SLP Chat

This will be a place where therapists can share ideas, problem solve and express concerns.  Lets work together to make our jobs easier!

Teresa

SMART Goal Bank for SLPs-Share your SMART goals

Posted by on Jul 26, 2016 in Administrators Page, slider, SLP Chat | 0 comments

SMART Goal Bank for SLPs-Share your SMART goals

With the new school year on the horizon, I’m going to post once again about SMART goals. As SLPs we almost always have to figure things out on our own. With the development of professional SMART goals we’ve had to be more and more creative. I’ve seen SLPs make the process extremely complicated and SLPs who make the process a lot simpler. Coming up with new and interesting SMART goals that can relate to the SLP is just not that easy. As a group we need to start sharing our ideas. There is no reason for SLPs to be reinventing the wheel.

What I would like to propose is creating a smart goal bank specifically for Speech Language Pathologists. I would have two categories one for SLPs who need individual SMART goals and one for SLPs who may be writing group or district wide SMART goals.

Submissions should include:
Specific SMART goals as they were written in your plan
Levels/ages/grades of students you worked with at the time of the smart goal
Briefly state what you did to complete the goal.
What your administrator/principal/supervisor thought of your smart goal
Level of difficulty in completing SMART goal, self judge on a 1-5 scale
Time frame it took to complete smart goal
Your name if you would like recognition

Working part time I was able to slide under the radar when it came to SMART goals until this year. My goals this year focused on education or staff and parents. My SMART goals for this past year are listed below. My goals are a little light on the measure part but I chose a “will do this” as opposed to a challenging data collection or changing outcome. In my situation this was acceptable.

I want to create a bank of SMART goals that are practical, easy to achieve, related to speech/language and not very time consuming. So please take 5 minutes to share your experience. Either respond to this blog post or email me at theschoolspeechtherapist@gmail.com. Let’s help each other out.

Teresa

I wrote these while working in an elementary school setting.  This was very easy to complete because I wrote it to reflect something I do as part of therapy anyway.  It is a little light on measurable.  But it worked for me.

Student Learning SMART Goal(s)
Students on my caseload will spontaneously share 1-3 unique experiences each session, in a logical order with adequate details and decreased adult prompts.  In addition they will ask relevant questions about other group members shared experiences.

Professional Practice SMART Goal(s)
To share my knowledge of language development with parents, support staff and administrators by providing additional information on language development and practical strategies to aid student success. Support staff will participate in an inservice to understand the role of the SLP in school, what the SLP works on and specific language strategies that support the underlying language needs in the classroom. Parents and administrators will receive additional time and materials when needed or requested, to help understanding of individual student’s specific language needs and/or disability.  In addition parents, will be provided strategies, suggestions and materials to help develop underlying language needs in the home as needed.

Part 1: Analysis of Student Learning, Growth, and Achievement

When talking about novel experiences, students in both regular and special education often have difficulty providing logical, sequential, detailed information and difficulty expanding on topic.  Many need too many probing questions, suggestions and models when telling about experiences.
Part 2: Assessment of Practice Against Performance Standards
As a precursor to writing, students must be able to organize ideas and details, independently, in a logical and sequential manner.

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Are you looking for a smart goal idea?

Posted by on Jul 6, 2016 in Administrators Page, slider, SLP Chat | 0 comments

Are you looking for a smart goal idea?

Last year our school district asked all the SLPs to put together an inservice for teaching assistants. We all actually used this as an activity as one of our smart goals. I put together a packet which is divided up into two parts, a presenter copy with information to use as a guide and a participant packet that provides both information and an outline (to encourage some note taking and active listening). The information I presented in the hour long inservice included who we are, what we do, our training, who we work with, what we work on, how language difficulities impact learning along with some suggestions on what they can do in the classroom setting. With dollars tight, schools are often looking toward their own resources to share knowledge.

I was pretty much on my own when it came to writing a smart goal, I hope I got the form right. Maybe a little light on measurable. However, It worked for me.
Professional Practice SMART Goal:
To share my knowledge of language development with parents, support staff and administrators by providing additional information on language development and practical strategies to aid student success. Support staff will participate in an inservice to understand the role of the SLP in school, what the SLP works on and specific language strategies that support the underlying language needs in the classroom. Parents and administrators will receive additional time and materials when needed or requested, to help understanding of individual student’s specific language needs and/or disability. In addition parents, will be provided strategies, suggestions and materials to help develop underlying language needs in the home as needed.

