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Speech in the Schools

When I was a Student Teacher...

Published January 4, 2012 8:19 AM by Valerie Lill

With the winter holiday break coming to an end, I'm mentally preparing myself for my newest venture as a school-based SLP -- the role of a cooperating teacher! As I had mentioned in a previous blog, from 1/3/12 through 3/9/12, I'll have a graduate student extern. 

As I had also mentioned, this is a first time experience for me! Graduate student extern, student teacher, whatever you want to call it -- I'll be referring to the position as "student teacher" for consistency's sake in my blogs. Regardless of where we are in our current careers, we've all been there -- maybe it was only a few years ago, maybe it was over 20 years ago, or in my case, some time in between. 

Thinking about having a student teacher has caused me to reflect back upon my own student teaching experiences, which I hadn't thought of in several years. I actually had four different student teaching experiences during my education (twice as an undergrad since at the time in my state, you could be an SLP in the schools with only a BS, Ed -- and of course twice in grad school). 

Each experience was vastly different for me. Some experiences were more positive for me than others. One thing the experiences all had in common: I learned things that I am still using in my job today! 

I've written a brief blurb about each experience and a few of the things I picked up on during these experiences that I'm still using as part of my work as a school-based SLP:

Undergrad - Public school: Although I had a great cooperating teacher (who is still a school-based SLP for the same district in which I student-taught), I didn't enjoy many aspects of this experience (crazy caseload, scheduling difficulties, being itinerant, paperwork!). I always said to myself that I'd never be a school-based SLP -- funny how things work out, isn't it? So for all of you student teachers out that who think you'll never work in a school, never say never!

What I learned:

  • The joys of bingo stamps - easy to use with a variety of activities - and kids love them!
  • Travel-sized Crocodile Dentist is the best game ever!
  • Use the phone to call kids to come for speech instead of hiking around the entire building looking for them.

Undergrad - Early intervention setting: I loved this assignment the best out of all four experiences. I always thought I'd be doing E.I. forever after this experience. I worked in an integrated preschool setting with students with a variety of disabilities. It was my first experience with children with autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.

What I learned:

  • Don't be afraid to try something different with students if what you've been doing isn't working.
  • Use of push-in whole group language lessons.
  • Students are motivated by technology!
  • OTs, PTs and music therapists can be valuable allies when working with students -- especially during co-treatment!

Grad school - Early intervention setting: In this setting I worked in preschool classrooms with students with moderate disabilities (e.g., hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum) and had preschool-aged students whose parents brought them to the school for "traditional" pull-out articulation and language therapy.

What I learned:

  • Language occurs every day, all day long including at circle time, lunch, free play, and snack. Push-in intervention can occur during any/all of these time slots.
  • Everyone needs to work together to promote language and carryover - the SLP, the classroom teachers, and the aides.
  • The use of literacy and literacy activities during articulation and language intervention.

Grad school - Inpatient rehabilitation facility: I always knew I wanted to work in pediatrics. I never had any interest in geriatrics, though I had to do an adult assignment to get my hours for ASHA certification. In the long run, this experience benefitted me greatly -- it led to my first job! Coincidentally, two weeks after completing this assignment (and graduating with my master's) one of the SLPs in the pediatric outpatient facility down the street (owned by the same company) was going on maternity leave, and I got hired for the position (which I loved!).

What I learned:

  • Even if the assignment isn't your "favorite," do you best and learn as much as you can. You never know what can happen or where the experience may lead you.
  • Insurance companies dictate care all too often.
  • Families play an integral role in patient recovery.
  • The blue dye that is used with dysphagia patients does NOT come out of clothing!

I'd love to hear about your student teaching experiences. Did you enjoy your time in the public schools? What did you learn that you still are using today? Feel free to comment on ADVANCE's blog page or Facebook page!

4 comments

As I've mentioned in previous blogs , I'm currently serving as a supervisor for a graduate student extern.

February 29, 2012 9:18 AM

Happy to inform you that crocodile dentist is still available.  I ordered mine through the "what on earth" catalogue.  The kids love it!

Sue Shores, school - SLP, Preschool-HS February 20, 2012 5:37 PM
Monroe MI

Literally just today when I asked two of my first graders what game they wanted to play this afternoon (hey, it's Fun Friday in my speech room nearly every Friday!) guess what they picked? You guessed it - Crocodile Dentist! They don't even make the game any more - luckily I have two (a back up in case one breaks!). I got it at a yard sale for 50 cents a few years ago! The other one I've had for probably 10 years!

Valerie Lill January 6, 2012 7:06 PM

I just retired from working 36 years in public schools.  My kids also loved crocodile dentist.  I thought I was the only one that used it.  Enjoyed reading your blog!!

Jane January 5, 2012 9:59 AM

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About this Blog


    Speech in the Schools
    Occupation: School-based speech-language pathologists
    Setting: Traditional and specialized K-12 classrooms
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