All Posts By


Cover image: School based SLPs: How to get your year started off right

School Based SLPs: How to Get Your Year Started Off Right

By | SLP Tips And Tools

As summer starts to wind down for many of us (boo hoo), we begin to think about the new school year. For some of us, that means reflecting back on what went right last year and what we can do better this year. For some of us, it’s a time of excitement as we prep our new materials and decorate our rooms. For some of us, it’s a time of anxiety and uncertainty as we walk into new territory or face changes we may or may not have been expecting. If you are a new SLP, or new to the school setting, you may be feeling a lot of mixed emotions. No matter what category you fall into, I want to help you as you prepare for the new school year.

Cover image: School based SLPs: How to get your year started off right

Here are my top 10 tips for getting your school year started off right:

Preview your caseload. As soon as you are able to, print off your caseload list and look it over. Don’t just look at the number of students on your caseload, but also look at their disability codes, grade level, and service time. All caseloads are not created equal. A large caseload doesn’t always mean it’s time to panic. A small caseload does not always mean a walk in the park. Take this time to look over the list and begin to familiarize yourself with the make-up of the caseload. This will help you as you get to know the students once you start seeing them and drafting your schedule.

Scope out your therapy space. I’m not talking full decoration mode here, but it is a good idea to find your therapy space and start thinking about how you want to use it. If you actually have a room, this is a good time to start thinking about how to want to arrange it and decorate it. If you do not have a room, this is a great time to ask for one. Start looking around the building to see if there is a space that could be repurposed as a speech room. Whatever your situation is, use this time to start planning and preparing for how you will use your space to best serve your students.

Decorate your space…or not. Many SLPs enjoy decorating their space and making it their own. I’m going to be honest…I’ve never been great at décor. I always have good intentions, but it just doesn’t happen. Basically, if I don’t get it done before I start seeing students, it doesn’t happen. And that’s okay. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be the Joanna Gaines of classroom décor. But…do it if you enjoy it. Just do what makes you happy.

Organize your most used materials. If you’re at all like me, you have some materials that you use all of the time. For me, it’s my Language on the Go Bundle and a few favorite games  (Sneaky Snacky Squirrel, Zingo, Pass the Pigs Amazon affiliate links provided). I use other materials, but these are my frequent flyers…the ones I find myself grabbing most often. I like to make sure that these games and materials are easily accessible in my space, so I can grab them when I need them. If you’re a new SLP and aren’t sure which materials fall into this category, no worries. You can always rearrange as necessary.

Photo of language on the go box

Meet the teachers and staff. Sometimes SLPs tend to hide out in their own little world. We often don’t get to know anyone outside of the special education department very well at all. I want to encourage you to get out there and meet the other teachers and staff on your campus. Introduce yourself to the general ed teachers…even if you don’t have students in their classrooms. Get to know the clerks in the office, the custodians, the nurse, and the paraprofessionals. Get out to the lunch room and meet the cafeteria workers! Make your face familiar so you feel comfortable on campus and they feel comfortable having you on campus. Become a part of the team!

Set up a calendar. Having a calendar is so important in the school setting. It doesn’t have to be a paper calendar. There are so many options out there for digital calendars, too. Find something that works for you that will help you keep track of important dates and deadlines. Start out by writing down all the school holidays. This is especially important if you will be working in different districts. I typically have 4-5 different school calendars to keep track of, so I would be lost without my calendar.

view of planner and phone on desk

Plan a rough draft of IEP meetings, re-evals, and progress reports for the year. The next thing I do is map out IEP due dates and progress report dates. These dates can often seem to sneak up on you when the year gets busy, so having reminders written down in your calendar is so helpful.

Look over upcoming due dates. The first few weeks of school can sometimes get hectic. I recommend looking over your dates and noting anything that is due before October. Look at IEP meeting dates, re-evaluations, and any initial evaluations that need to be completed. Prioritize these dates and make a plan of attack to get the paperwork done. This will help so you don’t end up scrambling at midnight the night before a due date.

Learn off-limit times for providing services. Every school has times that they do not want students pulled for speech. It is so important that you find out what these times are BEFORE you start scheduling. I do my very best to schedule students during center times or intervention time whenever possible. I try very hard to stay away from PE, recess, and core subject areas. Talk to your administrators first, that way you have them on your side if scheduling gets difficult.

Create your first draft of your schedule. Yes, I said first draft. Your schedule will change throughout the year. It will most likely change a lot during the first few weeks of school. Be flexible. Do your best to group students by similar grade level/goals, but don’t be afraid to combine goals/grades if necessary. Mixed groups are pretty much a given in the school setting. Once you start seeing students and running through your schedule, you can make adjustments as necessary. There might be students that you discover do not work well together at all. It’s okay. Just communicate with teachers and revise the schedule.

The first few days (and weeks) can sometimes seem overwhelming. It is my hope that this list of tips will give you a game plan that you can make your own. My biggest advice for anyone who is new to the school setting, a new SLP, or just new to your school is to get out there and try not to feel intimidated. Be friendly, communicate with your teachers, have confidence in what you know, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Now that I’ve shared my tips, I want to hear from you. What back-to-school tip do you have to share? Leave a comment below with any tips or questions you have.

I’ll be back with more tips for the first couple of months of school in a few weeks. If you want to make sure that you get notified when I post new blog posts, resources, and freebies, click HERE to become an Insider.

Teaching Wh- Questions…Why you may be doing it all wrong

By | Language Skills, SLP Resources

Who? What? Where? When? Why? But…how?

In my experience, goals for answering wh- questions are some of the most common speech therapy goals. At any given time, I have several students with goals for answering wh- questions, and I imagine you do, too. Being able to answer wh- questions is a skill that is so necessary in both academic settings and for basic communication. Understanding the best way to actually teach this skill is where many new SLPs struggle.Blog Title: Teaching Wh Questions Why You May Be Doing It WrongWhen beginning to teach this skill, we first need to understand common language development. Children typically develop the ability to respond to who, what, and where questions first, and then when and why questions.

If a student is struggling with all 5 questions types, it’s best to start from the beginning. Otherwise, begin with the type that is appropriate for their current needs. You can determine this by giving a good informal baseline. I recommend going through at least 10 of each question type (more if you are able) to determine a starting baseline. You can determine what goal accuracy is best for your student, but I typically aim for 70%-80%. While analyzing initial baseline data, be sure to look at how the student is responding. It is important to determine if they are struggling with the vocabulary required to answer, or if they are struggling with the question form.

For example: I might show a picture of a girl holding an umbrella in the rain. I can ask, “What is the girl holding?” If the student understands the question and knows the word umbrella, they should be able to answer correctly. If they understand the question, but do not know the word umbrella, they might respond with another noun or say they don’t know. This would indicate that vocabulary might the area of concern. If the student responds with a word that is not a noun (such as girl, holding, raining, etc.) this would indicate they did not understand how to respond to the question asking WHAT.

When I teach Wh- questions, I try to remove the element of vocabulary in order to ensure that I am correctly teaching and assessing the ability to understand and answer each question type correctly. To do this, I start with pictures paired with a spoken sentence. I might show a picture of a boy wearing a hat and say, “The boy is wearing a hat. What is the boy wearing?” If necessary, I will also provide 2 picture choices for the student to choose from. To ensure that the student is understanding the question type, I will provide one picture choice for the correct answer (hat) and one picture choice that would answer a different question type (girl). Once the student is able to correctly answer with the picture choices, I will then remove the answer choices and just present the main picture, the sentence, and the question.

