Sunday, February 7, 2016

SLP Love Hurts {sometimes}

With Valentine’s Day approaching, my friends, the Frenzied SLPs, and I thought it was the perfect time to talk about love.

I like to think of myself as professional, but I have a hard time viewing the children I treat as simply my “clients” or “students.”  I get attached, and they usually get attached, too. Whether they’re little angels or little devils I usually ended up sincerely loving them.  Even more so, I LOVE being an SLP,  but over the past 20 years I’ve discovered that sometimes it hurts.  Literally! 

Does this look familiar?... 

I’m betting it does.  
When working with 3 years olds (and up!) there’s plenty of pouting and crying. I can ignore it for a while.  Everyone is entitled to a little pity party sometimes.  Eventually, I go over and console and coax.  

Ahhhh that brings me back to this one time.....

I had been working on articulation and social skills with one little guy who happened to have anxiety and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) for about two years.  In the beginning, therapy sessions were mostly disastrous and chock full of defiance and aggression.  He regularly trashed my room and lashed out at me. Little Johnny was in a bad place.  School in general was not something he was fond of, and his parents were still trying to find the right medications to treat his conditions. 

Over time, with lots of medical attention and behavior modification, he improved. We had finally progressed to the point where he could attend a social skills group with a peer.  There was a time that any compliant behavior at all seemed like pipe dream, but now he was happier and more agreeable. He was even taking turns and accepting disappointment- which had been a long time problem.  I grew to love him.  He still had tough days, but instead of aggression, he just did the little-head-in-the-hands or head-buried-in-the-knees  and then pull himself together.  

One day it was taking longer than expected.  He had lost the game had played in our social skills group.  He had said all the right things out loud to himself, “It’s just for fun,” “It doesn’t matter who wins,” and he even told the winner “Good job.”  I was so proud of him, but his fortitude didn’t last long.  After a few grunts and crumbling of paper, he resorted to curling up in himself like a pretzel, and he wasn’t budging. Finally, I walked over and squatted in front of him.  I put my head over his and whispered words of encouragement in his ear.  Then I reminded him that it was almost time for recess, and he would get to play on the swings soon (his favorite).  His speech partner perked up and said, “Uh-uh, he moved his clip too far down so he can’t go out today.”  
Gee, thanks.  

As soon as he said it, Little Johnny whipped his head up, knocking me squarely in the mouth (my money maker!) and tossing me firmly off my squat and onto my butt. I instantly tasted the blood and realized my lip was busted - not to mention I was seeing stars.  Oh, and my pride/dignity was pretty banged up, too.  

He was immediately filled with remorse, apologizing and crying. We both took some time to lick our wounds, and then the day resumed- along with some Motrin and ice on my lip. I learned a valuable less that day-  not to put my head (or any other part) next to a pouting munchkin!! They’re unpredictable no matter how well I think I know them! I also squat next to kids much less often! 

Since then, I’ve learned other valuable lessons like: 
  1. Don’t attempt to assist handling a wild and unruly child with a lanyard around your neck- they most definitely will grab it and pull! Until I experienced this first hand I had no clue why anyone would ever buy a breakaway lanyard.  Now I most certainly do.
  2. It’s no use to even try to pick up a child who has turned into a wet noodle and has fallen limply to the ground.  At that moment, he/she has lost all bones, and attempting to handle them can result in slapping, biting, spitting and scratching. 
  3. Don’t chase a child you know you cannot catch (which for me is most of them). Instead, call for anyone walking in the hallway to head them off at the pass.  
But seriously, handling escalated behavior really is all about focusing on safety.  During my 7 years as “lead teacher” at my school (in addition to SLP), I intervened in behavior situations every week.  Now I am the CPI trainer for my district.  It’s so easy for someone to get injured.  Even at a primary school, kids are little but unruly and surprisingly strong!  I, myself, have been to urgent care after intervening with a violent child.  Sometimes it’s better just to keep a child safe and supervised (in an area free of dangers) and let him release and let off steam than it is to intervene. 
Keeping everyone safe is always the goal.  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

My Favorite Organization Tips

Happy New Year, y'all!! 
Every year when I go shopping right after Christmas, it's always the same thing....stores like Walmart and Target pack the shelves with organizational totes and containers. I thought it was just ME, but apparently it's that time of year when we ALL want to get organized. I think it's part of feeling like we have a fresh start. So in the spirit of the fresh starts - along with the Frenzied SLPs - I'm bringing you some organization tips! 

