Motivation, humor, and ideas that every speech-language pathologist who works with children will love!

What Motivates You as an SLP?

What Motivates You as an SLP?

Not too long ago, I had dinner with a few of my close friends who are all involved in the field of speech-language pathology. We got on the subject of motivation and more specifically, “What motivates us, as speech-language pathologists, to do great work?”

In this profession . . .

  • You don’t make millions of dollars (you make enough to live of course, but no one I know is pulling in a lawyer’s salary).
  • There is no such thing as year-end bonuses (at least not to my immediate knowledge!).
  • You don’t ever really get a promotion or a title change (you pretty much enter as an SLP and retire as an SLP).

So . . . what motivates us?

It’s obvious to me that it clearly is not any type of external motivator.

After doing some digging online, I ordered a book called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink, where the author actually debunks the power of external motivators, and expands on the intrinsic motivators that inspire us to do great work. He mentions three key points that drive creative thinkers: autonomy (self-directed work), mastery (getting better at stuff), and purpose (serving a greater vision). Super interesting information and I recommend you purchase his book.

Ah-ha moments!

There is nothing that gets me more pumped than when I notice a student’s “ah-ha” moment — when that child finally produces that sound perfectly. He looks at me and says, “Wow, I never knew I could say it that good.” Then I look at him and I say, “Pshh. I ALWAYS knew you could.” I used my creativity to put together an individualized approach to specifically target that child’s communication difficulty — and it worked. The child is smiling, I’m smiling, and for that brief moment in time, all the stars are aligned. That, in a nutshell, is what drives me. It’s a combination of the three intrinsic motivators that Daniel Pink speaks about. The work that a speech-language pathologist does is extremely purposeful and as cliche as this might sound, we truly make a huge difference.

What about you?

So with all that being said, what motivates you to be an awesome SLP? What gets YOU pumped? Why do you love this job so much?

In closing . . .

I believe it’s important for us to step back and truly think about these questions. Reflecting on these thoughts can make us even better service providers. In the end, we all want to be the best for our students because they are depending on us, and that’s what truly matters.

Why Should I Teach Handshaking in Speech Therapy? [Free Download]

Why Should I Teach Handshaking in Speech Therapy? [Free Download]

Here is one thing that I absolutely can’t stand: bad handshakes. Have you ever gotten a crummy handshake that felt like a limp, dead fish? Have you ever received a bone-crushing handshake that made you want to scream “OUCH! YOU’RE KILLING ME!”? Honestly, it’s embarrassing when an adult doesn’t know how to give a proper handshake, but here’s an interesting question to ponder:

When the heck does one even learn about handshakes?

I sure can’t remember when I was first introduced to the art of handshaking, but I owe whoever taught me BIG TIME!

We need to teach it!

So here is what I’m proposing: we speech-language pathologists need to take a few seconds out of our speech therapy session to teach all of our students (regardless of their goals and objectives) how to give a great handshake. The reason why is simple, a handshake is the most common and important form of communication on this planet! The act is used to say hello, goodbye, we agree, and as a mutual sign of goodwill and peace. A handshake can establish a first impression with someone and if a child is not able to give a well-constructed and executed handshake, he or she is not producing an effective communicative intent (and is ultimately not establishing a good first impression).

How do I add handshakes into my speech therapy?

My students know that they’re not allowed to enter my speech room until they stand at my door and give me a loud and clear greeting. In addition, directly after their greeting is complete, the students and I engage in a handshake. Sometimes I squeeze too tightly, sometimes I don’t squeeze at all, it’s up to the child to tell me what I did wrong. This action alone will turn your client into a champion handshaker in no time!

Let’s ask some questions about handshakes!

Here are some fun questions to ask your students in regards to handshakes:

  • What would happen if you tried to shake a lobster’s hand? Why?
  • What would happen if you had glue all over your hand and you tried to shake your teacher’s hand? Why?
  • What would happen if you had honey all over your hand and you tried to shake a hungry bear’s hand? Why?

In addition, I created a FREE coloring sheet for you and your students to work on while engaging in a conversation about handshakes. Click HERE to download it.

Remember, age doesn’t matter!

From preschoolers through 5th graders and beyond, it’s NEVER too early to talk about handshakes.

In closing . . .

I hope you will think of this blog post the next time someone shakes your hand. Please do me a favor and teach your speech students the importance of becoming a wonderful handshaker. Let me know how it goes and I look forward to shaking YOUR hand sometime soon (unless you are a lobster, of course, haha!).

