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? A school setting, a hospital or a private practice? You are a lucky SLP if you have your choice of settings, but how to decide? Think about the reasons and goals you have for choosing this field.  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. 

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 its 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 childcare.

7. Having a 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?

9 Practical Tips to an Organized Speech Room You will Love!

Do you ever feel that if you don’t have your speech room organized before students start school that the year will be a long, downhill slide? If you don't love your space, it affects your mood whenever you walk in the door.

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 practical tips to think about before you even enter the building. Going in with a plan for priorities can help you get off to a good start more quickly!

Organizing Furniture

๐Ÿ‘€ 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.

๐Ÿ‘€ Place your chair in a position where you can reach the phone (for help if needed) or door (for students who are runners) before your students can leave your room. If you don’t have a rolling desk chair, consider getting one as it makes reaching students and supplies so much easier.

๐Ÿ‘€ 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.

๐Ÿ‘€  Put your computer in a place where the students can easily see online activities from their seats or be able to pull their chairs over to it. This makes accessing online resources as part of your therapy easier.


9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!

Consider individual student needs

๐Ÿ‘€ Some students are better able to work in defined areas with boundaries. You may be able to easily rearrange one chair to a better location if you plan ahead.

๐Ÿ‘€ If your room size allows, it is great to have a single desk for kids who come individually and need boundaries. Place it where there is a wall at their back and/or side and they have an undistracted view, if possible.

๐Ÿ‘€ Windows tend to be more distracting than wall decorations because of the movements you catch out of the corner of your eyes.

๐Ÿ‘€ 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.

๐Ÿ‘€ In a perfect world (LOL) there would be a rug or bean bag chair symbolizing a quiet area, with a ‘BREAK’ symbol near it, allowing you to prompt your student to request a break when they start looking stressed or begin getting up from the table.

๐Ÿ‘€ Nonverbal students with motor planning problems may need to practice using communication boards or picture exchanges with locations on the table changed. I found this out, to my chagrin, when a student could only exchange a symbol if I was sitting across from him. Real life does not have static positions!

9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!
 Organizing Materials

There are so many ways to store materials!  For my tips on how to store worksheets and TpT materials, check out this post.

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 work well.

๐Ÿ‘€ For young or easily distracted kids, a cover for the shelves is helpful to eliminate distractions and show that it is work time. Fabric, like felt or a sheet, works well as you can pull them aside to make the toys visible during reinforcement or free request time.

๐Ÿ‘€ You can also quickly place a board with symbols of the available choices on the cover for students to request the one they want. If you say, “Sure, go get it.” after the request, you can see if they are functionally discriminating the symbol system.

Bins have many uses!

๐Ÿ‘€ Keep a bin of the books, activities, and worksheets you are currently using within easy reach (on top of your short filing cabinet or in your rolling cart.

๐Ÿ‘€ If your caseload is diverse, have one bin for the younger/lower level materials and another for the older/higher level materials.

๐Ÿ‘€ This makes it easier to quickly grab what you need, 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!

Containers! I just love containers!

๐Ÿ‘€ Keep a container in easy reach with school supplies you frequently use.

๐Ÿ‘€ Use colorful seasonal boxes or containers with a fun open-ended thematic game to use as a review activity to start the next session.

๐Ÿ‘€ Put some thematic toys for younger kids or challenge activities for older kids in visible containers. Sooner or later, someone will get curious and ask about it!

๐Ÿ‘€ This makes it useful for unprompted requesting, questioning, quick language samples, checking different skills than you are currently addressing, or just for a bit of fun!

๐Ÿ‘€ Having a variety of fun thematic activities available helps pull mixed groups together! The photo shows how I did this one fall.

๐Ÿ‘€ The activities included funny apples describing cards, sorting boards to check flexibility in categorizing skills, and a describing poster that looks great on bulletin boards.

What is your best tip for organizing your speech room?

Amazing or Overwhelming Days? Tips for Taking Care of Yourself

Working with children can be amazing or overwhelming, and part of it is determined by our attitudes and preparation. Taking care of ourselves can certainly help our attitude!