Let me start by confessing that.....I'm really not that least not in a traditional way.  I really try to be, but my love of knick knacks and all things cute gets in the way sometimes.  

When I had a bigger therapy room, I did a better job. I mean, let's face it....the more space you have the easier it is to be organized.  

This was my lovely, organized life a couple of years ago when I had a full fledged room....

Ahhhhhh look at it.  It just makes me happy. Everything in it's place and a place for everything. Not to mention- everything was labeled!  It's easy to be organized when you have a ton of space.  In fact, you can read my post about how I organized my therapy materials (back when I was living the good life in the room pictured above) HERE

It's a lot harder when your "therapy room" was is actually a closet - which is what I worked in until very recently.  Yes, it is literally a closet between the teacher's lounge and bathroom. The only way I can describe it is dark, stuffy and dismal (hence the fan and lamp pictured below).  It didn't even have an electrical outlet so I had to run an extension cord into the teacher's lounge (where my desk was housed) to give me some power. 

As in my older post about organization, I'm all about bins and cans. They make me :)

So as you can see..... I'm thinking I am NOT the person to be giving anyone organization tips; however, I will  tell you that using wall space (vertical storage) is THE way to go in a small space.  Those white wall mounted paper trays are less that $20 from IKEA and I can't live without them! My speech world has revolved around bins, paper trays and plastic drawers- oh, and cute carousels that spin my pens, pencils, dry erase markers, and sharpies around like preschoolers on a merry go round.  

Then all the mess gets hidden behind the curtain - organized chaos at its finest. 

Before you call for my adminstrator's head, you should know that my principal didn't want to shove me into the closet.  Our school houses double the amount of children that it was built for, and we are just bursting at the seams. 

Sooooo if you noticed that I'm using some weird past tense in his post it's because...I moved out of this room in December! I moved out to take a new job (more on that soon on a future post!) 

One organization tip that I can share is that, like many SLPs,  I organize my materials by theme whenever possible.  I have a plastic container for each season and holiday that houses crafts, TpT packets, seasonal books and props I use with books for that season.  

For worksheets that I have accummulated over the years, I use a hanging file crate.  As I acquire new worksheets, I just file them away under the corresponding season or holiday.  It's not rocket science by any means, but I adore my seasonal files. 

Notice I'm not all anal about nice typed labels or continuity with tabs, colors, etc.  Does that drive you crazy?  As you can see, I don't sweat it.  (Remember I admitted I'm not that organized!) 

Oh, and since I'm confessing,  you may have notived that I don't know how to print on file folder labels or hanging file tab labels.  If any of YOU do, can you send me instructions?  I like to consider myself "techy," but for the life of me, I can't figure it out! 

What I DO like to keep organized is my computer desktop.  My friend, Laura, from All Y'all Need got me hooked on this idea when I downloaded her desktop organizer freebie (which I use on my work computer). You've GOT to check it out! It has changed my life. NO MORE random files on my desktop! 

She inspired me to design my own desktop organizer images, and this is the one I'm using on my personal laptop right now....

Now in my new job, I'm supporting SLPs all over our huge district, and I'm slammed on a daily basis  with various adminstrative tasks, emails, calls, trainings to plan and give, meetings to attend and schools to visit. I've gotten myself organized by 1) finally succombing to using a digital calendar and 2) splitting my To-DO list into  TWO lists: "To-do NOW" and "To-Do LATER." This has really helped me prioritize.  I kept two different note pads, but then I saw THIS at Office Depot and I almost fell to my knees in the aisle...

It's like it was made JUST for me!
It's from the See Jane Work line at Office Depot.
It's even magnetic! I seriously should have bought these in bulk.