5 Reasons Why Having a Real Snake in Speech Therapy Would Be Awesome

5 Reasons Why Having a Real Snake in Speech Therapy Would Be Awesome

If you are a speech-language pathologist, I’m sure you would agree with me that you almost always say (out of pure habit), “Great snake sound!” when you are working with children to help improve their /S/ pronunciation. It only makes sense that we automatically associate the hissing sound a snake makes with the /S/ sound that we humans make; but here is a question to ponder . . . what if we actually brought a REAL snake into the speech therapy room?

Would it be awesome?!

Below you will find 5 reasons that lead me to believe that it would be pretty amazing to have a living, breathing, and slithering reptile on top of the speech therapy table.

1. Perfect sound!

It goes without saying, a real snake is probably the best role model for children who are working to solidify their /S/ sound. The perfect /S/ hissing noise that snakes make is music to any SLP’s ears. (The only con I can think of is a real snake might bite someone. Is that really a big deal, though? I do have band-aids in my desk.)

2. Perfect shape!

A snake’s body could easily be manipulated and molded into the perfect “S” shape, further proving that a snake is probably the best role model for children who are working to create rockin’ /S/ sounds. (Once again though, a con is that the real snake might bite someone and I’m not 100% sure a band-aid to a snake bite would “fix” the situation.)

3. Perfect attention!

Some of my students are disinterested in speech class, but I’m willing to bet that giving them the opportunity to hold or pet a real snake might prove to be an excellent reinforcer. (Eeek! I just read online that some snakes are poisonous . . . this might be a bad idea!)

4. Perfect prize!

Occasionally, I will forget to restock my prize box. I could easily just throw a real snake into the prize box, right? I’m sure the student would love to take it home! I’m positive that I would be crowned “the coolest speech teacher ever” by that child! (Oh no, but what if the student has a pet mouse at home? Do you think the snake might accidentally swallow the mouse?!)

5. Ummmmm . . .

Actually, I’m just going to stop this list right now. It seems clear to me that having a real snake in speech therapy is a horrible (and dangerous) idea, and besides, my supervisor HATES snakes.

Wait, my supervisor hates snakes?!

Hmmm . . . maybe I can somehow use the snake to get out of all that CRAZY paperwork I’m told I have to do. Or maybe I can use the snake to get out of a few of those BORING after school faculty meetings. Suddenly, this whole “snake idea” might not be so bad after all. LOL!!!

Why Should I Use Baby Pictures in Speech Therapy?

Why Should I Use Baby Pictures in Speech Therapy?

As a proud speech-language pathologist, I fully understand the importance of words and how they summarize everything we need to effectively express ourselves. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I’m absolutely IN LOVE with words, so it goes without saying, I’m also IN LOVE with pictures. I feel it’s important for our speech students to reflect on their own communication humble beginnings so they can see how far they’ve come (because trust me, they have come a LONG way!). A perfect way to do this is to use baby photos of yourself and your students as a speech therapy material.

A super important homework assignment

One key question that I enjoy asking my elementary school-aged clients is, “Do you remember what your very first word was?” The most typical response I get is a very puzzled face. Most of my students don’t have a clue, so I take that opportunity to assign a super simple (but super important) homework assignment: “When you go home, you have to ask your parents what your first word was and also ask if you can borrow a couple of baby pictures to bring to speech class.”

I used to be little, too! Cool, huh?

After the homework has been assigned, I then whip out a picture of a young curly-haired boy holding onto a Curious George stuffed monkey. “Who is that a picture of?” my students inquire. I proudly announce to them that it’s a photo of ME as a preschool student! Every time I do this, the speech room usually starts to fill with tons of skepticism, but I assure them that Mr. Raj never tells a lie. I tell them about how much I adored that stuffed monkey, how I would carry him everywhere I went, and that my very first word EVER was, “monkey.”

Questions to ask your students

You can use the following questions to get your speech students chattin’ and thinkin’ about THEIR first words.

  • What do you think was the first word you ever said? (Make sure to write it down to see if they were correct when they actually bring in their answer.)
  • How do you think your parents felt when they heard that you were able to talk? Why do you think they felt that way?
  • Why do you think it’s important for children to learn how to talk?
  • What do you think was the first word you said this morning? Who did you say it to?
  • What is the one word that you can’t live without? Why do you like that word so much?

In closing . . .

Just as we can visually see in a picture how tall a child grows with age, it’s equally amazing to hear a child’s vocabulary grow with age, too. Words, both written and spoken, are the building blocks of language and it’s crucial that our students understand the beautiful gift that they have. Give this speech therapy activity a try and let me know how it goes. I look forward to hearing from you!

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