepper it in, use “get to” statements throughout the school break. For example, “at school, you will get to see Miles every day!”, “At school you get to play on the playground!”, “At school you get to help with the class fish!”. We want to set it up so that school feels like a wonderful place with a lot of fun opportunities that your child will get to experience.
3. Books help
There are tons of awesome back to school books that help to set the stage for our tiny friends. These books help foster ideas to chat about and prepare kids for school expectations. All of these books provide an awesome jumping off point for your child to ask questions and share her feelings about going back to school. There are some that explain school rules, others that help with social dynamics, and so many that help ease the tension of a big transition! See my post here for some examples.
4. Use transition objects
Transition objects are small, easy to carry items from home that ease the tension during a big change. Chat with your child’s teacher ahead of time to see if it is okay to temporarily use a transition object for a few days. Some easy items include but are not limited to a small stuffed animal, mommy’s bead bracelet, or a lovie. The idea behind the transition object is that your daughter has a little piece of home to make her feel more comfortable on those first few school days. You’ll want to prep your little one for using the object as well. That is, you want to explain why she is bringing it, how long she can bring it to school, and any rules that go along with it (i.e. it stays in the backpack during lunch, etc.)
5. Retail therapy works
Everyone loves to shop! You can set aside special time with your little one to shop for new school supplies and/or outfits. This way you are creating time to be together, chat about school, get excited, and prepare yourselves. You can describe to her why you are buying these items in order to get her little brain buzzing about all of the exciting, new things she will experience at school!
*These tips were provided via the Kinedu blog from @thespeechteacher Molly Dresner. Follow Molly Dresner at her Instagram @thespeechteacher for daily pops of knowledge on all things children!