For MORE (and likely much better) organization tips, click on the logos below and check out how these fabulous' SLPs get organized.  I'm pretty sure some of them have at least a mild form of OCD which makes their organization quite impressive! :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gobbling Up Holiday Goodies! (and some freebies!)

Soooooo... I have spent much of the day procrastinating starting preparations for our Thanksgiving feast tomorrow.  I'm mostly putting it off because my kitchen is so wonderfully clean and I really want it to stay that way just a tad longer.  Since I'm avoiding food prep,  I decided it was the perfect time I link up with my friends, the Frenzied SLPs to yap about holiday goodies. 

At the very end of the this post, you can click on their logos to read about more holiday goodies- everything from holiday lessons, craftivities, therapy ideas and recipes! 

I always say November is good for the soul.  I've spent a lot of time reflecting on my blessings, prioritizing spending my time with people instead of things and telling those that mean so much to me exactly how grateful I am to have them in my life.  You should know I'm grateful for you, too.  Yes, you, you reading this :) 

One of the things I'm thankful for these days is my sweet and talented graduate student who has spent this semester with me.  The week after Thanksgiving is her last week, and the students and I will miss her so much.  I'm so impressed with her and feel sure she will make a great SLP.  Before we left for Thanksgiving break, I broke out every Christmas goody I had in my arsenal and let her have at it. 

By the way, in the bucket below you'll spy:  1) Christmas sticker scenes from Oriental trading, which I love for the little ones 2) some snowflake foam beads great for making winter necklaces and reinforcing any skill 3)  Gingerbread themed board games for articulation perfect for your Gingerbread Man units 4) Reindeer games for articulation 5) and Christmas themed lists of word for drill by phoneme which come with my Christmas quick drill games

She planned for her last week of therapy and I planned for the dreaded next week when I will be back in the trenches without her.  Here are some things we have on tap: Santa's Naughty and Nice Lists for articulation.  I love these list so much because nothing all year long makes my kids giggle like these do.  Here are the Naughty and Nice Artic Lists below along with my Suit Up Santa open ended game (also sure to produce giggles). 

My grad student zoned in on these Christmas Barrier Games for my kids with receptive language goals, 

I love having my students with expressive goals tell us where to place the objects for the barrier game as well! 

I even use these for my articulation students who need to address carryover of sound productions into conversational speech. 

After Christmas, the barrier games continue ... The Winter barrier games are ready to go! 

My students with language goals will also be listening and following directions with this Listen and Color page from my Christmas Fun Pack.  It's not as easy as they all think it will be! 

We will also be using EETchy to write about all sorts of Christmas topics (also from my Christmas Fun Pack - which really has enough activites to last all of December!)

 My older students and I will be reading about Christmas Traditions Around the World (and so will my entire inclusion class, actually).  These are so fascinating!! I learned as much making them as my students do reading them!  Did you know that in Japan, it's tradition to eat Fried Chicken on Christmas- especially KFC!?!  They take orders in advance!! 

I have student who is working on learning "emotion words" and interpreting facial expressions, and this will be a fun addition to his therapy one day I think :) 

By the way, this is a FREEBIE in my TpT store! It's a fun way to address emotions and  articulation and fluency in connected speech as well because the packet includes lots of questions the students have to answer about Santa's mood or what may have happened to the Gingerbread Man so make him feel this way.  

Celebrating Hanukkah?  I wouldn't leave you out!! 
My Happy Hanukkah Quick Drill game just makes me smile! 

My articulation students will also be making some cut and paste Speech Snowglobes. After I hang them up and show them off for a couple of days, they'll also be taking them home as the dreaded homework.  Do your kids complain about speech homework, too? 
I mean, come on, it only takes a few minutes! 

We will also be doing some Snowglobe Quick Drill (and the varieties of Christmas quick drills in my TpT store!)  I love that sometimes my students want to "trade" cards after we play.  
They're very protective of their favorites. 

