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Dr. Jeremy Sharp Transcripts Leave a Comment

[00:00:00] Dr. Sharp: Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

Today, I’m talking with Rachel Kapp and Steph Pitts who you might recognize from episode 102. Rachel and Steph are educational therapists in California. They have returned for another episode to talk about the shifts that they’ve seen over the last few months in learning as kids have transitioned from school to home, and now, in some cases, back to school.

We talk about the state of learning and especially learning at home. We cover just their general observations and trends that they’ve seen over the last few months. Challenges that have come up that are specific to learning at home. We also talk about learning strategies that have been super helpful over the last few months as kids have navigated this transition. We also spent some time on some of their favorite apps and strategies that they will just teach every kid that comes through the door to set a baseline for positive learning. So, you don’t want to miss this one.

Rachel and Steph are dynamic guests. They’ve been doing this for quite a while. They really know their stuff. And if you haven’t checked out their podcast which is called the Learn Smarter Podcast, definitely go and check that out. They have a ton of episodes that overlap really well with our field but are also great for parents. I’ll send parents to listen to some of their episodes if they are struggling with their kids especially learning home and navigating homework and that sort of thing.  So, if you have not checked out Rachel and Steph’s podcast, go do that. It will be in the show notes so that you can access it pretty easily.

All right. If you [00:02:00] are an advanced practice owner and you are looking for a group to keep you accountable and help you move forward with those goals that you may have had but have not been able to implement a fully for yourself in your practice, I would invite you to check out the Advanced Practice Mastermind.

At this point, we have one spot left. I still have not sent it out to my email list. The group will be starting in about two weeks. I would love to talk with you and see if it will be a good fit. You can go to thetestingpsychologist.com/advanced, and book a pre-group phone call to see if you would be a good fit for this group.

Okay. Onto my episode with Rachel and Steph.

Hey, y’all, welcome back to the podcast. 

Stephanie: Hi, thanks for having us. 

Rachel: We were so excited when you emailed us to come back. 

Stephanie: Yeah.

Dr. Sharp: Well, I was excited when you said yes. I never know if one time is enough, if I burn people out or what, and so to have you come back, it is an honor. I’m glad to have you. 

Rachel: People like being wanted, Jeremy. It makes you feel good.

Dr. Sharp: Okay. Fair enough. I’ll keep that in mind. Like I said in the message, I’ve been listening to y’all’s podcast, the Learn Smarter Podcast, and you have just been doing great stuff here over the summer and with the pandemic and the quarantine and at-home learning. I just thought I really need to reach back out to y’all because I think there’s a lot of overlap in our audiences. So, thanks for coming on.

Rachel: That’s great.

Dr. Sharp: Cool. [00:04:00] I’m curious. I’d love to just dive into it. From y’all side, just to tell people in case they didn’t listen to your first episode, just say a little bit about what you do. That’ll be a good place to start, and then we’ll actually jump into it.

Stephanie: My name is Stephanie. We are educational therapists, and so we work with students. We teach them how to learn and who they are as learners. We do that through one-on-one teaching them strategies, playing games, and doing all of the things to help make learning fun. And Rachel?

Rachel: I am Rachel. Along with Stephanie, we co-host Learn Smarter, which is our passion project to expand awareness about the potential of educational therapy. Not everybody knows about it or has heard about it. And through our work working one-on-one with clients, we teach them to be independent, autonomous functioning people in the real world so that they can take control over their learning and their life and not have their life in their learning have control over them.

Dr. Sharp: That’s so important. We, I think originally connected just around these educational therapy strategies because y’all do so much with executive functioning and the meta-skills for academic success. I was really drawn to that. Thanks for doing a brief intro just to make sure everybody is in the right place and knows what they’re getting into here.

I’m curious, just generally, what have y’all seen, reflections over the past six months as kids transitioned online in the spring and then maybe through the summer, and now as we’re getting back into the fall, I’m curious if you’re seeing trends [00:06:00] or challenges, things that are popping up in your practices? 

Stephanie: There is so much.

Rachel: The first thing that I’ll say is that I’m really proud of the clients either our teams and I are currently working with throughout the transition because I feel like the clients we were already working with who already had systems in place had a rather smooth transition. They already had sorted the backend work of how the function is done, and we just slotted zoom links and online learning and pivoted in that way.

I think a big trend certainly from new clients that are calling is I finally see what my kid’s teachers have been talking about for years. And so, sometimes parents don’t see their kids the same way that the classroom teacher does and suddenly we have a whole new perspective on are our kids functioning and they are seeing vastly different little people when they’re trying to learn as opposed to just being in the family home.

And so, certainly a lot of anxiety. Families are struggling more to make decisions about support because they don’t necessarily know what they need whereas typically end of July, and August are really busy times. It was slow. It took a little bit of time just from a business perspective to get it going. Now we’re inundated and busy because families needed to see what was going to happen. Steph, what have you noticed? 

Stephanie: Well, I was just going to say, I think that you can come at this from two different angles. Timing is the first thing. Right at the beginning of the pandemic, it felt like crisis mode. We were triaged. How do we get through this? Things aren’t going to necessarily count. It’s like the… 

Rachel: The fires were going, right? It’s like a process of [00:08:00] educational therapy that when kids are coming, there’s always a fire at the beginning. 

