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My SLP Story

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 kristin@talkinwithtwang.com.

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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.

Express Yourself

By | My SLP Story

Tonight’s post was inspired by the #instaBHSM photo challenge on Instagram (sponsored by Simply Speech, Consonantly Speaking, and Home Sweet Speech Room). We have been sharing photos related to specific themes each day.  Today’s theme was “Express Yourself,” and it really got me thinking…

 We are so lucky to live in a world where there are many different ways we can express ourselves.  I have found several ways that I use to express myself, including blogging, writing, and creating new speech-language materials. I also love to speak and communicate with others.  These things are all a part of me and help me share who I am with the world.

I also thought about some of my students who are not able to fully express themselves to their family/friends.  Some are limited in their verbal expression, some have difficulties with social interactions, and others may be embarrassed about their fluency or articulation. 

As SLPs we can impact lives in so many ways.  One of those ways is by helping our students feel more confident in who they are, and by helping them to be able to share their personality with the world around them.  We can do this in a variety of ways:

1. Working with students to improve their speech-language.
2. Teaching/training students and teachers in use of AAC.
3. Beginning to teach signs to students when appropriate.
4. Introducing them to a variety of new activities they can use to express themselves, including art, dance, singing, writing, and fashion, just to name a few.

I love being an SLP and working with my students to discover new things each and every day.  I love seeing them learn knew things and being able to share those moments with parents/teachers/classmates.  I also love that I learn more about myself as I work with each and every student.

Expressing yourself is so much more than being able to speak.  It’s about sharing who you are in your heart.  What are some ways you express yourself or ways you help your students with their self expression? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

End of the Year Encouragement

By | My SLP Story

This has been a whirlwind of a year.  I have about a week left in my Clinical Fellowship and I absolutely cannot wait to send off that application for my CCC.  I have learned a ton and experienced some great growth as an SLP.  However, as the year winds down, the exhaustion is setting in.  There are still evaluations to be completed, reports to be written, and IEP meetings to be held.  The end of the year is definitely a busy one for SLPs, teachers, and anyone else who works in the school setting.  The Frenzied SLPs are hosting a linky to share tips to help us all get through the end of school year rush.  My post is more about encouragement than actual tips.  Enjoy!

I find that this time of year there is a lot of focus on the countdown to the last day of school.  State testing is wrapping up (Texas students finish up this week) and students are beginning to “check out.”  It is easy to fall into an end of school year rut.  We just need to make it to the end, right? 

What we need to remember is that we still have valuable time to spend with our students.  Every minute we spend together is a minute we can spend encouraging them, teaching them, and showing them we still care.  Our students don’t know about our to-do lists, or about how behind we are in our report writing.  They only know what they see during our sessions together. 

I try to remind myself each session that I only have a few days left with these students.  We can still have fun, and we can still make progress.  The year is not over yet!  We also don’t know if we will see our students again after summer.  It is always a possibility that someone will move, or we will be assigned to a new campus.  It’s important to make the most of the time we have left together.

So, for my words of encouragement…stay strong, hang in there, and know that you are still making a difference every day.  Try to find some time each day where you can remind yourself that you are so important to your students.  Let’s finish this year strong and enjoy the last few sessions we have with them. 🙂 

How do you keep yourself motivated?  To link up or for some more great tips on how to how to end your school year strong, head over to Gold Country SLP. 

In 2016 I’ll Try… {Blog Linky}

By | My SLP Story
 Happy New Year, SLPeeps!  

2015 flew by for me.  It was truly a fantastic year and I’m optimistic that 2016 will be just as good.  Our 2015 was full of big events for my family:

*I graduated from grad school.
*We took our first Disney cruise (first cruise ever).
*My 8 year old daughter went on her first solo plane ride to San Diego.
*My husband graduate from college.
*We began working on our new home floor plans.
*I attended my first ever ASHA Convention.
*I really began to put more time and effort into my blog and Teachers Pay Store.