With my little bitty ones, we always decorate Christmas trees.  You can use tree template or cut out along with sequins or these great peel and stick gems that I buy on Amazon, LakeShore Learning or Oriental Trading. I use them as reinforcers for any skill.  After students perform a skill, I let them stick a gem or two.  As you can see below, we also always make reindeer food for Rudolph and his hungry deer friends, too!

Hot off the press (just yesterday) I finally finished and posted my Christmas Dot Art for  ALL Sounds- mostly because these are on our plans for next week!! Previously I only had /r/, vocalic r and /s/ dot art pages for Christmas.  Now I have the whole shabang - 69 pages in all!! There's a Christmas tree scene, a Santa scene as shown below, and a Christmas stocking.  OH, and it includes open ended pages, too, which is what is shown here.  Since my little guy was just learning /s/ in isolation in this day, I just wrote a simple "s" on each circle and he dotted them as he said them correctly.  Then he filled in the whole page to make Santa's suit complete. This Santa was rocking the green sleeves and britches. LOL 

You can grab a sample of the Christmas Dot Art featuring Vocalic R only HERE.  Hooray! 

My kids will also be doing some scratch art which is an ideal way to keep groups busy while rotating old fashioned artic drill with students.  I buy mine at Oriental Trading. They double as ornaments! 

Do you want some real goodies this Christmastime? Last year, we made both of these goodies in my speech room: 

Oreo Reindeer Snacks 
All you need is one big, broken pretzel for antlers, 1 oreo taken apart and put back together,  2 mini M&M eyes, and 1 big red Rudolph nose M&M. It makes for a great sequencing activity! 

Snowman Cookies!

I give each student a sugar cookie and have them spread white icing on it (no licking the plastic knife!). Then they add Twizzler strips for the ear muff headband and smile, mini M&Ms for his eyes, and an orange TicTac for his nose.  Finally, the kids cover those hypothetical snowman ears with 2 big Lifesaver Gummy ear muffs!! This is a fun activity for following directions, discussing winter and winter gear, chatting about building snowmen, sequencing, emotions (we can make frowns, too) or just discussing the irony of a snowman wearing ear muffs!! It's a tasty follow up activity for any snowman book, too :) 

I guess it's time for me to stop procrastinating and go chop veggies for tomorrow's stuffing (here in Louisiana we call it dressing).  I can't wait to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade while I get my cooking on in the morning!! If you're so inclined, say a prayer for everyone gathered there in Manhattan tomorrow for that big event.  With Paris on my mind, we must keep praying that kindness and peace may permeate the hearts of those who hate and for the safety of our fellowman. 

After lunch, it's tree trimming time!! My family is already complaining. YIKES.  
Happy Holidays from Louisiana!" title="click to view in an external page.">An InLinkz Link-up

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Frenzied SLPs Thankful & Grateful Blog Hop

It's that time again...
the time of year when we all tend to stop and reflect about what we are most thankful for. (Sorry about ending a sentence with a preposition; I'm feeling rebellious today).  Honestly, I try to reflect on that year 'round - daily even- but thank goodness for November. Right on cue, November sweeps in after the candy binge of Halloween to make us focus on gratitude. 

On that note, I'm really grateful to have found this online tribe- the Frenzied SLPs. Today we are bringing our readers a little scavenger hunt (in which you can win prizes!) and sharing our stories about what makes our hearts swell with gratitude. 
Please join the fun! 
Three readers will win $10 TpT gift cards as well as $10 Starbucks cards.  
TpT and coffee makes our jobs easier :) 

Here is what you need to do:
  1. 1.  Read each thankful post from The Frenzied SLPs!
  2. 2.  Collect (and jot down) the character at the bottom of each post. You will need them to figure out the secret phrase. 
    3.  Enter the secret phrase into the Rafflecopter at the end of any post.
    4.  Visit The Frenzied SLPs Facebook Page for an extra entry.
    5.  Three winners will be chosen after the rafflecopter closes on 11/13/2015. 

All mommas are thankful for their children.  Of course, I'm thankful for my job. my home, and my parents. I'm especially blessed to have my parents who are 79 and 88.  The list could go on for days. When I dig down deep, though, the gratitude that always comes bubbling up is husband.  
It's long overdue that I hop down from the pedastal my husband puts me on and haul his butt up there instead. 

