Growth is often defined as the process of developing or maturing physically, mentally, or spiritually. I believe that we, as speech-language pathologists, should always do as much as we can to ensure that we’re continuing to experience professional growth. One of the ways that I’ve been focusing on my professional growth is by making it a habit to ask myself a slew of helpful questions. These questions act as prompts to get me in a mode of self reflection. Below, you will find 4 of my favorite questions that I really love asking myself from time to time, and I invite you to ask them to yourself, too. Let the self reflection fun begin!
1. What were some of the most recent speech therapy sessions that you can remember that went exceptionally well?
By taking a moment to actively think back to those successful sessions, you have the opportunity to dig deep to understand WHY they worked so well. Maybe you structured the activities a bit differently than you usually do? Maybe you used materials that you never used before? Once you begin to uncover WHY those sessions went perfectly and WHY your students responded so well to the given lesson, you can try to borrow bits and pieces from those successful sessions and add them to upcoming speech therapy sessions. Nice!
2. What were some of the most recent speech therapy sessions that you can remember that went . . . kinda . . . BAD?
Guess what? Even the best SLPs have bad sessions from time to time. Having a bad session doesn’t make you a bad SLP. No way. Not one bit. But what we should always do after a bad session is to try to reflect on WHY it went bad. Was it something beyond your control or could it have been something you did (or didn’t do)? Think about those moments and try to pinpoint where it went wrong. Then, make a promise to yourself that you will not let that happen again. It’s really that easy!
3. What paperwork did you recently find yourself spending way too much time on?
Paperwork. Ugh. It’s one of those necessary evils that we can’t get away from. However, if you take a moment to try to understand WHY a certain bit of paperwork took a long time, you might be able to come up with a plan for making it easier next time. Could you create a template? Chances are, you can. So take a few extra minutes to see if you can whip something up because I’m willing to bet that the few extra minutes used to create some sort of template, very well WILL save you HOURS in the future. Trust me!
4. How did you respond to a recent stressful situation?
As we all can agree, the SLP job is not an easy one. The high caseloads, IEP deadlines, the progress notes, so on and so forth. It can sure get tough sometimes. However, when we take the time to think about how we typically respond to stressful situations, we can begin to learn a lot about ourselves. For example, I used to get very stressed when I had a few IEPs due in a single week. I responded to this stress by making dozens of TO DO lists to help me focus on the IEPs that were due. I thought this action would eliminate my stress, but I was wrong. I’ll be honest with you, these TO DO lists would take me hours to make (seriously) and then I would begin to stress out even more after realizing that I wasted so much time on my TO DO lists! So, I was able to take a step back and I adopted a much more concise way of writing out my TO DO list. This new version only took me about 30 minutes to complete. Then, I was able to attack those IEPs, no problem. And that minor change helped me to have less stress. Phew!
In closing . . .
Don’t be afraid to not only ask yourself these questions, but ask them to your colleagues, too. You never know what wonderful words and ideas you might discover from simple questions like these. And always remember, not only does professional growth benefit us SLPs, but it also benefits our students because our services get better as we grow. (It’s a no brainer!) So let’s make it a habit to ask each other questions like these on a regular basis. Cool? Cool! 😉