Office Sweet Office
Sometimes work is like our second home, whether we like it or not. When we're not in classrooms, meetings, on duty, meeting with teachers, making photocopies, you name it...our time is spent in a location commonly known as the speech office. I use the term office loosely, as based on my experience and that of other SLPs I know, many, many different locations and types of rooms have been converted into speech offices.
Just recently an SLP friend of mine sent me a picture of her new speech office. This office features an entire kitchen plus a table for therapy. Her text got me thinking about all the numerous rooms I've had over the years and what we really need to make a room a speech office. For me, my bare minimum requirements for a room to count as a speech office include the following: a table and four chairs for students, one adult-sized chair, a door that closes, and some sort of storage (shelf, filing cabinet). I don't ask for a lot - not even a teacher's desk because in my experience that has been a luxury, not a requirement!
Here is just a sampling of speech offices I've had over the years (I should note, none of these were at the district where I'm currently employed):
- I worked in a new, very small private school a ½ morning a week. I worked in the school's kitchen/cafeteria at the end of a table. I had to bring all my materials with me as there was no storage available for me.
- For about two years, I worked in a concrete block-walled, concrete-floored room that was actually a closet in the cafeteria converted into a speech room. The acoustics were horrendous. Plus it was even noisier between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM when the students were eating lunch!
- The biggest room I ever had was an empty kindergarten classroom. Enrollment was low that year, so they decided to make the extra classroom my "speech office." I had my kidney table in the front of the room while the rest of the room was essentially storage.
- Interestingly enough, the following school year, enrollment was up, and I shared a room that was about 1/3 the size of a regular classroom with the IST teacher, the school psychologist, and the computer teacher (including her cart of laptops!) We adjusted our schedules so only two of us were in the room at any one time.
- One year a school's conference room also doubled as a speech office. Any time there was a team meeting, parent meeting, or IEP meeting, I had to find another location in which to work. Needless to say, I was displaced multiple times a week throughout the year. I did a lot of therapy in the hallway, in the computer lab, in the cafeteria, and in the back of learning support classrooms that year!
I have to say, the room in which I'm working now is the best speech office I've ever had. It has a teacher's desk, plenty of storage, filing cabinets, and a kidney table and chairs. The best luxury it has? Windows!!!! I've been in so many windowless rooms over the years, that I truly appreciate the outside view. What are your minimum requirements for a room to count as a "speech office?" What are some of the more unusual locations in which you've been asked to provide speech therapy?
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