Stephanie: Right. And those fires were just like, there were a lot of them. And then through the summer, it was sort of, okay. Some of the clients, it was, let’s use this time to work on the gaps that they didn’t get for the last bit of school so that they can be more ready for the fall. And I think now that fall has started, it’s more of okay, how can we make this sustainable? There’s zoom fatigue. How do you keep track of everything? There’s knowing what, when, where, all of the things as the teachers, the school, the parents, and the kids all figure it out. I think that’s one aspect.

And then I think the other aspect is looking at it from, are you looking at it from the kid’s point of view, the parent’s point of view, or the teacher’s point of view? I think for the kids, it’s been like, whoa, they don’t have their friends. A lot of kids became very savvy or just are very savvy in the classroom to look at their peers’ paper to figure out what they need to be doing. They don’t have that anymore. And so, what is being asked of them? They have no idea.

So, I think that point of view has been interesting, especially now that in the fall we’re finding things are counting. They’re trying to beef up the material. They’re trying to make sure that there’s not as much of a gap. I think for the parents it’s how do I support my kid? How do I keep being able to have my career going and work and how do we all share a house with five different zooms on at once? And how do I 

Rachel: get the internet strong enough to maintain that? 

Stephanie: Right. How do I help my kid with their homework when I don’t understand. All of a sudden now I’m a teacher and I don’t know how to teach this [00:10:00] and my kid is crying and it’s affecting our relationship. And I don’t want to be this person. Even more so than what it was before, which was originally just you were seeing it in homework. Well, now you’re seeing it with schoolwork and homework along with all the other challenges.

And then I think the other part that we’re seeing is from the teachers who are trying to navigate, figure out how to teach these things, right?

Rachel: Sometimes the kids are at home themselves.

Stephanie: Exactly. Especially, like how do I teach this in a way where I can reach all the students? I don’t have kids myself, but when I hear some of my friends, when they’ve told me what’s going on in the zooms and the teachers are spending 20 minutes trying to figure out like here, fold your paper, and the kid says, can it have lines on it? Can it be pink? I don’t have a piece of paper. Where do I get one? That kind of thing. And so I think the teachers are struggling with that as well. Here’s the big overarching picture of where everybody’s struggles are. There’s a lot right now. 

Dr. Sharp: There’s a lot. Yeah, it’s like you’re in my house with the kids and describing what is happening for us right now, and millions of other families. 

Rachel: Yeah. Going back to the gap that Steph mentioned, what we’ve said on our podcasts, and what we’ve said to clients, before all of this, there was one thing that everybody had a totally equal amount of which was time. And now, everybody is totally equally, maybe not equally, but everybody is being impacted by this and by the pandemic. And likewise, whatever learning gap we’re concerned about emerging, everybody is being impacted. And honestly, kids with resources are going to be [00:12:00] impacted way less than kids who don’t have internet access and can’t get into their classes and the kids who were already struggling and falling behind in that way.

I feel like overall I’m less concerned about learning gaps that emerge because when school goes back in person, whatever that looks like, locally in LA, we’re not back in person yet, whatever that looks like, the standards before and the grade-level expectations before are going to have to be iterated and amended because it’s not going to be realistic. And so, everybody will have the expectations amended and in this same vein. 

Stephanie: I want to add. I think maybe the silver lining of all of this is that as it used to be like when we were kids, we weren’t expected to be reading in kindergarten, like when kindergarten started and now that’s an expectation. And so, maybe it’ll be more in alignment with what’s developmentally appropriate because, for a lot of kids, that’s not developmentally appropriate for them. And then they’re already behind. 

Rachel: I love that you brought that up Steph because I also think our educational system in this country was designed hundreds of years ago I feel like, and this is really an opportunity as educators to reevaluate how we want learning to happen. We live in a different society than the function of school was a hundred years ago. It has different priorities and goals now. Families needed to do different things than they needed to do a long time ago, but it’s all built into the site around that system.

I’m going to be really curious to see what schools keep from this force pivot that they had to do just like we’ll probably always keep doing virtual sessions as an option in our practice. I’m curious. It’s going to be interesting to hopefully see [00:14:00] some reflection on what was really wonderful about this and how do we bring that in? 

Dr. Sharp: Right. I know in our practice there’s been a real process of figuring out what is essential. We’re back in person now for testing, but for a few months, we were doing all the testing remotely and we really had to be selective about what we were doing and what was really necessary. And it made us call the process a little bit. And I wonder if that’s going to happen with schools and with teachers to figure out what was fluffy and what was more necessary and what the essentials are for the learning they’re trying to do or teaching they’re trying to do.

Rachel: I hope so. I don’t want to put more on teachers and educators because it always would irk me as a former teacher when you’d get the summer off and people are people like, you only work nine months out of the year. People don’t understand that in order to sustain the energy that it requires, that we’re pouring into other people’s kids, you have to have that time to reset and have some brain quiet. So, it’ll be interesting to see. 

Dr. Sharp: Sure. Yeah, I have a sister-in-law who’s a teacher and a client who’s a teacher, and both, it’s the same way. It’s like, the summer is absolutely necessary. 

Rachel: 100% required. Yeah. 

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I wonder, have there been shifts in the work that y’all are doing with kids here over the last few months? It sounds like you’re doing a lot more online, which makes sense, but as far as the actual hands-on intervention and strategies that you’re doing with kids, has that changed at all? 

