One of the best things about being an SLP who works in preschool, is using the preschool routine, toys and activities to work on communication. The curriculum used in my district is The Tools of the Mind Curriculum. There is an extensive philosophy to this curriculum and a crude description is that through scaffolding, children develop self regulation skills and to see themselves as students without needing typical rewards and consequences seen in other preschool curriculums. Literacy, communication and preacademic skills are embedded into this program, which makes it easy as an SLP to slip into the classroom and work on communication for the speech and language kiddos.
One of my favorite times of the day is "play plan" writing. Each day, the children pick a colored clip corresponding to the area of the classroom they will play in. They then write their names, draw a picture of themselves playing in the area, and with varying levels of scaffolds, create a verbal/written plan about what role they will take, and what they will do in this area. It is fascinating to watch the children progress in the play planning over the course of the year, and because the children are performing the same task each day it is easy to track their progress. I like seeing how the complexity of the play has improved, how the language of the play plan has improved and how the following of the plan has improved. The ability to plan play is a precursor to being able to plan all sorts of tasks such as breaking down academic tasks as children progress through school.
Even if the preschool classrooms you work in doesn't use this curriculum, working on language through planning is as easy as asking "where are you going to play today?" "What are you going to do?" If a child identifies a role, help flush out the role by providing scaffolds and modeling.
Please follow this link to see samples of preschool play plans.
Does your preschool program use Tools of the Mind? What are your favorite elements?
Early this school year I had written about using games in speech therapy. Although I had thought I had put that topic to rest, I've recently become acquainted with a new game that I need to share with my fellow school-based SLPs! On a recent visit from his grandmother, my son received a game called Magic Jinn. Every time this game is played all I can think about is, "I wonder when my son will outgrow this so I can bring it to school to use in therapy?" I've seen the game priced anywhere from $15 - $20 and is available at any large chain retail or toy store.
To play the game, the player needs to think of an animal. Magic Jinn asks a series of yes/no questions ("I don't know" and "It depends" are also acceptable answers) regarding the animal's salient attributes (i.e., size, shape, color, diet, location). Based on the player's responses, Magic Jinn attempts to guess the animal. Magic Jinn is not a genie, rather he resembles an odd-looking, blue cat with orange stripes. To top it off, he speaks in a British accent. Just try playing this game a few times and not end up talking in a British accent for the next hour (or longer!).
Last weekend, my son and two adolescent nephews had an absolute blast trying to stump Magic Jinn. We all got a kick out of the familiar animals he couldn't guess (despite multiple attempts) such as a gorilla and a bear. We were surprised that he was able to guess some less common creatures, such as a leech and a sponge. We were able to stump Magic Jinn on a few rarer animals such as an orangutan, a capybara, a Gila monster, and a naked mole rat. Magic Jinn gets quite creative with his guesses sometimes, including fictional creatures such as a werewolf and a hippogriff! (He's British, so I guess he's a fan of Harry Potter?)
Although it might be a few years until I can actually try Magic Jinn in therapy, here are some ideas on how it could be used/how students may benefit from it:
- Accurate answers to the questions posed by Magic Jinn are very important. If you don't know the answers to the feature questions or answer them incorrectly, the odds of Magic Jinn guessing the animal in mind is slim.Gives students an opportunity to practice answering yes/no questions.
- Describing/Naming salient attributes - Any child working on these semantic language skills would benefit from playing this game.Students need to think of responses to questions such as, "Does this animal have fur?""Does this animal eat plants, fruits, and vegetables?"
- Categorization - Magic Jinn poses questions about categories of animals such as, "Does this animal live in the sea?" "Is it a reptile?" Students need to be familiar with sub-categories of animals when playing this game.
- Magic Jinn asks a lot of questions that don't make sense based on previous questions asked. For example, he asked if an animal had fur. When I answered "no" a few questions later he asked, "Is it a guinea pig?"For students working on more advanced semantic language skills, these absurdities and non-logical questions provide a great teaching opportunity. Example: Why doesn't it make sense for him to ask if the animal is an insect?Answer: Because I already answered "yes" when he asked, "Is it a reptile?". (This exchange actually happened when trying to get him to guess Gila Monster. The closest he got was "iguana").
Are any of you familiar with Magic Jinn? If so, how have you used it in therapy? If not, I highly recommend adding it to your repertoire of games. His guesses aren't magic, but they certainly are fun!
It's been fun this year to experiment with some free AAC IPad apps for a couple of non/low verbal students.
Here are some of my finds!
