Hiatus for the Holidays

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I’m taking a brief hiatus for the holidays, and will be back after Jan. 1. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this great idea courtesy of the National Parent-Teacher Association. I’m hoping to enlist some of my younger family members to help me make a few snowflakes to send along. I know that children love doing things for other children, but my cousins are also quite young and don’t know the details of what happened. So I’m simply going to tell them that some children in Connecticut have to switch schools because their old school is closed, and we want to help decorate their new school. I’ll check the PTA’s Facebook page in January; if they post any photos of the decorated school I’ll be sure to share them here.

Have a great Winter Break, and I’ll see you soon!

Weekly Roundup 12-16-12

In light of recent events, I decided to take a week off from the Weekly Roundup. Instead, I will simply post a recent statement issued by NASP, the professional organization for school psychologists. It is addressed to fellow professionals, but I think this letter offers some comfort and useful advice for laypeople, as well.

For example, reminding us that school violence is, in fact, extremely rare. Also, the reminder to take care of oneself is important, and is applicable to everyone. Like they always remind us before take-off, in the event of an emergency put your oxygen mask on first and then help the people around you. You can’t help others if you are struggling for air, literally and figuratively. Please take care of yourselves, take care of your loved ones, and take care of one another. -Robin

Dear NASP Family:

As the initial shock of the tragedy in Connecticut subsides, we begin to look ahead to returning to work Monday morning. We face the task of helping students all over the county cope with this unprecedented tragedy. In addition to the added stress this places on our normal workload, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is different because it resulted in the death of fellow school psychologist, Mary Sherlach. Consequently, this event may also raise concerns about our personal safety. This may in no small part be due to the realization that many of us would follow Mary’s brave example.We have all been in that meeting room and, to protect our children, I think we would similarly run to the crisis, putting ourselves in harms way. As we face this vulnerability it is important to remember what we often tell others who have anxiety about school safety; we really all work in very safe environments and school violence of this nature is extremely rare.

Like many, I have been unable to wrap my mind around the tragic loss of so many young children and I am overflowing with sadness for the families of all who were lost. Consequently, I am not surprised to hear many of my fellow school psychologists report being very upset and even angry. We must remember, however, if we are to take care of our students, we need to first take care of ourselves.

And so, as we head to work this week before a holiday break, here are some suggestions:

  • Visit the NASP web site for copies of talking points and tip sheets covering a wide variety of topics you may face back in your schools. NASP is here to serve as a resource and source of information for you as you provide your expertise to students, schools, families and communities.
  • Connect with other school psychologists locally or on the NASP Communities to share your feelings and concerns.
  • Utilize our “Care for Caregivers” resource for support for yourself. Please take advantage of the professional tools and supports available to you and feel free to share them with others.

Thank you for being your community’s resource; thank you for supporting children everywhere during this crisis; and most of all, thank you for being there for your schools. I know this is a difficult time for all of you but, especially in light of the loss of one of our own, you all continue to demonstrate the finest qualities of a school psychologist.

Best wishes to all of you for a safe and peaceful holiday season.

Sincerely,

Amy R. Smith
NASP President

Weekly Roundup 12-9-12

School: An inner city Chicago school is incorporating Common Core standards into their curriculum. Since becoming a pilot school for Common Core, Armour Elementary’s state standardized test scores have risen 16 points. Great start, boys and girls!

Psychology: Research with captive gorillas confirms something we’ve known about humans for awhile: being outgoing, easygoing and optimistic will help you live longer.

Scholarship: A new study shows which areas of the brain are most popular among scientists who want to be published in the most prestigious journals. Or, put another way, if you want your brain study to be published, you’re better off writing about certain regions of the brain and ignoring others.

Weekly Roundup 12-2-12

School: In local news, a Des Plaines high school grapples with allegations of hazing and sexual assault. Lawsuits have been filed implicating both the school’s soccer and baseball coaches, as well as school officials said to have allowed the hazing. Sad news all around.

Psychology: A father in Denmark realized his son’s autism gave him unique, specific skills that distinguished him from the average worker. So he founded a company that matches adults with autism with often difficult-to-fill jobs that require tedious repetition or extreme attention to detail. Now Thorkil Sonne is expanding his business to the United States, working with software companies and in talks with Microsoft to begin a pilot program in their North Dakota offices. The lesson? When people with autism are defined less by their perceived deficits, and more by their unique skills, they become productive – and valuable – members of society.

Scholarship: The newest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has been approved; publication is slated for May, 2013. The revision process took over a decade, with the input of over 1,500 experts. There are some interesting changes worth noting for school psychologists, which I will address in a later post.