One struggle with teaching wh- questions is finding materials that allow for teaching of the actual question types, rather than vocabulary. Many published resources rely heavily on the student having the vocabulary knowledge to correctly answer the question. This is why I created my leveled wh- questions resource.

Image of Wh Questions Resource

This resource includes picture cards for each of the 5 types of wh- questions at varying levels of difficulty. There are visuals to help teach each type of question, cards with 2 picture choices, with no picture choices, wh- question scenes, and question lists with no pictures at all.

image of question visuals image of question cards with answer choices image of wh questions without picture choices

You can find this leveled wh- questions resource in my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking HERE. You can also get it as part of the Language on the Go Bundle by clicking HERE.

image of language on the go bundle

Do you like this post? Click below to save it to Pinterest.

Pinterest image for post

Why I Left the School Setting – An SLP’s Personal Experience

By | My SLP Story

I want to start off by saying that I absolutely LOVED working in the schools. Between being a teacher and then SLP, the majority of my adult life has been spent in a school setting. When I became an SLP, my plan was to continue to work in the school setting…always and forever. But life happens and plans change.

Blog Title: Why I Left the School Setting An SLPs Personal ExperienceThis past spring I officially resigned from my job at the special education co-op I was working for. I am not going to go into all the nitty gritty details about what led to my resignation, but there were several reasons. At the time of my resignation, I planned to find another school based position. I updated my resume and began to scour the region for SLP job listings at all of the local schools. That’s when I realized…it was not going to be easy to find another school SLP job in my area.

My area of Central Texas is pretty rural. There are many small school districts, several medium sized school districts, and just one or two large districts. Most small school districts use special education co-ops for their speech therapy services. I did not want to go from one co-op to another. I was looking for a job with an actual school district where I could be in one location. I didn’t want just any job. I wanted one that was a good fit for me as well as for the district.

Unfortunately, there just weren’t many openings. I did submit an application to one local district and was called for an interview. I thought the interview went extremely well and I was certain they would offer me the job. They didn’t. It was disappointing, but I knew it meant it wasn’t the right fit for me. I am a firm believer that God has a plan for my life and I knew in my heart that He would lead me to the right position.

As the school year began to wind down, I knew I had to get something lined up. This is when I began to explore the possibility of working in other settings.

Home health and the SNF setting were not what I wanted to do as a full-time job. I knew this from my PRN work in both settings. I have always enjoyed working with adults, but I feel the most passion and confidence in myself when I work with pediatrics. I decided to reach out to some local pediatric clinics and see what happened.

Several job offers came in! The hard part was making a decision.

Did I really want to leave the school setting?
Which clinic was the best fit for me?

After much prayer and conversations with my husband and several close friends, I finally came to a decision. I sent the email and accepted a job at a local clinic.

At the end of the school year, I said my goodbyes (possibly shed a few tears), and enjoyed my last summer off…

It’s now August and I have completed my first two training days at the clinic. I have had some anxiety about making the change, but I trust that God led me to this job for a reason.

I don’t know if I will stay in the clinic setting forever, or if I will return to the school setting someday. I have had moments where I was overwhelmed with guilt for leaving my school job, but I also know that guilt is not a reason to stay somewhere you are unhappy. I am excited about the new setting and using my teaching and school based SLP background in a new way. I know I will have several patients who receive school based speech therapy, and I look forward to working with their school SLPs to help them make great progress. As difficult as it was, I know I made the right decision for me and for my family.

I decided to share this on my blog because I know there may be other SLPs who are feeling that they may want to switch settings, but just aren’t sure. My advice to you is, do what you think is best for you and your family. Don’t let guilt or other outside pressures influence your decision. You might be a private clinic SLP looking to move to the schools. You might be a school SLP looking to get into the medical setting. You might want to try home health. Whatever it is…think about it, pray about it, and I say go for it. The variety and different settings we can work in is one of my favorite things about our field. If you don’t like the new setting, you can always go back.

**UPDATE** After 2 months in the private practice setting, I realized it wasn’t for me. I struggled with inconsistent pay due to no shows/cancellations and really missed being in the school environment. I enjoy working with students and teachers in the classroom, seeing them in a natural environment and being able to incorporate classroom materials into my therapy sessions. I found a nearby district who was hiring and I got a school based position!

If you have any questions for me, please feel free to send me an email at

Did you like this post? Click the image below to share on Pinterest.


Blog Title: Cycles Approach

Cycles Approach: Making the Most Progress in the Shortest Time

By | My Products

We’ve all been there…a new student on the caseload who is maybe 25% intelligible…if that. They have so much to say, but also so many errors. Where do we even begin? It can be overwhelming at first, but there are things you can do that will ensure your child makes excellent progress in the shortest amount of time.

First, you absolutely MUST conduct a thorough evaluation. I’m talking more than just a quick administration of the Goldman Fristoe. Make sure you have as much data and information as you can to determine the best type of treatment for your student. When I have a child who is highly unintelligible, I immediately start by looking for error patterns. It’s important to note what sounds are being deleted, distorted, or substituted. If there are substitutions, what are they? Where are the errors occurring – initial, medial, or final position? Are errors consistent across words, phrases, sentences, and conversation? Your formal assessment (i.e. Goldman Fristoe or other articulation test) will provide some data, but I recommend going beyond that. If possible, record a speech sample. You can use sound loaded articulation scenes to help with this.

Once you have a good amount of data, start looking for phonological processes in the child’s speech. These are error patterns that occur across a wide variety of words. Examples include deletion of final consonants (saying “ba” instead of “bat”), stopping of fricatives (saying /p/ instead of /f/), or gliding (saying /w/ instead of /l/). The ASHA website has a summary of different phonological processes with examples. Click HERE to see it. I also love this chart from Little Bee Speech. It’s important to note which phonological processes are still being used that should have resolved by now (according to the child’s age).

If your student is indeed demonstrating some of the phonological processes listed on these charts beyond the age that is considered typical, you know you can proceed with the cycles approach. Using the cycles approach allows your student to make faster progress than they would with traditional articulation therapy. Rather than focusing on one sound error, treatment cycles through the error patterns focusing on one phonological process at a time and cycling through the others. This allows you to work on many targets in a short amount of time. You can read more about the cycles approach on Caroline Bowen’s website by clicking HERE. She has a great list of references and information on how to implement the cycles approach.

Here are my personal tips for implementing the cycles approach (please refer back to the websites I mentioned earlier for more specific information on the cycles approach):

1. Identify the phonological processes that may be impacting intelligibility the most. Start with the earlier developing patterns and make a list of all the deficient patterns. It’s also a good idea to list which targets the child is stimulable for. This will be your road map as you work through your cycles. I usually focus on 2-3 main phonological processes at a time.

2. Keep a cheat sheet handy to help you as you go through each session. In the Cycles Approach, each session follows the same structure. Having a cheat sheet handy will help you as you get started, so you don’t miss any steps. You can download my free Cycles Session Structure handout HERE.

3. Select 4-5 target words to focus on for each session. I use the same 4-5 target words for a total of 60 minutes (either 2 30-minute sessions, or 3 20-minute sessions) before moving on to a new set of targets. For example, if a student is deleting final consonants and fronting, I may work on words with final /p/ for a total of 60 minutes, then move on to words with final /m/. I would then move on to target fronting with initial /k/ for a total of 60 minutes, then initial /g/. I would then go back to final consonants.