Now  it’s time to look forward to the new year and start making some plans.  It’s always good to set goals and make plans to try new things.  One of the things I plan to try this year is themed units for speech sessions.

There are many great reasons for using thematic units in therapy. Twin Speech Language and Literacy wrote a great guest post over at Crazy Speech World outlining the benefits and explaining how to use themed therapy units.  You can read that post HERE.  It’s an older post (from 2013), but still full of great info.

I have seen so many great book companions and themed lesson ideas on blogs and Teachers Pay Teachers, but I haven’t had time to really sit down and plan any for myself.  As a new grad and CF, I have been pretty busy.  My speech sessions have not been too creative.  So for 2016, I am planning to try incorporating themed units into my lesson plans.  I’m very excited about this and I’ll let you know how it goes later in the school year.

What new thing are you planning to try this year?  To see what some of my blogger friends have planned, you can head over to All Y’all Need and read some of the other blogs that have linked up.

Happy New Year!

5 Things You Didn’t Know About This SLP {Linky}

By | My SLP Story

Happy Thanksgiving Break y’all!  I am writing from sunny San Diego where I’m celebrating Thanksgiving with my family.  For this post, I’m linking up with The Speech Space to share 5 little known things about me.  So let’s dive in […]

1. I have a background in theater.  I actually got my bachelor’s degree in theater.  I went to the University of California, San Diego, which is one of the top three theater schools in the country.  I did a little acting and really enjoyed it, but I was actually a pretty good stage manager…probably because I’m so organized.  While I did not pursue theater as a profession, I still love going to shows and try to attend performances when I can.

2. I jumped out of the first plane I ever flew on.  Yes. I have been skydiving.  Growing up, I didn’t travel far from home, so I had never been on an airplane.  But when I turned 18 I went skydiving.  It was fantastic…but it was also my very first plane ride ever.  I think I was so in awe of being up that high in the sky that I didn’t really think the whole jumping thing through.  But I loved it.  Such a thrill.  And for a while I could tell people that I had been in a plane, but never landed in one!

3.  I’m a complete Disney fanatic.  It’s true.  I love all things Disney.  Disneyland, Disney World, Disney cruises, shows, merchandise, songs, you name it.  If it’s Disney, I will love it.  I think my daughter is a little embarrassed by me, which is sad because she’s only 8!  But I am a forever Disney fan, no matter how old I get.

4. I teach Sunday School at my church.  I have the 1st and 2nd graders and we have such a good time together.  I just love teaching Bible stories to the little guys.

5. I moved halfway across the country for love.  Call me crazy, but I did it and am glad I did.  I met my husband in San Diego when he was just out of the Navy.  He was from Texas and moved back after we started dating.  I was young and in love and just up and moved.  But we’re going strong and will celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary in January.

So there you have it.  Now that you know a little more about me, head over to The Speech Space and see what others are sharing about themselves.  Thanks for stopping by!

Once Upon a CF…

By | My SLP Story

This is a tale of an overconfident SLP Intern who quickly learned she did not know as much as she thought she did…

Yes.  Yes, it’s true.  When I completed my SLP graduate program (a mere 2 months ago), I thought I was ready to be on my own.  During my two years of grad school, I gained so much experience working both as an SLP Assistant and as a graduate student clinician.  I clocked well over the required practicum hours and planned all of my therapy sessions.  I had great supervisors who prepared me well.  I was great with time management and even had time to start my very own Teachers Pay Teachers store.  I was feeling confident and ready for my very own caseload.  Who needs a CFY…I was ready for that CCC!

Fast forward 2 months and here we are […]
News flash: I don’t know as much as I thought I knew.  We are only 2 1/2 months into the school year and I am exhausted.  Being a CF is hard work!  I’m really not doing anything new, but I am feeling the pressure of being responsible for deadlines, paperwork, and decision making without having the safety net of a supervisor right beside me every day.  It’s a bit more stressful.

