One of my most favorite things about being a school-based speech-language pathologist is that at the start of each school day, you usually get to hear some morning announcements on the loudspeaker. And those morning announcements, they’re usually done by students. For example, if you work in an elementary or middle school, you might hear a boy saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Or you might hear a girl announcing the daily lunch menu. Or maybe you might hear students announcing a rundown of what after-school activities are scheduled for that particular day. The list goes on and on with how school-settings choose to utilize their loudspeaker as an awesome provider of school-related info and happenings.
How about getting your students in on the loudspeaker fun?
Last year, I had a fantastic middle school student who loved all things related to the weather. On any given day, he would be able to tell you the expected temperatures for the week. Was it going to be sunny? Was it going to be snowy? If you needed that information, he had ya covered! This future meteorologist genuinely enjoyed sharing this type of useful news with anyone who wanted to know. So it just made sense when the idea was thrown out there to see if that student might be interested in doing a consistent weather announcement over the loudspeaker.
The youngster jumped at the opportunity!
After hashing out the details, it was decided that the student would be able to have each Friday as his very own weather announcement day. So every Friday, for about 45 to 60 seconds, he would share his weekend weather report with pure excitement and enthusiasm. It was informative, well organized, and a prime example of what successful communication looked like. Every single time he did his weather report, HE ROCKED IT!
But we started small to build up his confidence.
If you’re thinking about incorporating the school’s loudspeaker somehow into the school lives of students on your caseload, it’s important that you don’t just “throw ’em into the water without teaching ’em to swim first.” What I mean by that is, you need to start small so that your students feel comfortable. For example, months before my student got in front of the loudspeaker’s microphone, he practiced weather reports within my speech therapy room. As you know, the speech therapy room is a safe environment, and my speech therapy room at this school usually only had around three or four other people in it at a time (including myself). This smaller audience allowed our young weatherman to experiment with crafting a weather report that was filled with appropriate vocabulary and ideal vocal inflections.
As his confidence grew, so did the audience.
Once it was obvious that he was gaining confidence, I would invite other students and school personnel into the speech therapy room for a few moments to watch him as he gave his weather report. After each weather report, he was attacked with loads of smiles and high fives. With each new week, he got better and better. Thus, he was more than ready when the big day came for him to “step up on the main stage” for his loudspeaker debut.
It doesn’t just have to be weather reports.
I was talking to my friend Susan Cohen (who is a one of the coolest New Jersey SLPs around). She’s also a fan of utilizing the loudspeaker whenever possible with students on her caseload. In the past, she has collaborated with the school nurse and counselor to come up with unique themes for students on her caseload to announce to the school community over their school’s loudspeaker. From health tips to test taking tips to Better Hearing & Speech Month tips, there’s no shortage of content that could be shared during the morning announcements (especially when you collaborate with other educators within your school building).
So many goals and objectives can be targeted, too!
- Have a student working on perfecting aspects of his articulation? Loudspeaker it up!
- Have a student working on practicing specific fluency shaping or stuttering modification techniques? Loudspeaker it up!
- Have a student working on increasing her volume during speaking situations? Loudspeaker it up!
Record the loudspeaker to further the experience.
There’s nothing better than when a student has the ability to self-rate himself/herself. If you have an iPad (or an iPhone), consider recording the loudspeaker message that the student gives so you both can listen back to it during a later speech therapy session. Ask the students various questions about the recording such as, “How do you think you did?” and “What was your favorite part and why?” Questions like these could open up new ways of thinking about the attempted communication intent and could serve to further solidify whatever the students’ goals and objectives are.
In closing . . .
This loudspeaker idea isn’t for everyone. Some kiddos are quite shy, and I get it (I was VERY shy as a kiddo). But ya know what? You never know unless you throw it out there. See if some of your students might be interested in getting in front of the microphone to strut their awesome communication skills over the loudspeaker. And if you give this idea a try, please let me know how it goes. Have fun!
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