Sounding Board was recommended by an SLP at a local Children's Hospital. It's free, easy to use, and you can import pictures from your photo gallery, or take your own. When I needed pictures for "more" and "all done" I took a screen shot of pictured signs from Google Images, and saved them into the program. I struggle sometimes to change pictures on boards, but for the most part it is simple, easy to use and adequate for the little guy I'm using it with.
Another app I downloaded to check out was Pogo Boards! WOW! This app has tons of free boards including some assessment/training type activities. If you are a member (and it's not too expensive at $69 per user per year) you have access to thousands of boards, the ability to create your own and print/share with other users. I couldn't find how to upload your own photos, so I'm not sure if that is a feature or not. This app would have been amazing to use with a child I worked with years ago who ended up with a Dynovox.
Finally, I checked out Niki Boards. There is a free version and the ability to purchase more. I really liked that this app helped children create sentences (for those who are more advanced and ready for that.) Again, I struggled to figure out how to import pictures and create a variety of custom boards, however perhaps that becomes apparent in the paid version!
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!
As I sit here in the northwest on Super Bowl Sunday I am reflecting on what it means to be on a "team" as an SLP in the world of special education. Clearly to be a team player it is important to comply with the basics in order to be respected:
- Do your job!
- Be on time, see students as documented on the IEP
- Meet deadlines
These basics go a long way in helping anyone integrate into a school team. Beyond those, I believe there several other things we (or at least I, and I have thought about this a lot!) can do:
- Respect what other team members bring to the table.
- Assume the best; we are all here for kids, we might have different ways we want to meet the needs of our students, but our end goals are the same.
- Share a vision, what is the goal in this situation? Ask what we need to do to work together to accomplish it.
- Have some fun! There's nothing like bringing a treat or having a good laugh to help bring team members together.
Some of my favorite times as a school SLP are when I can brainstorm with my peers to plan effectively for kids. It's when we can put personal agendas aside and focus on children that we win the Special Education Super Bowl (no competition needed!)
How do you work with teams?
Do you ever feel left out of the culture of the school as an itinerant or because your job is slightly different?
Please comment below or on the ADVANCE Facebook page.
A decent portion of my caseload consists of students with moderate-to-complex communication needs. I really enjoy working with these students and am thrilled each time I see growth in their communication skills through any modality. These students use speech, signs, gestures, vocalizations, PECS, AAC devices and any combination thereof to express their wants, needs and ideas. In the last few years I've noticed a growth of one particular sub-population of these students - students with complex communication needs who are English Language Learners (ELLs). This adds another layer to unravel for students who already have high needs in the area of functional communication skills.
A few months ago I talked to an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher about this very topic. She has made the same observation as I have: there are more and more students who are ELLs who also have moderate-complex communication needs. I know how to work with students with communication difficulties. She knows how to work with students for whom English is a second language. However, neither of us has come across much information in terms of research or therapy for working with these students. The educators with whom I've spoken to regarding ELL students with complex communication needs have all indicated they pretty much have no training in how to assess or work with these students.
Despite my basic knowledge of American Sign Language and my below average skills in Spanish, I am fluent in one language and one language only - English. The teachers I work with also only know and teach one language - English. So, herein lies the problem. The students do not all speak the same home language either; in the few years none of my ESL students have spoken the same language as another ESL student on my caseload, rather up to 5 different languages! The majority of students I've worked with who are ELLs hear little to no English at home; however, English is the only language they hear all day in school. For non-verbal students and those with emerging verbal skills, this presents quite a challenge. There have been many times I've heard students vocalizing using sounds that are not English phonemes, and I'm left to wonder, "Are they babbling in their home language?" It is hard to informally assess a child's understanding of basic classroom vocabulary (i.e., color words, toys, foods) when we're presenting the words in English, when it is very possible they've only heard the words in their home language.
All of my speech-language instruction is delivered in English. I find that using picture representations (i.e., icons) of common, functional, and core vocabulary words and verbally labeling words in English has been helpful for some of my students. I've had students who were ELLs successfully increase their expressive vocabularies using spoken words and sign, learn to use the PECS method with icons, and others learn to use AAC devices, all of which are in English. However, I still can't help but be left with a nagging feeling. Am I doing everything I should be doing for these students? Are the strategies I use for English-speaking emerging communicators the same as students who are from homes where English isn't spoken?
I would love to hear input from other school-based SLPs on this topic. How does your district assess ELLs with complex communication needs? Do your ESL teachers work with these students? Have you found any helpful resources and strategies related to this topic?