Don’t get me wrong…I still have a supervisor/mentor and she’s great.  She’s the best I could ask for, but I have had to call/email her way more than I would have predicted.  Sorry, Sharon!  Just when I think I have things down, some unique situation pops up and I’m emailing/calling again.  Overall, things are going well and I don’t think I’ve messed anything up too bad, but I have felt overwhelmed at times and a bit stressed out.

Reflecting over the past 2 1/2 months has led me to write this post.  I’ve done some self-reflection and came up with a list of things I think are important to remember as I move through the reminder of my CFY and into my career as an SLP.

1. The learning doesn’t end with graduation.  Every situation, every child, every challenge, every failure and success will bring opportunities for learning and growth.  I plan to embrace all of my experiences and use them to help me become a better SLP and a better person.

2. You have a supervisor for a reason…don’t be ashamed to seek their help/advice.  There is a reason we are not sent out to be SLPs on our own right away.  The CFY is a great way for us to jump right into the pool, but with a lifeguard standing by to help us if needed.  I’m so thankful I have a great supervisor who is approachable and helpful.

3. There is an endless supply of resources available and waiting to be used.   I am so thankful for all of the great resources available to me as an SLP Intern.  Of course, I have my text books and class notes, but there is so much more out there, too.  I have discovered a great support system through SLP Facebook groups, bloggers, and long distance SLP friends.  And don’t forget about all the online webinars and professional development opportunities.  There’s just so much available to us!

4. It will get easier.  I know there will always be challenges, but I also know I will find my groove.  I am looking forward to discovering my niche.  As I get more comfortable being on my own, I know it will get easier to manage all of the day-to-day “stuff” that comes with the job and I will grow into being a fabulous SLP.

5. You are not alone. Every year, every graduating class brings a new batch of SLP Interns who are in the same boat.  Every CF experience is different, but it’s something we all must go through.  In my moments of panic and stress I try to remind myself that others have survived the CFY and I will, too.  I look forward to sharing my experiences with others and hearing their experiences, too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Are you also completing your CF?  How’s it going?  Are you an SLP supervisor?  What advice do you have for us newbies?

Reflection: Choosing Service Time for Speech Students

By | My SLP Story

Lately, I have found myself reflecting on the amount of speech time each of my students receives.  As I acquire new students and re-evaluate IEP goals and objectives, I need to decide on the best service delivery time to meet my students’ needs.  I decided to write a post about the process of deciding on service delivery time for speech.  This is a moment of self-reflection for me, but may be helpful to others also […]

When I start thinking about how much speech time a child  needs, I always look at two very important points first:
1. The chronological and/or developmental age of the child, and
2. The goals and objectives I have written for the child.

The age of the child is a huge factor in making my decision about how much speech time the child  should receive.  I always take their actual chronological age into consideration, as well as their developmental age.  If the child is very young, I don’t usually propose a speech time longer than 20 minutes.  The little ones I see tend to lose focus around the 20 minute mark and it can be difficult to fill more than 20 minutes with enough activities to keep them engaged the entire session.  But…it depends on the individual child.  I have had some pre-k students who I could keep for 30 minutes at a time and they did great.  The same is true when looking at developmental age.  I may see a 10 year old, who is closer to the age of 3 or 4 developmentally.  They may benefit from shorter sessions as well. 

The other big factor I take into consideration when assigning speech time is the child’s goals and objectives. I never, ever decide on a speech time before my goals and objectives are written.  This is so important because the service time needs to be appropriate for the needs of the child.  If I have written a lot of goals for the year, I may propose 2 or 3 30 minute sessions per week.  I generally stick with 2 sessions per week, unless I have a child who really needs more than that.  If a child has just a few goals, they may not need 2 sessions a week, or they may need 15-20 minute sessions as opposed to 30 minutes.  Again, it all depends on the needs of the students.

