What Did You Learn This Year?
Every school year we learn new things. I recently took a few minutes to ask each student the question, “What have you learned about your talking and your speaking this year?”
Here are a few of the different responses:
• “I learned that I can do good R’s fairly consistently.”
• “I learned a different kind of R and to put my tongue back more.”
• “I made a document about stuttering that was really cool.”
• “If you slow down a lot, it’s better for you.”
• “I learned that I can help other people.”
• “I learned that my R’s became easier because I practiced more.”
• “I learned that repetition helps.”
• “I learned that warm-ups help.”
• “I’ve learned to be better at asking questions.”
• “What I’ve learned is that when you do your TH’s, you’re not supposed to keep it inside, and it’s supposed to stick out a little.”
• “I learned to add more details.”
Reflecting on what students have learned lets us celebrate successes. We talked about progress and the big changes that had occurred within one school year. I asked, “What did you do to make it better?” Students were able to identify how their behavior had changed. We saw how they had taken deliberate steps to improve their communication.
At the end of the day, I realized that it wasn’t just the students who were learning. We were learning, too. I asked myself what I had learned and suddenly, I knew that I had learned a lot. Each setting and each group of students shapes our skills. I asked myself a series of questions about learning across different areas:
• What did I learn about providing articulation therapy?
• What did I learn about providing language intervention?
• What did I learn about providing stuttering therapy?
• What did I learn about incorporating technology?
• What did I learn about student interests and contemporary media?
• What did I learn about creating student-specific intervention materials?
• What did I learn about culture and language?
• What did I learn about connecting with families?
• What did I learn about partnering with staff?
• What did I learn about working with administration?
Each question prompted positive memories and important lessons. I am grateful that I was able to spend time observing and analyzing tongue position and placement. I learned more about expanding personal narratives, eliciting thoughts and feelings with student interviews, audio/video recording, and a wonderful range of student interests from cooking to cinematography. I researched cultural and linguistic characteristics of Vietnamese, Arabic, native Hawaiian, and Russian. I met supportive and active parents and families. I collaborated with professionals, including Occupation Therapists, School Psychologists, Special Education Teachers, and General Education Teachers. I was able to provide valuable information to administrators about speech and language needs of students.
We are better clinicians and better people because of our clinical work. What did you learn this year?