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We, the school speech language pathologists, are frustrated with being given inadequate therapy rooms. Some of us are happy just to get a room with a door at all, and that is unacceptable. We provide a range of specialized services that require a proper space for our students.
School SLPs are often overlooked by admin and school boards when it comes to a proper space for our students. Speech services are not always seen as critical, even with advocacy provided by building and district SLPs.
FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) does require a basic level of privacy for our students, many of whom do not receive this when a therapy space is shared with other teachers or staff.
What message are we sending to our students when we provide services in storage closets, school hallways, cafeterias, or similar spaces? This is often the norm, not the exception, when it comes to school SLPs/SLPAs.
We look to you to not only advocate for us, speech language pathologists, but also for our students. Our profession has been in the school setting for far too long to continue to be looked over when it comes to proper therapy spaces.
How do you as our national governing body plan to make changes and advocate for us on a national and state level? We look forward to your statement and support of your school speech language pathologists.
Sincerely, A Frustrated SLP
What can you do to help make change? Reach out to ASHA through the ASHA National Office. I have linked the Action Center page below as well as listed their phone number to help voice your options. Share this post with other SLPs, admin, and supporters to get the word out. Reach out to local teacher unions you may be a part of a share your experience and the experiences of others.
Phone: 800- 498- 2071
Your workspace can be an enjoyable space for you to spend time. My setup has completely evolved since working from home, growing my business, and getting into PC gaming. Check out some of my favorite items linked below!
Wall Tapestry– The wall tapestry is from my Etsy shop and is available in a variety of designs! Perfect for an office, classroom, or wherever you need a little extra décor. The styles that I have in stock quickly change, so if you see a style you like make sure to grab it quick.
Large Mouse Pad– If you are working on a small mouse pad you are doing yourself a disservice. Not only does this double as a backdrop for my products, but also allows me to use my entire desk space for moving around my mouse.
Curved Monitors– Do you really need a curved monitor? Yes! I don’t really know the science behind it, but I do think they feel better on my eyes. I recently purchased a second one, that’s how much I love it!
Light Up Keyboard– I love having a keyboard that is a little smaller than your usually keyboard (60% to be correct). There are so many light features which brings just a little extra joy to my typing and gaming experience.
Gaming Mouse– Even if you are not a gamer, I would recommend this mouse. The extra lights are a bonus, but I love how lightweight it is. For something that you move a lot, the weight difference is noticeable.
Cart with Drawers– These carts are everywhere, but I like this one since it has a verity of drawer sizes. The width of the cart is perfect to fit my Cricut. I labeled drawers with vinyl decals I made myself.
Cricut Explore Air 2– This was my first ever Cricut product and of course it had to go with the Ginger Speechie vibes with the lilac color! I use my Cricut to cut of the stickers you can purchase in my Etsy shop.
Rolling Cart– Another popular cart design, but this one is different because of the flat top option. I am able to store my oil diffuser, scale, and other products on top for easy use. The top is removable which adds extra storage!
Oil Diffuser– This adds just a little extra peace to my workspace. Depending on how I feel or how I want to feel is the smells I decide upon. It even has a light that you can choose the color adding to the “vibe” you are going after.
*If you purchase from the amazon links above I do earn a small amount of money.
I wanted a challenge. Something that I could look forward to everyday when I went into work. This past year due to COVID we were aloud to wear jeans everyday to work. I decided to merge my challenge with this change of clothing. The dress challenge was then born. everyday I went to work I would wear some type of dress or skirt to work. My dress challenge in April really made me realize somethings that I didn’t think it would. Here are some of the highlights.
1) Re-wearing clothes that make you feel great help improve your attitude on the day. I swear I felt better on days where I was really feeling my outfit. I even when through one of the hardest days yet of my career during this time, and looking back I am so happy I was wearing a comfortable dress on that day.
2) I have wayyyy too many clothes that I don’t like, and need to get rid of. If they don’t make me feel great, then why have them? I know that I have some clothes that are two years old, and I have never worn them. I always said that I would wear them someday, but if that hasn’t come yet then it’s not worth holding on to. Knowing that all pants were out for the month allowed me to realize what dress and skirts I actually like!