Another piece of service delivery time we need to decide on is the frequency of the sessions.  I prefer to see my students for 2 or 3 days a week.  I usually save my one day a week sessions for students who are working on maintenance/carryover of a skill and just need a weekly push to keep at it.  Otherwise, I tend to stick with 2 sessions per week.  In an ideal world, I would love to see all of my kids every day of the week, but this is just not realistic.  I always keep in mind how much class time they will be missing when they come to speech, as well as how frequently I am on their campus.  I travel between different districts and it’s not always possible to be on every campus every day of the week.  Sessions 2 or 3 times a week are generally appropriate and what I will most often recommend.

The most important thing to remember when proposing speech time for your students is that it is always an individual decision based on the needs of the student.  It’s very easy to get into a habit of giving every student 2 20 minute sessions a week, or 2 30 minute session a week.  But we have to remember to select our time based on what the child needs, not what fits into our schedule best.  If we can keep this is mind, and communicate that with parents and teachers, we will be able to better serve our students. 

The Best Thing I Learned This Summer {Linky}

By | My SLP Story

I can hardly believe summer break is almost over.  I have been so busy, and it has gone by too quick. For this post,I am linking up with The Frenzied SLPs to share the best thing I have learned this summer. Click the image below to see what others are sharing.

http://www.slprunner2013.blogspot.com/

This summer was my last semester of grad school (woo hoo!), and I had three classes to complete before officially graduating.  One of the classes I took was Pediatric Dysphagia, and let me tell you, I learned a lot!

We had completed adult dysphagia during a previous sesmester, so I figured pediatric dysphagia would be the same thing.  I was so wrong!  Evaluating and treating pediatric dysphagia is very different from evaluating and treating adult dysphagia.

Our class covered feeding and swallowing disorders in children.  We discussed different types of feeding disorders, different types of syndromes and birth complications that can result in difficulty with feeding/swallowing, and different treatment options.  One interesting thing I learned was that very few school based SLPs feel competent to treat dysphagia. As a school based SLP Assistant now SLP Intern) I can say that in the rural areas of Texas where I live, it is rare that we ever have a kiddo on caseload who needs treatment for feeding/swallowing disorders.  That’s not to say it never happens.  But it is rare.

Because it’s so rare, many school based SLPs don’t stay up-to-date with research/treatment techniques in the area of dysphagia.  But we never know when we might get a new student with dysphagia/feeding goals.  It’s usually a school district decision on whether or not to treat dysphagia at the school, but my take away from the class (other than evaluation/treatment skills) was this:  We, as school based SLPs, need to do what we can do to stay caught up with our ability to treat pediatric dysphagia.  Easier said than done, I know, but we just never know when we might get a student who will benefit from our skills. This can really be true of any area we address through speech services (voice, fluency, etc.).  The discussion of dysphagia in the schools reminded me of the importance of being ready for any child we might need to serve through speech therapy in the school setting.

I am hoping to keep up with my newly gained knowledge of pediatric dysphagia through research articles, trainings, and hopefully by working with some kiddos after school hours through home health or a pediatric clinic.  Do any of my school based SLP friends work with dysphagia in the schools or on the side for a clinic?  Do your schools offer training related to dysphagia? 
 

One Special Moment {Linky}

By | My SLP Story

The school year is officially over, and I have to say, it was a blur.  Between therapy sessions, learning to lead IEP meetings and complete paperwork on my own, grad school coursework, and being a wife and mom, I was incredibly busy. I loved every second of it!  Jen over at Speech Therapy Fun had a great idea that has helped me to reflect back on my busy year.  She is hosting the “One Special Moment” linky and I decided to join in.  🙂 …


My one special moment occurred earlier this year with a 4 year old student I saw as a walk-in for speech.  When he first started speech, our sessions were a whirlwind!  He wanted to play with everything except for what I had planned.  He was all over the place and I was usually sweating by the time our 20 minutes were over.  We worked through it and he gradually began to learn the expectations and routine of our sessions.  My one special moment took place on my last day with him a few weeks ago.  My little student was ready to move from being a walk-in speech student to attending 1/2 day pre-k at another campus, so I would no longer be seeing him.  Our last session went great.  He was using a visual schedule and participating in every activity I planned.  He was also using much more language.  At the end of our session we read a social story I had created for him about going to a new school.  Then we walked out to his mom where he took her hand and said, “Bye, Miss Kristin” and calmly walked out the door.  This was an emotional moment for me because I realized how much of an impact we have on our students.  When he first came to me, just getting through the session was a challenge, and then getting him out of the building when speech was over was another event in itself.  But now, here he was doing so well and able to leave with a simple, appropriate goodbye.  It was in this moment that I reflected back on how much progress he had made in just a few short months, and I was so glad to have been a part of it.

