I read so many posts on facebook and livejournal about all the evils of working in the schools. Is the fate of the school-based SLP to forever be labeled "less qualified", overworked/overwhelmed, inefficient, misunderstood, etc? Why must we confine ourselves to accepting the burden of every negativity in the field?
The motto of my undergraduate college, "Reach within and shape the future," must still be cemented in my brain. I am truly grateful for the four years I spent under the careful molding of my professors. They trained me to fight for what I love in spite of my introverted nature. If I don't like something, I do my best to find a way to slowly push to change it.
So how do we, as a community of professionals, challenge the negative perception of working in the schools and our service provisions? Does it start at the national level with ASHA? How about at the state level? Does it start with a grassroots movement of SLPs providing more information at the school/district level?
I certainly don't know the answer. However, I can tell you that I don't want that negativity plaguing me. I won't accept the status quo of being the "game lady." I wouldn't be happy if I did. It is scary to step outside of my comfort zone, but I have no right to ask my students to do something that I won't do. (And, when you think about all that we deal with, we really are asking that from our students on a daily basis.) So I'm doing the only thing I can do: reaching within myself and shaping the future with what small impact I can create because I love my job. (Luckily, I am beyond blessed to work in a really good district that encourages its staff. I know that's not always the case and that is why it is so important for us to show that our field is so much more than the assumptions make it out to be.)
My path of choice:
~Asking to attend/attending workshops on a variety of topics
~Collaboration, collaboration, and more collaboration
~Creating materials tailored to my students' needs
~Dreaming up craft projects
~Presenting to staff about the field
~Asking for help. Admitting that I don't have all the answers nor will I ever. We all have our strengths & weaknesses.
Nothing will change if we aren't willing to try.