What would you advise if you were starting out this August? Here are answers from our SLPs:
- Have fun, and be patient. Connection is the most critical piece. Your sessions/evals will not be perfect immediately, but if the students know that you care about them, you are halfway there. Most SLPs will say that it takes five years to have a smooth routine. You are in month one. As you develop strategies, it gets easier!
- Consider starting the year by asking your SPED team which parents would appreciate an introductory phone call. “My name is Ms. X, I will be the new SLP, and Mr. Johan suggested I introduce myself. I have about 10 minutes. How did things go for (student) this summer? Is there anything that you want me to know before I dive into the file? I’m looking forward to meeting him!” Be sure that you clear these calls with your SPED team in case there are special circumstances.
- Find people with the most growth-oriented attitudes and align with them regardless of job or grade level. Start a “positives” file immediately, and fill it with uplifting emails, and fun drawings from students. Drop in a note to yourself when a teacher says, “It worked! Thank you!” Keep that file handy. Remember for every positive note, there are 10 more students/teachers that think it! Your encouragement matters daily to students who are struggling! When you see something positive, say something immediately.
- Utilize your supervisor for as much as possible. Consider using a hard journal, Google sheet and/or a pack of Post-its to jot questions down during sessions. Some like to track on a four column method: things that are going well; immediate questions/concerns; plans for follow up (e.g. your supervisor will send links on selective mutism, you agreed to increase trials); big picture discussion questions.
- Big Picture Questions: In your first segment, prioritize by most critical needs; the biggest challenges are often organization and planning. In segments 2 & 3, continue to use your supervision hours using a broader lens. For example, “Behavior management is going well right now, but tell me some stories about students who struggled, what are some success strategies you’ve used in the past?” The topics are endless: Working with parent/student emotions? Collaborating with school partners? Accommodation strategies? Intentionally gather ideas and resources for the future, this is a golden opportunity to learn and grow.
You’ve got this! Enjoy your Clinical Fellowship!