I know that SLPs all over have had moments like this.  I thank God every day that I get to work with amazing kids and experience many special moments.  This was just one, and I look forward to many more moments like this in the future.

What one special moment did you have this year?  You can leave a message in the comments or write a blog post and link up on Speech Therapy Fun

Liebster Award!!!

By | My SLP Story

I am so excited to share that I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award by Keri at My Speech Party. Thanks, Keri! The Liebster Award is an award given by bloggers, to new bloggers with less than 200 email followers, to help them get their blog started and welcome them to the blogosphere. Anyone who is nominated is then asked to nominate others. To accept the award, the blogger must answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated them.Here are my questions/answers…

1. Why did you start blogging?

 I discovered several amazing speech blogs at the start of my graduate school experience.  I have found reading other SLP blogs to be so helpful as I plan therapy and look for ideas.  The inspiration I got from reading other blogs is what led to my desire to begin my own.  I am new, but I know that I will have much to share as I gain experience.  I hope that my blog will someday be helpful to others. 

2. What is your work experience?
 I was a classroom teacher for 7 years before making the move into speech therapy.  I have been in grad school for a year and a half and have been working as an SLP Assistant during that time.  

3. What is your favorite social media outlet?
 I used to prefer Facebook, but now I am beginning to LOVE Instagram.  I love that pictures can provide so much information. 

4. What is your favorite pastime other than blogging? 
 Being in grad school, I don’t have much time for anything other than studying.  I love to create new products for my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Most of all, I love spending time with my little girl.  We like to go go go and are always looking for ways to have fun. 

5. How many hours per week do you dedicate to TpT? To your blog?
 Right now, probably only 3 hours or so, but it varies greatly from week to week.  I try to work on it after my daughter goes to bed, and have to be sure that I make homework and studying a priority.  I will have much more time to spend on TpT and my blog once I graduate this summer. 

6. What age range is your favorite to work with?
I love working with all of my students, but I really love 2nd-4th graders.  I like that fact that we can include reading/writing in our activities and that they can really understand why they are working on certain goals and appreciate the progress they make.   

7. Who are your favorite SLP bloggers to follow?
There are so many!  The first blog I ever came across was Speech Room News.  Jenna is such an inspiration.  I also love Sublime Speech, Crazy Speech World, and Natalie Snyders.  They have such great ideas and TpT products.  There are so many blogs I love to read! I just really love that we can network and share ideas through social media and blogs.  

8. What post have you written that you are most proud of? 
Being new, I haven’t written many posts of any substance yet.  I did write one in which I shared my thoughts on inclusion in the school setting.  This post was featured in the SLPs on TpT weekly newsletter and had a bunch of views.  

9. Is there any post that you have been planning to do but keep postponing? 
 There are so many!  I have quite a few ideas of things I’d like to write about, but I just haven’t had the time to get them written.  I just keep my list and hope I can get to writing someday soon!

10. What is your favorite aspect of blogging? 
I really get excited when I see that others are reading my posts, and I LOVE when I get comments.  I enjoy knowing that someone has decided to take time out of their busy day to see what I have to say.  Being able to sit down and write out my thoughts also helps me to become a better therapist.  I really spend a lot of time reflecting on how I am doing things and how I can make improvements.  

