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The Number One Personal Quality of a Speech-Language Pathologist

As the summer season fades away and autumn starts to tiptoe up to our front steps, most of us lovingly welcome the seasonal transition because autumn brings many lovely things with it. From pumpkin-flavored things to Halloween-themed things, this time of the year is a favorite time for many individuals (myself included!).

Ah-choo!

Oh, and sometimes with the change in seasons, you might also find yourself getting a bit sick. Did you know that October is officially the kick-off month of the flu season in the United States?

Visiting with doctors.

The chances that you might get a bit sick with the sniffles during this time of the year are pretty high. And the chances that you might visit a doctor to help you with your sniffles; that’s pretty high, too.

Personal qualities of a health care provider.

As a speech-language pathologist, I can’t help but notice that sometimes doctors don’t have the best “bedside manners.” Sometimes when I have the sniffles and I visit a doctor, sometimes they aren’t as warm as I’d hope they’d be. And let me be clear, not all doctors are like this, but some certainly are so it forces me to think about interactions, as a whole. The ways that we, as health care providers, interact with our clients are important to think about because our chosen approach and attitude to interacting can (and does) set the stage for improved/effective care and client satisfaction.

SLP personal qualities.

As I mentioned in the video portion of this blog post, my friends and I recently got into a great discussion about what’s the one personal quality that every SLP should have, in order to be the best clinician who provides the best services? Maybe it’s being encouraging when we interact with our clients. Maybe it’s being patient during these interactions. Maybe it’s being appropriately humorous. How about being self-aware? Imaginative? Empathetic?

Which one is THE ONE?

The answer to that question is quite simple: there isn’t an answer because there isn’t a magical ONE. If we want to think about our SLP “bedside manners” and how we interact with our clients, we need to fully understand that, in regards to the aforementioned personal qualities, we need to have a combination of all of those, and more, if we hope to be the best clinician who provides the best services.

Think about your personal qualities.

For anyone that knows me, ya’ll know that I’m all about reflecting. I’m all about taking an honest look at myself, as a clinician, to evaluate how I’m doing. When I do these self-evaluations on myself, I always come across some aspects that I know I can improve upon. During my most recent self-evaluation, I came to the realization that I could afford to be more organized because my organization isn’t as strong as it could be. Organization and the act of being organized, that’s a legitimate personal quality and it’s one that I want to improve. I want to be more organized (particularly with my therapy filing cabinet and my whole filing system) because I know it will set the stage for improved/effective care and client satisfaction when I interact with my clients.

Find the colleagues that are doing it right and mirror what they’re doing!

Maureen Wilson is a good friend of mine and I’ve learned so much from her over the past few years. The moment that I said to myself, “Yo! Erik! You need to improve your organization . . .” Maureen was the first person I thought of. She’s an SLP organization champion – as evidenced by some of her more recent blog posts like I Heart Organization, How Do I Make A Speech Therapy Schedule, and What You Should Be Bringing To An IEP Meeting. So since reading the blog posts that I’ve just mentioned, I’ve adopted some of her ideas into my world and I’ve totally been reaping the benefits from the new organized me!

You can improve your personal qualities if you want to.

I’ve come across a lot of people in my day say things like, “Oh, personal qualities are so deeply engrained in you that they’re all pretty set in stone.” Well, I respectfully disagree with that notion. Humans can change if they want to. If you’re a doctor that doesn’t have the best “bedside manners,” you can work on empathy and other aspects that relate to “bedside manners.” And if you’re an SLP who feels he’s a bit unorganized, you can absolutely work on organization. All personal qualities can be improved; you just have to want to improve.

In closing . . .

As an SLP, what personal qualities do you want to work on so that you keep on growing as a clinician? Maybe you want to work on some of your “bedside manners?” Or perhaps you want to work on being more organized? The sky is the limit with you, so let’s make sure we keep on having conversations with on another that encourage clinical growth. Cool? Cool!

The Number One Personal Quality of a Speech-Language Pathologist

Sharing Your Travel Videos in Speech Therapy

I’m a huge fan of teaching materials that have an audio/visual component to them. Now don’t get me wrong, from a speech therapy point of view, our students relate quite well to pictures that go along with our given lessons, but if we’re able to show them some sort of video footage that coincides with their targeted goals and objectives, well that’s another story. Those moving images packed with sounds are just THAT much more engaging and THAT much more easy to comprehend. So in my opinion, videos will almost always beat out pictures and that’s why I try to utilize videos as much as possible within my speech therapy room.