Shannon and I grew up as neighbors -"catty corner" neighbors to be exact.  Our parents are still neighbors.  Along with his sister, we played in the street (yes -gasp- we sure did) and did all the things that neighborhood kids did before there was technology.  Little did we know that location, location, location would later make it very convenient for running out to the corner for one more goodnight.  

In 5th grade we were both at a "boy-girl dance party" and we kissed.  I know, I know, I would have strangled my children had they been sneaking kisses in 5th grade, but hey, it was a really small town with really nothing to do. 

Shannon is inherently shy, and I am inherently not. The kiss never turned into anything....well, except me occasionally using my dad's binoculars to spy on him down the street....until 6 years later. 

My junior year of high school we had a whirlwind romance.  I asked him out, and he showed up.  He wouldn't even kiss me, but after that date, I told my best friend, "I'm going to marry him." 
He was just so genuinely good (not to mention so cute and super smart)
 We've now been married almost 26 years, but it still feels like we are having first dates. 
~ Sappy and annoying, but true ~

To make a slightly long and scandalous story short, we graduated high school as Mr. and Mrs. 
Yes, married!! 
Good grief (shaking my head).

We insisted that our unexpected-baby-on-the-way grow up in a traditional family, and we didn't want our parents to have to raise him.  We were (usually) good kids, but thinking back I feel so very sorry for my Mom and Dad.  They should have beaten me over the head with a club, but they supported us wholeheartedly instead, and have mercy, they adore that baby boy who is now 25.  
To this day I still cannot believe the hospital personnel let us take that baby home. 
We were so young.  What were they thinking? LOL

Shannon was the hometown quarterback and a local pitching prodigy headed for the college baseball scene.  I was the cheerleader/class president voted "most likely to succeed" with dreams of traipsing off to a big shot university to become a writer.  Instead, we became the talk of our small town. 

Our identities changed and I am so grateful that it did.  It helped me to get my priorities straight. Personal ambitions were set aside, and we focused on being a family.  Shannon knew he couldn't have major league ambitions and be the husband and dad he wanted to be, and I started searching the college catalogs for a more practical career. 

We went to homecoming and prom as husband and wife, and we graduated as salutatorian and valedictorian with the little love of our lives, Ferris, watching from the front row.  We earned full academic scholarships, and we moved (far) away to college- just the 3 of us.  We didn't know a soul and we didn't have a clue, but we were mature and determined. Being our scholarly selves..... we read all the "how-to" books :)  Thinking back, surely the soundtrack playing somewhere in the background of our life was Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer
 It was the 90s after all (hence the name Ferris).

I'm sure our parents were just praying that we would keep their grandson (and ourselves) alive and safe.  We were confident and optimistic...and naive... although I would not have admitted that then. 

By being absolutely relentless, we scored an apartment in government housing.  Ferris only got his head stuck in our apartment railing one time :) We got on welfare and applied for every little scholarship we could find.  Whatever Shannon's job didn't cover- like daycare and car insurance - my parents made happen.  Shannon's goal was always to not be a burden to anyone. He worked tirelessly at various jobs while we both took 21 hours per semester- 18 hours in the summers- to hurry and finish college early.  Between working and studying and taking turns parenting, we rarely saw each other for 3 years, but he became my hero.     
After four years of survival mode, he had a pharmacist job, and I finished my masters degree. 
We said au revoir to welfare; we had beaten the odds. 
I talk about it like it was easy but... NO WAY!  For a while I could have sworn I had a little Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from it, but good things come to those who wait work hard.  

Truly though, when people ask how we did it, I give all the credit to my husband.  
He stayed even though it was really hard.  Moms do what they have to do for their babies, but men often find a way out.  He persevered and was never less than father of the year and my own personal cheerleader.  