Amazing & Overwhelming - It's all in a day's work for SLPs!

It is amazing when the work we do makes a big impact on the lives of our students and their families.

It can seem overwhelming when you feel a responsibility to try to be at your best for every child, every therapy session, every day because you never know when your moment of the biggest impact will be.

Our jobs can be intense because of this.  It adds to the overwhelm when the educators around us only see the small number of students and the playing that happens. But we know the truth!

Fortunately, there are steps we can take to help deal with the overwhelming aspects of our jobs. Being organized with our paperwork and speech therapy materials can help us individualize to our students’ needs and give us more time for ourselves.

Yes, ourselves! We can’t continually care for others unless we also spend a little time to care for ourselves every day to revitalize. Let’s start with ourselves since we so often don’t!

Be sure that some of your time before school starts is to take care of yourself, even if it is just 2 minutes, since a calmer, more together SLP is always an asset for an overwhelmed student!

IDEAS for Taking Care of Yourself:

๐Ÿ‘€ Sip your favorite morning beverage on your way to work while listening to some great music.

๐Ÿ‘€ Take a minute to get done whatever will bother you most later on, whether it is straightening up your desk or making sure you get to the bathroom.

๐Ÿ‘€ Connect with a friend at work for a brief update before the students pour in.

๐Ÿ‘€ Take a quick walk during the day to clear your mind when the weather is nice.

๐Ÿ‘€ Close your door and do a few stretches if the weather is not nice.

๐Ÿ‘€ Put a favorite quote on your desk to remind yourself that you can make a difference, impacting a child's life forever!

๐Ÿ‘€ Place some beautiful nature posters in a spot you can glance at and remind yourself to take some deep breaths. Free calendars are great for this!

๐Ÿ‘€ If you are lucky enough to get occasional nice notes from your students or their parents, save them! When you get one of those moments when you wonder if you are actually helping, open up that file and read one of those heartwarming letters.

Tips for taking care of yourself & organizing to help make speech therapy amazing!

TIPS for Organizing Digital Files

๐Ÿ‘€ Make folders for each month, skill or theme on your computer to help you locate what you need for planning.

๐Ÿ‘€ When you download materials, place them in the appropriate folder, even if all you can manage is a dump from your desktop at the end of the month.

๐Ÿ‘€ If you see a great idea or a downloadable freebie, take a screenshot with the URL visible and place that in the file.

๐Ÿ‘€ Rename the screenshot with information to help you locate the original idea.

๐Ÿ‘€ If you really want to be organized and use a Mac, did you know you can edit the screenshot with Preview to add the URL directly on the page?

TIPS for Organizing Paper Files

๐Ÿ‘€ Keep your original set of materials in a page protector.

๐Ÿ‘€ Write your name in the corner of the pages with a yellow highlighter so you don’t give out the page! This also comes in handy when you forget to take the page from the photocopy machine!

๐Ÿ‘€ Place the page protectors in a binder with a label of the month, skill or theme. Set it up to match the computer file you printed it from!

๐Ÿ‘€ Punch holes in laminated pages and file folder activities made from these materials in the binder.

๐Ÿ‘€ Put picture cards made from these pages in a zipper plastic bag in the same binder.

๐Ÿ‘€ If the materials don’t fit, place them in a storage container with the same label.

๐Ÿ‘€ Don’t try to do this with everything at once! Start with the new materials you download this year. Then, after you have searched to find older materials that co-ordinate, just add them to the file.

๐Ÿ‘€ When your workspace gets moved, the binders and boxes will fit in a file drawer or look neat on a shelf, depending on the storage you have in your new spot.

๐Ÿ‘€ Consider just recycling everything that didn’t make it to your new storage system after a few years, since you haven’t gone looking for it anyway!

๐Ÿ‘€Be sure to download the free,editable SLP binder spines to make all of your materials easy to find!

Make your materials easy to find with these free binder labels from Looks Like Language!

What do you do to help your workdays be amazing instead of overwhelming?
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