11. What are 11 facts about me?

  • I am a school-based speech therapist (love working in the schools)
  • I am originally from California – moved to Texas 11 years ago.
  • I speak a little bit of Spanish, but stopped taking classes in college so I’m not anywhere near fluent.
  • I have been married for 10 years.
  • My bachelor’s degree is in theater.
  • I have never been to Vegas.
  • I spent 3 weeks studying in Bali when I was an undergrad.
  • I have been skydiving.
  • When I complete my speech pathology degree, I will have 2 masters degrees. 
  • I have a 7 year old daughter.
  • I am a lover of all things Disney – total addict – it drives my husband crazy.  

I enjoyed sharing a little about myself with you.  My nomination for the Liebster Award is Christy at The Modern SLP.

Thanks for reading and be sure to visit Christy on her blog!

    Inclusion: Friend or Foe?

    By | My SLP Story

    Inclusion.  A word that can mean so many different things to different people.  I have to admit, when I was a general education teacher, I often cringed at the word.  I know many teachers who also cringe at the word.  Inclusion.  What is the purpose of inclusion in the school setting?  How can it do any good?  How can a teacher be expected to teach a class when there are students in the room who are not at the same level as the rest of the class?  Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if that one student was in their own “special” classroom?  The answer is…it’s complicated…

    Inclusion is when students with disabilities are included in the general education classroom with their peers, rather than being in a special education classroom all day, every day.  

    Inclusion is not a cookie cutter classroom model.  It can look very different from school to school, classroom to classroom, and student to student.  For some students, inclusion may mean receiving all of their instruction in the general education classroom.  For some students, it may mean attending general education for 15 minutes during the day, or possibly going to PE and lunch with their general education peers, and receiving all other instruction in the special education setting. 

    This is, in my opinion, what makes inclusion in the schools so complicated.  There’s not one right way to implement it.  Everyone has their own opinion on inclusion in the school setting and whether it is beneficial or not.  I would like to share my personal opinion.

    I believe that there is tremendous value in allowing students with disabilities to spend time with their general education peers.  Having been a teacher, I know this can be inconvenient and stressful for classroom teachers.  But there are so many benefits for the students.  Children with disabilities often learn a tremendous amount just from watching their peers.  Their peers become models for them, both in behavior and language.  They have the opportunity to make friends and engage in meaningful social interactions.  Students without disabilities learn from the experience as well.  They learn to value and respect diversity, and may make lasting friendships.  Kids Together has a fantastic list of the benefits of inclusive education on their website http://www.kidstogether.org/inclusion/benefitsofinclusion.htm. I love how they list the benefits for students both with and without disabilities.  

    So often teachers focus on the negatives when discussing whether students with disabilities.  The “negatives” should be addressed, but the positive outcomes should be the focus.  When inclusion is done correctly, research has shown that there really are no true negatives for anyone.  But this hinges on how students with disabilities, and teachers, are supported throughout the process.  To be successful, appropriate IEPs should be in place, an appropriate schedule should be decided on by the student’s IEP team, and the classroom teacher should have a good support system.  A full day of general education does not work for every student, but it is appropriate for others.  The students strengths and areas of difficulty should be taken into consideration.  If the student is experiencing consistent success with 30 minutes a day, try 40 minutes, or an hour.  Allow the student opportunities to grow and gain independence.  If 15 minutes is all they can handle, don’t expect them to last for 4 hours. The idea to have students in the least restrictive environment where they can do their best learning.  It’s up to the student’s IEP team to determine what that looks like for that particular student.

    I also want to encourage teachers to use the resources available to them.  This may include their school’s special education teachers, speech therapists, and/or other specialists. For our student’s to experience success in the classroom, it is critical that we all work together as a team, with the student’s best interest in mind…not what is easier for us.

    I’ve often heard the saying, “What’s easy is not always right, and what’s right is not always easy.”  This is definitely true when we think about classroom inclusion.  It’s not always easy, but it can be so beneficial.

