By our calculations, you are finishing the first months of your first year of practice as a speech language pathologist. Amazing! Our staff clinicians have a few recommendations for this time in your career:
- Ask More Questions. New learning is intense in the first three months. After the first few months, CFs may begin to feel more comfortable and start scaling back on consultations with their supervisor, but don’t let this happen! Take advantage of every hour and expect they will be completed with constancy. Tracking hours is a great way to make sure you and your CF supervisors don’t fall into the trap of, “Call me when you need help.” When we asked our CFs what they would have done differently, the universal answer was “Ask More Questions.”
- Operationalize your supervision. Consider a form where your supervisor can indicate specific feedback on what you did well, suggestions for growth, and resources/ideas they will share. Write reflections for next time, like “next time, please demonstrate how you maximize repetitions with my third graders.” Don’t be afraid to step into an observational mode. You will pick up on all kinds of new tricks that come naturally to your supervisor.
- Condense some groups. Now that you know the students, consider reshuffling/combining groups to provide more indirect service time for assessments and other responsibilities. You can do it, and it will help you with work life balance.
- Watch for learning opportunities from other school personnel and parents. Co-treat when possible. On the playground/quad? Stand next to the “student magnet” on campus, what makes them different? Watch for small bites of learning, such as noticing what’s on the bulletin boards in the teachers’ rooms. Are there grade level newsletters or other ways they share curriculum with parents?
- Remember that you are only intentionally supervised ONCE in your career. Can your supervision time cross into a lunch hour so you can do a short in-service on a specific topic? For example, IEPs. “My IEPs have gone smoothly so far. Can you tell me some stories about challenging IEPs when a parent was defensive? How about when there is an advocate involved? What if a team member has made a mistake?” Or, behavior management, ask about parent interactions and specific treatment techniques. Think critically about where you might want more information.