Being out on your own as a first time SLP (CF-SLP) always seemed like the greatest thing in the whole world! You can plan, organize, and do as much as you can beforehand, but nothing quite prepares you. So I figured I would share the up and downs of my first “almost” month as a CF-SLP.
You all probably remember my fabulous blog post with the greatest rolling giraffe bag you have ever seen! I mean it is the coolest! Well unfortunately my body didn’t quite agree thinking it was the coolest! I guess from the pulling/ pushing/ twisting/ turning involved with wheeling the bag around I continued to pull my pectoralis muscle. My physical therapist (aka my husband) has banned use henceforth of my awesome bag. So now my bag is still fabulous and pretty to look at which I just that is all it will remain for the time being.
The New Improved System
One upside to the giraffe bag being sent out the graze in the safari is that I came up with a better system. I travel currently between 4 schools and 4 homes (soon to be 6). It has been so difficult to keep straight which materials I need when for which place. Did you get that? Therefore, I went into my pantry and got all of those reusable bags that I own.
I selected a bag for each location I will be going to. Therefore when I leave one school and go to the next I can just switch tote bags! So far this has been working out wonderfully.
I keep my binders with data sheets and activities in my old backpack along with essentials like pencils, highlights, crayons, glue, tape, scissors, etc…
P.S. My pectoralis muscle is already feeling better! : )
Well I posted awhile back my data sheet that I thought was SO terrific. Now I have learned that one data sheet does not fit all. For some students, I go into the classroom for normal classroom activities. During these times I am not able to collect data on these sheets, because I am assisting the students with their classwork. Usually I may have some numbers to include although most is objective/subjective information that doesn’t contain any numbers. Therefore I create a new data sheet for push-in students.
I also made improvements to the data sheets click here!
Here is another data sheet with an extra comments section.
Smiley faces work for kindergarten, but not so much for the older grades. For my intermediate grades I was having trouble figuring out what to do with managing behaviors. I was in a session and pulled out the game Uno. An idea was born: use the cards as a behavior management system. I can use the green, yellow, and red cards to signify a child’s behavior. Everyone starts on green, yellow for warning, and red is the end of the road. I used the cards and for the first time and didn’t have to speak to my students about behavior. They all stayed on green. I decided to create my own cards that are the same colors, but include words to signal more information. Grab you set here!
Also here are the Speech Room RULES the kiddos need to follow to stay on green!
I have a lot of games to use with students. My problem as a traveling therapist is carrying the games in and out of all the locations. Some of the packaging for the game is ridiculous. I mean why do some games have so much extra room in the box. I would be juggling so many boxes it was ridiculous! I decided to purchase big, clear, Ziploc bags to replace the bulky games’ boxes. Therefore I can fit more in my bag without a problem!
My second realization was that games aren’t always the best to do when working in a group. Some groups are able to handle playing a game, while others just require more re-directions to stay focused on the task. This results in a decrease in the number of trials for the activity accompanying the game. I was definitely not having that! Therefore I save about 3-5 minutes at the end of each session for a reward game times. I set a timer at the beginning of the session that will leave a few minutes at the end. I tell the students that if we complete all of our work before the timer goes off then we will get to play a game at the end. It works out very nice.
I try to pick games that can be played quickly such as Topple, Tumble, Jenga, or one of my Goodwill finds Penguin Pile-Up. These games are fast and the kids love them! It also makes the children feel that if they work hard, they will get rewarded!
For some groups that are smaller, playing games like Candyland or Chutes & Ladders is feasible, but for my larger groups it does not work out as well!
I currently have three binders: one for public schools, one for private schools, and one for home clients. Each binder contains pocket dividers for each client.
I write the client’s name on the tab, so I can easily access his/her information. In the front of the pocket divider is the data sheet. I love having this pocket folder, especially for data entry. I have to enter all my data both for the schools and home clients into the computer. I use a highlighter to underline the data I have entered into the computer. This way I can easily keep track of what has been enter and what still needs to be entered. The see-through quality of the dividers makes it easy then to flip through and look at the data.
In the backside of the pocket dividers are any worksheets or activities for the students. I like having a clear separation between the data and activities because I don’t have to search for anything and won’t lose the most important data sheets.
For some students, it is difficult for them to understand directions for correct positions of their articulators to create certain sounds. For these kiddos, I have been trying something new. I will make a video of a close-up of my mouth producing the sound. Yes I hold that iPad camera right up to my mouth so you can’t even see my face! Next I watch the video with the child and point on the specific features for that sound. Next I have the client make a video of them producing the sound. After we compare my video to his/her video to see were improvements need to be made. So far it is working well and I am definitely going to continue to work with these videos for correct placements.
For those who don’t know, you can upload PDFs to your iPad to use. I have PDF versions of materials that I use on the iPad all the time. It is convenient and saves paper. It is great for the traveling therapist who doesn’t have a printer and can bring what they need up on the screen. It is good for things you don’t want to print such as pictures that you are only going to use once. If you don’t know how to add PDFs to your Apple device this website has great directions. (I usually skip steps 4-7).
I am always looking for new games and activities to do with my students. Also, I have been looking for supplies to fill up my prize box. Well I found an awesome and cost-saving solution: YARD SALES. I grew up always going to yard sale and having yard sale at my parent’s house. It is just a part of who I am thanks to my mother.
Currently all the neighborhoods around me, including my own, are housing communities. Each community twice a year has a community yard sale. The greatest thing about community yard sales is the efficiency because you can drive to one housing development and go to a bunch of yard sales in one area. Some communities have just one big yard sale at the clubhouse with everyone just setting up tables. For the past few weekends I have been a frequent visitor to a bunch of community yard sales. You can find GREAT deals even if I dare say it better than Goodwill. Today I got two new games and 7 books for a total of $1.25!I think it was my best find ever. I am really excited about my new game Guess What I Am. It is like a Hedbandz type game, but a little more goofy!
Last weekend I got 17 matchbox cars, giant legos, and four books for only $4.70. The boys that got to go to the prize box this week were thrilled with the car selection. Two books I got in the deal were The Three Bears’ Halloween and There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves! .
Both are classic books that I can’t wait to use in therapy! Stay tuned for new blog posts featuring these two books!
Overall, I have learned that any good SLP has to be flexible and willing to change to support growth and learning for his/her clients. You have to find what works best for you and if it doesn’t work out figure out a way to change for the better. I have gained so much knowledge in a short amount of time. I am excited to discover how I can improve and make things better!