If you like this idea and don’t want to reinvent the wheel, Speech and Language Services In Schools In-service for Teaching Assistants is available on Teachers Pay Teachers. I should add that I also supplemented the inservice with a grade specific language development expectations list. The inservice went over well. I received a couple of nice compliments. I think I provided a little insight if nothing else.

Thought for the day:  Is your Professional Liability Insurance up to date?
Trust Risk Management Services Professional Liability Insurance Click for Quote
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I need ideas!

Posted by on Jul 6, 2016 in Administrators Page, Parent Information, slider, SLP Chat | 0 comments

I need ideas!

Something about the end of the school year just sucks all my energy and creative juices. After some R & R, I’m ready to get back to work. Now I just need some ideas. Anyone have some interesting and possibly controversial topics for me to tackle?
One thing I have been doing during my down time is continuing to market my book, The School Speech Language Pathologist is an Administrator’s Guide to understanding the role of the SLP in schools along with strategies to aid staffing, workload management and student success. Most of my marketing takes place via twitter or Facebook. I sell a few copies here and there. Even in the field of speech language pathology my book is a niche book. I would love to sit at a booth during any conference and share/sell my book but the overall cost for something like that can be thousands. It is rather difficult to justify the cost when you literally make only a couple of dollars per copy anyway. Specific educational web sites won’t carry your book unless you self published through them. I imagine there are a few SLPs out there that might be in the same boat. My thought was that I could offer to split a table with several SLP authors at conferences. Anyone interested? Again, not sure with travel it would be profitable. I would probably have to find 10+ SLP/education authors to make this a go.
TPT is another resource I both contribute to and use. My products consists primarily of articles appropriate for school newsletters. (You can check out my TPT store here) I also have one product that focuses on inservice training for teaching assistants. As one of our smart goals the SLPs in my district put together some inservice training for teaching assistants on what SLPs do, the nature of students with SL difficulties and how assistants can support SL students in the classroom. I wish there was a speech and language branch of the TPT store. I feel that many of the SLP produced products get lost in the shuffle.
My principal has asked me to put together some more articles appropriate for school newsletters. While I have topics in mind again I would love ideas/suggestions.
Basically, I need some help getting my creative flow going. Has any pressing issue come to the forefront in your school setting? I’d love to hear about any unique situations positive or negative that have come up over the past year. I’m also sitting here waiting to see if ASHA will accept my presentation proposal. Since this was the first time I put a proposal together I am hopeful but realistic about getting accepted. If I do get and invitation to present I will just have to force that creative flow. That I will keep you updated on. Now how to work on all of this and still enjoy my summer?

Teresa

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Thank You: Book Giveaway!

Posted by on Apr 5, 2016 in Administrators Page, Parent Information, slider, SLP Chat | 6 comments

Thank You:  Book Giveaway!

One year ago this month I published my first book The School Speech Language Pathologist, An Administrator’s Guide to understanding the role of the SLP in schools along with strategies to aid staffing, workload management and student success. I don’t have to explain to SLPs why I was compelled to write this book. It evolved first in my head, then as a powerpoint and then as a small book. Tired of feeling overwhelmed and disrespected, I pushed the completion of the book into high gear after winning a self publishing contract through my publisher Booklocker (which I highly recommend as a self publisher).

Publishing this book was a milestone in my life. To celebrate that and to thank my many followers, I want to give away 5 copies to active followers of my blog, The School Speech Therapist. To become an active follower, sign up through the feedburner link on the right. You will receive an email to activate your subscription. Winners will be chosen at random on April 30th 2016.

My book sales have been slow but steady. I’ve been pleased with the feedback I’ve received from other SLPs. I’m still working on getting it into the hands of those who need it such as school administrators. I’ll take any suggestions on how to do that. We all need to do a better job advocating for ourselves, our skills and our students. There is too much wrong with the way most of us service students in schools, primarily around workload. We have become blurred with teachers and most administrators don’t believe we have a lot to contribute. I’m rarely consulted on practices, policies or even student decisions beyond showing up to IEP meetings where they legally have to have us there. This book is just a start and I hope someone with more energy and better connections will expand the fight (yes unfortunately it is a fight at this point).

Thank you to everyone who follows The School Speech Therapist and my companion Facebook page. If you can’t wait to buy my book it is available through Amazon (see link below), Barnes and Nobel and through my publisher Booklocker.

