Give a Little, Get a Little
I know many (most? all???) school-based SLPs feel overworked and underappreciated. We spend our days doing direct services for student (i.e., therapy, evaluations) and our schools (i.e., bus duty, recess duty) and countless of indirect activities related to our jobs (i.e., IEP meetings, emails, phone calls, consulting with teachers, paperwork). I know that I work hard to do my best when providing direct and indirect services. I (try to) plan motivating, functional activities for students to keep them engaged while working on their speech-language targets. I plan push-in lessons. I consult with teachers for planning purposes and to discuss carryover of skills to the classroom setting. I get all of my paperwork done on time. I remember which students ride which bus and can greet many of them by name. It's just in my personality to do my job the best I can, even when stressed out/overwhelmed by work. I don't know if you've ever had a moment like this in your career, but have you ever wondered, "If I stopped working so hard would anyone care or notice?"
Ok, so the kids care if we do our jobs. It's not like we go around asking for kudos from our co-workers, but once in awhile it is nice to feel appreciated. But does anyone else at school care or even notice our efforts? In my school I had the recent opportunity to find out the answer to this question. To make a long story short, there are about 10 stuffed hamsters floating around my school right now. Whomever receives one needs to give it to another school employee as a way of recognizing that person for something positive they do and record that on a log sheet that comes along with the hamster. The recipient then needs to pass it along to someone else, adding the new recipient's name and the reason why that person deserves the hamster....and so on. I know I feel like a "lowly" school-based SLP who goes unnoticed most of the time, but once I started receiving hamsters on my desk, I began to feel better! Little written comments from co-workers such as, "flexible," "plans ahead" and "completes paperwork on time" put a smile on my face. Someone out there notices!
But that's only half of it. Once I received my hamsters, I had to stop and think - what do I appreciate about my co-workers? It was something I had never thought about before. Showing appreciation is a two-way street. Yes I want my students and co-workers to appreciate what I offer to our school, but it is also important for the people around us at work every day to know how much we appreciate them! With all of our weather-related delays, the school schedule has been crazy. I wanted to let two teachers know how much I appreciate that they are "always flexible with rescheduling speech." I'm forever looking for theme-based books, so I let our librarian know that I appreciate her help in finding the exact types of books I need every week. There is currently one hamster still sitting on my desk. I see it as another opportunity to show a co-worker appreciation, but I feel like there are too many people to thank to choose just one!
In the spirit of Valentine's Day this week, find a way to let your co-workers know how much you appreciate them. In turn, I'm sure you'll start to realize how much they do appreciate everything we do!