Showing posts with label SLP life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SLP life. Show all posts

9 Reasons to Consider Working in a School Setting

Where to work? You are a lucky SLP if you have your choice of settings, but how to decide? I can weigh in on what I’ve learned from working in a school setting, although that was not my first choice.

I had always thought that I would work in a hospital setting since in the 80’s school SLPs were looked on as people who corrected lisps and /r/. After my clinical placement at Johns Hopkins Kennedy Krieger Institute, it was my dream to work there. But jobs weren’t available there and a school system wanted to hire me. Nothing like student loans and a need to eat to get you taking any job offered!

So, I started in the schools. Time for a disclaimer: An offer to write a blog post came to me from Therapy Travelers to receive money for writing about why to work in the school system. I usually don’t accept these offers, but the thought kept going through my mind- why did I stay in school systems all those years?

So, here are my reasons. Two people who respond with their reason will be chosen randomly to receive a $10 TpT gift card!

Why work in a school setting? 9 reasons to consider it!

Why work in a school setting?


1. After working in 13 different schools, I can tell you that each school has their own culture.  If one building is not a good fit for you, that doesn’t mean that you won’t love working in a different one!

2. You get to work with a wide variety of problem areas and severity levels in a school system. It’s not just /l/, /s/and/r/ anymore!

3. It is a great way to solidify your skills at treating various speech/language disorders in children as a new clinician and possibly using pre-existing IEP paperwork.

4. You can learn a lot over the years by observing special educators and having a chance to talk over problem behaviors with the other members of your student’s related service team even if you are the only SLP in the school.

5. While people mistakenly think that working in a school is a 9 to 3 job, you often have the flexibility of putting in the extra hours for planning and paperwork from home, which is great if you have a family.

6. If you have children, it is very helpful to often have overlapping school day hours and vacations to help reduce the need for child care.

7. Having the steady income and benefits from a school system is a plus, although changes in student population can affect your job even after working in a school for many years.

8. Working in a school broadens your horizons and increases your flexibility. You can make many decisions about your treatment plans, but a variety of factors are out of your control, so you learn to cope. You get exposed to a wider variety of cultures and socioeconomic levels than you would if you only work with private clients whose parents can afford therapy. It helps you learn what a diversified country we live in!


9. While working in 3 different school systems over the years was often hectic, it was never boring!

And if you try it and don’t like it, you can always change your mind later and step out into the world of private therapy, keeping your income steady as you build a client base. For me, working in school systems provided a much more interesting career than I ever imagined as a newly graduated therapist. 

What is your reason for working in the school setting?

Two lucky people who respond will each win a $10 TpT gift card!

The Worst Speech Rooms Ever! Plus Organization Tips for SLPs


Sharing our ideas makes us stronger, so I reached out to challenge my readers this month to get some of their best tips (and Worst Rooms Ever stories)  to help us get started on the right foot this year! If you want more tips, check out this blog post!

TIPS


Tatiana shares to be sure to have highlighters for color coding and lots of post it notes!
Annie says that she makes back to school less overwhelming by spending 5-10 minutes prepping every day during the summer.
Ashley devised a spreadsheet for her caseload including minutes, goals and IEP dates to be sure that no one is missed when she schedules. Another bonus is that the info is easy to share!
Kate responded, “My organization tip is to START EARLY. The time you spend at the end of May pre-organizing for fall is so worth it! Stock depleted forms, update data sheets, double check your roster and assessment log.”

Thanks for the great tips, as all of these ideas are helpful, but Annie is the contest winner for pure dedication! Congratulations!

THERAPY ROOMS

Having a space that is organized, pretty and functional can make work life so much better! A few of my readers sent pictures of their spaces. You can see their photos, plus more tips, on my Pinterest board SLP & SPED: Organization. If you have a photo to share, email me to be considered for adding to my board!

Organize Your SLP Space ! Plus the worst Therapy Rooms Ever!
Kate is excited to share her beautiful, new therapy room. After being in schools and dealing with whatever room she was assigned to, she now has her own gorgeous space. All of us with school experience understand why she is so thrilled!

Annie has a beautiful and functional bulletin board, which we all love! Check out this set which has beautiful strategy posters that make great bulletin boards!

Kim is still in a school, but she painted her desk to give it a bright and cheery look!

Taking a little time to make your therapy space your own is so important! Walking in to work with something that makes you smile is the best way to start the day. And, if you are comfortable in your space, you will foster interactions with your students that help them feel comfortable there, too.

Kate, your office space is beautiful! You are the winner of the contest and get a packet from me to use in your gorgeous room!

Tell your worst room ever story at Looks Like Language!

THE WORST SPACE EVER!


With our small groups, it seems that SLPs are often the last to get a space to work in a school (and often the worst!)

I invited my readers to share their worst space ever, and these are the responses. (One of the situations is mine!)

Be sure to share your WORST ROOM EVER story in the comments!