Rachel: I’ll bring up something that Steph and I texted about yesterday. Steph will always say that’s a would-be [00:16:00] nice. I’ll bring something out and she’s like, no, no, no, that’s not a right now that’s a would be nice, which helps me because everything feels important to me immediately and so she’ll help me navigate that.

But one of the things that we always did with our clients was organize themselves digitally, but there was a lot that was like, okay, let’s move on from this because something else is more important, like their physical binders more important right now. I have made so many things digitally more important than they were before. Small things like when we start a session, close all the tabs that we are not going to use because these kids have a million and a half tabs open. I’m guilty of that. I get it. But you need to reset and start from fresh.

Having kids clean off their desktops has been a big one for me. They save everything to their desktop, and then there are just hundreds of thousands of documents on there.

Dr. Sharp: Their computer desktop?

Rachel: Their computer desktop, sorry. And so, it’s almost what I’ll say to them is, how many tabs do you have open? How many files you haven’t sorted in your Google Drive? How many files do you have saved on your computer desktop? That’s a reflection of everything that’s in your brain at this moment. So, let’s simplify it. And it’s almost like this catharsis of the cleansing process. Then you can have a system to maintain them.

So, the digital profile stuff has become a lot more, it’s always been important, but even more, so that’s really where I’m starting with clients, and making sure they know where to go and have everything they need when they get there. So they need to know what time their classes start.

Schools are still shifting schedules. They’re not decided about how they’re doing this and they’re still responding to feedback. And so, that [00:18:00] can be every 2 or 3 weeks we’re updating that. And then making sure that their zoom links are accurate so that they have one place to go. And then making sure that they have the homework is done that was required for that class, and putting everything in one central location.

Steph, what has shifted for you? 

Stephanie: I think there are a lot more emails, never before.

Rachel: That’s a part of the cleanup.

Stephanie: Yes, but I think looking at the silver lining of that is the resources. I’m thinking about one kid in particular. She gets the emails. She might not understand the assignment, but the teachers have been attaching the video that they watched in class so she can watch it again and use that as her backup. Helping her know that those resources are there because she doesn’t really want to check her email, I think that’s something that I’ve been seeing a lot of.

Also, we can get into this, but the portals, and the kids have been relying on them even more. I just showed a kid the other day that even though it says, these are the assignments, there were two assignments that didn’t show up on that here’s what’s coming up, but it was on the class page. So I said, we have to put things down as a to-do list in a calendar, whatever it looks like that’s going to work best. We cannot rely on what you think you can rely on. It doesn’t work.

So, when I’m finally having… so many of the kids who are sitting there saying, no, my teachers put it. It’s all there. I literally showed her, look, there’s this thing. Do you see that anywhere else? And then she just went, [00:20:00] oh, and I think all of a sudden, she just thought, wow, okay. 

Rachel: Healthy skepticism. I’ve never really conceived of it in those two words, but we really want our learners having a healthy skepticism. It sounds great. Write that down. That’s a podcast episode. Healthy skepticism about their online portal, about their calendar, about the emails, everything that they interact with, assume that something’s gone missing.

That’s how we approach it in our sessions too. Assume maybe they’re not telling us the complete truth. Assume that they think they’re telling us the truth, but then we go home and be like, and they’re like, oh actually, this is what I meant. Just assuming that there’s going to be failures along the way and what do we do to put even extra layers of checking around that.

That’s why with every client, I go into the portals, the students in particular with ADHD and executive functioning issues, I go and I look at like, let’s make sure all the past assignments were turned in because nothing more frustrating for kid who’s done the assignment but hasn’t turned it in properly when they think they’ve turned it in properly and then you go and you look and show them, hey, the teacher doesn’t see it. So you probably just didn’t wait for it to upload all the way or the system glitched out. We have to have these systems of like, it is routine. It is something we do consistently once or twice a week. Go back and check on everything. And this is hard for kids who just want to move on.

Dr. Sharp: Oh my gosh. Yes. 

Stephanie: 100%. It’s so hard. Last night, I was with a kid that had assignments. She said, oh, I did it today. And I said, okay, I just want to see it. I pulled it up and everything had erased. It never saved it for her. And she was in tears. And so, this is one of those practice advocating for yourself. Okay, let’s email the teacher. Let’s say, [00:22:00] I can’t do it again tonight. Can I please have an extra day? It was there, it’s now gone and she was in tears.

Those are the types of things. Those things are going to happen, especially with the fact that everything is technology-based. And so, having that communication and making sure that we’re checking everything and being in touch with the teacher and making sure that the kid knows how and what to do when something like that happens is going to be important now and for the rest of their lives, right? 

Dr. Sharp: Absolutely. That’s such a good point. The fact that everything is digital now, everything is electronic. I don’t know. Y’all are big fans of electronic strategies and learning and tips and all of that, but there were, I think some kids out there and parents really who relied on paper and having those physical documents, and now that’s another transition to make for people. Like what if the tech doesn’t work and we were at the mercy of… 

Rachel: I definitely could see. You’re right. We were very into digital before, and honestly the kids, I would say are mostly on board for that because they’re used to it. They’re digital natives. They’ve grown up with it. They didn’t ever have another way of survival.

I mean, my mom is still with a paper planner, but I think with this, she has been forced to explore Google calendar more, which is great because that’s how me and my dad and my brother function, but the kids were more open to it. The parents, we get a lot of questions about like, well, shouldn’t they be writing it down or shouldn’t they be taking notes by hand?  Sometimes it’s a matter [00:24:00] of like, is this a hill you want to die on?