4. Use familiar and/or frequently occurring words. In my experience, using familiar words helps reduce the amount of time spent teaching a new word. When the child is already familiar with the target words, they tend to be able to auditorily discriminate correct vs. incorrect productions faster. This helps them as they move through their cycles. If I have to use a target word that is unfamiliar to the student, I make sure to spend sufficient time making sure they really understand the word and what it is. I also often select target words from my minimal pairs bundle. I know many SLPs do not like to mix approaches, but this set of cards provides many different target words to choose from. While working through cycles, we won’t focus on minimal pairs, but I do like to use words that are part of a minimal pair so I can use the contrast approach if needed.

5. Encourage home practice. I always include parents and teachers in my treatment. It is so important to provide parents and teachers with the list of target words a child is working on. If I see the child for 20 minutes, 3x per week, they also should be practicing the target words in between sessions. You can jot down the target words on a sticky note for parents/teachers, or send a copy of your target word cards home for them to play memory or even just drill for a couple of minutes. I also demonstrate what a short practice session might look like to show them how quick and easy it can be. The easier it is, the more likely it is going to be done.

This may sound like a lot and be a little overwhelming, but I promise, once you get going, it becomes second nature and you will see so much progress!

Be sure to check out my Phonology on the Go resource, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

Did you like this post? Be sure to pin the image below.
You can also click HERE to join our email list.


Five Reasons You Should be Using Sudoku with Your Students

By | Speech Therapy Ideas

Have you ever tried solving a sudoku puzzle? I often try, but I am not usually successful without cheating…haha. But I truly love solving puzzles and going through the process of trying to solve them.

Many of my students also enjoy solving puzzles, but often find standard number sudoku puzzles too difficult. That’s why I began creating picture sudoku puzzles to use with my students. I have sudoku puzzles for articulation, language, and book companions. My sudoku pages are great for all levels and I have even used them with students as young as 5 years old. Today, I am sharing 5 reasons why I absolutely LOVE using sudoku with my students.

1. They are highly engaging. Every time I pull out my sudoku pages, I instantly have my students’ full attention. They think the puzzles are so fun, which keeps them engaged. It doesn’t feel like work. Many of my students often ask for more…just for fun!

2. I can easily differentiate. I never have students who are on the exact same level academically. Sudoku puzzles come in a variety of difficulty levels. When I use my sudoku pages with my students, we can all be working on the same activity, but each student has a level appropriate for their ability.

3. They require no prep! Sudoku worksheets can be printed and used with absolutely no prep required. I have even have friends who have used them on the smart board as a group activity. Need to save paper? Print once and use them in sheet protectors with dry erase markers.

4. They are great for executive functioning skills. Completing a sudoku puzzle requires the ability to pay attention, self-monitor, organize and plan. When I use sudoku with my students, we are always working on these skills. It’s not just about solving the puzzle, but also learning how to focus on certain sections, use the information on the page, and think through possible solutions. The harder these pages get, the more focus and persistence is required. It’s a great way to help students learn how to work through a challenge.

5. They are so versatile. You can use sudoku pages as large group activities, with small groups, individuals, or even as homework. The opportunities are endless!

If you want to try using sudoku with your students, I have several FREE options for you to try. Click on the titles to download from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Don’t know how to do sudoku? Just start out with one of my level 1 pages and go from there. You’ll get it in no time!

FREE Articulation Sampler

FREE There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly book companion

FREE Earth Day vocabulary

If you’re looking for more sudoku options, click the following titles:

Articulation Sudoku Mega Bundle

Langauge Sudoku

Old Lady Sudoku Bundle

Like this post? Click the image below to save it to Pinterest. Want to hear more from Talkin’ with Twang? Click HERE to join our email list.

State Testing…An SLP Survival Guide

By | SLP Tips And Tools

Springtime. Blooming flowers, green leaves, rain showers, warmer temperatures (hopefully), and…standardized state testing. Oy.

In Texas, we have two major testing weeks…one in March/April and another in May. Our first round of state testing begins tomorrow (April 10) and will include 4th/5th grade as well as middle and high school students. Then in May, everyone in grades 3 and up will test.

Most school based SLPs do not have to administer state tests (though I know a few who do), but testing weeks definitely still impact us. At several of my schools, the speech therapy room is used for small group or individual test administration, so I lose my therapy space for several days. Any schedule I have been working from goes out the window due to students testing or rearranging of PE times, etc. Testing weeks are not easy for anyone, including the SLP.

But have no fear! I am here to share some testing week survival tips. Just a few things that I have found make my week(s) a little easier to deal with.

1. BE FLEXIBLE – This may be easier said than done. You may show up on Tuesday with a plan, and then show up and find out your plan needs to be scrapped due to a sudden schedule adjustment. Just roll with it and expect that last minute changes will occur. You may need to be flexible with everything from your location to how you group your students. Just roll with it and do your best.

2. GET CREATIVE – One of the biggest challenges I face during testing week is not having a therapy room to see my younger students. To this I say, ‘No problem!” I use this opportunity to get creative with where we have speech therapy. If the weather is nice, we might go outside. Can’t go outside? Try the gym or cafeteria, or another empty room. Walking the halls is probably not allowed when testing is going on, but you might be able to find another space and make it an adventure! You could also try pushing in to your students’ classrooms for the day.

3. CATCH UP ON PAPERWORK – Sometimes, testing schedules make it pretty impossible to get any kind of therapy done. This is when you can use your time to catch up on paperwork. Write IEPs, reports, or progress notes. Maybe you have Medicaid billing to catch up on…

4. GET SOME CEUs DONE – If you can’t see students, you could spend some of your day completing online CEUs. There are so many great courses offered online now and days. I am a member of (affiliate link) and can pretty much complete CEU courses whenever I want to. I hear Medbridge is also fantastic. Or check out the ASHA website or Northern Speech Services and see what they have to offer.

5. CHECK IN WITH YOUR TESTING STUDENTS – When testing is finished for the day, I always check in with my students who had to test. There is usually enough time at the end of the day to get a session in. I do not force my students to come to speech after testing all day, but many times they want to come. I always check in, see how their day went, and ask them if they want to come to speech. I also make sure to have something extra special planned if they do make it to speech.

Testing weeks are usually not fun for anyone on campus. Stress levels are high and schedules are a mess. Just try to stay positive and know that it will all soon be over. Try to be flexible and get done what you can get done. Hang in there and just be thankful that this only happens once (or twice) a year.

I’d love to hear from you. Do you have to help administer state tests? How do you handle testing weeks? Leave a comment below.

Story Champs – Why Every SLP Should Have this Resource

By | SLP Resources

Let’s get straight to the point. There are MANY different commercial products on the market for language intervention. But have you heard of Story Champs from Language Dynamic Group? I have had the privilege of using Story Champs in my speech room this year and it has been a game changer.

Story Champs is a language intervention tool that can be used by SLPs, reading intervention teachers, general education teachers, ESL teachers…pretty much anyone who works on language or narrative skills. It can be used in large groups, small groups, or one-on-one.