  1. My Worst Room Ever was what we dubbed "the Cage."  It was in the basement of the building, and was literally "cage" material that cut it off from the rest of the area.  I shared it with the band/instrument instructor and was constantly having to move all the music stands out of the way on the two days I was there.  There wasn't anywhere to hang pictures or make it more comfortable and a friendly atmosphere for my students.  Luckily I was only there for a semester when another room opened up for my use.                                             
  2. When I was student teaching, once/week we saw students in the custodian's closet, complete with the mop in the rolling bucket or water....and the SMELL!!  At another school, while I was student teaching, we saw students on the stage with the curtains closed but in the rest of the room, the BAND was practicing!!!
  3. More recently, I worked in an Early Learning Center.  I could see students in a room with 8 SLP's desks.  Multiple therapy sessions went on at the same time, teachers came in and out of the room to talk with the SLPs, parents came in, administrators, etc. Or my other choice was to see students at a table in the hallway outside the bathroom and a classroom for early childhood autistic students.
  4. I went to a new school where the principal hated speech paths. He took me to a boy’s bathroom that was IN USE! Really? When I said no thanks, he then led me to a dentist office where there was a dental chair and room to walk around it. Needless to say, I found my own space that year, which was on the floor of a stairway landing.
  5. Worst room experience - when I had to work on the stage at the elementary school while PE was happening in the gym  - only thing separating us was the stage curtain.  I had a very hard time trying to tell if my students were saying their sounds correctly :(
  6. Worst room for me was a previous janitors closet at a middle school. Still had water fixtures exposed, no windows, barely fit 3 students. However, if there would have been a tornado, I would have been set!
  7. I’ve been pretty lucky with rooms, but my first speech room consistently had roaches and roach poop in it :/
  8. Worst room was an electrical closet that could only fit my desk and a file cabinet. I had to search the school to find empty space for the actual therapy session.
These were all spaces I wouldn't want to work in, so I went to a random number generator to decide! Stefanie, congratulations! I hope you have a nice room this year to use your packet from me in!

Speech paths have been offered some pretty terrible spaces to work in! What is your WORST ROOM EVER story?

9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!


Ever feel that if you don’t have your speech therapy space organized before students start school that the year will be a long, downhill slide?
And if you have multiple schools, the effect is just magnified!

9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!
Since time is so precious at the beginning of the school year, here are some tips to think about before you even enter the building. Going in with a priority plan can help you get off to a good start more quickly!

Organizing Furniture


     1.  Seat students where they can see a bulletin board with posters of the strategies you will be teaching. It is great for helping them to use the strategies more independently over the year.

     2.  Place your chair in a position where you can can reach the phone (for help if needed) or door (for students who are runners) before your students can.

3.  Have a low file drawer, or even better, a rolling cart, within arm’s reach of where you are sitting. This is the place to keep basic supplies, log notes, books and other therapy items that you are currently using.

4.  Have your desk/table with the computer in a position where the students can easily see from the table or pull their chairs over to it. This makes accessing online resources as part of your therapy easier.

5.  Consider individual student needs. Some students are better able to work in a defined area with boundaries.

-  If your room size allows, it is great to have a single desk for these kids who come individually. Place it where there is a wall at their back and/or side and they have an undistracted view, if possible. Windows tend to be more distracting than wall decorations because of the movements you can catch out of the corner of your eye.

- If your room is small, you have boundaries built in! You just might need to give your table a push in one direction or another to make it work.

In a perfect world (LOL), there would be a rug symbolizing a quiet break area next to the work area, with a ‘BREAK’ symbol near it, allowing you to prompt your student to request a break when they get up from the table.


Organizing Materials


9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!
1. There are so many ways to store materials! 
For my tips on how to store worksheets 
and TpT materials, check out this post.

2. Shelving is the best bet for games and toys. 
If you don’t have built in classroom 
shelving, inexpensive plastic shelves that 
come apart easily for summer storage can work.

- For young or easily distracted kids, you 
might want to have something covering the shelves until work time is done. 
Felt (or a colorful sheet) work great since you 
can just pull them to make the toys visible 
when it is request time.

3. Bins have many uses!

- If you do thematic therapy, try keeping a bin of books, activities and worksheets at varied levels within easy reach (on top of your short filing cabinet or in your rolling cart.)

- This makes it easier to quickly grab what you need and to adjust activities for mixed levels or add a quick activity to end the session.

9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!
    4. Containers! I just love containers!

    - Keep a container of some sort in easy reach with school supplies you frequently use.

    - Use colorful seasonal boxes, or containers to match your theme, to keep a review activity in to start the next session. You can even use felt shapes to match your theme!

9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!
Even better, put some thematic toys for younger kids, or challenge activities 
      for older kids, in the box for 
      unprompted language samples. 

Sooner or later, someone will get curious 
and ask about it!

