Friday, October 17, 2014

Leopard is a Neutral

I love leopard print in small doses like shoes or a scarf, so these pants are a little bit out of my comfort zone. To tone the print down a bit, I wore my trusty denim shirt and and added a necklace. It seems like a denim shirt pretty much goes with everything and it's so comfy to wear. I bought this particular one from Target a few weeks ago using a 25% off Cartwheel deal.

Merona denim shirt, Target necklace, LOFT cropped pants

It's just about mid-semester, so school work is starting to pile up. I am happy to say that I have waaaay less assignments and research projects than I did last year. I was constantly stressed out about an upcoming deadline for a major project or presentation last year, which gave me so much anxiety. Although this year is busier with work and fieldwork, I definitely feel much more relaxed (yay!). 

I'm also enjoying working with my group of undergrads on their research projects and providing some guidance on a career in education for those students who are interested. I had a conversation with one of my seniors who is interested in becoming a teacher that lasted for 3 hours! I haven't had the chance to be a mentor before, so it is fun and inspiring to be in that position. And speaking of mentors, next week I will be meeting my new field work supervisor. I am hoping and praying that this placement will allow me to grow in confidence, give me the opportunity to put into practice the things that I am learning, and give me more insight into the field. 

Thanks so much for stopping by! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Crossing the Line

This week was fairly challenging professionally, but I like what I wore! I wore outfits 1 and 3 to my fieldwork site, and the second outfit I wore to work. I purchased the J. Crew photo floral dress from ThredUp a few weeks ago, and I was nervous about buying it because I didn't try it on and I had no idea if it would be long enough for my height. I was happy to see that the dress fits well and the length is ideal. The beautiful print and colors makes me feel so happy. 

#1: BR Hampton-fit crop pant (via ThredUp), Lands' End Canvas cardigan, Sofft loafers
#2: J. Crew Factory dress, Mossimo denim jacket, Halogen flats (thrift)
#3: J. Crew photo floral dress (via ThredUp), BR cropped blazer (thrift), Audrey Brooke flats (thrift)

This week was difficult because my fieldwork supervisor asked me some personal questions and made remarks that pretty much crossed the line. I reported the incident to my university supervisor, and she was equally appalled by what happened as well. Thankfully I am fine and I know that I will recover and move on from what happened. The bright side to all of this is that I will be assigned to a new supervisor who will hopefully be a much better match to my professional interests and will hopefully be more respectful and understanding as I try to learn this profession. 

Thanks for stopping by! 

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Brain Overload

This past week I had the opportunity to listen to a guest speaker and attend professional development events. It was definitely brain overload to try to absorb all the information, but I did enjoy everything that I learned which is not always the case with PD.

Our guest speaker was a lawyer specializing in special education law, and she discussed the differences between IDEA and section 504. I'm starting to have a basic understanding of ed. code and the process of determining whether a student qualifies for special education services, but it seems even more complicated when also having to consider 504 plans.

I also went to a workshop which addressed mental health disorders in schools. I was shocked by the prevalence statistics, which indicate that 46% of students aged 13-18 have a diagnosable DSM-5 disorder and 21% of those students are considered to have a severe disorder (taken from a 10,000 student national sample). I guess this might makes some sense when considering that from 13-18 there are a lot of hormonal changes happening, but 46% seems pretty high to me. Anxiety disorders was the most prevalent in the study, followed by mood disorders, major depression, ADHD, and PTSD. We also learned more about the criteria for each of these disorders, and that we should keep an open mind when looking at the symptomatology because many disorders tend to look like one another. Although I'm not qualified to make a medical diagnosis, it is a part of my job to have an understanding of such disorders in order to make educational decisions for children.

Finally, psychologist Laurence Steinberg (who is considered to be a leading expert on adolescence) gave a talk to promote his latest book. My biggest take-away from attending is that during adolescence we need to take advantage of the plasticity of the brain by encouraging young people to take positive risks and by also introducing novel and challenging activities to them. He also mentioned the importance of authoritative parenting, which balances warmth with firmness by creating boundaries for children and taking the time to explain our reasoning to kids. He also shared that characteristics such as grit and determination are better predictors of success for children than being smart, and that such qualities can be cultivated when we provide challenging activities that are appropriately scaffolded and when we allow our child to make mistakes and learn from them. 