I continue to love working in preschool again, and am enjoying using the iPad with the younger set. A couple of months ago I shared some of my favorite apps, but I have some new discoveries I would like to add!
I mentioned Sago Mini's "Doodlecast" before, and continue to enjoy using it with the little ones. I was delighted to discover Sago Mini's "Ocean Swimmer" and "Forest Flyer," two apps in which children guide the action while exploring surprises and little adventures. My students love commenting and discussing the surprises they find along the way.
There are lots of opportunities to ask/answer questions, and create little narratives. Check out Sago Mini Sound Box; young children can play with a variety of sounds and animations, and Sago Mini Bug Builder, in which they create cute bugs and bring them to life.
The Sago apps are found in the ITUNES APP store, and range in price from free to $2.99! Your littlest students will love them.
In much of the nation, winter is in full force. Am I ready for work this morning? Ok, I've got my laptop, iPad, lunch, and purse. I'm good to go. Oh wait, it's winter...Do I have my coat? Do I have my gloves, scarf, and boots? Did I bring a shovel and a snowbrush? Do I have hand sanitizer, tissues, throat lozenges, cough drops, and various over-the-counter medications? Winter is a difficult time to be an SLP in the schools. The two main culprits? Weather and germs!
1) Weather - The winter weather simply wreaks havoc on the school system. The worst part is, we simply have no control over it, yet must deal with the consequences. All across the country, schools have been dealing with snowstorms, ice storms, wintry mixes, and the dreaded polar vortex. Since we've returned from the winter break, we have had only three full days of school as of today (even though we were scheduled to have 8!). I feels like it has been ages since I've seen some of my students. No one is able to get back on their schedules - the staff and students alike. The weather also prevents kids from getting outside! Kids really do better when they can get outside for recess and breathe in the fresh air. It's obvious by the end of the day on "indoor recess" days. Unfortunately when the temperatures get too cold and the wind gets too strong, they must stay in.
How does a school-based SLP deal with this culprit? I try to keep things as "normal" and keep the routine/schedule as consistent as possible for the kids. Our schools operate on a cycle-day system so luckily we don't miss "days" when the schools are closed. Also if I know the kids have been cooped up inside all day, we'll try to do something more fun and active in speech. Personally I also try to use snow days and two hour delays to my advantage - if there is a hint of foul weather, I always bring work home "just in case." If there is a delay, once the roads are clear, I drop my son off at before-school care and head in a bit early. Extra time to do paperwork? Yes please!
2) Germs- This is my current winter nemesis. It doesn't seem to matter how much hand sanitizer I keep on my desk, how many times I wipe down my table, how many times I spray things with Lysol at the end of the day, or how many times I wash my hands in a day, I always end of getting sick. Being SLPs we deal with one of the germiest parts of the human body on a daily basis - the mouth! Kids' mouths are always in close approximation to us - along with their germs! How many times have you had your therapy table, therapy data sheets, iPad, or yourself be sneezed and coughed on? For me, it is a daily occurrence! Unfortunately, germs often lead to illness. Being a school-based SLP who is sick leads to some tough decisions... are school staff members also required to follow the fever- and vomit-free for 24 hours rule before returning to school? Can I do our jobs well if I'm coughing and losing my voice? What about our medically-fragile students? Is it worth endangering their health just to make sure we come in to work? I know this is a tough one as the vast majority of districts do not hire substitutes for speechh. Missed sessions are a constant source of contention.
So how do we deal with culprit #2? Take preventative measures as listed above. When it comes to calling in sick from work, think with your brain (I feel terrible and needs to rest. I could get my students sick.) rather than your heart (But I'll miss Susie's session today!). I know it is hard to do. I used to be one of those SLPs who came to work when I should've been home. Over the years I realized that I wasn't helping anyone by being at work sick.
How do you deal with the winter weather and germs? Strategies to help us make it through? Stay warm and stay healthy this winter!
In accordance with my resolutions to 1) work on curricular material and goals, and 2) use materials available in the school, I've been working on written language with many of my students. Many of my students have really good narrative language goals (I love inheriting so many goals from other wonderful SLP's!) Narrative language is a key to school success, and many of "our " students struggle both orally AND in writing.
Sometimes I get classroom assignments from teachers in advance, sometimes I find fun activities on "Teachers Pay Teachers" or sometimes I create my own little thematic/calendar appropriate writing lesson.
