As I finish my 39th year as a school SLP, I wanted to share some thoughts. First, just like at the end of every school year, I always have mixed feelings. There were a lot of my students who made excellent progress. One preschooler went from being severely unintelligible to being dismissed with 100% intelligibility and ready for kindergarten. There were some kids that made minimal progress. I always wonder what I can do better for those kids that don’t progress much and sometimes I come up with some ideas.
Along with new ideas, I also realized that kindness goes a long way. I have a pair of kindergarten twins who at the beginning of the year would say, “Me no wa do thi/I don’t want to do this. After months of work, they were both pretty much the same as when they walked in through the door for the first time. These kids were easy to dislike as they have severe attention issues and are pretty non-cooperative. Getting them to come to my speech room was about a 50/50 proposition and when they refused, my strategy was not to get mad. I had worked out an agreement with their mother so I would call her and then tell the students that they were going to lose some privilege when they got home which is no fun for anyone so let’s come to speech next time. I was determined to like them and showed them that. My new idea came one day after feeling frustrated by their lack of progress. I took photos of their heads with my iPhone (which intrigued them), and made multiple copies on the copier, cut them out and pasted them onto He/She picture cards (e.g. He is riding the bike. She is washing the dog.) They now became “I am riding the bike. I am washing the dog.” We also did lots of final consonant work again in sentences “The cap is nice. The cup is nice. The map is nice.” Or ” I want the cap. I want the cup. I want the map.” I praised them frequently, “Wow, you said “The cup is nice. That’s perfect! You used to say, “The cu i nie” and their faces would light up with pride. I have not had any resistance from them for the last couple of months.
Finding motivators really helps. For one autistic student, he gets to push a tally counter when he gives a correct answer and he really likes that. For another student working on /r/, using flavored tongue depressors has helped her attitude greatly. And for a third student with a significant speech sound disorder, listening to him tell me things after we finish our work is really important to him.
So I still like what I’m doing and will be going for 40 years beginning in August!
Upcoming presentations will be a couple of beginning of the year presentations for school districts and the week of October 7-11 will be a series of workshops in Florida (specific dates have not been determined yet.).
Because I want SLPs from all over to use and understand my program, I have a .6 CEU ASHA webinar that is basically the same as my live presentations. Go to the SATPAC website for details. Here is the link: https://satpac.com/workshops/webinar
Looking for professional development for your school district or organization? Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org for details.