    As I slowly move into my new career as a speech-language pathologist working in the public school setting, I have had opportunities to reflect on my years as a teacher and how I can use those experiences to help the teachers and students I work with now.  As a teacher, I felt inclusion was my enemy, but I understand now that I did not fully understand the purpose of inclusion.  Instead of looking at the benefits, I focused on the negatives.  In my new role as a school SLP, I hope I can help the teachers I work with, so they begin to see inclusion as a friend, rather than foe. 

    Happy New Year!

    By | My SLP Story

    Happy New Year to all my speechie friends out there!  2014 flew by (I’m sure the craziness of grad school while working full-time contributed to that).  Christmas Break also flew by.  I had planned on blogging more than once and making some new products for my Teachers Pay Teachers store, but I had a minimester class that took over my life instead.  That class is over and I wanted to be sure and get a blog post in before I begin intensely studying for my written comps (coming up in 2 weeks). The new products will have to wait.

    Each year, January brings some moments of reflection for me.  As a teacher, I found myself reflecting back on the first semester and what was successful in the classroom as well as things that were not so successful.  I find myself still doing that as a school based speech therapist.  Even though January is the middle of the school year, it’s also a good time to implement changes.  Students have usually had 2 weeks off and often need a reminder of classroom rules and guidelines.  I have found that introducing new procedures/rules fits in well with reviewing old ones after the break.

    One new change that I plan on implementing at one of my schools is my sticker/reward chart system.  I have to admit, as a teacher, I was not very good at using prizes and treasure buckets.  I could never remember when it was prize day or that I needed to restock when the prizes got low.  I did more “random” prize moments and that didn’t always work out for me.  When I began this school year, my SLP supervisor recommended using a sticker chart reward system with a prize bucket.  I went along with it, but was not too thrilled about it.  Well, guess what?  It has worked great!  So great, in fact, that I have decided to implement it with the students at my other campus.

    Here are the reasons I like the sticker chart system in my speech room:

    1. It’s easy.  I printed up a simple chart with boxes for stickers.  I have found that 8 stickers to earn a prize works best for my kiddos.  It’s a little much for students who are only seen one day a week, but it can be adjusted on a case-by-case basis, if needed.  Most of my students are seen 2-3 times per week, so 8 stickers is a good amount.  Here is the chart I use.  Very basic.  Sticker Chart Freebie

    2. It’s consistent.  My students know when prize day is coming and I know when prize day is coming.  They also know that they have to work hard if they want to earn their sticker at the end of each session.  This motivates them to work hard and gives me some leverage when I need a consequence.  Just a quick reminder that they might not get their sticker usually helps correct any behavior distractions. 

    3. It’s inexpensive.  This one really depends on how much you are willing to spend on your prizes and how fancy you want to get with your sticker charts.  I have found that a plastic shoe box size tub with a lid works great as a prize bucket.  I fill mine with pencils, Dum Dum suckers, and occasionally I’ll throw in other little trinkets like erasers or those rubber bracelets.  It doesn’t take much to make a kiddo excited…especially if you can get away with little pieces of candy.

    All that being said, there are some drawbacks to this type of system.  Sticker charts don’t always work well for the really young kiddos or the older kiddos (think junior high/high school).  With the 3 and 4 year olds I see, I use a reward at the end of each session.  It’s always small, like a hand stamp or sticker on their hand.  With my older students, I let them choose whether or not they want to use a sticker chart to earn prizes.  Sometimes they prefer to just come in, work, and get back to class.  I’m fine with that.

    I know there are many different ways of motivating students and rewarding them for their hard work.  This system has worked well for me this year.  What do you use in your speech room?   Share with me in the comments. 

    Out of My Comfort Zone!

    By | My SLP Story

    I am 2 weeks into my summer clinical practicum at a SNF (Skilled Nursing Facility) and I am loving it, but I am WAY out of my comfort zone.  I have never worked in a setting like this.  It is EXTREMELY different from the school setting and quite a challenge for me, but I’m always up for an adventure.  In my SNF we work with a lot of residents who have goals for dysphagia and cognitive skills.  Many of the residents I am working with have dementia, some are recovering from strokes, and a few have a variety of other medical diagnoses that have somehow affected their cognition/swallowing.  I have enjoyed getting to know these residents and I really do enjoy our time together. 