Two outfits from the past week: 

#1: BR sloan-fit pant (petite), BR silk shirt, Lands' End Canvas cardigan, Audrey Brooke pointy toe flats
#2: BR lightweight wool pencil skirt (tall), Merona tee, ON cardigan, YSL scarf (thrifted), Halogen flats (thrifted)

I've been favoring my Banana Republic pieces over J. Crew pieces lately. The sloan-fit pants I'm wearing was a find from ThredUp, and I didn't realize that it was a petite size until I received them. I actually like the cropped length on me (I'm 5'11''), especially because of the warm weather here (100 degrees yesterday!). I bought another pair of the sloan-fit pants recently on ThredUp in the regular length, and I also have two pairs in tall that I ordered from BR's website that I haven't tried on yet. I'm imagining that the regular length will fall at my ankles and the tall length I'll probably need to wear heels with. I really do like these pants overall--they are slimming, don't sag as the day progresses, and the fabric is a nice weight. I think they'll be a staple piece in my closet for years to come. 

Thanks for stopping by!  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Four Weeks In...

Everyone has said that the second year in my program would be the busiest, and that definitely appears to be the case so far! I've been wearing more professional attire at least two days a week for my fieldwork, but I've been terrible about taking photos. I did manage to take one quick outfit photo though last week:

BR cardigan, LEC scarf, Merona tee,
J. Crew royal paisley skirt, Audrey Brooke flats

I've been wearing an outfit formula of cardigan + tee + scarf + ankle pants or skirt. The school that I work at keeps the office freezing, so I always wear layers. 

It's been a transition working as a practicum student. I'm appreciative of my supervisors who are allowing me to take my time to feel comfortable. I've been doing a lot of observing, but I know that I am ready to start taking on more responsibilities. I think one thing that is holding me back is that I'm nervous about making mistakes and being corrected, but I know in my heart that that is exactly what needs to happen in order for me to grow. So I'm trying not to be anxious and overly critical of myself. I keep reminding myself to relax and to enjoy this process of learning that I am going through. 

In other news, I found the J. Crew photo floral dress at ThredUp! It was practically brand new and I only paid $32 for it. Can't wait for an opportunity to wear it! 

Thanks so much for visiting! 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Preliminary Start

This week is officially my last week of summer, and next week starts a whole new beginning for the second year of grad. school. Hooray for no longer being a first year rookie!

This year I am juggling work, classes, and practicum experience. I am working part-time as a graduate assistant in the psychology department at my university, basically supporting undergraduate students on their research projects for the year. I also work in the education department, providing assistance to first year graduate students in my program also on their research papers. Academic writing is one of my strengths (or so I've been told), so hopefully I will be able to provide good support! On Wednesday I met with the professor I will mostly be working with, and I was excited to find out that I'll have a small office space to work with students in and I get keys to access the building! I'm feeling all official now!

Two outfits that I've worn recently--sorry for the terrible lighting. The left was for orientation and the right was for work.

#1: Merona tee, J. Crew skirt (thrifted), Halogen flats (thrifted)
#2: J. Crew shirtdress (thrifted), same Halogen flats. In the background is my
mini Longchamp tote that I purchased via ThredUp for $13. 
On Thursday I attended orientation for the first year students in my program. It's pretty informal, and it was so much fun to catch up with some of my cohort friends that I haven't seen in awhile. I didn't realize how much I missed some of them! During orientation, the professors introduced themselves and gave a brief talk of the program. Afterwards, we broke out into small group table-talks where the first year students were able to ask us questions and get advice. In our program we are all paired up with a mentor who is one year ahead of us, so I got to meet my mentee for the first time. She's super sweet and I hope she adjusts well.