Dr. Sharp: Right. Pick your battles.

Rachel: Pick your battles. Yeah. 

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, for sure. In the interest of giving this a little bit of how-to content in our free-flowing conversation, can you talk about just your favorite tech tools or apps that you always try to integrate into students’ lives to move the needle the most with their learning?

Rachel: So many. If I had a nickel for every app I had a learner download. 

Stephanie: Yeah. But let’s start with Google calendar because I think that’s…

Rachel:  and the Google products, like the Google Suite products. 

Stephanie: Yeah. One of the things too that now that the kids have to be so much more digital and we’re putting their zoom links in the calendar is I’m putting sessions and the zoom links in with them and inviting them to them on my calendar. Younger kids are even more in charge of their own schedules and know what’s going on even more than before, because I’ve had parents who would sit there and say, well, they don’t need to really know, but they need to know now. So I would start there. That is something that they’re probably going to have to use for the rest of their lives. So the sooner you can start them on it, the better.

Rachel: I’m the same with Google products. One of the things and I want all learners that we work with to have their name@gmail.com if possible, and really simplify how many email addresses they have.

We spent a lot of time in email literally teaching kids proper email etiquette. I’m not even talking about the writing of an email. These kids don’t know how to archive. They don’t know how to unread something if they want it to come back to it later and want to mark it as important for themselves. You can structure your email in a way that, and I know [00:26:00] Steph does her email differently, but I always have it structured is unread and read. And those are simple clicks within it. You can have email imported so everything’s in one place. You want to simplify all the things.

Another thing that I always have learners do is they need to have their important links in their bookmark bar. So I teach them how that works. I want everybody in Google Chrome. I don’t like safari. I want their Gmail. I want their school email. I want their on my portal. Excuse me. I want their assignment sheets. If there’s a digital book, I want that there. And then let’s have less, like put their personal stuff further down the bookmark bar and started teaching the Riff Raff, if you will, teaching them the functionality that you can have.

When somebody sends you an email with a Google invite, or even with the date to your Gmail, it will get put onto your calendar, or ask you if you want it to be there. Those simplifications really help. It’s a lot of upfront work in the beginning, but it saves a lot of time.

Students are being asked to PDF things a lot more than they were before, and their ways of doing it are super interesting. I didn’t know some of them, but let’s get them an app that holds all their PDFs in there for them that is labeled because then that becomes another checkup. That becomes another way of checking, hey, did I scan this? You can go back and easily see it. And teaching them how to name their files properly so that they’re searchable for them.

These are all tiny little conversations that we’re having, but the ultimate goal is being able to do something with this work. So, if they need to be able to study from it, they need to be able to go and find it. Everything needs to be findable. And so, [00:28:00] putting in these check-in layers across the way. In terms of other digital things that we’re taking advantage of, Steph, from the business side, we could say so much, but what are you doing with learners?

Stephanie: Well, we always talk about it on the podcast. You start with time and space, right? So the other thing is time. And especially with the kids with ADHD who don’t feel time the same way, either the zoom sessions with their teachers feel like a year or they feel like five minutes. Some of the kids are doing really well on zoom and for other kids, it is a nightmare.

So I think time is really important to have apps or things around that help them really see the time. So that could mean there’s a couple of different apps that, they’re all pretty similar, where you can put on your phone and it shows the clock, or you can have those timers that are like kitchen timers or baking timers that we use, or it’s those lights that it’s red and it’s yellow and it’s green, or literally you can take a clock and you can use an expo marker on it, and then you can block out time when this needs to happen, and when this needs to happen. Those kinds of things I think is a good foundation of getting them ready to learn and be successful. 

Dr. Sharp: Right. Can I go back and ask two very granular questions that I think people might be interested in?

When you, Rachel are talking about PDFing things, are there any tools that you really like or that students have found works really well for that?  

Rachel: What I’ve seen multiple students do is apparently you can PDF things within a note on an iPhone. Steph, did you know you could do that? [00:30:00] But it’s not functional because then you have to go and re… first of all, you can’t do multiple pages so they send them one page at a time. And so I’ve just had multiple because now I’m seeing this trend. Okay. Everybody stop and let’s download, Steph and I both use Tiny Scanner. That’s what you use, right? 

Stephanie: Yeah, I think that’s what it’s called or it’s just called scanner. I don’t know. 

Rachel: I have Tiny Scanner. That’s what I use. You can have all the multiple pages within one document. You can label it correctly there. It lives in the app. You can email it to yourself. I don’t know if I pay for it or not because I have the functionality to just send it directly to drive. If they have that functionality, it’s awesome, especially if that’s how the teacher wants to receive the assignment. And then you have to make sure that there are folders for each class in Drive already set up and ready to go so that everything has a home. 

Dr. Sharp: Right. Well, and that leads to my second question, which is, what’s your favorite way to have students label their files to find them.

Rachel: I always like the assignment title because it’s going to be the thing that’s most memorable for them. And if they’re in Google docs and Google drive, you can figure out because as a general rule, in terms of organizing physical things, we like chronology the best. Students always remember before and after. No, no, no. This happened before that. No, I got to keep going and keep looking further for something when they organize it. That’s why I don’t like it when teachers have like have a note section, have a test section, have a homework section. No, you’re one person in the class functioning and so have it all, but I understand why they do it because they’re trying to help them. 