3) Dresses can be powerful. There was something about taking on my feminine side and having dresses be a closet staple. (Yes, anyone can wear a dress/skirt, personally I equate them with my feminine side). The freeness that comes with wearing a dress and still kicking some therapy booty was so powerful. I think sometimes we are afraid to express the feminine side in case we come off as “weak” or “unable to complete a task”, let me tell you, YOU can do anything in a dress! I paired them with shorts and found athletic dresses that have built in shorts for those days that I know I may have to tackle a lot!
4) My students were able to relate with what I wore. Little girls would come up to me and say how they are wearing a dress and we matched. It was wonderful to make those small connections throughout the day. This pairs with number 3 above with showing littles how powerful that side of ourselves can be! I feel like overtime we begin to wear dresses less and less for a variety of different reasons, but I want to reclaim the reasons I may feel like I can’t.
5) Confidence in my body grew. Sometimes I didn’t always like how a skirt, shirt, or dress would fall on me, but it was amazing how the more I wore, the more confident I was becoming. The first few days I was super self-conscious wearing a dress to work and kept pulling at the hem. Slowly overtime I found a confidence in myself that grew to love whatever I chose and others didn’t have to worry about it.
6) Stepping outside my box- this was my biggest takeaway. I put together color combinations, materials, and clothing items that I never thought I could pull off. I’ve found a fashion that I think 14 year old Elizabeth would have been proud of.
My speech room received an upgrade this year, so I wanted to share what I am doing with some of the extra space I have. Some of these practices are to help with social distancing due to COVID-19, while others are here to stay permanently.
Interactive Bulletin Board: 🌟This year I’m using a numbered organizer for all of my students to have their own supplies. Inside they have crayons, glue stick, and reward punch card. Hopefully this helps cut down on germs!🌟I’m using @aperfectblendteaching interactive language board to target a wide range of language skills. This is perfect to discuss while we are putting on our hand sanitizer.
Sensory Corner: 🌟Sensory area for my students this year. There are pillows with different textures, sensory bottles, and other sensory items for students. 🌟In order to keep students safe, I have my Clean Me bucket. This is for fidget toys, headphones, and other things that need cleaned once used. I might not always have time to clean them right away, but when I do have time I can clean them for other students to use. Grab your decal here to make your own!
Color Coded Stations: 🌟Colored stools paired with a dot on the table help keep students in their area during therapy. This also allows students to know where to go for speech/language centers.
I’m a school SLP.
That means that I focus what I learned in graduate school on children from ages 3-21 with a wide range of abilities. I can help your child who has trouble with his “s” sound. That also means that I can help the student who stutters while presenting in front of the class. That student who is nonverbal? Yes, they are on my caseload too. Don’t forget about the student who has language difficulties, and sometimes answers questions with the wrong ‘wh’ question. Or how about the student with autism that keeps getting in fights because they have difficulty interpreting social situations? I am on their team too.
Some students you may not realize that I also see could be the child who just had their cleft lip repaired. The student with a life long syndrome that affects their ability to swallow, and eat at lunch with their peers. The student who was in a car accident, and now has a Traumatic Brain Injury affecting their speech.
You may see us playing games in the room, or see us walking around school with one student and think it’s easy. I’m a professional who is constantly evaluating and reassessing my students so they get the best therapies possible.
School SLPs have to ride this fine line between the school and medical communities. What I say next is not everyone, but it’s enough to be said. We are often alone (or greatly outnumbered) in our school districts. Most teachers, staff, and administrators don’t fully grasp our scope of practice. Medical SLPs, OTs, PTs, and doctors don’t always think our evaluations, recommendations, or therapy practices to be up to their level. The letters after my name are the same whether I work in a school or hospital. School SLPs play games, love hands on activities, and participate in school spirit days that to some in the medical community may diminish our professionalism in their eyes. It’s difficult to for me to find my place, and that’s not something that grad school prepared me for. I think this feeling is why school SLPs feel so connected to each other via social media.
I love puns, bright colored classrooms, silly sock days, classroom parties, eating school lunch with my students, and working with teachers, paraprofessionals, nurses, and counselors to help our students.
