How to Happily be an SLP #4: Interact with Teachers

In our fourth installment of this series, I want to share a secret I have for making my SLP-life easier.

I interact with teachers!

Sure, I gabbed with teachers when I was a school-based SLP.  You know what?  I still talk to teachers as a clinic-based SLP. Sometimes, it’s face-to-face. Other times, I talk to teachers through email, text, Skype.

In our last three posts, we talked how to be a more effective, efficient and happier SLP by making your efforts more cumulative, doing intensive speech therapy and using great speech therapy materials.

Why is it important to interact with teachers?

interact with teachers

Here’s the thing–SLPs typically spend about 30 contact hours with a client or student within a year.  When we add up our 30-minutes-twice-a-week (don’t even get me started on service delivery models!), it adds up to less than 50 hours within 365 days.  Now, let’s think about the 1,260 contact hours teachers have with students during the school year.  I am not a math expert, but….

4 ways to maximize our time with teachers

So, we have to maximize our time with students by talking to teachers.  It’s all about the relationship, SLPs and teachers.  We are the speech and language experts, and teachers are the content experts.  Without one another, we are not providing our children the best (and most efficient) services.  We know the benefits of curriculum-based intervention but how do we get teachers to share their information with us to make our planning easier and more on target?  Teachers are as busy as we are so they act easiest when we get their buy-in.  I see teachers on multiple campuses, so I routinely interact through email.

  1.  Easily request lesson plans:  Many teachers have to automatically submit their lesson plan for the week to a team lead.  You can ask to be CCed on that email and find out exactly what they are focusing on this week.
  2. Invoke the power of the auto-responder:  If you use gmail or lotus notes, you can often set up a reminder email that is sent out on a certain date.  Set it for Friday with a “Don’t forget to send me your theme next week…”
  3. Reduce the expectation placed on them:  Teachers want to know that this isn’t a huge commitment.  At one campus, I have teachers just respond with a topic in the subject line (e.g. Community Workers).
  4. Convey excitement and let them know that you are there to support them.  The only way you can do this is to interact with them and know what they are doing.  See below for a sample text.

How to easily interact with teachers 

Introductory Letter

Hello teachers,
I am the speech pathologist on X campus and I am excited to help you move your students through their goals and objectives this year.  Here’s how:  We will be practicing sounds, words, and introducing new topics through storybooks and other materials.  If I know what you are working on, I can use those topics and vocabulary words to improve the student’s communication.  He will then have a better chance at contributing during class.  AND, I will be pre-teaching and practicing the vocabulary you need him to learn.
 
At the end of each week I will email you to ask for your topic for the next week.  Respond with a single topic (e.g. stars and planets) or share any of your materials with me.
 

I look forward to working with you this year.

Continual email the teachers about what you’re doing

Here’s an email I sent out to my teachers.  Keep in mind, I was only on this campus for 1.25 days a week.  So, this was the best way for me to talk with them.  Look at what happened over time!
interact with teachers interact with teachers interact with teachers
First, I emailed teachers. Then, I got in the classroom. Last, I reinforced the teacher’s efforts, and she observed the language strategies I used in speech and language.  Win and win!

 So, take the time to interact with teachers.   Collaborating with teachers is best for children, maximizes our efforts and, truth be told, it’s a great deal more fun, fun, fun!

Stay tuned for our last installment of this series:  Step 5: Remember Your Why.

Here is what ASHA has to say in their piece:  Let’s talk about teachers

Written by: phuonglienpalafox

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