For practicum, I'll be at two sites during this semester. I've really enjoyed working at the preschool center, so I am going to continue to put in hours there. However, most of my time will be spent at a middle school. I'm so excited to be working with middle schoolers. I know that it is such an awkward age for them and the transition from elementary school to middle school can be incredibly difficult, so I'm particularly enthusiastic about this placement.

Since I am going to be working in a school setting again and also because of my job responsibilities, I am excited to get dressed in more professional clothing. My university has a dress code to which we have to abide to during our fieldwork:


I think mostly everything on the list is pretty good standards to abide by! However, I do think a tee is fine to wear with a skirts or work pants, so I'll probably end up being a rebel and doing that anyways. I have gained some weight over the past year, so many of my pencil skirts are too tight for my personal comfort. I'm trying to be more purposeful about my food and exercise habits, which was poor last year. So, especially for now I think a lot of my outfits are going to be featuring pants which I am okay with, especially when working in a middle school setting. Also, my style has changed somewhat. My preference now is definitely for more neutral colors and more simple styling, which is a difficult to do when I have lots of bright colors and patterns in my closet.  It'll be interesting to see how I put together what I already have in my closet to match my present taste. 

I hope all my fellow educators out there have a wonderful school year! Thanks for stopping by! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Recent Thrift Finds

Happy National Thrift Shop Day! I've barely spent any money shopping over this past year, unless you count shopping for textbooks which I definitely do not. If you've followed me on this blog, you know that I enjoy thrift shopping. You never know what treasure you'll find and I have enormous patience to sift through racks of stuff in order to find a gem. My rule of thumb when thrift shopping is to look for brand names and to make sure items are either new or very gently used.

My three favorite departments that I like to spend time in while at thrift stores include shoes, accessories, and dresses. I visited two of my local thrift shops (including Savers) over the past week, and probably spent about 40 minutes just trying on shoes which was a big surprise because I almost never find good shoes while I'm thrifting. Here's the shoes that I came home with: 

$60 spent in thrifted shoes

All are leather, comfortable, and look to be either new or barely worn. With the exception of the boots and Kenneth Cole Reaction shoes (which each have about a 2.5 inch heel), the rest are flats. I'm thankful for these finds because I definitely need some comfortable shoes for my schedule this school year. 

I also found two shirt dresses (Old Navy and J. Crew), two Boden dresses, a red leather stretchy belt (Express), a blouse (Banana Republic Factory), and a pair of Banana Republic Sloan-fit ankle pants. The Sloan-fit pants are definitely my magic pants lately, but the regular length are cropped on me because of my height (5 ft 11 in). I did splurge and buy two pairs (navy and black) in the tall size when they were on sale and I had a code, which brought the price down to about $35/each. Still, my thrifted version was only $4. Anyhow, it's nice to have some new items to wear and thrifting comes in handy to help stretch my small budget as I get through school.  

Have you found any recent thrift store gems? Thanks for stopping by! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The First Year of Grad. School

I know many educators have already started their first week of school, but for me it feels like I just started summer vacation! I finished my last class from my summer school session about two weeks ago, and I'm excited to have a little bit of time off before starting my second year.

I thought that I would write some sort of reflection on my first year of graduate school. I found this post, and I thought that I would answer the same questions too. While I am not in a doctorate program (maybe one day?), I am enrolled in a full-time three year graduate program. Next summer I will have a MA in Educational Psychology and the summer after that I will earn an Educational Specialist Degree (Ed.S.) in my field. Here we go with the questions!

Was there a period of adjustment/transition when you started grad. school? If so, how long did it last? What needed adjustment? 
Just looking at this picture stresses me out! When I felt overwhelmed,
I just kept reminding myself that it'll all get done somehow!

Yes, I definitely had a period of adjustment when I started grad. school! Many aspects put me out of my comfort zone. First off, the transition from teacher to student was difficult. Instead of being the person giving feedback to my students, assigning the work, and preparing lessons, being in a reverse role was an initial shock. Learning how to be a student again has probably been the most challenging for me, especially learning how to receive constructive feedback from my professors. I have to constantly remind myself that I am new at learning many of these concepts, and that my professors have many more years of experience than I do and are trying to point me in the right direction. Everyone who is an expert was once a beginner, right?