Stephanie: But if you think about just how the brain works about photos, if you’re looking for a specific photo in your phone, you re oh no, that was before that [00:32:00] happened or that was after that happened. So then you can actually find the picture, right? So that’s what we’re trying to help them do the label.

Rachel: If teachers are organized enough to have […] number one in Spanish, then that’s what it should be called. And if there’s another key word that will help them remember, then that can be the next word, but let’s have everything be the same. Again, I would say this is further along in the process on the more would be nice side.

Stephanie: It’s definitely a would be nice side. 

Rachel: it’s digitally on the wood because you have to have everything else set up for that. But if they have the PDF, something that they’ve printed, then they need to have the app that holds all that information because then they can go back and check. Did I do it? And then they need to have a physical place where that piece of paper lives. 

Stephanie: Yeah. I am advocating very much for the stopping of the printing and making a PDF out of something and then uploading it. So yesterday I was with a kid, he said, I printed it at home. I’m going to do it at home. And I said, no, let’s not do that. Let’s use Kami. So that’s what I had him do. Kami is an extension on Chrome that’s basically like a PDF filler inner. You could do text boxes.

Rachel: Kami?

Stephanie: Yes. He was doing, it’s called a close reading assignment. Basically, he had to look for the words and then he had to fill them in. And so, instead of it being printed, him writing it in, then taking a picture and then uploading it, which is so many steps. And this was the first time that I really got him to say lets walk away from the paper. There was a little bit of a struggle, but he eventually acquiesced. And so we did it in Kami together. We saved it and he [00:34:00] immediately uploaded it. It was just like… 

Rachel: Kami syncs with Google drive. When you asked the question, I’m like, oh gosh, what do we use because I don’t think about it unless I have a specific need for it. But as soon as Steph I’m like, okay, she’s right. You can highlight within it. We used it a lot this summer.

Stephanie: Yeah. And did they try to have you pay for it, but you don’t need to pay for it, just so you know.

Rachel: Yeah.  

Dr. Sharp: Okay. That’s great to hear. It’s funny. We were registering our kids for soccer two weeks ago and my wife was like, yeah, can you print out the application and fill it out? And I was like, what? What do you mean? I am not printing anything. Why does anybody need me to print anything right now? So, Kami would have been super helpful.

Rachel: Now you have it.

Stephanie: Now you have it. You’ll use it from now on. You’ll never even, why did I ever not have it. 

Rachel: Get rid of the printer.

Dr. Sharp: For sure. I’ll put it in the show notes so others will check it out.

Rachel: Perfect. Kami, we’ll totally take advertisement dollars for that. 

Dr. Sharp: Sure. Kami, if you’re listening, reach out to us. That’d be great. 

Rachel: Feel free to sponsor this episode. 

Dr. Sharp: For sure. Let’s see. Are there any other just beginning processes, like when somebody comes to you, it sounds like you’re working on the calendar, you’re working on the email etiquette. Are there any other just foundational learning skills that you work with them on? 

 Stephanie: I knew you should ask.

Rachel: I’m creating lists as I go with some of my new clients. I’m like, what are the things that I do consistently each time just for my own, making sure my team is doing things in the same way, but go back to your question. I’m sorry. 

Dr. Sharp: Just those basic pieces that you put in place, whether that’s software or [00:36:00] processes when somebody first comes to you. I’m asking because I think a lot of parents are probably trying to do this now. What are those foundational skills or apps or whatever that you just start right off the bat? You need this, you need this, you need this. 

Stephanie: Well, definitely Google calendar is the first thing we start off with always.

Rachel: Every time.

Stephanie: Every single time.

Rachel: I get all the login information straight up as we’re going and I’m sharing my screen so they can see how I’m building out because I have each one of my clients a separate profile within Chrome. And so, I can easily toggle back and forth. If you have multiple kids and you’re finding, okay, I gotta log out of this one and then log back into that one and your own email, create separate Google Chrome profiles for everybody so you can go back and forth. You can leave things logged in and it just makes life much nicer and cleaner.

Stephanie: And you can also pin. You can pin windows when you open up that profile, those windows will automatically open. So if you have it pinned that you want your email and your calendar and the portal to open every time, those will automatically open when you open the profile. So you don’t have to press anything or search or all of that.

Rachel: I always forget about the pending. So sometimes, it also serves as a reminder for what we did last time because certain tabs or something like that’s what we did last time. So, that’s a pro tip for parents. Get all the login information and create those profiles for yourself so that you can save your sanity a little bit because that’s the first thing that I deal with clients.

And it’s sometimes uncomfortable for them just like I’m brand new and I’m like, okay, what’s your email password? And I think nothing of it, [00:38:00] because I’m not interested in spying on them, but you’re told you’re not supposed to share your passwords with people. And so then some of the kids I’ll have to give like remote access. Okay, you type it in because I need access to all this stuff to get you going.

And then the other benefit of it when, when we have access is like we can, while they’re building out their calendar, we can go help them build out their calendar. They’re not doing it alone. We love Google products because two people can be in one thing at the same time and it’ll register both of them. Then they don’t need… 

I don’t want any of my clients saving anything in a word doc anymore. I want it all just in Google doc because it saves every 30 seconds or whatever, and you can go back and look at previous. Let’s just keep everything. Have rules about where things are going to live. Just have rules. 

Stephanie: I think the other thing that we really advocate for is starting with a client and for parents that are listening, or those of you that are doing testing, they’re giving parents, you need those strategies and tips for your reports, is also space, right?