He still is.  I thank God for him everyday. 
He is still just genuinely good in every way; I aspire to live like him. 
He walks through life selflessly and puts others before him always.  
In fact, he will hate the fact that I wrote this. 
He even cooks and cleans and does the grocery shopping, y'all!  We are a unstoppable team! 
 Since we finished growing up together,  I joke and say I raised him that way.  

With an empty nest just months away, I'm so thankful for a relationship that can stand on its own even after our kids have flown the coop. 

Know what else? He lets me talk about boring speech stuff and SLP problems.
When I opened my TpT store, I'm pretty sure he thought I'd never even get my $60 start up fee back. Still, he cheered me on.  He cleans the kitchen or runs the errands when I need to blog or work on products.  He accompanied me to the TpT conference this summer and was just as enthusiastic about it as I was.  He even brags about me to anyone who will listen. How lucky am I? 
That's why I figured it was time to do brag about him for a change.  

It's a great time of year to tell the people we are so grateful for how we feel.  When I drop my son off at school I like to tell him, "If a nice thought pops into your head today, you should make it come out of your mouth, too.  Spread some goodness."  

We all need to know we are appreciated.  
In fact, I appreciate YOU!  Yes, you! 

Now that I have completely gushed and you are completely gagging,  I think it's time to get on with the scavenger hunt.  

My letter is.... L

Now hop to the next blogger (my friend in-real-life, Tracy)
or feel free to hop to the FIRST blogger to start from the beginning
Good luck & thanks for reading! Go forth and be thankful :) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It's Halloween in My Speech Room!

This week my fellow Frenzied SLPs and I are blogging about Halloween-themed language activities.  
Let's get real, Halloween week at school is ROUGH.  
To top it off, we have a full moon and  Hurricane Patricia dumping torrential rains on us here in Louisiana.  Here are some ideas from me to you that might help keep things calm and productive in your speech room! 

I love love love the book The Biggest Leaf Pile by Steve Metzger.  It's not Halloween themed, but it is fall themed and it's spurred lots of learning in my therapy room this month. 
I love that it addresses friendship and character. 

We read the book and made our own leaf piles with silk and paper leaves. 

We also created the characters from the book.  On this day, my students both chose to make Yellow Hickory who is just one of the 4 main characters.  You can grab this leaf template along with instructions on how to use them with the book HERE. It's only available to my blog readers :)

We have also been working on concepts (many, few, 2, only, round, pointed, happy, shapes, etc)
using my Halloween Cariboo freebie!  I've even used it to work on where, what and who questions...What can we eat? Who has a tail? Where can you live? Where do bats and birds live? Who has a cape?  Who has triangle eyes? Who is sleeping? Who is smiling? What has whiskers? What can we wear? What has legs? 

We've been reading plenty of Halloween books. 

We have worn out The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything along with hand motions, wiggling, shaking, clapping and clomping.  My non-verbal and limited verbal kids were able to participate, too, because my graduate student and I used my FAVORITE handy, dandy free app, Sounding Board.  Read more about how to use Sounding Board at this blog post.

Later this week, we will be reading Five Little Pumpkins....

...along with 5 real little pumpkins.

My upper elementary students and I have been reading non-fiction fall passages from Nicole Allison and playing some seasonal themed board games as reinforcement for answering questions correctly. I was able to address soooooo many ELA skills with these passages! 

We've also been reading the Young Observer book on vampire bats. I highly recommend the Young Observer books by Phillip Steele. 

We've been working on answering all kinds of wh-questions (and how to answer them while restating the question) using my Halloween trivia and games. This is also perfect for getting a true picture of  articulation and fluency carryover.  If you have two kids (or teams compete) by ringing in first to see who can correctly answer the question, the time pressure is a great test of how strong and automated their artic and fluency skills really are. Plus, my kids BEG for this.  

On Wednesday and Thursday, we will be making these spider snacks as one of our therapy activities!! This is just great for sequencing, following directions and lots of discussion about spiders. 
Besides, who doesn't love to eat in therapy? HELLOOOOOOO no one! 

Happy Halloween, y'all!! 

Be sure to click on all go my friend's logos below to read about what's going on in their speech room! 

Jasper Roberts Consulting - Widget