I have been using Story Champs with most of my students this year. We started back in September and they still love it. I use it to work on listening skills, story retell, sentence structure, vocabulary, comprehension, answering wh- questions, sequencing, articulation, and more. My students love the stories and I love that I can differentiate for each student, even within mixed groups. It’s great for grades pre-k and up and for students with a variety of disabilities and cognitive abilities.

The Story Champs kit comes with:

  • Storybook
  • Illustration Cards (digital version, too)
  • Icons
  • Games
  • Flashdrive with loads of extra printables
How I Use Story Champs:
Students are taught what each of the story icons represents – character, problem, feeling, action, ending. There are additional icons for more advanced students, including setting, plan, consequence, etc. The elements and icons are used through every story. 
I then present the story to the students using the illustration cards. As I tell the story, I place an icon on the corresponding card to help make the connection between the icon and that part of the story. 
After I tell the story, we discuss it and work on answering questions and practice vocabulary. We then review the story and each element. 
With the illustration cards and icons still on the table, we then retell the story together. I help my students as much as they need it, modeling language and vocabulary use the entire time. 
I then allow them to retell the story on their own, supporting them as necessary. Once they are ready, I remove the illustration cards and allow them to retell the story using only the icons. The final step is for them to retell the story again with no icons or illustrations. 
We always wrap up using a printable from the flash drive where they can cut and glue blackline images of the illustrations on a story board. They get to take this home with a parent letter that explains the story and has information for parents to extend the learning to the home setting. 
I have also been able to use Story Champs for large group lessons in the kindergarten classroom. Every Friday, I  led a lesson with the entire kindergarten class (my little school only has one kinder class). We went through the story, discussed the story elements, practiced listening and retelling together, and in partners. We all loved this time we shared and I was able to monitor my speech students during the activity, too. Students can then work in centers on extension activities related to the story. 
Overall Opinion:
Now that I have had the opportunity to use Story Champs, I am hooked. I absolutely love this tool and how versatile it is. I can modify the stories and the level of difficulty for each and every student. The illustrations are appropriate for all ages and really help students focus on the elements of the stories. 
Once students have a good grasp of the story elements, we work on carrying these elements into their own narratives. This is a great way to extend their learning and allows them to make personal connections with their own experiences. 
I love that I can use Story Champs with mixed groups. Students with language goals get what they need, and my students with articulation goals have the opportunity to practice their sounds. I sometimes modify names or vocabulary in the stories to add specific phonemes for articulation goals. 
The best thing about using Story Champs is that all of my students are ENGAGED and actively participating through the entire session. 
I highly recommend Story Champs to anyone who is looking for a great language intervention tool. If you have any questions about this resource, feel free to comment below or email me at You can also reach out to Language Dynamics Group. They are very helpful!
Special Offer: If you are ready to get your very own Story Champs kit, Language Dynamics Group has provided me with a discount code to share with you! Enter code LDG10MP at checkout to save 10%

5 New Things to Try in the New Year

By | SLP Tips And Tools

Another year has come and gone. It’s time to recharge and start fresh. I always enjoy seeing the end of year recaps and how everyone celebrates the new year. From end of the year count downs, to top social media posts from the previous year…and all the goals and resolutions for the new year.

I’ve never been good at setting (or keeping) new year’s goals or resolutions. I usually start out with good intentions, but somehow fall back into my same old routine sometime before January ends. 
This year, instead of making a new year’s resolution, I wanted to share 5 things that I plan to try in my speech room. You may already do some (or all) of these things, or you may not. Either way, I hope you will read and share your thoughts with me. Maybe you have some expert tips for me as I try these new things, or maybe you want to try them, too. Let me know!
1. Sensory bins
I know many SLPs are already sensory bin experts. I, unfortunately, am not. I tried using a sensory bin one time before Christmas Break and it went okay, but did not end well. The bin of rice ended up spilling in the back of my car.  I may or may not still need to vacuum up the dry rice mess.  This year, I want to give using sensory bins my full effort. I want to try using bins of different materials with all my speech groups. I know The Dabbling Speechie and Ms Gardenia’s Speech Room both have a ton of sensory bin activities to help me get started!

2. Monthly speech newsletter
When I was a teacher, I often sent home a monthly newsletter to parents. The newsletter included a recap of what we worked on the previous month and plans for the upcoming month. I also included tips and information to help parents work with their children at home. I want to improve the home-school connection by sending home a monthly speech newsletter. I think it will be a great way to keep the lines of communication open and offer tips and ideas for working on speech and skills at home. There are several editable newsletter resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, including some from Nicole Allison and Speechy Musings
3. Growth Mindset Teaching
I have seen posts and info about Growth Mindset all over the place, but I have never really looked into it with any amount of depth. This year, I want to learn more about developing a Growth Mindset and teaching my students about it, too. Badger State Speechy and Speech to the Core both have great Growth Mindset resources, and I am ordering the book (Amazon affiliate link for your convenience).

4. Literacy Based Therapy Plans
Confession time…I have had this as a goal for a while. I just have not given it my full commitment. I love the idea of literacy based therapy, and I have a ton of resources to help me get started…I just need to commit and dive in. I actually have a full membership to SLP Now that I don’t even use. Why? The SLP Now site is full of great literacy and theme based resources to help make this type of therapy easy. In the new year I plan to really dig in to all the resources I have and give this a go!

5. Step Out of My Comfort Zone
This is really one of those things that we hear often. Why is it so hard? This year, I know there will be changes in my professional life. I plan to step out of my comfort zone and explore all options available to me. It’s time to be confident and not hold back. This is necessary for me to really try items 1-4 in my list. Anything new is often uncomfortable and scary. I will not hold back. Go big or go home, right?

There you have it…5 things you must try in the new year. Are you already an expert in any of these areas? Share some tips or words encouragement with me in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!  Or, let me know if you plan to join me in trying something new in your professional life. Let’s go for it together!

Happy New Year!

SLP on a Mission…Working with Students in Honduras

By | SLP On A Mission

This is a recount of my time spent in Honduras working with students at a local school.
Click HERE to return to the main post and read more about my trip to Honduras.

The following is a recap of my experience at the Abundant Life Christian School in Gracias, Honduras. My friend, Kristi, is a missionary in Gracias, and kindergarten teacher and counselor at ALCS. Her school is a bilingual private school that serves students from K-4 through 12th grade. They do not have regular access to a speech-language pathologist, diagnostician, or special education team. Kristi has a background in special education and has noticed some needs in some of her students. For the past year, we have been communicating about the students and the need she saw for speech-language evaluations. After a year of unsuccessfully trying to connect her with a bilingual SLP who might be willing to travel to Honduras to help out, I finally decided that I would go myself.
After informing the school that I was coming, Kristi and the school administrators were able to arrange for 8 students to meet with me. I packed a bag full of Spanish and English articulation and language screeners, activities, and other resources and got set up in Kristi’s classroom. (Special thank you to Sarah Wu from Speech is Beautiful for her generous donation of resources from her TPT store)

I met with each student and their parent(s) for approximately 45 minutes. The students ranged in age from 3 years old to middle school age. Concerns ranged from articulation to severe language delay.

Through each visit, I was able to hear the concerns from the parent, interact with the student, administer screenings, and provide some tips and tools to help the students going forward. The biggest challenge I faced was knowing that almost every one of the students I met with really needed regular speech therapy services, but would be unable to receive regular services. Luckily, Kristi was eager to learn how she could help each student herself. She took detailed notes and plans to help train the classroom teachers on how to support the needs of each student.

