Well folks, I have just finished reading The School Psychologist's Survival Guide and all I can say is amazing.
In my last post I mentioned that if you don't see the praciticality of a skill or concept, or aren't sure how to apply it, it is important to ask questions. I would also say that you should use this book as a go to resource. Dr. Branstetter has been in the trenches and knows what its like getting teacher on board with RtI, working with difficult kiddos, having mountains of assessments, [insert dilemma of choice here]. I feel like I learned a lot of real life, on-the-job tips, tricks, and information by reading this guide.
Dr. Branstetter's writing is similar to her blog in that it is easy to read, complete with funny comments, and has an air of "i'm not necessarily an expert but let me tell you what I know from my experience." I really liked this aspect of the book. She acknowledges her own mistakes and experiences that didn't go exactly as planned (imagine that!) and reflects on them in an effort to make the reader that much more prepared than she was starting out.
The book is comprehensive, covering the various roles of a school psychologist, including assessment; consultation;school crisis; individual and group counseling; intervention and prevention; RtI; all the necessary paperwork (and how to make it easier on yourself); and most importantly, self care. I really enjoyed the step-by-step instructions for different consultation situations (academic, mental health, behavioral, and IEP) as this is something I feel less prepared for. I am also so excited to use the forms provided throughout the book (at least one in each chapter) and adapt them to my own needs.
While reading I started to generate a list of ways I can prepare myself for my internship and beyond. Some of these include:
- Development of an RtI resource binder complete with interventions for academic, social-emotional-behavioral issues
- Get (more) organized with year, month, week, and day calendars...and keep them up to date!
- Organize cases I'm working on and tracking their completion (assessment, counseling, RtI)
- Organize my graduate school work according to theme (assessment, disabilities, etc), including articles, notes, projects, and papers
- Be sure I have a locking file cabinet at my site for next year and beyond (!)
- Make resource handouts for myself (and others) using some of the key elements provided step-by-step (e.g., child study team questions to ask, 'doors' speeches)
- Create templates for future reports using ones I have already written based on disability category, diagnosis, and boy v. girl
- Insert more self care practices! (There are great suggestions in this book that can be done during the school day). I especially like starting the year with X number of reports to be completed at home. I am going to try and implement this next year, though it will be difficult since it's internship and there are lots of extra assignments I'll have to do at home. I will do this for when I start out though..setting a higher number and working my way down over time. Talk about creating a behavior plan for yourself!
I am feeling more prepared and excited, but also feel a little stressed. Something I hadn't really considered is what to do with my case notes from this year and internship. I had always figured I would give them to my supervisors to add to their files. Does this then become part of their educational file rather than memory notes? It feels wrong that I hold onto them since I was here working with them for a year or less. I can see holding these documents when you're working in a school or district for longer. If anyone has any thoughts on the matter feel free to leave a comment or tweet me (@erikajohnson4).
Dr. Branstetter provides a resource list for different theorhetical orientations for counseling. I wanted to add another resource to her list. In my counseling class we used a book by David Bromfield ("Doing Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy"). It is psychodyanmic in orientation, but has a lot of great information for working with students of all ages using this approach. I found it to be an easy read and a great resource.
I hope you all get a chance to read this survival guide. I feel happy that it was published just in time for me to prepare for my internship and first job (eek!).
Until next thyme,