We (myself included) need to help educate both the school and medical communities on the importance behind what we do. Only through this can we better help our students, families, colleagues, and our own importance in serving the school districts. Be that importance show it’s self in salary, supplies, or even a room larger than a janitors closet.
I am a school Speech Language Pathologist.
As we enter the month before most schools start, I began to take sometime to get my list of must have for school next year. My school has not made the decision yet on what we are doing, but I do know that speech during a pandemic is going to have to look a bit different. Here are some of the items I have on my back to school list.
Expectations– Spend the first week of therapy talking about expectations for your speech room. Most years I have done this in bits and pieces, but this year I am going to tackle it hard. Make sure the students know what you expect for them, and have them decided ways they can keep other students safe that use your classroom. Some ideas are showing where the tissues are, using hand sanitizer when you come in and out of the room, staying in your assigned seat, etc.
Clean Me Bucket– I know that I don’t have a ton of time between groups, so I made this Clean Me bucket for when I do have time. Students can put things in here that they have used so I can clean them for other students. You can grab your decal to make your own bucket here.
Dry Erase Markers– Did you know you can write on most tables/desks with dry erase marker and it comes up easily? (Make sure to try it out first.) Draw a square, circle, line boundaries to keep students in their area of the table to reduce the spread of germs. Having students stay in their bubble of the table doesn’t have to be scary for them, but turn it into a game!
Sensory Bottles– Sensory bins are so last year… Just kidding! I will still be using sensory bins, but to start the year I’m using sensory bottles. These can be filled with lots of small objects that you can use to illicit language. Sensory bottles are also a great way to meet sensory seeking behavior needs, while being able to quickly wipe down between students.
Extra Dice– Make sure to have simple things like extra sets of dice so each student can have their own. There are a TON of ways you can use dice, especially with articulation. Give a student a word, have them roll the die, and say and color in the word on a 100 trials sheet the number on the die. You can grab some free 100 trial worksheets here!
Face Mask– As a speech therapist we HAVE to be able to model our mouth for our students. Although it is unclear if school next year will mandate masks, I still purchased myself two masks with a clear window. This will allow my students to see my mouth for a visual model.
No matter what you do, make sure your students know the WHY behind it. Yes, even your preschoolers and other young students who may need reminding. The more communication and explanation, the more seamless your school year will be!
What are some of your tips for next school year?
I want to start off this blog post by saying I do not do teletherapy full time, but I do want to share my background with you. In graduate school I had two clients through teletherapy, ages 9 and 4. I also did my graduate thesis over perceptions of telepractice in the school setting, and I did a poster presentation on this at my state conference. Previously I did VIPKID which teaches Chinese children English over the internet. That is where I learned how to keep students motivated and engaged. If you would like to see some other great SLPs who do this full time check out Lady in the Box, Whimsical SLP, and Stacy Crouse on Instagram or TPT.
Motivation & Engagement
Recently I wrote a post on ways to keep your students engaged during therapy sessions (you can check it out here). I never thought I would have to be writing again so soon on how I do this through teletheraphy. My main go to product? Find A Star (FAS) activities. Not only does it help keep your students motivated, but it also helps keep you on track time wise. Stars are hidden under pictures and numbers. Students must find all 5 stars before the session is over. I normally like to have they choose a number/card every few minutes. I use the pictures on the cards to ask questions, and prompt further language. Students are being rewarded, while still targeting their goals! I let students choose numbers/images based on their ability to stay focused, not on their ability to perform a goal area correctly. This keeps the sessions positive, and the FAS something to look forward to.
Something else I use a lot to get students engaged are props. That can be something that you have already around the house, or something you find on Amazon. My go to props are giant eyes, ears, and microphone that I printed off and laminated. The students usually laugh at the over sized props when I put them on my face. I use them to indicate to students that I need their eyes and ears on me if they are getting distracted. The microphone is perfect for the students who need some prompting to talk. Remember that for most of our students this may be strange to them talking to a computer.