You need to have a designated working spot. They shouldn’t be doing homework in school or on their bed. Have pens and paper and pencils, and have graph paper and lined paper and all the things nearby so it’s easily accessible because when you have clients or kids that are going, oh, I need to go get that, and then they go and they can’t find it. Things need to have a home. Basically all we’re saying is digital things need a home and physical things need at home.

And so when you create, just like in a classroom, when you were a little kid, if you think [00:40:00] back to you knew where the paper lived, you knew where the markers lived. You knew where your teacher kept all these things so that you could automatically go and get them when you needed them. The glue sticks, all that stuff. So, when you have it set up…

You guys that have these businesses that you’re doing the testing and whatnot, these are your standard operating procedures, right? Everything has a home. You know what to do and how to do it. And the more that you can start that even with little guys at the base level and then build from there to get to the, this is what has to happen, this is a would be nice, you will get there. 

Rachel: I know that I spent… I did a quarantine project last weekend because I was so bored and it had been on my list to revamp my command center, which is what one of our friends calls the area of the house that… she’s the KonMari master and she calls it the area of the house where the extras live. I had these containers and there are rules now for every container what goes in what. My husband really likes it because then he’s able to find things and I like it because we buy doubles of things and I didn’t know that, and now we can stop doing that, but it’s the same for school.

And the other thing that I’ll say your child doesn’t need a million organizational tools. So when kids are disorganized, the tendency is let me buy them something to organize them, to help them, and like, let’s buy a product to fix it. Oftentimes it tends to be that accordion folder, which we hate. And so, simple systems get used, get built and get maintained. It’s not just about building them, it’s about maintaining them.

When you create multiple places where things could possibly be, now a student has to make a choice with every single thing. Now that’s where you’ve now lost them [00:42:00] because they don’t know what choice to make, as opposed to having one folder in Google drive that’s for their English class. Well, all my English things go in there. You don’t really need to get fancier than that. And the same goes for physical things. You don’t need to buy a ton of school supplies to be an organized student. And in fact, we don’t even advocate having like 8 pencils out there because all that does is teach them that they can lose a pencil. No big deal. There’s another one right there. 

Dr. Sharp: That’s a good point. I’m just thinking of our 20 pencil receptacle that we have on our daughter’s desk.

Stephanie: Oh yeah, we did an episode called how organization leads to disaster and that is exactly it. You think get more things, make you more organized 

Rachel: And we’re taking away. When we do this with students and we take away things, kids who love, and I love school supplies too. I love office supplies as much as the next person. So there’s really some resistance there. I’m sure your daughter wouldn’t be like, let’s only have three pencils here. I don’t think she would be cool with that.

Dr. Sharp: Do you all have any strategies, just thinking about the workspace and the organization and so forth for those families who have multiple kids who all need a space that’s like semi-private and organized? Have you run into that at all with your families? And if so, how do you manage that and fitting lots of people in the same space?

Stephanie: I think the first thing is everybody needs their own device. And if all the devices can be the same, that’s a good start. So it doesn’t feel like, oh, well he gets the iPad and he gets to play games and I have to have a computer or vice versa. I can watch Netflix and he can’t or whatever it is. First and foremost, the more you can equal the playing field, the better [00:44:00] for a home with multiple kids.

If you can have them in separate space, great, but that’s not feasible for a lot of people. I’ve had some people take a cardboard box and make those little old school library desk pod things and having a command center for school supplies that’s nearby and it’s not on each person’s desk or things like that to make it what really works for your home and your family. What would you add, Rachel? 

Rachel: I think just also resetting spaces. So, if your student is designated to work at the kitchen table, then that needs to become a kitchen table again at the end of the day. And so, just to create home life balance and just like they would clean up their space before they leave their classroom, they need to clean up their space so their family can function like a family again. I think it’s really hard if you have multiple kids.

It’s such a privilege to have even one device in the house. So, just doing the best you can with the circumstances that you’re in, but creating designated spaces that’s routine, predictable, and that they are responsible to reset, I think is really important.

This is why are the work that we do is one-on-one because each family’s circumstance is so different. I work with families who kids share the room and I work with families where kids not only have their own bedroom, but have their own bathroom as well, and then have a play room on top of that that they’ve turned [00:46:00] into a school room. So it just really depends on the individual needs. And then putting the kid that might need the most interaction from you throughout the day closer to you. We’re being really strategic about who goes where, and why. 

Dr. Sharp: That makes sense. I’ve found that over the course of all this online learning that it’s been a real drain on parents’ executive functioning just as much as kids. I wonder, are you all seeing the same thing? And if so, do you find yourselves working more with parents in addition to the kids?  

Rachel: Yeah. We just did executive functioning for parents on the podcast. This was this week’s episode that just came out. It came as a result of one of her friends SOS texting us, and we were writing an episode and we’re like, oh, instead of writing this, just come on and let’s do it as an on air coaching call, which is what this week’s episode was, but what I’ve really noticed which feels different than before, is parents really want us to manage school. They are really asking thngs like, Rachel, I don’t want to go in the portal. I don’t want to communicate with teachers. I need to keep my job. I need to outsource this stuff the way it was before because the teachers handled it before. I can’t even manage my own emails.

