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Category Archives: Speech Therapy Motivation

This Is a Reminder That Speech Therapy Is in Your DNA

This Is a Reminder That Speech Therapy Is in Your DNA

Some school-based speech-language pathologists work in school districts that have a large amount of money allocated to speech therapy materials. These are the districts that give each clinician a yearly spending budget in order to purchase new materials. I’d imagine that this budget, no matter how big or small, often invokes a feeling comparable to winning the lottery. “OMG, I just won $100 speech therapy dollars from this speech therapy slot machine! Sweet! I can’t wait to buy some new materials that I know all my kiddos will adore!”

And then there are those school districts that don’t have spending budgets.

These are the districts that don’t have extra funds to distribute to their clinicians. SLPs who work in these types of environments are forced to spend a large amount of their own personal finances in order to have a speech therapy room that’s filled with materials that are both fun and functional.

Which type of school district are you a part of?

Sadly, my colleagues and I have noticed that more and more school districts are shrinking their budgets (or even eliminating them). It isn’t too uncommon to hear administrators say, “There just isn’t enough money right now.” So, it wouldn’t be to crazy to think that a majority of clinicians are currently in the situation where they believe that some of their speech therapy materials are lacking or outdated. They wish they had the hot, new tech thing everyone is talking about. They wish they had an iPad filled with all of those cool apps everyone keeps talking about. So on and so forth.

If you’re in that boat, don’t worry.

If you find yourself frustrated because you don’t have that sizable and impressive budget like the other SLPs have a few towns over from you, don’t let it get you down. I wanted to write this post specifically to you to remind you that you don’t need that fancy budget or those fancy materials because you’re an awesome SLP. You really are.

And awesome SLPs are magical, with or without that stuff.

LeBron James is arguably one of the best basketball players and even if he wore basketball sneakers covered with holes, he would still rock because basketball is in his DNA. Miles Davis was arguably one of the best jazz musicians and even if he played a beat up trumpet with cracks all over it, we would still rock because jazz was in his DNA. And you, you’re arguably one of the best SLPs out there and even if you don’t have the newest materials or an iPad or whatever, you still rock because those things DON’T make you awesome, your brain does.

Being an SLP is in your DNA!

Speech therapy is your jam. You get speech therapy. Sure, all those bright and flashy materials are nice to have, but they are never a necessity. What is a necessity is you. You and your knowledge. You and your thought processes. You and your ability to solve complex problems that relate to communication. You and your ability to build rapport with your students, their parents, and their classroom teachers. You and your natural way of motivating each youngster on your caseload that they are destined for big things. You. You and your brain. You and your DNA.

In closing . . .

I love flashy speech therapy materials and iPads just as much as the next person, but let me go on record as saying that none of that stuff can hold a candle to you. It’s never about the vehicle. It’s always about the driver. You’re a magical SLP and your school district just wouldn’t be the same without you. Thank you for all that you do. The next time I see you, coffee is on me. 😉

A Speech-Language Pathologist Wears Many Hats

A Speech-Language Pathologist Wears Many Hats

There are just so many things I love about the field of speech-language pathology. I adore the smiles and laughter that come from my students, I simply can’t get enough of collaborating with parents and teachers, and I truly enjoy pushing my brain to the limits to come up with the best and most unique speech therapy ideas out there.

But ya know what else I love?

I love the fact that, as a school-based speech-language pathologist, I get to wear so many different hats!

Different hats?! Huh?!

For sure! Think about it. As an expert in communication, I’m not just another body in the building. I’m so much more than that. I’m a potpourri of sorts. A delicate mixture of all the right ingredients that enable me to help all children to grow as confident and effective communicators. SLPs are a rare breed, and below I have attempted to describe a pair of my favorite hats that I find myself wearing almost every single day.

My stand-up comedian hat!

The most effective educators are the ones that make it a priority to bring humor into the speech therapy room whenever possible. Now, of course I know that humor is subjective, but when I preach that we all should try to be a little more funny while teaching, I’m simply encouraging everyone to not be afraid to look like a goof ball, here and there. For example, I often show my students embarrassing pictures of myself when I was in elementary school. I’m the first one to joke about my crazy hair and my uncool clothing (haha!). With this comedic attempt to share my past with my students while teaching them, we all share a chuckle and those giggles usually transition perfectly into the day’s lesson. I believe that my comedic attempts help to make my speech therapy room a more interesting and relaxing environment. And that totally increases my students’ motivation. So do me a favor, rock your stand-up comedian hat with pride because you sure are one FUNNY SLP!

