As some of you may know, I am expecting my first baby (It's a BOY!) and will be taking some time off from work and blogging before and after his arrival. During that time, there will be several guest bloggers/SLPs that will be featured on my blog. I am so excited to share all of the amazing, informative posts they have come up with. I can not thank them all enough for taking the time to write these posts! Just another one of the many reasons I love being part of the SLP world. I hope you all enjoy reading everything over the next several weeks. Please feel free to leave comments and post questions.
The next guest post is written by Carly at Happily SLP! Enjoy!
When I graduated in May of 2012, I had been searching for a job for almost six months with no luck. Fortunately, I was offered a job two hours away from the city I lived in, and two hours away from my new husband. When I started in August we had only been married for two months. However, this is not a post about long distance relationships, but rather how a less than ideal job can be quite wonderful.
I was nervous taking a job that required me to move so far away. Also, much of the job was going to be really new to me. I had never worked with the birth to three population before, nor had I worked with middle school and high school students. It was intimidating! On top of it all, it was a traveling job working for an educational service unit and not directly for a school. While I was excited to even be offered a job I was apprehensive about the less than ideal situation I had dreamed my first job would be. After a lot of thought and many questions to my potential employers, I took the job.
My first two days were nearly impossible because I was so overwhelmed and homesick (which is say a lot since I lived by myself in Europe for the majority of my college career). My job also required me to do a lot of driving. I averaged about 1000 miles every week and I was covering two school districts and six sites. It was overwhelming and it was hard. I was not use to the long hours (despite the intensity of grad school), nor was I happy about living by myself in a town where I knew no one. I enjoy challenges but this was almost too much. Many days I was going through the motions and hoping that I was doing things correctly. My CFY supervisors, coworkers and online SLP community were a saving grace.
But guess what?!?! Things got better. I found that the drive could be quite beautiful; it was a wonderful time to think, decompress and or catch up with friends and family over the phone. My students also kept me going. No matter where you go kids are kids. No matter their background, socio-economic status or verification they may or may not have, the students look up to and rely on you. Their smiles and accomplishments helped me through the tough times. They are one of the main reasons I had gone into the SLP field to begin with. In addition, I was extremely fortunate to have the most wonderful colleagues who went out of their way to make me feel at home and a super supportive husband who believed in me.
My job, though less than ideal initially, was just perfect. I was able to grow and learn so much and the challenges were a blessing. Although I have changed jobs I think of my first job very fondly. I would like to think that through it all, it made me a better Speech-Language Pathologist.
Here are some of my tips for limiting materials and keeping therapy simple:
-Plan lessons ahead of time with a variety of target goals. For example, many language games and materials can also be used in articulation and fluency treatment; these are great for carry-over
-Pick one set of materials to bring in, limit the number of things you have with you. Since I have so many tpt materials it was important to limit myself to a few things at a time. Picking a theme for that week or for the two weeks helped limit what I brought in
-Get a nice rolling bag. I was lucky enough to get a huge scrapbook bag from my mom with a lot of pockets and places to hold things.
-Utilize materials that are available to you. You can do a lot with one ball, or one puzzle. Do you have a dry erase board? It can be used to draw and write on and work on any goal.
-BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS! I love books. They can be used for every single goal you can imagine to target. Students also love having a book read to them.
-Have go to binders with quick worksheets and activities. I have binders with coloring sheets for artic students each separated by sounds and binders with drill sheets of vocab words, homonyms, antonyms, categories, figurative language and much more.
-Encourage the student to bring in curriculum materials. Is that student missing social studies everyday? Have them bring in their book and read or work on comprehension questions. No materials needed!
-Ipad! Have a variety of apps and games for students. It is amazing how much language you can get while playing a game.
-Try to have a designated spot for data and or paperwork so you don't loose it or forget it. I carried around a three inch binder with everything. It was heavy and cumbersome but it was necessary to make sure I was on top of paperwork
-Find a spot where ever you work to call your own. Ask about keeping materials there when you don't use them everyday
-Utilize travel time in a positive manner. I often used my travel time to plan, call parents for reminders of at home visits or for my own reflection time. Podcasts were also wonderful to keep my brain engaged because I was learning something new everyday.
-Be strict on schedule times. If you have to travel to a lot of schools be sure to tell them exactly what days and when you are going to be there. I found that many teachers were much more flexible when I explained the traveling situation and that I could not be going back and forth between schools.
-Do not try to be everywhere at once. If you have a meeting that was scheduled on a day you are not typically at that school try to rearrange your schedule to see students and if it doesn't work allow yourself to take a break for students and use that time for paperwork.