Out of the 8 families I met with, two in particular made a lasting impact on me.

One of the boys I met was a 5 year old with Downs Syndrome. His mother brought him to the school to enroll him in kindergarten. This was unique in itself because children with disabilities are not usually accepted at this school. However, I could immediately tell that this child was more high functioning than many students with Downs Syndrome that I have worked with. His mother shared with us that she had taken him to a town 45 minutes away for PT and OT when he was younger. He made great progress and was dismissed by age 2 or 3. He never received speech therapy, but she had worked with him a lot herself at home. He had quite a few words, but could definitely still benefit from speech therapy.

I was able to give Kristi and the mother some tips and tools to help further his speech and language development. I could tell that this little boy was going to make great progress in school, especially with such a fabulous mother at home working with him. She talked to Kristi and I about how hard it was, but what a blessing her little boy was to her, and I reassured her that she was doing an AMAZING job caring for him, teaching him, and loving him. I truly feel that God chose her to be his mom because she has done everything she can to ensure he has what he needs to thrive in life. I don’t think I can fully explain what meeting this mother and son meant to me. The best thing is that he will be in Kristi’s kinder class this  year, so I will be able to see how he does throughout the school year.

The other family that stands out to me included two young children, ages 6 and 3. The 6 year old daughter was in Kristi’s class last year and really had some unique language and behavior challenges. This little girl is incredibly smart, but struggled to communicate and used a lot of echolalia. Kristi and I both suspected Autism, but in Honduras, Autism is not a diagnosis that would help a child in any way, as children with disabilities are often kept home and not enrolled in school at all, so that was not even discussed. Having Kristi as a teacher last year, this little girl really made great progress in school, but still could have benefited from speech therapy to help build her language skills. I was able to provide Kristi with some information on language development and communication to help her over the next year.

When the parents brought her to meet me, they also brought her 3 year old brother, who was going to be enrolling in the K-4 class this year. He was such a cute boy, but had almost no words at all. You can probably imagine how his behaviors were challenging due to his lack of ability to communicate. We also suspected he may have Autism, but again, did not mention that to the parents. I felt so bad talking to the parents because I could see their exhaustion and frustration. They wanted answers and I felt like I was letting them down because I could not give them any magic “fix” to help their son in that moment. With no access to speech therapy, the best I could do was give them a brief training on how they can support his language development, provide training to Kristi, and leave some resources and information on how to work with him in the school setting. I am thrilled that he will get the chance to enroll in school. I think being with peers in a structured setting will be great for him, as it was for his sister. Meeting this family was heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. I could not magically make their life any easier, but I could give them hope and tools to take home.

High school classroom at ALCS

The other students I met had needs ranging from mild articulation and language delays, to stuttering, to tongue thrust. I did what I could to train Kristi on how to support these students, and left some materials and information for her. I know these students will be in good hands, but I sure wish they could have a regular speech-language pathologist to work with.

Seeing the school and meeting these students was a great experience. Kristi and her school truly care for these students. I feel honored that God allowed me to meet them and work with them, and I will continue to pray for the students, teachers, and staff at the school.

Kristi and the other teachers will need continued support working with these students in the future. If you are interested in finding out more about how you can help Kristi and the students at her school, please email me at

Click HERE to return to the main post and read more about my trip to Honduras.

SLP on a Mission...

SLP on a Mission…Meeting Elsi

By | SLP On A Mission

This is a recount of my time in Honduras with Elsi, a little girl with a cleft palate.
Click HERE to return to the main post and read more about my trip to Honduras.

In this post I am sharing about a little girl I met in the village of Santa Elena, Honduras named Elsi.

The mission team of 61 Isaiah Ministries first met Elsi about 3 years ago. She lives in a remote village up in the mountains in Honduras. She was born with a severe cleft palate and lip. The mission team was able to to arrange for her to have surgery to have her cleft palate repaired. Due to malnutrition, in Elsi’s first surgery, doctor’s were only able to repair her lip and nose. Her family was provided with a special bottle and formula, to help her gain weight and a second surgery was scheduled.
The second surgery was initially successful. However, the parents did not follow post op feeding and care guidelines, and Elsi’s stitches ripped open. A third surgery was scheduled. The third surgery had the same results. Elsi’s parents continued to allow her to eat tortillas and chips and things, and a portion of her palate reopened.

Elsi is now 5 years old, and I had the opportunity to meet her on my visit to Santa Elena.  I already knew about Elsi when I arrived in the village, but I did not know how well she could eat or talk. When I first came across Elsi, she was happy and friendly, though very shy. She played with me a while and even opened her mouth so I could see that she does still have a hole about the size of a quarter in soft palate.

I watched Elsi eat with no trouble. I saw that, though she is small, she appears to be healthy and happy. The big thing I noticed was how little she spoke. She did have some words, though I felt that she could be speaking more at this point.

I met with Elsi’s parents in their home. They told me about Elsi’s history and even mentioned that they had another surgery scheduled for this past January, but did not make it. They said they were pleased with her progress since she is now able to eat and is beginning to speak more. The challenge I faced was trying to encourage this family to try and get her to another surgery and to follow the post-op guidelines. I explained that she would be able to speak more clearly and would be better off in the long run if they could get her palate fully repaired.

I also tried to give them some training and tips on how to work with her to build her vocabulary even now. However, in the remote villages of Honduras, school is not the same as in the bigger towns. There are no books. No television. They have limited electricity and limited running water. Elsi will attend school, but most likely only until 6th grade. There will be no speech therapy.

Before we left the village that day, some of the teenage girls from my mission team were able to spend more time with Elsi. They practiced words with her and sang with her. Elsi loves music. They also found a 9 year old cousin of Eli’s and told her to work with Elsi and teach her words.

I don’t know what Elsi’s future holds. I don’t know if she will have another surgery or not. I don’t know if her parents, cousin, or teacher will work with her. What I do know is that I did my best to give the parents some information on how to work with Elsi, and hopefully inspired them to help her as much as they can. I can also continue to pray for Elsi. Would you also pray for Elsi and the other children in world like her?

If you would like more information on Elsi or have any questions, please feel free to email me at

Click HERE to return to the main post and read more about my trip to Honduras.

SLP on a Mission…More About 61 Isaiah Ministries

By | SLP On A Mission

This post is more information about 61 Isaiah Ministries, the team I worked with on my mission trip to Honduras.
Click HERE to return to the main post and read more about my trip to Honduras.

About 6 years ago our friends, Shannon and Kristi, decided to move to Honduras to be become missionaries. They formed 61 Isaiah Ministries, packed some of their belongings, and moved with their 2 young children to Gracias, Honduras.


Shannon was previously a youth minister and Kristi was a special education teacher. Over the past 6 years, they have been able to use those skills in their ministry in Honduras. Shannon works in remote villages surrounding Gracias to help train local pastors, spread the Word, and encourage other. He also runs a Christian radio station and hunger farm where locals can come help work the farm and earn food for their family’s. Kristi is a kindergarten teacher at a bilingual school, where she also counsels students and teaches a high school class as well. Kristi has a heart for all of her students and has been a great advocate for them and their needs.

 61 Isaiah Ministries partners with churches all over Texas and the United States. Church groups travel to Gracias for days/weeks to work with Shanon, Kristi, and their team, travel to local villages and share the love of Christ with the locals. Kristi also works very hard to bring groups to help at her school. I helped provide speech and language training to her on my recent trip. She also has a group of teachers coming in October to help provide teacher training to the teachers at her school.