Teresa

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Scheduling and the SLP

Posted by on Feb 19, 2016 in Administrators Page, slider, SLP Chat | 0 comments

Scheduling and the SLP

This past week I participated in a chat on Facebook that focused on never leaving an empty space in your school schedule. I’ve know for years that when administrators see even a 15 minute block empty, they seem to think the SLP has a ton of time to spare. Not sure where this mind set comes from but I guarantee the school psychologist is not under the same scrutiny.

The fact that SLPs are having a discussion tells me there is something wrong with our situation. Either we are not respected as professionals or administrators really have no idea what we do. I’m going to go with the latter (because I can do something about that). I also know a lot of the squeezing we receive is because of budget. Administrators, especially those higher up the food chain are often not aware of our education, training and background. For some reason our profession has become aligned with teachers when we really should be aligned with the school psychologist. Many school systems are requiring our student goals to be in line with Common Core Standards when everything we we’ve ever been taught is based on child development. When and how did we let this happen? That’s an issue for another article but part of the underlying problem.

I don’t know about you but if I have a 15-30 minute block free I’m usually doing one or two of several things. I might be catching up on time because I’m running late with my sessions, I might have a report (or two), an IEP, medicaid paperwork or progress reports to work on. I might take that “extra time” to do an observation for RTI. I might do a make up session. I might find a teacher or other professional to consult with. I might test one of my students with a short attention span. I might take the time to prepare materials for my sessions. I might be responding to emails or contacting parents. I might even take the time to research or consult with another therapist on a puzzling case. You get where I’m going with this. First I really don’t believe our administrators know all the little things we do and that is our profession’s fault. Second, I don’t believe (some) administrators feel we can be independent without goofing off, that’s insulting. Third, I don’t believe administrators realize how much work we end up doing at home (teachers have the same problem).

When I complete my final schedule I always list all possible activities I might be doing during an empty block. One person in the Facebook chat mentioned that they put a question mark when scheduling their “lunch?” block because they never feel lunch is a guarantee. Reality is we have different paperwork responsibilities and need extra time in our schedules to at least get started on those activities. “Prep time” negotiated with or given to teachers does not fit our needs. We’re writing legal documents that have to hold up in court. It’s hard to write a coherent document in small blocks of time.

In the hopes of giving administrators a better idea of our role and all that we do, I wrote a book just for them. The School Speech Language Pathologist, An Administrators Guide to understanding the role of the SLP in schools along with strategies to aid staffing, workload management and student success. In this book I talk about all the little things we do, the time it takes to complete tasks, schedule solutions and so much more.

Several years back I wrote a somewhat related article called Proactive Scheduling. Using the process outlined in the article, the entire special education staff was scheduled in June for the following year. It was one of the my best professional experiences. Not only did it save massive amounts of time in September, we were able to start seeing students day one. My team facilitator initiated this scheduling process. Not only did it give her a clear picture of staffing needs she also understood our workloads. Since she took an interest in the process she never felt the need to question our time management.

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OOPS! Don’t forget to renew

Posted by on Feb 14, 2016 in pictures, slider, SLP Chat | 0 comments

Well even with all my articles on the importance of liability insurance and reminderst to my readers to renew their liability insurance……guess what I did? I forgot to renew my policy by Feb 1. For some reason I had the 15th in my head. No problem I was within the grace period so Trust Risk Management renewed my policy without question.  Next time you take the time to check on your CEU status (which is something else I can’t seem to remember without writing it down) check on your liability insurance renewal date.

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Bags! Bags! We love bags!

Posted by on Feb 4, 2016 in pictures, slider, SLP Chat | 0 comments

Bags! Bags!  We love bags!

Every so often the topic of “Which bag is best” come up on an SLP Facebook page. No matter what setting you’re in SLP’s need bags. I doubt many of us could not function with out 2-3 or 10 good bags at our disposal. Having a bag that is functional and of course stylish is the main goal of any serious SLP.
I personally can’t leave the house without at least 4 bags hanging across my body and both arms. Each morning when I load up the term “Pack Mule” comes to mind.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 5.27.10 PMSo what bags do SLPs need?