Now this may be different for every person. Make sure that you have a space that you can set aside to do your therapy sessions. Have an old corner of your house that you don’t use? Great! I find it easier, and less stressful, if I have a dedicated space to work at rather than setting up my station everyday. This allows me time to not worry about setting time aside for setting up my work station everyday. Now I understand not everyone can do this, but think outside the box! Finally, use backdrops to your advantage. Maybe put the FAS on the wall behind you as a reminder to keep your students focused. I also have a blanket on my lap as I like often get cold if I am sitting in one place for too long. remember to take breaks, and get up and move around! If you can set up your computer on a platform you can stand at that is even better.
Just because therapy is now done through the computer, that doesn’t mean you can’t still do the things you normally do. If you like doing themes to keep yourself centered (like me) then keep doing that! If you are a bit more individualized, keep doing that! Therapy is as unique as you and me (and that’s ok).
What if your student can’t stay seated? Send them on a scavenger hunt around their house for certain items. If they are a student who will wander off and never return, set a timer for them! You can also do charades with the students, or brain breaks using videos like Go Noodle.
What if your students doesn’t talk? Remember receptive communication and auditory bombardment that we were taught in school? Yes, that is perfect for a time like this! Students may not understand for a little bit that you are the same person asking them to do the same things they do at school. You are no longer in the environment they are use to, you are now inside their homes.
What if I freeze!? That is bound to happen at some point! Have a list of questions you can ask the student. This can make you ready for any situation, and help warm both you and your student up for the day.
Messing Up, Boundaries, & Grace
You are human. You will mess up, and that is okay. It can be a bit stressful knowing that the parent is their while you are doing your sessions. Remember, you are the professional. Trust your schooling, trust your experience, and trust your gut. Your students may run away, or cry, or not talk at all the first few sessions, and that happens! Remember what it is like when you see a new student face to face, that can be hard too. If a parent is trying to take over a session, do not be afraid to ask them for less input during your sessions. That also works in the opposite way, maybe your parents think that teletherapy is free babysitting. If you need a parent to stay in the room, tell them that. Taking out the physical proximity that face to face therapy brings only means you need to increase your communication with the parents. Going from therapy at school, where you see the parents once a year at IEP meetings, to seeing them every week is not only new for you, but also for them. Give yourself grace.
If no one has told you today, thank you for all that you are doing.
Teletherapy Ideas 💡 I wanted to share some of the resources I will be using if my district closes due to COVID-19. My entire store is an additional 20% off until Tuesday 3/17/3030. Please let me know if you have any questions. Grab my Teletherapy Sample Packet here!
Teen Problem Solving & Inferencing Worksheets– This resource can be easily mirrored on your students screen. You can talk through each question, or have them write on the screen. Each senior even comes with a page with word bubbles you can role play with your students.
One Sheet Articulation Activity– This is a big one to target a wide range of speech levels. It takes you from sound to sentence level. Students can mark off each section once completed, and even do the maze themed to the sound!
Articulation Pattern Worksheets– Normally I have students cut and paste the images at the bottom of the page, but this is easily adaptable to teletherapy. Students can read each image aloud, and then draw a line to what the missing image is!
Mega Articulation Coloring Sheet Bundle– This bundle includes 14 different themes to use with your students! Students can say each word and then cross it out of their screen. The bundle also is an easy way to send a packet home for your students who don’t have computer access at home.
Digital Articulation Bundle– This includes 5 click through PDF resources. Depending on the software you use to provide services, students or you can click through each resource. This adds an interactive layer that some of the other resources might not always provide.
Ultimate Speech, Language, Social Skills Bundle– This bundle includes a little bit of something for everyone. Lots of leveled activities that can easily be adapted to teletherapy. The ultimate bundle saves you 30% on 15 activities versus buying each item on it’s own. This bundle is perfect to use as take home packets as well!
Motivation 🎯 We all need a reason to do what we do everyday. Yes, I love my job, but extrinsically the money is what motivates me to come to work on the days I really don’t want to. Now you may be thinking, “Elizabeth, I do it for the happiness it brings me”, and that’s okay too! You getting that intrinsic feeling may be enough, but I know I need a bit more sometimes.