There are many ways to get involved with 61 Isaiah Ministries and the work they are doing in Honduras. Click HERE to visit their website and learn more.

Click HERE to return to the main post and read more about my trip to Honduras.

SLP on a Mission…How You Can Get Involved

By | SLP On A Mission

The more I have talked to other SLPs about my trip to Honduras, the more I realize that many others want to use their skills abroad, as well. There are many different ways to use your SLP skills internationally. In this post, I will share a few that I know about. Please feel free to comment below if you know of any other opportunities.
Click HERE to return to the main post and read more about my trip to Honduras.

61 Isaiah Ministries
Kristi and 61 Isaiah Ministries would love to have more SLPs, diagnosticians, teachers, and other therapists visit them in Gracias, Honduras. Krisi has a group of teachers coming in October to help train the local teachers at her school and offer classroom support. If you are interested in joining this group, or making a visit with your own group (or on your own), Kristi would love to have you. Contact me at for more information on how you can get involved with 61 Isaiah Ministries.

Operation Smile
Operation Smile is a group that works internationally to provide cleft palate repair to children. You can find out more about becoming a volunteer on one of their medical teams by clicking HERE.

Autism on the Seas
Autism on the Seas is a group that provides support staff on cruises for adults and families living with disabilites. Volunteers provide activities, supervision, and assistance to families who want to experience the excitement of cruising. You can find out more about volunteering by clicking HERE.

Local Churches and Universities
You can also check with local churches and universities to see if they have any groups planning to travel abroad for mission type work. Some do not think about having SLPs join their teams, but we can offer valuable support to schools and families with children and adults with disabilities.

What other SLP volunteer opportunities do you know about? Comment below!

Click HERE to return to the main post and read more about my trip to Honduras.

SLP on a Mission…A Look at my Trip to Honduras

By | SLP On A Mission

Life is full of adventures and experiences that we often do not expect. This summer, I had one such experience when I decided to join my church on a week long mission trip to Honduras. This was definitely not something I planned to do, or even really wanted to do at first…but I finally stopped resisting God’s call and decided to go. The following is a recount of my experience during the week, and how I used my unique skills as a speech-language pathologist to serve in Honduras. I hope by sharing, other SLPs and educators will be inspired to find ways they can volunteer their skills around the world.

My week in Honduras was packed full of experiences. I want to share all of them, but I understand that it would be a VERY long blog post…
To help organize my thoughts and allow readers to navigate the information easier, I have written separate posts for different parts of the trip. Click on each picture to navigate to that particular post.

This experience had a huge impact on my life personally, and as an SLP. My hope is that you will find joy in reading it, and maybe be inspired to find a way you can take your skills abroad.  Enjoy!
Click here to read more about SLP volunteer opportunities abroad.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my trip to Honduras. If you have any questions, or want to know more about the trip, please feel free to leave a comment below. You can also follow me on Facebook where I plan to do a Facebook Live and discuss the trip in more detail. 

Busy SLP? 5 Tips to Make Your Life Easier and Less Stressful

By | SLP Tips And Tools

Welcome to post #3 in my series, Tips and Tools to Make Your Life Easier and Less Stressful. I’m sharing tips and tools that help busy SLPs on a day-to-day basis. You can read about tool #1: SLP Toolkit HERE.

Today I’m sharing some tips from my SLP life that will hopefully help you in your busy SLP life. I work for a rural special ed co-op and serve 3 different school districts. Most days I travel to at least 2, if not all 3 of my schools. I have to manage my caseloads at each of the districts, juggle meetings, conferences, RTI, therapy, testing, and all that other fun SLP stuff with limited time on each campus. That means I need to be on top of things and stay as organized as I can. If I slack even a little, all of the plates I have spinning come crashing down and it is exhausting trying to get things back in order.
So here are my top 5 tips to make your busy SLP life easier and less stressful:
#1: I know this may seems impossible, but I do my very best to never take work home with me. Taking work home means you are also bringing the stress home with you. I always try to keep work at work so I can focus on my family and recharge for the next work day. Think about all those times you have brought work home and then you don’t get to it. Do you feel guilty for letting it sit? Do you forget about it and have to lug it back the next day still unfinished? Or maybe you actually get it done, but end up staying up late to do so…On days when I feel swamped and think I need to take my work home, I fight the urge and leave it. I think it’s better to go in early, stay a bit late, and work through lunch if necessary. You need time to escape the chaos of work and recharge. Keep the work at work. 🙂

#2: Find a planner or calendar that works for you and USE IT! Everybody has different ways of keeping track of important dates and deadlines. Are you a phone person? Does Siri remind you of your deadlines? Or maybe you are like me and love a good paper planner. Whatever it may be, find a way to keep track of deadlines and stick to it so it becomes a habit. I love my Happy Planner from Michael’s. I got it on sale and used my educator discount, so it wasn’t very expensive at all. I love that it has 3 rows for me to track my life. I use the top row for work related events, the middle row for family/life events, and the bottom row to help me track  my TPT Store and blog. This is the best way for me to stay on track and not forget meetings and deadlines. I look at my planner every morning so I know where I need to be that day…especially since it’s always different! If you need some help finding the perfect planner, you can check out this SLP Planner Roundup post.

 #3: Build reminders into your calendar. Yes, I write down meetings and deadlines, but I also write myself reminders into my calendar. If progress reports are due on March 24, I will write a reminder to myself on March 20 that I need to make sure I have good data for each student. If I have a meeting on April 17, I will write a reminder to myself in the margin of the week prior so it doesn’t sneak up on me. IEP meetings due in May? I’ll make a list in the margin of April to remind myself that I need to schedule and prep the meetings. These little reminders help me to stay on top of my schedule rather than being overwhelmed by it. 

#4: Take 5 minutes of your day to breathe and recharge. Use this time to do something that helps you to take your mind off your busy day…breathe, take a long restroom break, sip your coffee, check social media, read a page of a magazine or book, or just sit and enjoy the silence or a good song. Just make sure you set a timer so you don’t go over your time and end up more stressed. I like to sit in my car for 5 minutes before I get out at each school. I gather my thoughts and go over the game plan in my head before I go in. This time helps me to focus and prepare because once I get out of my car, it’s fast paced and go go go until I get back in my car. 
#5: Try using no print or no prep materials with your students. I have to admit, I am a speech therapy materials junkie. I love interactive books and cute themed games and activities…but I also have 3 schools I have to carry my materials to/from and very little time to laminate and prep. This year, I have developed a love for no print and print-and-go types of resources. With no print activities, all I need is my iPad and I’m ready to go. I use articulation apps in place of artic cards. I download no print resources from Teachers Pay Teachers into iBooks and have them on hand at all times. Print-and-go activities are great because it takes less than 5 minutes for me to access the file on my computer, print it, and set it down on the table ready to go. There are so many great no print and print-and-go resources on Teachers Pay Teachers and many are free! Just add NO PRINT or NO PREP to your search when you are looking for resources. I have several FREE print-and-go resources in my TPT Store, including activity booklets for /th/, activity booklets for /f,v/ (temporary freebie), articulation sudoku, a spring themed compound sentences packet, prefix & suffix worksheets, and a comprehension and sequencing freebie. Click on the links or the images at the end of this post to get these FREE NO PREP resources.
These are just a few things that I do to help me manage my busy SLP life, making it easier and less stressful. Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to hear from you. Share in the comments or feel free to send me an email. 🙂
Links to my FREE NO PREP resources on TPT. Click each image to be taken to the file. 
 FREE /th/ Activity Booklets

/f,v/ Activity Booklets

 FREE Articulation Sudoku

 FREE Comprehension & Sequencing Practice

 FREE Compound Sentence Packet
 FREE Prefix & Suffix Worksheets

Busy SLP? Tool #1 to Make Your Life Easier

By | SLP Tips And Tools

We’ve all been there…a long list of students to test, reports to write, IEPs to prepare, and progress reports…oh the never ending progress reports. Springtime paperwork seems especially never ending and overwhelming. Unfortunately, the paperwork will always be there, but there are ways to make it easier and more manageable.

