Thursday, February 27, 2014

Reach within and shape the future...

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. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

We all need a break...

I took a break from the computer to enjoy the warmer weather over the weekend. I'm starting to see a light at the end of the "IEP tunnel" so maybe I will get to work on some of my freebie projects soon. In the meantime, here are some fun pictures of the animals I visited at the zoo.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Can Cookie Monster become a Whole Body Listener?

Welcome to the zone of the "Mid-Year Slump." This week has flown by without much getting accomplished. The students are having to re-acclimate themselves to school after last week's snow and the professionals are in meeting central. The district SLPs presented our "Role of the SLP in the Schools" & a brief introduction of Executive Functioning at the elementary and middle/high school EC meetings. I was only able to present at the elementary meeting due to some other obligations, but it was certainly an interesting experience to present to such a large group. I didn't realize I was capable of speaking in front of more than 15 people. Now, I just have to survive writing 6 IEPs in roughly four days. It may be quiet for a few days around here while I deal with that.

I will leave you with this treat. We are having some trouble with our listening skills and my usual tricks aren't working. I've decided to try a different tactic with Sesame Street. I am showing my students this video and then they have to earn their own "cookie belt."

My younger students were a bit mesmerized by the thought of earning their own cookie belt. They thought I would give them real cookies and glue them to sentence strips. Unfortunately for them, I am worried that some of them may have unknown allergies so actual cookies will not be used for this activity. It's definitely within the realm of possibilities though if you aren't a major chicken like me. I just made up a file of cookie pictures with the help of Paint. You can grab a copy here.

 The bonus is that this helps the younger ones with some fine motor practice.

I don't like green cookies, Sam I am. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

You just never know...

My week is pretty packed with paperwork and meetings. Unfortunately, I have been less than motivated to work on much during my "snow-cation." Snow just makes me want to curl up under the covers and sleep. I guess it's a very good thing that I live in the South where it doesn't snow too much. I would never get anything done otherwise.

While I attempt to get myself back into high gear, I thought I would share one of my latest Dollar Tree finds.......

Anti-bullying materials. I don't know about you, but bullying is a pretty big deal in my school. The teachers talk to their classes about it and my students will often bring up what they've learned in my room. One of my students is fascinated by the topic (and it's one of the only ways to get that child to talk). I knew that I had to buy the anti-bullying conversation sticks as soon as I spotted them. The questions range from bully prevention to places where bullying can happen. I'm excited to use these with my social skills and language groups. There are twenty sticks in total which will keep us talking for quite some time.

 As an aside, I recently discovered these two books for social skills. I think they are great books to help students talk about self-esteem and being confident.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Lucky in Love (Linky)

I will admit that I am not a fan of Valentine's day. Nope...don't want the flowers or the cards. I prefer things that require dressing in outlandish outfits or bright colors that I typically don't wear. However, I do like to reflect on the blessings in my life so I'm joining another linky party hosted by Lucky to Be in First.

1) As everyone reading this blog knows by now, a certain little puppy has me (and my parents) wrapped around her little toes. Every day spent with her bright little eyes and ferocious curiosity is a blessing. She is the spunkiest dog that I have ever laid eyes on. I thank the Lord every single day for letting her make it through the liver shunt surgery and for how well she is healing.
2) History. I will never lose my love of all things historical. There are many days when I think back to my time spent researching cultural imperialism and colonial American history with pride. My good friends from college continue to astound me in their historical studies. There's nothing better than reading about their research interests and being inspired to look up a book or person that they mention. I wish them all the best in becoming history professors in a time when getting a job in the field is anything but certain.
3) Sesame Street youtube videos. I get a HUGE kick out of showing their movie preview parodies to my students. The one for following directions is my favorite.
 4) Milk glass. I love collecting vintage milk glass. It's my mission to find new pieces when I go thrifting so I'm not always spending my money on work related things. I recently found a small salt & pepper shaker set for $2 after seeing a similar set in our local antique store for much more. It makes me really excited to think about using them in my future house someday. (Granted, I get really happy at just the thought of looking for a house in the relatively near future.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Leaping Leprechauns

It's hard to believe that it's almost the middle of February already! With all the snow closing drama, misbehaving groups, and finding out that our principle will be retiring this year, I feel like I need a little luck at the moment. Every rain cloud has a silver lining in there somewhere. My silver lining just happens to be the fact that St. Patrick's day is just around the corner (plus, the state association's spring conference). 

I'll be using the Luckiest Leprechaun with my younger groups again, but this year I needed something for older students to enjoy too. The solution was to make a new packet with a bunch of smaller activities to mix into our book & leprechaun trap crafts. 

You can grab a copy of Leaping Leprechauns here.