The photos show some of the types of activities I'd have available for my 
      themes. 

Even if the levels and language skills are different, having a variety of fun activities on a theme helps pull mixed groups together!

The funny apple pictures and sorting board are from the Apple Activities set at my store. It includes describing puzzles, mazes and homework worksheets, too! 

The describing apples poster is a bonus freebie that comes with the Fall Language Skills Bundle. After you have taught the skills, it is great to hang on a bulletin board!

Your Organization Ideas


I’m reaching out to my newsletter followers this fall to share your ideas with us!

We work in so many different physical conditions and with such varied student populations, no one person could come up with solutions for everyone!

So, be sure to open your newsletter to get the contest details. A lucky someone will get a free set from my store to get their year off to a good start!

What? You aren’t following me? That is easy peasy to fix. Just sign up with the pop-up box. (Yes, I hate them, too, but they do make it easy!)

Next time, I’ll be sharing your suggestions and we will vote for the WORST EVER ROOM story!

Enjoy! 
Linda

Organization Help for Back to School!

Getting started can be stressful, what with scheduling, new students, new IEP goals and just generally too much to do. Being organized does help reduce stress. I can help you with that!

Giveaway! September 2017 at Looks Like Language
Every Friday in September, I will randomly choose 2 winners to receive a binder with 25 page protectors, multiple data sheets to try out, and a surprise! All you have to do to get a chance is sign up on the bar at the top of the page.

Congratulations to Freya and Shane, this week's winners!

Want some tips for various ways to collect data? Check out this post. It has links to lots of free data sheets, as well.  Read some tips for assessing baseline skills to determine therapy goals here.

Need an easy way to neatly label your binders? Grab this freebie!

Start collecting data with students who have autism with some help from the Getting Started with Autism Guide.

How about some conversation help? Many find taking data for these goals tricky, but you can Get Started with Conversation Skills.

LOOK FOR THIS!
Don't forget to sign up for a chance at winning a binder with data sheets, page protectors, and a surprise!

When Grief Strikes- 9 Tips for Helping Children

My heart was breaking with grief as all of the signs began to add up that something was terribly wrong with my little girl: startling at every little sound, being too floppy to learn to sit, crying inconsolably, gaining skills and then losing them.

The long, drawn out, terrifying wait during series of doctor’s visits and hospital stays to find out what the problem was. The slowly diminishing loss of hope that she would ever be okay.

When my son was just about to enter kindergarten, my daughter was diagnosed with a fatal, degenerative genetic disease. While I was trying to cope with my grief, watching my one year old deteriorate until she didn’t recognize me any more, I was also trying to keep my bright, inquisitive 5 year old feeling safe and growing up as normally as possible.

It was a very long, unimaginably difficult 3 years watching my daughter slowly go into a comatose state until she passed, while still working and attempting to keep a normal home life for my son.

What SLPs can do when their students are in tough times.
Whether you are dealing with a personal tragedy, going through having a child diagnosed, or dealing with the after effects of massive storms or terrorist attacks, the world just doesn’t seem as safe anymore.
If we feel this as adults, how does it affect the children we work with? 


What did I learn that can be helpful to you?


1. Be sure to keep your young child’s comfort toy, blanket or security item with you. This is a good parenting tip even when your life is calm!

2. Young children get their sense of security from the adults around them. The better you are at accepting the changes and keeping as much of their routines intact, the more likely children will continue to feel secure.

3.  Children do not grieve the way adults do. They can be playing, seemingly happily, and then run to you for comfort or to ask a question. Remember their attention spans are short, so answer questions briefly and factually.

When they have received the information they were looking for, or the hug they needed, they will run back to whatever they were doing as if it had never happened. If you see your child’s eyes glaze over or they start to fidget, they are telling you, "Too much!"  So give the important information first!

4. If you are having problems coping, your child will, too. This is totally understandable when dealing with major issues. Just be sure to reach out and get help for yourself when you need it.

What about if you are working in the schools with children affected by drastic  events?


1. You are part of their safety net, so try to keep your school routines as close to usual as possible. When you can, laugh over the minor things you are having to do to cope with changed circumstances. Laughter is needed!

2. Listen and respond calmly and factually when students ask a question or bring up a difficult topic. If they go back to work right after, then you have met their need at the moment.

3. It is okay to respond that you don’t know, but you will try to find out for them.

4. It is okay to just acknowledge how difficult this is, and how they must be feeling. Pay attention to the child's body language, facial expression and tone of voice. Then, specifically label the emotion that they are feeling, so they have the language for it.

5. If some of your students are more withdrawn, more emotional, or just somehow not right compared to the general population, be sure to reach out to get them help. The whole family may need support to help them through this tough time.

While I wish we weren’t experiencing difficult times, I hope these tips will help you cope. And I am so very grateful to say that my son did grow up to be a wonderful adult who works helping others. I am thankful every day for my healthy children.
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