Today, I want to share one tool I have been using to help streamline my paperwork. It’s seriously one of the best tools for busy SLPs, and I can’t recommend it enough. SLP Toolkit!

SLP Toolkit is a web-based service designed to help SLPs be more efficient with their time and management of all that paperwork. It helps with data collection and documentation, progress tracking, writing present levels, IEPs and more!

I have been using SLP Toolkit regularly since right before Christmas Break.  It has reduced my stress level immensely. I want to share a few of my favorite features of SLP Toolkit and how it can help make your busy SLP life easier.

Present Level Assesments
My absolute favorite feature of the Toolkit is the Present Level Assessment library. I use these with every new evaluation or re-evaluation, when I get new transfer students, and before every annual IEP meeting. There are a variety of assessments available to help assess student strengths and areas of need. (Just a few are shown in the picture below. There are many more.)

Each assessment features questions and activities that thoroughly assess a child’s skills. I use the elementary and fluency assessments the most, but there are so many different ones available.

A few weeks ago, I needed to prep pretty quickly for an annual IEP meeting for a pretty tough student. I stressed about it for about a day before I remembered SLP Toolkit has some great functional communication assessments, too. I ended up with a very good list of the student’s strengths and weaknesses and was able to fully justify my new IEP goals with good solid data.

After you select and administer an assessment to your student, you can save the results in the Toolkit and print a summary. This is the fastest way to get a good picture of a students strengths and needs, and it’s paperless!!!

The Toolkit also gives you a list of suggested targets for goals based on the student’s needs.

You can then select areas to work on and a progress monitoring test will be created and linked to that student’s digital file instantly! It’s like magic!

Progress Monitoring
I use the progress monitoring tests to track student progress on specific goals. The Toolkit tests make it quick and easy to collect data and track progress. It even provides beautiful charts and graphs that you can print or snip and insert into your IEPs!

This is a great way to show growth and progress over time. It’s also a great visual for you to see improvement.

A third feature that I love in the Toolkit is the strategies library. In all of our IEPs and evaluation reports, we are required to provide strategies teachers/parents can use with the student. The strategies library in the Toolkit helps make that so much easier. All you have to do is select the area the student has needs in and a list will pop up with strategies that can be used for that particular skill.

There are many, many more features in SLP Toolkit, such as goal writing, printable data collection sheets, and more!I could go on and on about the features and tools. If you are interested in learning more, I suggest looking through their Facebook page or blog. You can also try it for free with up to 5 students.

Be sure to check back next week for more tips and tools to make your busy SLP life easier and less stressful. 

Busy SLP? Tips and Tools to Make Your SLP Life Easier and Less Stressful

By | SLP Tips And Tools

Busy? I am the queen of busy. Between my full-time job as an SLP in the schools, PRN work, my daughter’s gymnastics schedule, my Teachers Pay Teachers store, and all the miscellaneous things that go along with being a wife/mom, I always have something going on. Can you relate? Because I am so busy, I have to manage my time well or things get chaotic fast.

Part of my time management plan is making sure I don’t bring work (paperwork, planning, etc.) home with me. I have enough to do at home as it is (and that is where all the TPT magic happens), so I can’t allow myself to spend evenings and weekends doing paperwork, progress reports, etc. I keep it at school and that’s just how it is. Now, I’d be lying if I said I was always successful at that. There have been times when a deadline had to be met and the work had to come home, but I try to avoid that if at all possible.

So, how do I do this? How can a busy SLP get it all done at work? Therapy, RTI, teacher consults, IEPs, evaluations, report writing, progress reports, observations, and all that other stuff we do…how is there time for it all?

I have some “tricks” up my sleeve…okay, not really tricks, but they are pretty awesome tools I use to make my life as a busy SLP more manageable. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing some of these tools with you.  These are some great resources available specifically for busy SLPs who just need help getting it all done, and getting it done well. It’s not just about meeting deadlines and getting the work done…we also have to be able to stand behind our work and ensure that it is our best.

So, stay tuned. The first post will be coming up Thursday. I’ll be sharing how I use a great web-based app to help me collect and organize data and write killer IEPs.  Can you guess what it is??? Check back Thursday to find out…

In the meantime, comment below with your biggest challenge as a busy SLP. Completing paperwork? Planning therapy? Data collection? Time management? What gives you the most stress at work?

SLPs Sharing Kindness (with a Freebie)

By | Freebies

Do you love freebies? The Frenzied SLPs sure do, and we have a special treat for you! In the spirit of spreading love and kindness throughout our lives, we have linked up to share a variety of kindness themed resources for you to use with your students. To gather all of your goodies, just use the link below to hop to the next blog. Each blog has a kindness themed resource for you to download for FREE. You could have the next few weeks of therapy covered with all of the fabulous materials you gather!  How amazing is that?!

One of the ways I think people can demonstrate kindness is by helping in their communities. No matter where you live…big city or small town…there is always work to be done. Our communities thrive when we take care of each other and our towns. From helping neighbors with yard work to picking up trash, there is something for everyone to do to pitch in.

My free resource focuses on this idea of being a community helper. Your students will love reading about how Martha spent a day showering her community with extra kindness. Your download will include a short narrative with sequencing, context clues, and comprehension activities. This 2-page no prep product is great for older students to work on reading for details, sequencing, vocabulary and more. 

You can download this special freebie in my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking HERE.

For your next freebie, click on the image below to hop to the next blog, All Y’all Need.

My SLP Story {A Frenzied SLPs Linky}

By | My SLP Story

Do you ever wonder what led your SLP friends to become SLPs? We all have our own story, but often do not know each other’s. This week, the Frenzied SLPs are hosting a linky to share our SLP stories. Sharing your story can be a great way to remind yourself why you chose this field, and relive some of the passion and excitement that can often fade over the years. I encourage you to read our SLP stories and reflect back on your personal story. Feel free to link up with your own blog post, or share in the comments.

My personal SLP story begins around 2009. I was a 4th grade classroom teacher who knew very little about what went on in the speech therapy room. I had very few students who received speech therapy services and really never knew what they did while they were out of my room. I didn’t think much about it…until my own daughter began stuttering. Taiylor was 2 and struggled a lot as she began learning to speak. Our family doctor wasn’t concerned about it, but I was. I finally pushed for a speech evaluation after her third birthday. She began attending private speech therapy in 2010. I was able to watch every speech session via video in a parent viewing room. I was so impressed with her SLP, and my curiosity about the field began to grow.

