Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Day in the Life of a School SLP

I was pumped to recently be featured on Speech to the Core to share a day in the life of ... me!  Thanks for the invite, Lyndsey!  If you didn't catch it there, here's what you missed....I'm a PreK-5th grade school SLP and so very proud to be one.  I have a hunch that my life closely resembles the lives of many SLP moms. 

4:45  The alarm starts torturing me.  I snooze for a solid hour.  My brain and body need time to accept that I actually have to get out of bed.  During this time my cat, Juni, and dog, Lola, typically climb all over me to help the process along. 

5:45  I give in to the alarm clock, take a sec to thank God for another day, and kick off the covers.  I'm out of bed but disgruntled.  I am not a morning person, y'all.  I'm a night owl.  I dream of the day when school starts opening later or my district starts hiring part-time SLPs.  I would love to only work the latter part of the day.  A girl can dream, right?  The first thing I do is march right the mirror to access the status of my unruly hair and determine if I can possibly get by without shampooing.  If I shampoo that means I have to shower, and if I have to shower, my water obsessed Siamese cat will act berserk the whole time.  (It's the whole If you Give a Mouse a Cookie predicament.)  Bath and makeup commence along with the feeding of the animals and outfit decision making.  Thankfully during this time, my husband gets my teenage son, who is also anti-morning, in motion.

7:00   We are out the door, squishing our bags and a trombone into my teeny VW Beetle.  As I back out I typically recall what I left behind (my lunch, my ID, my iPhone) and my husband fetches the item of the day for me.  Basically, we are just one big hot mess. 

7:40  After dropping off my son (who does not drive yet/don't get me started) at high school 10 miles away, I head to Central Primary School.  I've been on the faculty there 19 years; we were once a middle school as well.  It's like my second home, and that staff is my extended family.  We have seen each other through marriages, births, divorces, tragedies and celebrations. Both of my sons attended my school as well.  Upon arrival, I head right to the coffee pot!

Our secretary knows I require coffee to function and if the pot is empty she has been known to make emergency coffee deliveries to me on duty.  Ahhhhh duty....the D word.... I'm at hallway duty everyday from 8:00-8:30.  

8:30  It's on!!! Let the games begin! Therapy time! I service several students with autism and intellectual disabilities. Technology programming, making social stories, prepping individualized lessons and adapting materials consumes a good chunk of time, but sometimes it just has to happen after hours at home. 

My other students run the gamut from developmental delays and language delays/disorders to cleft palate, articulation disorders and phonological disorders.  This is the first year in my career that I don't have a hearing impaired student.  Our district has a large population of deaf students, and I love aural rehabilitation.  For years families came from far and wide to participate in our deaf education program which included the use of Cued Speech.  Because of that I cue everything in my head.  It's like my second language, and my students who grew up cueing are all such proficient communicators. 

Our school was built for 500 students, but we currently have nearly 1,000.  As a result, here is my current teeny tiny room...

  Sometimes it feel cozy and other times it just feels suffocating.  

I have a desk right outside of this room in a shared room where another SLP does therapy.  Thankfully, we also have a locked storage closet next door for our materials. 

With some articulation students I implement 5 minute speech (especially those with short attention spans) multiple days per week while with others, I use traditional individual or group therapy.  Likewise, I provide a mix of inclusive language therapy or pullout language therapy depending on each child's needs.  Since my daily therapy has to meet the needs of every child ranging from age 3 to 12 and address a hodge podge of goals based on their unique needs, the planning for it can be brutal. You know what I'm talking about! On Fridays, I write down my plans for the entire next week of therapy.  You can read about that here at my blog and even grab the document I use! 

I love my students; they're definitely the best part of my job.  This semester I'm also loving my graduate student! I have a local graduate student doing an off campus practicum with me, and she has been a huge help with managing my caseload.  I've had many over the years, many of whom are now my friends, and I love that part of my job, too! 

LUNCH:  There were days when I had a social lunchtime.  Sadly, those days are long gone. Now it's just me wolfing down lunch at my computer while I work.  Nothing glamorous there.  

3:16  Back to duty! At dismissal, I have another daily hallway duty...but at least this one is short.

I usually stay after school to clean up, prep for the next day and catch up on paperwork (of course).  

4:30  It's off to pick up Riley at band practice and then finally head home.  Being that we live in one of the fastest growing suburbs in the country (between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, LA) it takes us almost an hours to drive the 15 miles required to pick him up and get home. Traffic is my nemesis. 

5:30  You never know what afternoons and evenings will bring us.  My husband works shifts so some days he is off and some days he gets home at 8:00.  I just love the days he is off; those days I come home to a clean house and something yummy - like maybe a gumbo - bubbling on the stove.  My husband even cooks outside to keep the kitchen clean!  If you ever swing by our house, you'll hear Cajun music playing on the back patio. It's true what they say about is Louisianians- we let the good times roll. 

8:00ish  I sit with my pup in the living room with my remote, a blanket, and my laptop and get busy  creating materials; they all come about based on what my students need. If I'm not doing that, I'm knee deep in laundry, bills or trying to sneak in some reading or crocheting. OH, and of course there is social media squeezed in there. We do the family dinner and DVR time (Once Upon a Time, Blacklist, Survivor, Project Runway, and HGTV) while I keep working.  Occasionally there are school projects to help with and essays to edit - you know- the usual stuff.  On the rough days, there are serious naps :) 

10:30   Being a night owl, I begrudgingly head off to bed about 10:30 only because I know if I don't I will pay dearly the next day.  We pile in bed with the animals and call it quits, and then we do it all again tomorrow! 

I'd love it if you would follow me here, there and everywhere to find out more about my SLP life and therapy. Thanks for reading!


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