In order to help my students be successful, I use graphic organizers to help them plan in advance. There are many good ones online, I like to use the ones at http://www.enchantedlearning.com/, and http://www.readwritethink.org/. At times, I have been able to access a free day on http://www.writinga-z.com/ which provides lessons based on books in the http://www.readinga-z.com/ website. I also like letting kids make their own graphic organizers using Kidspiration (http://www.inspiration.com/) on the computer and on the IPAD.
Sometimes all it takes for a reluctant writer is something special! My students LOVE to use mechanical pencils and SMENCILS (purchased cheaply at an after holiday sale at Barnes and Noble.) I also like to create graphic organizers and writing prompt on different sized paper! It's funny how motivated they can be to get a HUGE piece of ledger paper with plenty of space to doodle and write.
I have my students read what they have written, and go back to "fix" grammar/syntax that doesn't sound correct. If they can't figure it out, then I give them a choice, "Is it I HAVE or I HAS?"
I like to tell my students what I want to do, give them some time or have them verbalize how to begin, and if they can't, provide scaffolding for their success. Success is the goal, and I try very hard to ensure that everyone meets the goal for the session.
Finally, there's nothing like carrots at the end of the session! Sometimes I might tell kids they can choose a quick IPAD game (there's been LOTS of Bad Piggies" in my room lately, kids have to cooperate, problem solve, and it doesn't take over the session.)
It's always important to collaborate with classroom teachers and consult with the OT's to ensure that my sessions piggy back on the rest of their targets.
I know many school-based SLPs who have a hard time turning their speech-language analysis skills. I've blogged about this in the past http://community.advanceweb.com/blogs/sp_2/archive/2011/07/20/speech-at-the-beach.aspx. An SLP friend of mine who can never turn "off" her SLP skills was recently riding public transportation to a major city. On this particular trip she texted me to comment on the painfully horrible voice quality (glottal fry, strained voice) of someone sitting behind her. However, she got more than ear pain from listening to this woman's voice. She also found out this woman was an educator and basically learned the names of all of her students and personal details about the students including, where they were born and how much English each child spoke. Her next text to me said, "You should do a blog on confidentiality." I always appreciate suggestions from readers, so here it is!
Confidentiality is a huge part of what we do. The majority of our students are identified as being in need of special education and have IEPs. Everything much be kept confidential. Over the years I've had many parents ask me what student(s) their child comes to speech with. I've repeatedly given the same answer - that it is confidential. Granted, these parents know they can just ask their child the question and get the answer, but I cannot be the one to provide them with that information. I've had similar experiences with students of mine. They've made comments such as, "I didn't know you saw ‘Susie' for speech" or "Why does ‘Johnny' come to see you?" I also tell them that I'm not allowed to talk to them about other students just as I'm not allowed to talk to other students about them. I always use it is a teachable moment for the word "confidentiality!"
In the case of my friend, she wasn't within the school setting when the subject of confidentiality came up, rather she was in a very public place. Did my friend have a clue who this woman was and where she taught? No. However, that doesn't mean she should still be yapping about her students within ear shot of numerous people. If you are like me and live in (or near) the district you work for, confidentiality about your job and students while out in public becomes even more crucial. I've been at lunches with other SLPs many times, and we always try to speak very little about work for this reason - you never know who is listening. Maybe not your students or their parents, but maybe their relatives, friends, neighbors, coworkers, acquaintances... anyone really can be sitting at the next booth at the restaurant or behind you on the train. Is it easy to do? Do most SLPs forget this from time-to-time? Sure - most of us are talkers who spend a lot of time at work, so naturally it is our instinct to talk about it. Just being a blogger, I find this difficult to do. I can't write about specific students or situations at school (even though that's what might be on my mind as I'm writing my blogs) for the same reason - confidentiality! However, just remember for the sake of your students (and job) please remember - keep it confidential! I hope you all have a wonderful new year!
Two of my very first students were beautiful brothers who had diagnoses of autism. These boys were my first introduction to working with children severely impacted by their autism - the younger brother Austin more severely so than the older.
When the younger boy came to our preschool program, we mistakenly thought since we had "figured out" the older brother, Austin would be a breeze! Boy were we wrong; our team had its work cut out for it! This child was active, strong, highly sensory seeking AND highly defensive and highly "long string item" seeking. He LOVED rubber bands, weeds, grass, and chalk. He mostly held and stimmed with them, and as he got older he sometimes ate some of these objects which kept his wonderful parents on their toes.
Today I want to share a few "speechy" lessons I learned from working with Austin.
- Just because you have figured out how to best work with one child with autism (or brother!) does NOT mean you know what to do with all of them!