This was also around the time that I was beginning to think about leaving the classroom. I had taught for several years and just knew I didn’t want to be a classroom teacher for 20 more years. I knew I wanted to stay involved in education, but just didn’t know what I wanted to do. I changed schools hoping new scenery might change my opinion of teaching, but it did not. Every day I prayed and researched about what other careers might be a good fit for me…and everything kept pointing back to speech-language pathology.

At this point, my daughter was no longer in speech. After a few months of therapy without a lot of progress, she woke up from a long nap one day with no more stutter. She actually walked up to me after her nap and said, “Mommy. I don’t have to think when I talk anymore.” We went back for a few more speech sessions, just to be sure she really no longer needed it and it never started again. Some say this was purely developmental stuttering and she outgrew it. I say it was God’s way of leading me to what would become my new career.

After many prayers and discussions with my husband about speech-language pathology and needing to go back to grad school (I already had a master’s degree in teaching), I took the leap and enrolled in a leveling program.

I completed my leveling courses while I finished my 7th year of teaching. After being accepted into my graduate program, I found a job as an SLP assistant and the intense journey to becoming an SLP began.

Grad school was amazingly difficult. Working as a full-time SLP Assistant, being a mom, and pulling off projects and late night study sessions was a challenge. However, my husband instantly saw a difference in my happiness level and passion for my new field. I knew in my heart I had made the right choice.

Graduation 2015

I graduated from grad school in August 2015. I knew I wanted to work in the schools, and that is where I am today, but I also discovered I love working with adults. My clinicals in the SNF and hospital settings were life changing experiences. One of the things I love about this career are all the different options. Every setting is different. Every patient is different. Every school is different. Every SLP is different.

I love helping others improve their lives. I love being able to help a child learn their first words, produce that tricky /r/ sound for the first time, and experience success in the classroom or in a group setting. I love helping my stroke patients improve their communication skills or improve their swallowing so they can eat the food they want to eat. Being an SLP has changed my life in more ways than just where I go for work. I am inspired and passionate and thankful for this field every day.

I am still a new SLP. I actually just got my CCC in July 2016. The passion and excitement that led me to becoming an SLP is fresh in my mind and heart. By writing down my story, I know I will be able to read it on those difficult days in the future when I need encouragement. I hope sharing my story helps inspire others who may not be feeling the passion anymore. I encourage each and every one of you to think about what led you to this field. Think about the new graduate excitement you had and dreams of improving the world and the lives of your clients. Write your story down and share it with others. You never know who you may inspire…including yourself.

To read more SLP stories, click through The Frenzied SLPs linky below.

Tips for Effective and Efficient Teamwork

By | SLP Tips And Tools

Teamwork – the combined actions of a group of people, especially when effective and efficient (Google definition)

This week, The Frenzied SLPs are all about teamwork. Working as part of a team can be tricky, and may not always be easy. Sometimes it takes great effort to make the team work.  Many SLPs (like myself) travel between schools, which can make the “team” concept even more challenging.  I would like to share some tips with you that I have found to be helpful in making it all work.

I shared the google definition of teamwork above because it paints a great picture of what working together as a team really is.  It’s more than just “working together.”  It’s working together AND being effective and efficient.  That’s what makes a great team. The following tips are my suggestions to help build effective and efficient teams. 

1. Remember whose team we’re all on in the first place.  Teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, SLPs, counselors, custodians, office staff…everyone is on the same team.  We are here for our students.  It can be easy to get lost in the “us vs. them” rut, especially in times of disagreement.  If we can remember that we are all here for the good of the students, it will help us get through those difficult times.

2. Be willing to learn from others. Experienced SLP or newbie does not matter.  We can all learn from each other.  I have learned a TON from my supervising SLPs and more experienced colleagues, but I think they have also learned from me.  We each have our own unique experiences and knowledge we can share with our colleagues. SLPs can learn from teachers, and teachers can learn from SLPs. Be open and accepting of what your teammates have to share.  You never when you’ll learn something new!

3. Make an effort to mingle. A lot of days I am behind on paperwork or stressed out about deadlines and difficult sessions, and I just want to sit in my room and eat lunch with my door closed.  However, I try to eat with the teachers at my schools as often as I am able to. It’s not every day, but I am for at least once a week at each of my three schools. This is so important because it allows you to get to know each other better, outside of IEP meetings and conferences where it’s all student talk. I enjoy these times and it helps me to feel more like we are a team when we can relax a little together. 

Those are my teamwork tips.  What great teamwork tips do you have to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.

For more teamwork talk, click through the rest of The Frenzied SLPs linky below. 

Progress Monitoring…Baselines and Beyond {Linky}

By | My Products

Whew!  The past few weeks have been hectic!  We are in our third week of school and it has been a whirlwind.  The start of the year is always pretty busy, but I feel like this year it is even more crazy than usual.  Maybe because I have three schools this year, two of which are new to me.  That means I have two entirely new caseloads to get to know and collect data on.  My days have been filled with progress monitoring, which makes it perfect timing for this Frenzied SLPs linky.  We are sharing all about…progress monitoring!

This topic is one of those areas that can vary widely from person to person.  Every SLP has their own way of collecting data.  I have been trying out new ways to collect and store my data this year, but I always seem to go back to being a paper and pencil kind of gal.  Most recently, I have been experimenting with using SLP Toolkit and some Smarty Ears apps for progress monitoring (more info to come in a future post), but I just really like good old fashioned paper data sheets.

I usually start my year getting to know my students and assessing progress on their current goals.  I like to do this right of the bat because it allows me to see if they have retained their skills over the summer break, and lets me know how much ground we have to cover before their next IEP meeting. 

I also tend to have quite a few new transfer students each year.  That means I have 30 days to assess, plan and revise goals as needed. 

Needless to say, my first few weeks of school include data, data, and more data! 

For articulation, I like to use simple data sheets where I have the list of target words down one side and dates across the top.  Then I can use a quick +/- or write in a sound substitution as we go through the word list.

I have several ready to go data sheets with word cards in my Teachers Pay Store.  All can be purchased separately or in the bundle.  I keep these cards laminated in a 3 ring binder with extra copies of the data sheets in sheet protectors.  This allows me to grab them quickly when I need them.  You can also cut the word cards and store them on a binder ring or in bags, or even just display them on an iPad.

My bundle includes several different target sounds, with more to be added in the future (all can also be purchased separately).   Each set comes with a ready to use data sheet, saving you time! 

When collecting baseline data, I always use as many words as I can for each target sound and assess the sound in all positions.  My baselines include anywhere from 20-40 words, depending on the phoneme.  I run through all words on the list because it may be that the student has the sound in one single word.  That would be a great place to start when teaching! 

After I have my initial overall percentage, I then select 5 words that the child missed and use those words to teach and practice the sound.  We will practice for 3-4 sessions (depending on the child), informally assessing the target words at the beginning of each session.  Once the child is able to produce the 4/5 target words correctly, I will then run through the entire baseline again to see if they are able to carryover the phoneme into other words.  Then, if needed, we will select a different 5 words to teach and practice and repeat the process. 

Collecting baseline data can be time consuming, which is why I like to keep it as simple as possible.  Having prepared data sheets and word lists allows me to grab and go with little prep time.  I then have records of student progress that I can add to their file for documentation. 

For more info and tips on progress monitoring, be sure to check out the other bloggers in the Frenzied SLPs linkup.  And feel free to share your tips for progress monitoring in the comments below.  🙂