So sometimes the broader impact of that therapy is, not sometimes, majority of the time, the broader impact of good therapy is home life improves. But another by-product that I’ve seen happen dozens of times in the home is one of the student that we’re working with, their executive functioning sky rockets, and suddenly the siblings are seeing what’s going on.

How did you do that on your [00:48:00] calendar? I liked, especially when there’s an older sibling who’s really high achieving in the family and I’m working with the 2nd or the 3rd kid in the family. I’m like, here’s the best part about this is so-and-so’s going to see how you’re doing things and then they’re going to want to learn from you. The kid gets lit up.

But that happens with the parents too. They see that I am forcing their kids to maintain their email and they’re like, I need this accountability. And we’ve both done sessions with parents to sort of, this is how I’m teaching your kid to function. This is why I think you should function like this. We always advocate at the family is at that level of calendaring to have a family calendar that anybody can add an event to, but you’re letting your kid know, this is something you’re expected to participate in or show up to. They need to know that too. You don’t have to have a conversation. It could be a Google calendar invite and it shows up and they’ll see it just like Steph can put things on my calendar and I can put things on hers and the other one would be like, okay. 

Dr. Sharp: That can get dangerous. 

Rachel: It can. That’s why we only share one calendar and we know each other’s schedules, but I think parents are noticing their own executive functioning weaknesses. We’ll always say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. And it’s always interesting whether the parents notice that or they think their kid is completely different. And so, it’s always interesting because you may see them similarly, but they don’t see themselves similarly. 

Stephanie: Yeah. I’ve had several parents ask me to help them set up things about their systems. We also are offering learning management right now, and that just looks like [00:50:00] helping either it’s literally somebody there working alongside the kid, being on the zoom and then filling in the gaps and making sure there’s understanding, or if that means the executive functioning of making sure these are all the things that you need to do, but not teaching. It’s not the strategies. It’s just managing everything so the parents don’t have to do it themselves because it’s affecting a lot of relationships. They’re already with each other 24/7. The kids aren’t getting any peer-to-peer social interaction and it’s taking a toll. And so, the amount of people that have been calling asking for in-person in my practice has been a lot because the parents are just sitting there saying, please, I can’t do this anymore. 

Rachel: If you can come at my house for an hour, please. 

Stephanie: Yeah. And I don’t blame them. 

Dr. Sharp: Absolutely. We’re fortunate enough to be able to have hired basically a babysitter to just hang out while our kids are doing school during the day.

Rachel: They’re a facilitator.

Dr. Sharp: A facilitator of learning. Yes. 

Rachel: Learning facilitator so your wife can be mom and you can be dad and get your jobs done. You can be the parents. 

Dr. Sharp: Right. Yes. We’ve touched on this issue of portals two times, but haven’t dove into them. I know this is a big problem for a lot of families and it’s come up in our district that there 17 different places where assignments live and so forth. So, thoughts on that, how to manage that, what to do with that? 

Rachel: Now you’re hitting me where it hurts today because this is what I woke up angry about this morning.

Dr. Sharp: Let’s do it. What you’ve got.

Rachel: Let’s do it. [00:52:00] There’s so much that has been challenging about online portals and it’s not the pandemic that has caused that. We’re going to be recording an episode tomorrow on our podcast called online portal pitfalls, unless we change the name, but it’ll be something like that.

Online portals have been a sore spot for educational therapist for a really long time. We have a really unique view in that we are working with kids from multiple schools, and so we’re seeing how all the different schools are doing it. And then, we have the burden of having to remember the specific nuances of each teacher of each one of our clients. And so, that’s why I have to have different profiles for everybody because… 

Stephanie: teacher, each class, each school, each program, 

Rachel: …and the kids have to remind me every single time. Remember that’s the teacher who wants to turn it in here and not here. And they have to remind us.

Teachers are not trying to over-complicate it. Let me just start there. But whenever I get the ear of a head of school, this is what I bring up with them, that there needs to be rules. They need to be very controlling about how the online portal work s because each teacher cannot decide what works best for them because now we’re burdening our kids to have7 or 8 different teachers, all with different approaches, all using the portal differently, not putting the homework in the same spot. So now there’s 15 clicks to get to one piece of information for one class.

And then there needs to be rules also, if any heads of schools are listening, about how often the grades need to be updated as well, because parents are relying on that to tell them whether students are turning in their work and how they’re performing. And if teacher are waiting until the week of the grading period, it does not give parents an opportunity to be responsive [00:54:00] when things fall through the cracks. Or maybe that’s the rule in the school, which is also fine. You only do it at the week of the reporting period.

Whatever it is that needs to be consistent and no deciding, okay, we’re using PowerSchool, but I like Google Classroom better so I’m going to do everything in Google Classroom because now you’ve made yourself another task that our students have to remember to do. There’s so much here to unravel.

Steph, why don’t you just share what you were sharing before we had to record about that client that you had to prove to them that the portal is inherently unreliable.

Stephanie: Oh yeah.  I was that before we hit record? I didn’t even remember. I have a client who was saying, I said something to her about how let’s look at all the assignments that you need to do, what hasn’t been turned in, et cetera, et cetera. And she said, oh, it’s all right here.

I have access into her Google Classroom and the school portal stuff. I go in and I start looking at all the different things and I find two assignments that are not actually on that list of here’s what needs to be turned in. And so when I showed her yesterday that look, it doesn’t actually show up. This is not your safety net as the kids want. Having on that portal, not everything seems to go on that one list of here’s what you need to do, that’s not the safety net.