- Austin brought our team together. In order to best meet his needs, we met regularly as a school team and with his mother. She truly knew him best, and I'm glad she was such an integral part of the team. She was patient and supportive, and brought great ideas to the table.
- He was the first child with whom I tried to divide my 60 minutes per week time into 4 15 minute chunks. This was how I was best able to develop a rapport; in 15 minutes 4x a week we were able to create a routine through which to build communication.
- Austin was the first child with whom I really had to think about breaking skills down. We worked SO HARD on imitation skills, eliciting joint attention and taking turns in play.
- While working with Austin and his brother I had the privilege with his family to observe them being evaluated by one of my SLP idols in Seattle. I learned so much about picture exchange, trying to reduce self-stimming behaviors, and using activity schedules to promote independence.
I still use many of these strategies with students I work with. 15 years ago, when I worked with this boy, there was less information and training at my disposal, and the experience was invaluable. A few weeks ago, I was working with a child, and a memory of something I had worked on with Austin drifted through my mind. Much to my surprise and shock, a few days later, I learned the tragic news that Austin had suffered a seizure which resulted in a fatal accident.
Austin's amazing parents and siblings have showed amazing grace and resiliency. They have asked that those of us who knew and worked with him, at school and in their home life remember him. I want them to know (and they have given me permission to write and share with you) that Austin will always be remembered. I learned so much from working with him, and appreciate that they shared him with us for so many years.
As I celebrate the holidays with my family this year, I especially am thinking about this brave family.
I had the intent of blogging about something completely different that's been on my mind (which I will save for a future blog), but at the end of the school day today, I found the phrase, "Status quo!" coming out of my mouth for what seems like the zillionth time in the last few weeks. It didn't occur to me just how often I was saying it until today when I realized, "Did I just say that again?" I found myself saying it to parents at conferences (yes, in retrospect, I was a bit embarrassed by my word choice). I found myself saying it when talking to IEP team members about developing a few upcoming IEPs. I found myself saying it when referring to an upcoming assembly and trying to determine if we should change speech times as a result. Today it came up at my weekly team meeting (I'm on the Life Skills team with three LSS teachers and the OT). The note-taker asked team members for updates. I paused for a moment, shrugged my shoulders, and said, "Status quo!" Then I got to thinking... is "status quo" a good thing for a school-based SLP? Do we ever maintain the status quo?
I went online and found this simple explanation of the term "status quo" to aid me in my self-analysis: To maintain the status quo is to keep the things the way they presently are. If things are going (fairly) smoothly with my therapy schedule, my students, and my school year in general, is maintaining the status quo good enough? Or should I want more? Should I be eager for change and mixing things up? I don't know what everyone else's school year schedules are like, but for me things are typically crazy from the start of school until Thanksgiving break. However, between Thanksgiving and the end of February things sort of level off and calm down a bit... before the insanity of numerous reports being due, kindergarten registration, and early intervention transition occurring from the start of March right up until about mid-May.
For me personally, maintaining the status quo works. Every second of every school day shouldn't be anxiety-laden. I'm ok with (and actually am enjoying and will continue to look forward to) having this "down" time of year. In the true sense, things aren't exactly staying the way they are as I've been screening and evaluating new students and looking at dismissing current students; however, for the most part, I feel like for at least the next month or so, I'm in a good place. I'm not feeling overwhelmed or insanely stressed out (yet - that's my March-through-May madness!). I'm not frustrated or struggling with any particular students on my caseload. My schedule is fairly stable. I'm not behind on paperwork. You know, I'd like to maintain this feeling all year long!
Change is inevitable as a school-based SLP. As are months of the school year where we think we'll never get all this paperwork done (and despite the fact that I've said this countless times for the last decade plus, shockingly, it all actually does get done...). However, for now, I'm going to maintain the status quo at school as a holiday present to myself...and I will (try to) enjoy it! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and give yourselves a gift - you deserve it!
As the 2013 fall term draws to an end, I find myself reflecting upon the big change I made in September! After 16 years in the same school and school district, I changed to a neighboring district.
I want to share some of the things I have learned over the last 4 months....
It's nice to know that there are SO MANY schools full of hard working and devoted staff working for our kids. The staff at my last school, and my new school (and in schools all through the country) are working so hard to embrace educational reform, and increased demands with fewer resources. I truly loved the staff and students at my last school, and I thought it would be difficult to open up my heart to a new school, but my new staff is just as amazing, and of course I love my caseload full of speech students!