You know I’ve written about videos before, right?

In the past, I’ve confessed how much I adore using YouTube videos in speech therapy and I’ve even went one step further with giving big props to THE BEST website out there that features an impressive library of child-friendly videos that are absolutely ideal for us speech-language pathologists to show our students who have various expressive and receptive language difficulties.

Let’s take a moment to chat about travel videos, shall we?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret about me; I love to travel. If you were to ask me what was the one thing that I simply couldn’t live without, my answer would be travel. Traveling really resonates with my soul because it feeds me new and wonderful experiences. So when I travel, I’m always armed with my trusty digital camera because it enables me to snap a few pictures in an attempt to freeze that moment in time as a remembrance. And I’ve always had a blast sharing my travel pictures with my students because pictures like that are ideal for generating robust conversation amongst students.

But what about sharing travel videos?

Here is what I’m proposing. We should take more videos with our digital cameras because, like I said, videos are just THAT much more engaging and THAT much more easy to comprehend. For example, during my recent trip to New Zealand, I got the opportunity to climb a glacier. Seriously, a real glacier! It was enormous and the pictures that I took were pure art. Yes, I will be sharing those pictures with my students, but I will also be sharing the little video clip that I took which is featured on this very blog post. Because I’m able to move my digital camera to pan around the location, I believe whoever watches the video clip is much better able to understand the sheer beauty of where I was and I know it also helps to generate so many more questions such as, “Glacier? What’s a glacier?”

You can personalize your videos, too!

Notice how in my glacier video, I actually announced, “Hello Woodrow Wilson Middle School!” Not only am I able to share with my students this cool video clip, but I’m also showing them that I was thinking about ’em while I was on my glacier adventure. Kiddos really dig that personalized touch and it always triggers a handful of responses like, “Whoa! Did you hear that? He just said hi to us! So cool!”

The travel videos don’t have to be extreme.

I realize that New Zealand might be a bit of a crazy example because it’s a location that’s very VERY far from New Jersey. However, you can easily share exciting travel videos that aren’t a world away from where you live. For example, if you’re driving to the beach on a warm day and your family makes a really cool sandcastle next to the water, grab some quick video footage of it and explain how the sandcastle was made. Or if you’re visiting a local park during a snowy afternoon and your family goes sledding down a hill, grab some quick video footage of that and all the fun that comes along with swooshing by on a sled!

In closing . . .

I sincerely hope that this blog post has given you a few video ideas to pursue with your digital camera. Snag your digital camera and grab some travel videos so you can share them with your kiddos today! And just so you know, you can take videos with your iPhone or really any type of smart phone these days. So come on, there really isn’t any excuse to not give this little travel video idea a shot. Thanks to phones, we now all have a video camera in the back of our pockets, so let’s start shootin’ and sharin’.

Sharing Your Travel Videos in Speech Therapy

Walking and Talking with Your Students Before and After Speech Therapy

Let me paint you a picture that illustrates how I used to typically start off my speech therapy sessions as a school-based clinician. It looked something like this: I checked the schedule to see which group was next. Once I knew which lucky little kiddos I needed to get, I would leave my speech therapy room to go pick them up. Once I had everyone, we would walk down the hallway together, en route back to my speech therapy room. We would enter the room and THEN we would begin our session.

Notice how I emphasized the word THEN?

In the past, I pretty much wouldn’t start speech therapy until we all were in the speech therapy room. No speech therapy UNTIL we entered the magical speech therapy room. It’s as if I thought that it wasn’t possible for us to work on our goals and objectives UNTIL we were sitting at the speech therapy table.

What missed opportunities!

My transition to and from the speech therapy room is usually something along the lines of 2-3 minutes. So in theory, because of the walking that my students and I do, we lose about 5 minutes of speech therapy time. In my opinion, that’s a bunch of missed opportunities where we could’ve practiced aspects of effective communication that related to our goals and objectives. So now I make it a point to start speech speech therapy the moment I see my students. ASAP!

There’s no time like the preset!

