How to Make It Work- 4 Practical Tips SLPS Need to Know

Working with our students can sometimes be easier, in a way, than working with our colleagues! I'm joining up with The Frenzied SLPs to give some hints we picked up over the years for working in collegial relationships.
4 Tips for SLPs- Making it work! And one time it didn't! Looks-Like-Language with The Frenzied SLPs

I have found some situations, and some staff members, make it easier to be able to have this kind of relationship than others. True confession! I'll be up front and just state it: I truly wish it wasn't so, but for me, having a graduate SLP student was a very difficult experience. I wanted so much for it to be a wonderful experience, but I never managed to achieve that goal.

It was very hard for me to sit back and watch therapy with my students and have nothing much to do. So, I made the decision to NOT try to learn how to be better at it since I had coworkers who loved the experience and were very supportive of and helpful to the SLP2BE. I'm sure I could have developed the skills, but I felt it wouldn't have been fair to the students assigned to me since better choices were available. I still feel regret that I was never able to do well with this, but my takeaway for you is that we can't all be good at everything!

Undergraduate student observers, however, were always welcome in my therapy room for a day. I hoped they were able to observe something that would expand their skill set, making their day worthwhile, and loved being able to answer any questions to encourage them on their way. The same goes for my fellow SLPs. I have always been happy to lend a hand, answer a question, share some materials, or do whatever I can to help out.

Collaboration tips for SLPs from Looks-Like-Language
Working together with teachers can cover a range of experiences. I find it usually helps if you are able to choose which teachers to work with initially and when to be present in the classroom, so that you have some feeling of ease about how to address the IEP goals before walking in the door. For example, in elementary school I was comfortable with addressing all of the linguistic concepts needed for math word problems in the classroom, but I don't feel that way about joining a middle school algebra class!

Even when you have a working relationship of mutual respect with a teacher, it takes some time to develop a co-teaching style that you both are comfortable with. Since this journey is different with every teacher you will work with, I'll just give a few points to consider.

1. Try to have a short discussion with the teacher to find out when she will be most comfortable having you in. For example, she might feel less stress having you in at the end of the week when her content has been covered and she is doing activities to review and pull it all together. Alternatively, she may love to have you in at the beginning of the week when she is introducing vocabulary and basic concepts.  It all depends on her teaching styles, your comfort level with the subject area, and the needs of the student.

2. Be prepared to do more observation than intervention in the very beginning. Watch the teacher's teaching style, figure out how you can address your goals during that time period without causing a major disruption in her routines, and be sure to find out her comfort level with throwing out comments! Some teachers don't mind having you join in and speak, while others are very uncomfortable having their flow be disturbed, preferring that you be more involved at a specific point during the time. Coming up with visual supports and other strategies for the student to use, with minimal discussion, can be helpful in this situation.

3. Realize that, especially in the beginning, you won't necessarily feel that the same amount of personal intervention with your student has taken place. Your first priority is to build a relationship with the teacher and observe how the student's language needs are impacting his ability to do well in the classroom.  Once you have established these goals, the interventions you put in place will be more likely to be supported and used by the classroom staff even when you aren't in the room, making up for the slower start.

4. Be flexible! Working with your coworkers demands the same skill set you use to adapt the work and the flow of the therapy session for each of your students.  You have to fit yourself into the spot where they are and try to move forward together.

Do you like all of the ways you have to work collaboratively with others? What is your least favorite?

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