Another aspect was developing the much needed self-discipline to sit down and do all of the reading and especially write several major research papers. I haven't had to write an extensive research paper since undergrad, so sifting through articles and relearning APA style was quite the challenge!

The last aspect I'll mention is making friends. Most of the people in my cohort are fresh out of undergrad and are from the local area, whereas I'm pursuing a second career and I'm from another part of the state. However, because my cohort is small and we have been required to do a lot of group projects together, it has been fairly easy to get to know people. I would say overall, it has taken me a semester and a half to feel adjusted. I definitely feel much more confident in myself now than I did a year ago.

My research paper from the first semester. I wrote about the
 factors contributing to teacher resiliency to remain in the
profession for more than five years. 

Have you changed the way you study? How?

This is a tough question to answer. I completed my undergrad. degree more than ten years ago and my teacher credential program was completed almost 9 years ago. I definitely think that being a teacher and instructing my own students on how to develop study skills and strategies has really helped me to become a better student. While I try to read everything that is assigned by my professors, I've come to realize that that isn't always possible. For the material that I think is really important I will spend more time on it and take notes and read through it more purposefully, and for the material that I think is less important I will skim through it and look for keywords and main ideas. After spending time with the material on my own, I also like to go through it again with another person in my cohort because I find that it adds to my perspective. I really try not to stay up past 1 am, but instead get to school early and find a study room before class in order to be productive. However, sometimes a few of my classmates are in the same study room and we end up distracting one another! I also try to not go to campus on weekends, but with group projects and presentations, it becomes necessary to do so at times. 

One of my group projects for my counseling class we had to come on campus to
complete on a weekend. We decided to film it instead of doing our session live in front
of the class because we were both so nervous. 

Once you started grad. school, did you feel prepared to be there? 

The planner ended up being WAY too small. The Lands' End tote is
the medium size.I like how it zips at the top, but it was a little
too small for my needs. 
Academically, I felt prepared to be there. I've always been the studious type and I felt confident that if I worked hard and asked for help when I needed it that I would be successful. I think those are really the two factors that have allowed me to maintain a 4.0 so far. I am determined to do well and learn the most that I can and not take this opportunity for granted.

What I did have to work on was being better organized. Organization is something that I have always somewhat struggled with. I tend to have papers floating around and my schedule of things to do logged into my brain rather than written in a planner. This past year I've been better about putting papers into designated folders and binders and writing things down in a planner so I know when something is due and I'm also better about breaking down larger assignments into smaller pieces on my calendar so that I don't get overwhelmed. I've also used Google Drive a lot this past year. I organized all of my classes into files on my drive and have tried to be really good about placing all of the important documents in the right file so that everything stays neat and easy to find. 

Are you enjoying it? 

Absolutely, there is no place that I'd rather be right now in life than doing what I am doing. I love bringing my experience as a teacher and applying that to what I am studying and doing right now in my program. I think that because I am older and have work experience, I value this opportunity on a greater level in many ways than if I had done this program in my twenties (just my perspective, but certainly not true for everyone!). I am extremely proud of how far personally I have come during the last year and there is an extreme satisfaction in knowing how hard I have had to work in order to achieve and learn over the past year. My confidence and leadership capabilities have definitely grown, and I feel more flexible to try new things and think outside of the box. My world has become wider as a result of deciding to be a part of this program, and I am excited to continue to learn and grow from the new experiences and challenges that await me.

One of my favorite experiences this past year was going to Washington, D.C. for a conference.
We took the Monuments by Moonlight night tour, which was so much fun!
It was my first time on the east coast, but hopefully not my last.

After my last final as a first year student!
Woo-hoo, what a relief to be officially a second year student!

Before I start the fall semester, I'll share what my second year looks like. It's definitely going to be a lot busier (full load of classes, fieldwork in the schools, hopefully beginning an additional post-master's certification program, and a part-time job!), but I am excited to start branching out even more.

Thank you for the encouragement this past year! As always, thanks for stopping by!