I’ve changed my routine around so that we begin working on our goals and objectives WHILE we are actually walking down the hallway WAY WAY BEFORE we even enter my speech therapy room. For example, let’s say you have a student and he’s working on perfecting the /CH/ sound. You could easily take that opportunity to say, “Hey, let’s look around the walls while we walk to see if we can find any pictures that have the /CH/ sound in it.” You might discover a poster next to the lunchroom of a boy CHEWING on food. Or a piece of student artwork of a mouse CHOMPING on some CHEESE. Ya see? There’s just so many /CH/ words that begin to show themselves to us, outside the speech therapy room, once we actively start to keep our eyes peeled for them. What a BEAUTIFUL thing!

Why should we do this OUTSIDE of the speech therapy room?

In short, it’s because we need our young learners to be able to successfully use their newly learned skills in many different locations, not just in the speech therapy room. Encouraging your students to practice their sounds while walking to and from the speech therapy room reinforces the given sounds in a new location and further helps to move the students along towards mastery.

And it’s not just for articulation!

Walking and talking is also ideal for WH questions. It’s never been easier to target aspects of WH questions by being intentional with your questions. For example, let’s say you have a student and he’s working on better understanding WH questions. You could easily take that opportunity to say, “Hey, do you see that trophy case over there? What do you think those trophies are for? Why do you think teams are given trophies? When do teams usually get trophies?” So on and so forth. The possibilities are endless once you make a conscious decision to incorporate WH questions within the students’ surroundings outside of the speech therapy room.

In closing . . .

Purposeful walking and talking with your students is where it’s at. For real. It’s educationally relevant and it also gets the students ready for the main lesson that is usually waiting for them once they enter the the speech therapy room. Nah mean? So, do you think you could benefit from this type of routine? Do you have some other ideas that relate to this one? As always, please let me know. I just LOVE hearing from each and every single one of you.

Walking and Talking with Your Students Before and After Speech Therapy

Having Some Recycling Fun in Speech Therapy with Hangers

I’m all about recycling. It’s one of the best ways that we can show our beautiful planet that we truly care about it. So that’s why I’m always on the prowl for new speech therapy materials that are both fun and are actually just repurposed items from around the home. Yup, instead of throwing out all of that junk in your closet, you very well might be able to use some of it (or all of it) within your speech therapy setting. You’d really be surprised at just how many different kinds of potential speech therapy items we all have just sitting around in our closets that don’t see the light of day. This is a post that will help you to look at those things with new eyes. Ones that can clearly see the speech therapy potential that almost any random object in your closet can have.

So what kinds of random objects are we talkin’ about?!

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve somehow collected a gigantic amount of hangers over the years. I don’t even know how the number got to be so high. It’s almost as if they’ve been multiplying each time I close the closet door. Maybe they’re quietly growing an army of hangers in an effort to capture me and take over my house! Uh no! So that’s why I needed to grab a handful of hangers (about 20 or so) and bring them into my speech therapy room. (I figured if I separated them, I would slow down their evil plans to get me! HAHA!).

Hangers in speech therapy?! Huh?!

Not too long ago, I had a group of students who were working on perfecting their /R/ sound in the final position of words. I came up with a game called Hanger Ear. The game is simple, the students have to hang as many hangers as they can from their ear WHILE they practice saying words that have the /R/ sound in the final position of words (just like the words hanger and ear). With each correct pronunciation, the student is rewarded with a hanger and that hanger needs to somehow be added to the hanger chain. Who ever has the most hangers is the winner! (See my video for a look at me demonstrating the game.)

Trying to break records is always a hoot!

Hanger Ear is easily able to be turned into a competitive game where students try their hardest to break the record. How many hangers could you have hanging from your ear? 5? 6? 7? More? It’s just another way to get students to think about their sounds WHILE they are participating in a wacky activity. It’s all in good fun.

In closing . . .

Chances are, you’ve got a bunch of hangers in your closet that aren’t doing too much. So why not recycle those hangers and convert them over to a new batch of silly and crazy speech therapy materials? And while you’re at it, be on the lookout for other things in your closet that could be converted to speech therapy materials such as old shoe boxes, old magazines, and so much more!

So, give Hanger Ear a shot and, as always, let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you.

Having Some Recycling Fun in Speech Therapy with Hangers

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