My game show host hat!

I recently came across an article online that was titled The Top 5 Things that Every Game Show Host Needs To Do. It really struck a cord with me and I couldn’t help but notice just how many similarities there were between the role of a game show host and the role of an SLP. As mentioned in the article, “a game show host single-handedly has the ability to make or break a game show by controlling the experience of each participant or audience member. The host controls a game show’s rules, pacing, audience involvement, and more.” Doesn’t that sound familiar? Just replace the words ‘game show’ with ‘speech therapy session’ and replace the words ‘participants’ with ‘students.’ SLPs can create a fantastic experience within the speech therapy room by remembering to explain every single piece that pertains to the lesson, recapping to make sure everyone is up-to-speed with everything, and by making sure that every person is involved in the session, even if it’s not that specific person’s turn to answer. So do me a favor, rock your game show host hat with pride because you sure are one SPECTACULAR SLP!

And there’s even MORE hats!

By no means do I consider this post to be an all encompassing list of hats that I wear. It’s just a short list that begins to make mention of my personal favorites. Can you think of some other hats that YOU wear? Perhaps a coach hat? (Your pep talks might be the best!) Or maybe an artist hat? (Your art activities might be pure magic!) Or maybe even a police hat? (Like that one time that you broke up that fight in the middle of the hallway! Haha!)

In closing . . .

Either way, regardless of your hat or when you wear it, one thing is certain: we SLPs are special messengers. We carry valuable knowledge and deliver those precious gifts to the minds and hearts of our students. As SLPs, we posses a vast amount of information that allows us to successfully connect with our students in order to appropriately diagnosis and treat a variety of speech, voice, and language difficulties. We truly understand that teaching our students to shine as communicators is one of the most rewarding missions that we could ever be a part of. So do me a favor, rock any and all of your hats because you sure are one TERRIFIC SLP!

4 Questions to Help You Continue to Grow as a Speech-Language Pathologist

4 Questions to Help You Continue to Grow as a Speech-Language Pathologist

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! 😉

3 Things Great Speech-Language Pathologists Never Do

3 Things Great Speech-Language Pathologists Never Do

I’m one of the luckiest speech-language pathologists out there because I have some of the best colleagues. These clinicians, who I very affectionately call my friends, possess marvelous qualities that make them stand out amongst the crowd. They truly shine, but not necessarily because of what they DO do, but because of what they DON’T do. That sentence might sound a bit confusing, but bear with me; it’ll make sense once you keep reading. Here’s a collection of 3 things that great SLPs never do. It’s my hope that by highlighting the things they NEVER do, you will have the opportunity to evaluate yourself in a helpful manner that will allow you to stay on track towards becoming the best possible SLP that YOU can be.

1. Great SLPs never hide their mistakes.

The most effective SLPs will always be the first to tell you about the past speech therapy mistakes that they’ve made. They never try to hide their mistakes by acting as if they’ve never made errors before. Once a great SLP realizes that a mistake has been made, he/she takes full responsibility for their action or decision, corrects their error, embraces that learning experience, and then confidently moves on.

2. Great SLPs never resist learning new things.

The most effective of SLPs will always be the first to exclaim that they’re life-long learners who simply can’t get enough of new knowledge. They don’t believe in only “doing it the old way,” they actively seek out new approaches and ideas that could potentially change the lives of those that they work together with. These great clinicians understand that by taking the opportunity to learn new things, they’re showing those around them that they wish to keep growing as communication professionals.

3. Great SLPs never avoid seeking help.

The most effective of SLPs will always be the first to ask for help or seek out advice if he/she seems to be stuck. They don’t feel as if they’re failures when they search for support because they recognize that asking for help is a sign of educational maturity and it shows a clear commitment to the field of speech-language pathology. They want to be the best that they can be, so they never hesitate to reach out to a colleague to set up a brain storming session in hopes of better understanding the given problem.

In closing . . .

Great SLPs were not born great. Like everyone, they’ve had their fair share of ups and downs, but they keep moving forward; never falling behind. It takes a lot of learning, mistake making, and support to become great. So go on, keep makin’ mistakes, keep learnin’ new stuff, and always remember to ask for help whenever you feel you need it. Because, that’s exactly how you become a great SLP. Cool? Cool!