So the fact that I sat there and I was like, okay, now you see that you have to check all the things. I understand it’s frustrating. It is 15 clicks per class. That’s a lot. But unfortunately what you want to use as an easy safety net is not going to be an easy safety net. So I think [00:56:00] having the kids… For a while now we’ve had the struggle that, well, why do I need to write it down or put it anywhere because it’s all right here? It’s very clear that it is not all right there. Even if it’s set up to be all right there, it’s not.  

Dr. Sharp: And you still need redundancy built in.

Rachel: Totally need redundancy and healthy skepticism, but it’s not all bad. There’ are some parts of it that you can really, but you have to be savvy. You have to know how to make it work for you. Not all portals, but a lot of portals will particularly right now allow you to import the school schedule in to a Google calendar and iCloud, but we prefer Google calendar. And that’s really lovely.

Here’s another thing that a lot of schools have done is they’ve made their schedules so much more simple or so much simpler, I should say, which makes planning so much easier because when a school is on like 9 day rotation, it’s a nightmare to automate it. It’s a nightmare for the kids. It’s a nightmare for the teacher. I don’t know the argument for it, but that’s the reality of some schools. But even if it’s an every other week schedule, we can automate that on their calendar. And when you can import it, you still have to copy over each event to their calendar because you want to have each event be controllable by you.

So when the other person who owns the calendar, this is getting really specific now, when the school owns the calendar, you can’t edit each event. When you copy it over to your personal calendar and you set it up as a repeating event, or you set it up as a repeating event for every other week or whatever it may be, you can put in zoom links, you can put in homework, you can teach them to do all that. And they need that functionality. Even if you have to copy each event over, it’s still a thousand times faster [00:58:00] than manually creating each event, which we have to do for some schools because they don’t have to have import functionality.

So it’s not all bad, it’s just there’s opportunity for improvement. It’s literally the first thing I talk to heads of schools about. I’m like, you don’t understand, and I genuinely think they don’t understand because they’re not in it and experiencing it. Schools are not trying to make this harder. 

Dr. Sharp: Right. They have the best intentions. Like you said, I think few people have the perspective that y’all do where you are working with all these different portals across different schools and different students and seeing what it actually looks like. 

Rachel: Steph and I have had these complaints about online portals for years. Now we can talk about it because everybody is seeing it. 

Dr. Sharp: Sure. Oh my gosh. Well, I know there’s a ton more that we could talk about, but time goes fast. I wonder if there are any parting words, thoughts, and encouragements for folks who are managing their kids at home?

Rachel: I have one rule that I’ve shared with parents. When it comes to teachers trying to teach their kids and now they’re watching the lessons that the teachers are teaching, about not getting involved, but getting involved when appropriate.

So the rule that I have set for some of the families, because the parents should not become a part of the classroom conversation, and sometimes you can’t help it if you want your kids to get on target or on task. So the rules that I’ve set is, you can jump in when it’s something your eyes can see, but when it’s something your ears can hear like you don’t like the answer that your kid gave, that’s for the teacher to correct. But if your eyes [01:00:00] can see that your kids walked away from the computer, that’s when you can come in and redirect and help them get focused again. So it’s eyes, not ears. 

Dr. Sharp:  I like that.

Stephanie: I think the biggest thing is, one day at a time, one week at a time, that it just… 

Rachel: It won’t always be like this. 

Stephanie: Yeah, it won’t. We all know you’re doing the best you can, whether you’re the teacher, the kid, the parent, the clinician, everybody’s doing the best that they can. And if we can give ourselves a break and…

Rachel: Assume the best intentions from everybody that you’re interacting with.

Dr. Sharp: Such a good reminder. 

Stephanie: … just have open communication and just try to figure out what works and the best you can do. That’s all you can do. 

Dr. Sharp: I think that is a very good note to end on. Very kind, very compassionate.

Thank you all so much for coming on. This really flew by. I know that we could dive into any number of other things, but I really appreciate it. 

Rachel: We’ll come back any time. It is so fun. 

Stephanie: Absolutely. It is fun. 

Dr. Sharp: Good. Yeah, I would imagine we’re going to continue to orbit one another’s content.

Rachel: Yes.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, I would love that. In the meantime, y’all take care, and thanks again.

Rachel:  You too.

Stephanie: You too.

Dr. Sharp: All right everybody. Thank you so much for listening to my interview with Rachel Kapp and Steph Pitts from the Learn Smarter podcast. I love talking to them. I hope that you enjoyed it as well. And like I said, at the beginning, definitely check out their podcast. They have so much good content going on over there that is linked in the show notes if you want to go and take a look.

If you are an advanced practice owner, [01:02:00] who’s made it past that beginning stage of practice, you’ve got your referrals dialed in. Maybe you’re in that spot where you just have too much to do, and you’re not sure how to do it all, you want to delegate but maybe don’t know how to do that or how to get started, and maybe you want to hire.

You might check out the Advanced Practice Mastermind group. We have one spot left. You have heard me talk about this over the last few weeks. I am so excited to be getting started here soon, but we do have one spot left. And if you were interested in that, if you’d like a group that can help keep you accountable and reach those goals in your practice, we would love to support you in that. You can check out more information and schedule a pre-group call at thetestingpsychologist.com/advanced.

Okay y’all. Take care. I’ll talk to you next time.

The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologist website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here, and similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.

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