Here are some of my favorite Teachers Pay Teacher freebie finds:
  1. If I were a Leprechaun.
  2. Leprechaun, Leprechaun
  3. Lost Leprechaun Antonyms & Synonyms
  4. Follow the Clues: St. Patrick's Day Edition.
  5. Looking for Leprechaun's sequencing activity. 
Puppy update- Serena continues to heal with each & every day. Her stomach looks so much better already and it doesn't seem to hurt her much at all. The wonders of youth, I suppose, and I am glad of it. She got to meet a little Yorkie today who is about the same age (her owner is a co-worker of my dad) and they really hit it off well. It's the first opportunity she's had to interact with another small dog in weeks. She seemed very appreciative. :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Categories are in the bag!

CAUTION: You are entering the world of magazine clippings & crafting. It's one time consuming process. Proceed at your own risk. (P.S. This is a picture heavy post.)

First, you will needs lots of small magazine clippings (or die-cuts). Pick out the ones that fall into categories.

Back the clippings on construction paper to eliminate the see-through text from the back. I used gray (the red is for another project.)

Cut all of the pictures out once you have the construction paper filled.

Trim the excess paper to size or leave a border. Then sort into the groups.

Place 3-5 images per sandwich bag.

(Die cuts don't require the construction paper)

Organize into a container. I based mine of basic vocabulary, seasonal, and more complex concepts.

Friday, February 7, 2014

If at first you don't succeed, find another way to get people to listen to you....

In the battle to increase awareness of what Speech-Language Pathologists do in the schools, I have FINALLY made some headway at my school. I've mentioned before that I helped present an overview of our role at the district-wide mini conference with two of my coworkers. The only problem was the fact that only one person from my school attended. The 5th grade ESL teacher. While I am certainly glad that one person decided to show her support, I was a slight bit frustrated with the thought of having to ask to present at a staff meeting. They always just feel rushed or draggy because the timing is usually not the greatest. 

I finally bit the bullet and talked to the instructional facilitator about the Expanding Expression Tool and the story comprehension rope that I use constantly. It WORKED! She told me that I could speak to K-2nd teachers during their planning with her. I presented to K-1 today and it went really well. The kindergarten team was especially responsive and appreciative for the mini presentation. The first grade team was a little harder to read, but the principle came in half-way through so I got to show her the EET too! Even if nothing more comes from them now having the materials to make their own story rope as well as a die-cut EET, I feel like I have finally started to spread the word that SLP is more than just articulation. I even get to present to 3-5th grades now! (I just have to figure out a way to prove that the materials are still relevant to those age groups.) 

I may not have gotten much Medicaid billing done, but I feel so accomplished right now. I hate (loathe, and despise) public speaking and here I am speaking to all of the grade level teams. Plus, I get to help out with another presentation to the EC faculty on Executive Functioning (definitely not as prepared to talk about that) as well as showing them our SLP overview. I guess this is the "year of overcoming public speaking" and showing my potential to a wider group of people. I think my former professors at Salem would be very proud to how far I have come with the foundation that they helped me build. Never forget your roots. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wacky Wednesday

I feel like January ended on a weird note. We had teacher workdays, a holiday, two snow days, and one early dismissal day due to the snow. (Plus, the addition of 4 new students to my caseload.) My students have missed so much therapy from all of this! it's probably a good thing that I was planning on using my cape activity on those missed days. We are using them as a much needed review now. 

I also put together a short little pirate packet to review some of our following directions skills. You can grab a copy here

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Life as we know it....the liver shunt journey continues.

In the world beyond speech, Serena had her liver shunt surgery on Monday. It took the specialists at NC State's clinic a little longer than expected, but the cellophane band is in place now. It will slowly constrict the blood flow in the shunt (3-4 weeks per my online researching) and direct it back through the liver like it's supposed to go.

 She spent her recovery at the clinic in their ICU area where they have a veterinarian present 24/7. They gave us updates every day/night depending on how she was doing. The first night was a little scary as her temperature dropped too low and they had to cover her with extra towels. They also had to give her extra medicine when her ammonia levels were a little too high. Luckily (and with lots of prayers sent her way), that was the worst of it. She spent most of the time getting lots of cuddles from the staff.

Serena came home to her much forlorn cat, Simon, and human parents on Thursday. She is very happy to be back and you really wouldn't know all the rough stuff she's been through by watching her. She wants to run, jump, and play with the best of them. The next two weeks of our lives will be filled with trying to keep her as still as possible. So far, this has been a HUGE challenge as she is quite a feisty little girl.

Serena is on a special low-protein dog food and continues to take three kinds of medicine. We were worried that she'd hate the dog food because Hill's Science Diet has not had the best reception in our household. We've had two dogs and one cat refuse to eat their other products. However, she's been eating it pretty well so far.

She goes back to Raleigh in three months. They will check to make sure the shunt has closed and that no new ones have formed. I hope with every fiber of my being that this appointment will bring us good news.