Well, our students aren’t that different! Different students require different levels of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to work hard during therapy. Some students are okay with a good job or thumbs up, but others need a bit more (and that’s ok)! Let’s put ourselves in their shoes… You may be pulling them out or pushing in on a time they don’t really enjoy. You are pushing them to get better at something they struggle with, so they may feel a bit apprehensive to mess up. Not I know that’s not ALL students, but it is human nature to need to be motivated.
These are just some of the ways I am currently motivating my students extrinsically during therapy. Some take some prep, while others are just a Target run away!
Mini Erasers: Small & easy to use. Perfect to put over target sounds, vocabulary words, or even just to have for good behavior. Themed erasers illicit language too! I get mine at Target or you can buy in bulk on their website. I have seen them available at other stores too!
Smash Mat: I get asked a lot about what it is used for, and the answer is anything! Great to pair with mini erasers or play dough to cover pictures. I like to pair them with my sensory bin cards, when they pull that picture it get covered. I have these available with every themed articulation coloring sheet on my TPT!
Popper: Easily themed for units. Students can pop them at picture cards or use it as a reward for so many things done. I have found these at Target sometimes, but Amazon has a large inventory too!
Play-dough: My students can’t get enough of this sensory item! Great for smashing on cards or smash mats. Bonus free time at the end of therapy! I am a stickler with my play-dough though, NO mixing colors. 5 Below has some cheap play-dough tools that I picked up at the start of the year too.
Whatever motivates your students, whether it be words of affirmation, candy, or something above keep it fresh! I would love to hear what you use to motivate your students by commenting below! Also, check out some of the past ways I motivate my students.
With my move to a new district this year also came with me being the only SLP. I was excited to figure out how I wanted to set up screenings that made sense to me. At our district we screen all Kindergarten, 2nd, and 4th grade classes to start the year. Here is what I used to stay organized as I screened about 150 students in one week.
Step 1: Can you hear me now?
Hearing screenings… the one thing we get thrown into. Sometimes the school nurse does them (if this is you I’m jealous), sometimes the SLP gets them. Honestly I don’t mind doing them… if the students can follow directions. I had one student who would tell me I didn’t hear that every time I hit the button, and only when I hit the button… I’m sure there are lots of ways to have students respond, but these are someways I had my students respond to the tones.
￼Raise your hand when you hear the sound.
Touch the ear you hear the sound in.
Give me a high 5 every time you hear something.
Touch a sticker on the table when you hear the sound.
Step 2: What to use as a screener?!
I looked all over the internet and TpT to find a screener that matched my style of screening. I ended up using the Interactive Articulation and Language Screener bundle from The Dabbling Speechie. I loved how it was broken up into grade levels and even came with screening forms. I ended up making my own forms just for how my brain works, but the full color pictures worked great! I now keep both screeners clipped to my cabinet for easy grab and go when I have REDs. I’m
Step 3: Keeping Track of Pass/Monitor/Fail
All this screening ends up leading to something right?! How can you keep all the students in the correct piles to make sure you don’t miss someone?
I used a color coding system for pass, re-screen next year, and fail (refer). Each grade also had their own folders so I can pick them all up at the start of next year. I printed out a class roster so I could also highlight which students I saw and which folder they ended up in. This extra step made double checking that students were receiving the next steps of RtI or referrals much easier.
Step 4: Keep em moving!
Now you may ask how did I get through my students so quickly being that I had several grades to take care of all of my own. Well lucky for me since I am at a smaller school classrooms are rather close to me since I am up near the office. I put a rainbow rug that is usually in my room outside with some quiet books and puzzles for students to work on while they were waiting to be called in. I would have students on a rotation, two on the carpet or one is in my room. Every time a student was done with me I would send them back to the classroom to grab the next student in line. Many of the teachers already have their students numbered which made keeping the students on track easier.￼￼￼
Stickers! Using my special smelly stickers also made it easier for teachers to identify who they had sent to see me and who still needed to see me. Any student loves to get stickers whether they want to admit it or not. Making them smelly stickers is an added bonus!
I hope this helps with your screenings in the future. Please comment below any tips or tricks you have found handy as we know this field isn’t ever a learning process.￼￼