  1. A big bag to shlep our daily materials from place to place. The younger the students the more physical materials we need, the bigger the bag.
  2. A bag to keep our files organized. We need 24/7 access to our paperwork since a good chunk is always done at home
    A bag to bring our office wherever we go. These days our office is much more than just a day planner. Our computers and iPads and phones need to be protected. We carry all our cords and external chargers. Given the way we work we still need all those old school office supplies too.
  3. A lunch bag big enough to back two meals, a snack and thermos. No time to stop, no time to go anywhere, little time to heat up and school cafes are not usually an option.
  4. Our purse, we still need our stuff (Guys not so much…lucky them)
  5. One large empty bag to help shift materials around or to try and consolidate so you only need to make one trip into the building.

After that last Facebook discussion on bags I decided to share some of the styles suggested. My own personal choice leans toward the medium canvas LL Bean Bag with long handles. I keep one for each setting I work in. My computer and files fit in well with some room to spare. The medium bag is also big enough for some smaller kid materials. I’ll use a larger Bean Bag or my ADK Packworks bag (which doubles as my grocery bag) if I have larger materials or tests to shlep. I also have several smaller pouch type bags for cords, office supplies, personal items, and stickers. Below are some of the bags mentioned as preferred by SLPs.

31 Large Utility Bag-This bag was mentioned several times and comes in many fun patterns

Lands End School Uniform Large Bag-this is very similar to the LL Bean bags I like to use

Roxy Woman’s Story Teller Shoulder Bag

Scout Bags-many cute styles and colors

Hobby Lobby Rolling Craft Bag-Not sure which style the SLP reporting was referring to but the rolling craft bags or carts have usually have lots of smaller compartments for all the little things we use. I’ve noticed more and more teachers using the rolling carts. I’ve also seen them struggle up stairs, even though we’re in accessable buildings.

Vera Bradley Carried Away Tote-You’re either a Vera Bradley fan or you’re not. However, this bag looks roomy. I wonder how the seams hold up.

Kelty Zippered Bags-The Kelty products look very strong. I couldn’t find the exact product the SLP mentioned but it look like three bags that fit into one. Not sure it had handels or not. Let me keep looking

Longaberger Craft Keeper Basket-This is a really cute idea. I own one Longaberger basket and do like it as a decorative piece. To make this work you would have to be a very savvy shopper, finding one on ebay or similar site. I use old baskets all the time in my office. You would also have to be fairly organized and have a special place in your car or office for it.

One person suggested picking up the free bags from Super Duper. I guess they’re pretty good and only found at ASHA

INC bags-again not sure which one was suggested many nice styles.

ADK Packworks-this doubles as a grocery bag

LLBean Bags-available at LLBean

I don’t think we’re ever going to get away from carrying our “speech stuff” around. If we have to carry bags we might as well do it in style. Maybe one of our eentrapaurnal colleagues with a family member in the luggage business will design a matching set of bags just for SLP’s. Light weight, functional and stylish bags that could rival Coach or Louie Vuitton, but be within an SLPs budget. So what is your favorite therapy bag and why?

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March 2, 2016 Read Across America Day

Posted by on Jan 26, 2016 in Administrators Page, Parent Information, slider, SLP Chat, Your Middle Schooler: A Unique Age | 0 comments

March 2, 2016 Read Across America Day

March 2nd is The National Education Association’s Read Across America Day. Read more about it on the NEA website . Does your school do anything special for the Event. My school usually does a little something to rah rah reading. While this is a very important event, don’t forget to encourage your students or your children to read all the time. Reading is a great way to develop language, vocabulary and background knowledge.

Lots of cute t-shirts out there to celebrate the day and of course the required Dr. Suess hat

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Are accommodations taking the place of specialized instruction?

Posted by on Jan 18, 2016 in Administrators Page, Parent Information, slider, SLP Chat | 0 comments

Are accommodations taking the place of specialized instruction?

Several years back the powers that be came up with RTI or Response to Intervention. Seriously what a semantically flawed title. RTI was interpreted and implemented differently in every school system based on the administration’s perspective. At first I disliked RTI, I felt it was a program that delayed needed services. RTI also suggested that accommodations could be a cure all for students who struggled.

Then for a while, I thought RTI was really working and it did for some kids. It was very dependent on the understanding/knowledge of the RTI team and willingness to put effort into the process. Teachers were beginning recognize weaknesses/issues and bring up names of at risk students sooner. However, looking back I think the names were brought up because teachers were more concerned that the student in question would not do well on state wide testing without accommodations. (It’s amazing how those students got fast tracked.)