    What has been a challenge for me this summer is gaining confidence in this setting.  In the school setting, I was more comfortable because I had been a teacher and because I felt like I knew what I was doing (even though I know I still have a lot to learn).  In the medical setting, I find myself struggling to pull the knowledge I gained in my courses into each situation.  Swallowing is such a complicated area to treat because it’s not the same for everyone.  Even when two patients have the same dysfuntion in their swallow, the treatment used may be entirely different depending on their situation.  I am learning to apply the knowledge I gained in class to the real world. 

    Another challenge I have faced is just learning the lingo.  There are so many abbreviations used in the medical setting, it’s almost like learning another language!  I carry around a medical abbreviations list I got from the ASHA website (click here for link), but sometimes it’s just faster to ask someone about a specific abbreviation, rather than look it up.  In addition to the vast amount of abbreviations, I’m also learning to write more medically professional sounding session notes.  Using the appropriate medical terms (i.e. “masticate” instead of “chew”) is something I am working on. I know the terms, it’s just hard for me to remember to use them!

    Each day I gain a little more confidence, but it really fluctuates depending on the situation.  The one thing that remains constant is my excitement.  I am learning so much, and I really enjoy seeing this side of the field.  One of the things I love most about the field of speech-language pathology is the variety of settings we can work in.  Each setting (school, hospital, SNF, private clinics, home health, etc.) is so different and has its own challenges and rewards.  I love that I am experiencing a new setting in my SNF this summer, and I am so thankful to have had this opportunity. 

    Love My New Career!

    By | My SLP Story
    Well…it appears that I am not getting off to a great start with this blogging thing.  I planned to post at least once a week and I have clearly missed that goal!  I was just enjoying my break between grad school semesters too much, I guess.  I’ve still been working and seeing students for therapy, but at home I just enjoyed my family.  It was a nice break.  I say “was” because today is the first day of my summer classes.  One class (statistics) opened a little early and I’ve already read 2 chapters and completed 2 quizzes.  It’s so much nicer to be ahead than it is to be behind.

    So this year was my first year as a speech language pathologist assistant.  As I mentioned before, I had been a teacher for 7 years before making the career change.  I have to say, it was a fabulous year!  Even my husband commented on several occasions how much happier I seemed.  So I decided to post today about a few things I love about my new career. 

    1.  I get to work with some amazing kiddos. They are all very unique and have their own strengths and struggles, but they are all so fabulous.  This year I worked with a wide variety of students.  Ages ranged from 3 to 18.  Some just needed a little extra help in the language department (using more complex sentences/language) and some were completely non-verbal.  One thing that remains constant with every student I see is the joy we share when they experience success with a goal.  I just love all my kiddos!

    2. I get to help people improve their communication skills in so many different ways.  For some, it’s improving grammar and overall use of language.  For some, it’s working on articulation so they can be better understood.  For some it’s working on finding a way for them to communicate at all.  Every student I see has a desire to be heard.  It’s my job to help them do that effectively. 

    3. This is just the best job ever!  

    I am still a student and I have a lot to learn about being a speech language pathologist.  It’s not an easy job by any means, and being in grad school has its own challenges and stresses, but boy am I having fun!  

    Getting Started

    By | My SLP Story

    I am so excited to start my new blog!  As a busy graduate student, SLP Assistant, mother, and wife, I don’t expect that I’ll be posting very often, but I hope to post at least once a week.  I wanted to create a blog where I can share activities that I am using in my therapy sessions and share successes and struggles I have as a graduate student and new SLP.

    This year has been an exciting time for me as I learn the ins and outs of my new career.  I am working for a public school special ed coop and I currently serve 2 schools.  I have been overjoyed by the progress my students have made and the moments of success we have shared.  My passion is helping people communicate and I am thrilled to be able to share my experiences with you all.