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Earlier this year, I was doing a speech-language evaluation with an 11-year-old child. One of my favorite aspects of a typical evaluation is the student interview portion that I typically do. Before I even begin any type of standardized assessment with a child, I usually start off with a few “gettin’ to know ya” warm up questions. Why? Two reasons: (1.) so I can begin to informally asses the child’s ability to use and understand language and (2.) so that I can begin to know the child’s likes/dislikes because that ultimately helps with rapport building.
Conversations about T.V.
Whenever I do student interviews with children, without fail, I always find myself asking, “What’s your favorite show on T.V.?” And in my past experiences, that question usually kicks off nice conversations about, say, a show on the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, or something along those lines.
But this child wasn’t a fan of T.V.
When I asked that particular student to share with me his favorite thing to watch on T.V., he looked at me in an eye-rolling pre-teen kind of way and stated, “Um, yeah, I don’t watch stuff on T.V. because T.V. is boring.”
“Come on, really? You mean to tell me you don’t watch ANYTHING on T.V.?” I jokingly shot back at him.
“Nope. I only watch stuff on YouTube.” Said the proud lil’ guy.
That was an opportunity for me to learn something new!
If there’s one thing I like, it’s when I discover new things from my students that I could potentially introduce into an upcoming speech-language therapy session. This YouTube aficionado, I knew I could learn about a bunch of new YouTube channels that I probably didn’t know about. He happily shared with me all of the different YouTube channels that he was a fan of. One of the channels he was gushing about was called The Slow Mo Guys. He exclaimed, “Mr. Raj, you have to check them out.” So I told him that I totally would when I got home.
Open your mouth.
As I continued on with the evaluation, I got to the oral mechanism examination portion. Because I wanted to make sure that everything oral-motor was structurally sound and adequate to support speech, I asked him to open his mouth so that I could take a peek. He opened up and as I was checking everything out with my mini flashlight, he said to me, “Ya know, Slow Mo Guys have an episode all about the uvula thing.”
Uvula?! Whoa! Cool!
I truly loved how that 11-year-old was able to connect the whole “uvula thing” to the quick oral mechanism examination that I was doing. But even more, I LOVED how when he spoke about those Slow Mo Guys, you could just see in his eyes how PUMPED he was. After asking him if that uvula episode was appropriate for school, I decided to check it out right then and there on my iPad, with him at my side. “My friend, these Slow Mo Guys, they sound beyond awesome so I don’t think I can wait until I get home to check ’em out!” I beamed.
I was impressed!
The whole gist of the talented Slow Mo Guys is that they have an amazing high-speed video camera. They use it to film something that moves quite fast – then they slow the footage down (hence the name of “The Slow Mo Guys!”). So in the case of their uvula episode, they used their video camera to film a person’s uvula as he was gargling water! Then, they slowed down the footage and it showed the uvula thrashing around in slo mo while the silly Slo Mo Guys provided some hilarious commentary about how weird it looked! From a speech-language pathologist’s point of view, it was SO RAD to see that uvula moving around like that! And the student in front of me, I could tell that he was SUPER excited because he saw how SUPER excited I was. It was a wonderful experience and it really helped to pave the way for a successful evaluation.
Don’t be afraid to learn about new things from your students.
As I write this blog post, I can’t help but think about all the other times that I’ve incorporated a Slow Mo Guys video into a therapy session over the past few months – tons of times! And it’s all thanks to that one kiddo who told me about them during an evaluation. Each time I’ve showed a Slo Mo Guys video, my students loved it and they seemed to enjoy answering my various questions about the video (all of the questions OF COURSE always connect directly to the students’ goals and objectives).
Big thanks to that student.
Here’s why I’m so jazzed: I didn’t read about the Slow Mo Guys on an SLP blog. I didn’t hear about the Slow Mo Guys from a speaker at a continuing education event. I learned about the Slow Mo Guys from a student. An 11-year-old student. I believe it’s important to emphasize that I found out about that YouTube channel from him because it goes to show that not only can we, as educators, teach youngsters, but those same youngsters can teach us, too. Through their sharing, we learn about new and exciting things. It’s crucial that we recognize the reciprocity that exists within the client-clinician relationship. It’s not symbiotic; it’s mutually beneficial. We all can learn new things from our students. Every single day. We just have to let it be known that we, as adults, want to know about new things from the children we have the privilege to be surrounded by.
In closing . . .
Do me a favor. Sometime in the next couple of weeks I would like for you to genuinely ask a few of your students this simple question: “Tell me about something that excites you that you think I might not know about.” Who knows what you might be introduced to – maybe you’ll learn about a new book, band, or maybe even a YouTube video! Then, check it out together with the student, right then and there on your iPad or computer (of course, make sure it’s appropriate for school). Be in the moment and express to the youngster how happy you are that he/she has shared that with you. Because when someone chooses to share something they like with you, it shows that the person cares for you. And on the opposite side of that coin, when you actually check out what the person likes, it shows that you value that person’s opinion. As educators, we should always be doing as much as we can to clearly communicate to our students that we value their opinions because their opinions really do matter. Am I right? 😉