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Life of a school SLP

I have finished my 14 weeks of student teaching and will truly miss the 60+ kiddos I got to work with in preschool through 5th grade. I also worked with an amazing speech-language pathologist (SLP) who taught me so much about working with kids, collaborating with other educators, problem solving, and being flexible. Being flexible is a huge deal, especially when you have a constantly changing caseload.

Although there were stressful and frustrating moments, I have many sweet and funny memories from my time student teaching. In case you didn’t realize it, kids are hilarious. The world would be a boring place without their energy and curiosity.

Here are just a few examples from this semester:

  • While giving an articulation screener, I showed a preschooler a picture of a squirrel. “What’s this?”

“A gurl.”

I repeated what he said to confirm with my SLP that I was transcribing his speech correctly. “Gurl?”

The preschooler looked at me in disbelief. “No, not girl. Gurl!”

Silly me for confusing squirrel and girl.

  • One sweet kindergartner insisted on breaking the no-talking-in-the-hall rule every time she saw me. “Hi! Hi! Hi, speech teacher! That’s my speech teacher!” Super cute. It got to the point where her classmates would say, “Hi, so-and-so’s speech teacher!” whenever they saw me.
  • I loved how kids were excited about coming to speech or language group. Kids I didn’t even know would ask if they could come with me. However, 2nd graders were slightly less enthusiastic. Sometimes we spent more time debating why we needed to do speech than actually doing speech.

One day, one of the 2nd graders came in and started saying his words without being told. I was pleasantly surprised. About halfway through his work, he said, “You know what? I’m not arguing about speech today. Do you know why? Because things take longer when you argue. It’s faster to just do your job.” He acted as if this was a new revelation and not something I had told him every day for the past 2 weeks.

  • I also had an older student who wasn’t thrilled about working on s and z in speech. We had several conversations that went something like this:

“I don’t know why I need to come to speech. I just don’t say words with s and z when I’m not in speech.”

“Well, it’s pretty hard to avoid all s and z words. What happens if you need to ask for a pencil in class?”

“I’d just say I need something to write with.”

“Hmm…something has an s in it.”

“Ugh!”

“And what’s your teacher’s name?”

“Mister…ugh!”

“And your best friend?”

…pause…”Dang it!”

As we walked back to class, he started spinning in the hallway. “I’m dizzy!”

Instead of telling him to stop, I pointed out, “Oh, dizzy has your z sound in it.”

He stopped. Long pause. “DANG IT!”

  • In one of our language groups, we built a model ferris wheel after reading about George Ferris and how he invented the first ferris wheel. This turned out to be a challenging project.

While working on it, one of the students asked, “What’s that word we learned? The one when someone is stronger?”

“Advantage?” I guessed.

“Yeah, that’s it. Miss Emily, will you help me with this? I think you have the advantage.”

(Proof that kids really were learning!)

  • I worked with a preschooler who had a hard time even saying vowels. We worked on vowels with two of the consonants he could consistently say: p and b. So, one of our target words was “poopoo” (after all, it’s very functional vocabulary for a preschooler). The first time we worked on it, I had him say it 5 times. “Poopoo. Poopoo. Poopoo.” At this point, he stopped and started giggling uncontrollably. Super cute.
  • One of my favorite conversations with some 3rd graders:

Me: “If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you pick?”

Student 1: “I would want to meet my great great great … [there were a lot of greats] … great grandfather.” He proceeded to tell a story about what it would be like to meet a caveman during the ice age. The students then had a debate over whether there were cavemen before or after the ice age.

Student 2: “I would pick Adam and Eve, so I could stop them from eating the fruit. Then there wouldn’t be sin in the world.”

Student 1: “Oh, dang it! I wish I had thought of that!” He was sincerely disappointed in himself.

Student 2: “Well, maybe it wouldn’t matter anyway. There are so many people in the world that someone would probably mess it up eventually.”

  • I worked with a hilarious, sweet student with autism who brought so much energy and excitement to school.

We had a rule that she had to finish her work in 30 minutes. Otherwise, she wouldn’t get a break playing with the toy animals. One day, she finished in 31 minutes. So close, yet so far. I had to tell her that she didn’t earn break.

Instantly, she plopped down on my lap, laid her head on my shoulder, and burst into tears. I have to be honest, it was hard not to laugh at her dramatic response.

We talked about how next time she could work hard and get break. She seemed to accept this and calmed down.

Suddenly, she burst into tears again and wailed, “ANIMALS ARE RUINED!!!”

My SLP just smiled and said, “Well, she’s making progress. She used to say Christmas was ruined even when there wasn’t anything related to Christmas.”

  • After reading a book in language group, I asked the students to draw pictures of the story. When I asked one student about her picture, she said, “I drew a picture of the city council. That’s you. You’re the chairperson.” She pointed to a girl in a rainbow dress.

You know you’ve arrived when a student draws you as a key character in a story wearing a rainbow dress.

  • On my last day with the kids, I gave them each a pencil with a note that said, “You’re a sharp student.” I had to explain the double meaning behind “sharp” to most of the kids. When I gave it to one of the students, I told him, “Sharp can have two meanings. You can have a sharp pencil. Do you know what else it can mean?”
    He looked down bashfully. “Yeah, it means you’re really handsome.”

 

Can you see why I’m going to miss these kids? And now I’m starting my next school adventure. During December, I’m subbing for an SLP at another school. I’m actually getting paid to do this work! I’m very excited and nervous.

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All the world’s a stage

Clear your throat and open your eyes. You are on stage. The lights are on. It’s only natural if you’re sweating, because this isn’t make-believe. This is theater for keeps. Yes, it is a massive stage, and there are millions of others on stage with you. Yes, you can try to shake the fright by blending in. But it won’t work. You have the Creator God’s full attention, as much attention as He ever gave Napoleon. Or Churchill. Or even Moses. Or billions of others who lived and died unknown. Or a grain of sand. Or one spike on one snowflake. You are spoken. You are seen. It is your turn to participate in creation. Like a kindergartener shoved out from behind the curtain during his first play, you might not know which scene you are in or what comes next, but God is far less patronizing than we are. You are His art, and He has no trouble stooping.

You can even ask Him for your lines.

from Death by Living by N.D. Wilson

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