Many of the paperwork/procedural demands are the same, and some are slightly different. I am working just as hard, in different ways, neither is better or worse, but I realize how badly I needed different.
My new district has a slightly different philosophy for service delivery, and I'm trying hard to be extra conscious of using curriculum and curricular targets as I work on my goals. Stay tuned in 2014 for ways I'm trying to make that work.
Finally, I'm glad I listened to that nagging voice in the back of my head that told me to seek change. It's been a good change. An SLP I once worked with, who had made several changes during her career (including the change from SLP to attorney and back) told me that every time she made a change, she was able to refine her skills as an SLP. I think this is turning out to be true for me.
Did YOU make a change during the 2013-2014 school year? Is it going well for you? I hope so! Please let me know in the comments below or on the ADVANCE Facebook page.
I am writing this blog as I'm enjoying my last day off from Thanksgiving break. This break is a much-needed one for me as there were no days scheduled off for teachers in my district since Labor Day! Through reading of other online SLP discussion groups, blogs, and in conversations with other school-based SLPs I know, the consensus is that our jobs aren't easy ones. There are plenty of days when we leave school annoyed, frustrated, irritated, and/or overwhelmed by our jobs and all that is expected of us. I know there are SLPs out there who used to work in the schools but left due to all of the politics, caseload sizes, and countless other reasons. I know I'm not alone in wishing I had another few days off from school to be at home with my family. However, I really try to keep my blog from a place for positive feelings and ideas, rather than one where I vent frustrations and aggravation with my job. In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season (which isn't celebrated enough because for some reasons retailers think the next holiday after Halloween is Christmas!), I'd like to talk about reasons I'm thankful for my job as a school-based SLP:
- I have a full-time, contracted job to go to every day. My career is in demand. I always feel badly for the elementary education teachers who need to substitute day-to-day (and therefore barely make ends meet) due to the lack of job openings.
- I get to work with children every day! Their enthusiasm, smiles, and stories make everyday enjoyable.
- I get to go to a job where I help others every day. My work makes a difference in someone else's life.
- I'm technically "off" from work for two months in the summer. I'd be lying if I didn't say this is probably my favorite perk of working in the schools. Not to mention that I was offWednesday-Monday(this is PA, theMondayafter Thanksgiving is a hunting day) for Thanksgiving and will have off from 12/21-1/1 for the holiday break in just a few short weeks!
- I spend most of my day talking.Anyone who knows me knows I love to talk. Getting paid to do one of my favorite pastimes? What could be better?
- Great coworkers! If I have to go to work every day (which I do!) I'm thankful I can spend it with people whose company I enjoy!
- It's fun! Being a school-based SLP can be a lot of fun - we get to play games - as I've blogged about previously there are tons of games out there that can make therapy fun while targeting students objectives. I love Taboo, Jr.and Apples to Apples, Jr. and probably enjoy playing those games as much as the kids do!
This is just a short list of mostly light-hearted reasons why I'm thankful for my job. Why are you thankful you're a school-based SLP?
There are more and more school speech therapy blogs popping up all over the internet, and in one I read recently, the SLP wrote about her week in therapy! (Check it out here: http://oldschoolspeech.blogspot.com/2013/11/therapy-week-in-review-11152013.html)
I loved reading this, and am definitely going to look into some of the fun activities she mentioned.
I'm way less creative and I am committed to my goal of using as much classroom curriculum as possible for language tasks. I do, however want to share SOME of my speech activities for last week!
My first and second graders are doing units on Pilgrims. I made a SUPER SIMPLE Boardmaker book about Pilgrims for the first graders using Thanksgiving type vocabulary (Pilgrims, Mayflower, England, Massachusetts, Wampanoag, Thanksgiving, it doesn't get more simple than that.) We worked on answering "wh" questions, and then creating some very simple sentences. I found this activity on Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakerachieve.com/Activity/1216258
Some older students and I worked on this Pilgrim Book from Enchanted Learning:http://www.enchantedlearning.com/books/holiday/thanksgiving/pilgrims/
(I have talked about Enchanted Learning before, and here's another plug. It's only $20 a year, very relevant, and you can use the printables to target many skills.)
My 3rd graders bring their Scholastic News newspapers to speech. We work on identifying the main idea and details, and summarizing the articles. I found some Graphic Organizers specific to the Scholastic News on the Scholastic website: http://sni.scholastic.com/SN4/09_17_12_SN4/Teaching-Resources
The preschool classroom I serve is doing an amazing unit on grocery store, and I love to just go in and play!