I’ve spent the month of May stating that it was Better Speech and Hearing Month. On the last day of this month, I’d like to share how I am a support to everyone in my school. This is not to make me seem like I deserve a pat on the back; rather I’ve realized that I haven’t done much explaining about my role in a school. I wear many hats, sometimes all at once, but always with so much gratitude for each role.
I’m a support. I support the rest of the school in many ways. Twice a week, I help with bus duty. I help schedule meetings and parent conferences. I help teachers implement strategies to assist their students. I work with the IEP team to create goals and objective for students on my caseload, while keeping a watchful eye on the student body, for any others who may benefit from my work or that of another professional. I support my students in whatever they need in that moment, that day, or that school subject that is a challenge.
I’m a listener. I listen to my students needs, but more importantly, their wants. I listen to what they want to accomplish and become. I listen to how they feel about their entire school experience, not merely their speech. I listen for feedback on my therapeutic lessons to determine what could be more motivating. I listen to concerns from parents and teachers, providing my help when appropriate, and directing them to resources other than myself when needed. I listen to what isn’t said, what a student glosses over or a parent might say in passing, and file it away in my mind should they become important in the future. I listen to constructive feedback from supervisors, colleagues, and administrators to improve my practices across the board.
I’m a friend. I refer to all of my students as my “speech friends.” I have an open door policy for all staff and students to come to me throughout the day. Maybe they want to have lunch with me, maybe they want to confide in me, maybe they want to vent or cry or celebrate. Regardless, as a good friend, I am here for everyone in my building, and am not limited to the students I serve.
I am an educator. I may not be a teacher, but I help others to understand how to care for their voice. I explain my job nearly daily, and how that changes from case to case. I teach students to refine their oral motor skills, and send them home with strategies to work on. I create comprehension scenarios for my language students. I create low-tech devices for my students learning to functionally communicate. I share strategies with students on how to plan for fluent speech. I educate the staff and administration on how I support the school, my role in the building, and how I build rapport with families and all students.
I am a student. I continue to learn new strategies to assist in instruction, adapt materials, and create new goals. I learn to take my job seriously, but not myself. I learn the value of play and to share that with my students, who are already far too stressed out for children. I learn what the world looks like through the eyes of a child. I learn from my students what matters most in life, and that I tend to over-analyze everything, when I should just roll with the tide. I learn the joy of new school supplies, the pride in a student achieving a goal for the first time and getting to witness it with them. I learn the importance of trust, believing in others, and encouragement on a daily basis.
I am a writer. I write reports, treatment plans, therapy notes, progress reports, and fill out billing forms. I write emails tell parents success stories in the speech room and how it’s carrying over into the classroom. I write thank you notes to students who’ve given me so much to enjoy at work. I write dismissal reports for when my students have mastered all goals they’ve achieved.
I am a speech-language pathologist. I work on language comprehension, expression, social skills, pragmatics, syntax, semantics, articulation, phonology, and morphology. I work on public speaking to deliver the morning announcements. I work on building confidence to encourage new friendships among students. I work with motor planning for a more fluent conversation. I work on listening comprehension to reinforce that all of my students have a right to be heard, not merely listened to. I work with teachers to support students and explain speech disorders versus speech differences. I work with administrators to explain best practice, and how the newest version of the curriculum is relevant to speech and language. I assess, diagnose, and treat speech and language disorders. I help my students navigate their lives within the building, and they help me navigate what brings me so much joy and gratitude, even on my worst day. I am a speech-language pathologist, and I am a better person for all I’ve gained though this position.
Unrelated to this post, beginning in June, I will be posting once a week instead of twice. I have so much to share with you all, and I couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come. I hope you stick with me, because what’s next is SO worth it!
Keep playing with words and see what your message creates!
–Stef the StageSLP