There has to be some sort of a referral process but I’m still not convenience RTI is an effective model. RTI is set up to be a regular education service. Who makes up the RTI team will determine the quality of the accommodations presented. I’m just not convinced that those without a special education background can identify the possible weaknesses and make the proper suggestions for accommodations. Some school systems include a School Psychologist as part of their RTI team which is a big plus moving the process along in a more efficient manner, perhaps even skipping right into formalized evaluation.

Basically what comes out of Tier I and Tier II RTI levels are a lot of accommodations, many suggestions and a few observations. The teacher is instructed to put the generated accommodations in place to see if that works first. This makes perfect sense with some students but not all. With more involved students it’s 12 weeks or more wasted collecting data on accommodations.  In many cases accommodations that a special educator, SLP or School Psychologist could tell you are not going to target the student’s specific underlying needs.   Developmentally, 3 months is a very long time for a struggling student.

What is happening to the student during this long period of time without specialized instruction? Gaps in learning are going to emerge making it even harder for a student to catch up, school is going to get more difficult and confidence will flounder. Only those educators with a strong special education background are going to understand the underlying consequences.

Now look at IEPs, we actually have a section for accommodations in the document. Yes, most students will benefit from some accommodations. Some disabilities must have accommodations.  However, since the advent of RTI and state wide testing the list of accommodations written into an IEP has grown significantly. Do accommodations without instruction, models and guidance really work? When it comes to accommodations, (written in RTI, 504s or IEPs) that is only one of many questions to be asked.

  • Are we giving a false impression to parents and teachers that accommodations are going to cure the problem?
  • Are students passing both classroom tests and state wide exams only because they are given every accommodation in the book?
  • Do we provide so many accommodations without needed instructions that students have a false sense of their own capabilities and success?
  • Are we teaching kids to expect the world to accommodate them in all situations? (Imagine the implications with college and work situations)
  • Are we keeping kids from understanding their issues and disabilities, not holding them responsible for their behavior and learning?
  • What is wrong with the system if we have to provide accommodations for so many students?
  • Are individual accommodations needed because the need for universal supports and expectations has been ignored?
  • Why would a special education national screening program be set up in a way that those suggesting accommodations do not have the educational background to understand learning disabilities and weaknesses?
  • How can accommodations work when the underlying issues have not been formally identified or recognized by specially trained staff?

Every time I sit down to write accommodations for my speech and language students I focus on if the accommodation is needed, will it be effective, can it actually be implemented on a regular basis, will teachers/parents understand what an accommodation will achieve and will the accommodations keep the student from achieving higher expectations. I know one of the reasons I write so many accommodations, in an IEP, is to try to impress upon teachers (and those working with language disabled children) that language disabilities affect all aspects of learning. I also have the advantage of working on the underlying language needs and to help the student develop their own understanding and strategies for success.

Increased reliance on accommodations less specialized instruction is just a trend I have observed since the implementation of RTI and state mandated testing. Has your experience been the same?

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Time to pay the ASHA dues

Posted by on Dec 11, 2015 in slider, SLP Chat, SLP Conferences/Workshops Review | 0 comments

Time to pay the ASHA dues

The timing might not be right but it is time to make sure your ASHA dues is paid for the year. It is also a good time to check the status of your other licenses, update your CEU progress and check on your liability insurance renewal date.

If you want to work as a Speech Language Pathologist in the United States you have to have that ASHA certification there is no way around it. This year I decided to join one special group so my total bill was $285. I still find it very interesting that we have to be members in a private group with corporate sponsors but that’s an issue for another day. I had a very hard time signing that check this year knowing the Pearson is a corporate sponsor. I guess in the long run it is probably better than the government running our certification process.

This year I also had to renew my state license for $68 dollars. I still have a few years until my state teaching license needs to be renewed. My CEUs/PDPs for the state are well on track since they are giving me acknowledgement for writing my book (ASHA said no). I do need to look for a few interesting conferences over the next year.

Lastly, it is extremely important to carry your own liability insurance. Your place of business or school system will carry some liability insurance but you can always be personally sued. Granted that in 30 years I’ve not once had a concern about being sued but I always felt better knowing I was protected. Last year the Trust Risk Management Services became and advertiser on The School Speech Therapist. I did a comparison of rates and coverage and decided to switch. I recently received notification that my insurance renewal was coming up in February so I made a note to pay in January.

After checking, updating and paying I can start the first of the year with a plan for continuing education and not worry about anything else.

Teresa

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