Are you a Ravensfan? Here in Baltimore, it is hard to go anywhere without seeing the color Purple or hearing about how the Ravens are headed to Denver for the playoffs. But did you know there is a deeper story? A story that may appeal to SLPs, or to those of you who love someone with a communication disorder or life-threatening illness? This story struck me not just because I am an SLP whose mission is to help others communicate — it struck me because I love someone living with ALS. My mother-in-law, Nancy, was diagnosed with ALS on July 3, 2011. Her spirit and passion for loving others and making a difference in people’s lives continue to shine, just as they do with Ravens Player O.J. Brigance. Take a look at this video that premiered on ESPN just before the most recent Ravens game:
Welcome to my Year in Review Post! 2012 was an exciting year for me…the creation, evolution and launch of LiveSpeakLove, new writing opportunities, new friends and fellow SLPs from around the world, and a new job at Towson University! I can hardly believe the whirlwind year I have had, full of opportunity and blessings. Last week I received a 2012 Year in Review email from WordPress, and I read the email in pure amazement that I am privileged to have found such a labor of love that people enjoy. I though I would share a few website stats and highlights as part of this reflection post:
Visitors: According to WordPress, about 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 170,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 3 years for that many people to see it. My website had more visits than a small country in Europe!
Top Posts: Here are the Top 5 Posts for LiveSpeakLove in 2012 – wow, each of these posts had 8-10 THOUSAND hits!:
Global Reach:LiveSpeakLove was accessed in over 154 countries in 2012! United States of America and Canada were the top two countries, followed closely by Australia, United Kingdom, Phillipines and New Zealand. Hello and THANK YOU to all my supporters around the world!
Referrals: It may come as no surprise that the Top Two Referring Sites were Pinterestand Facebook! Pinterest has evolved into a goldmine of resources for creative SLPs who know the value in sharing a good thing. Many of my referrals came from other SLPs who searched my LiveSpeakLove Pinterest Board and other boards like the shared SLP Blog Post Board for ideas. Big thanks to all who repinned my posts or shared my materials on Facebook!
Features: I am beyond thrilled to have been featured on some amazing websites this past year. I actually lost track of all of you who mentioned LiveSpeakLove on your own blogs and websites. If I’ve missed you, feel free to post a comment with the link and I will add you to my blogroll. The features below are from websites (the ones I know about) where I was featured as an award winner or special contributor.
Future Speech-Language Pathologists– a fabulous site created and owned by Jourdan Saunders, MS, CCC-SLP. Her site is filled with information and resources for aspiring (or current!) SLPs. Jourdan featured LiveSpeakLove on her site: LiveSpeakLove – A Wealth of Resources Just For You
OnlineSpeechPathologyPrograms.net– this site is an all-in-one resource with information about the SLP Profession, Apps, and more. I am very proud to have been named on of the Best 100 Web Sites for Speech Pathologists! Check out the Teaching Tips Section of this Top 100 article. Thank you!
Presence Learning– a site dedicated to telepractice and current therapy trends. LiveSpeakLove was featured in their 12 Days of Christmas Series.
What an amazing year! I am beyond thrilled to be working at Towson University, educating the next generation of SLPs — and sharing a little bit of my SLP life here. Thank you to all who have supported this site from its genesis, and offered encouragement and kudos to me throughout 2012. I look forward to another great year in the months ahead. To give you a glimpse at just how blessed and happy I am right now with my work, I will share with you this reflective Teaching Statement I submitted recently as part of my first year faculty review:
Walking into a classroom filled with thirty-eight young adults this past August was not easy. I knew that each student was anxious to meet me, to hear what I had to say and to quickly assess their upcoming semester. New to Towson University and to the position of Clinical Assistant Professor, I remember feeling a bit intimidated as I looked around the room. I also remember silently acknowledging that the crowded classroom was exactly where I wanted to be. I knew this fact before I entered the room, but I savored the thought as I introduced myself to everyone…exactly where I wanted to be. Somehow, I had earned the perfect opportunity to use my personal strengths and talents to do something that I truly enjoyed…help people learn. In that moment, I realized that my core beliefs about teaching would shape the success of those thirty-eight students who sat in front of me.
As a speech-language pathologist, I have learned that good teaching should inspire students in meaningful ways. This semester, I wanted to inspire my students to learn course material and to have fun while they learned. But I also wanted to inspire each student to become a life-long learner, and to feel excited about the idea of becoming a speech-language pathologist. I wanted students to know why they were learning something, and to understand its value. Each class this semester, I worked to make sure that students could connect with what they were learning, and know that what they were learning was important. I incorporated stories from various clinical experiences to help them understand the application of their learning. I believe that I was, in fact, very successful in this endeavor. Many students thanked me in person and through email for a wonderful semester, admitting that I had helped to solidify their commitment to the profession.
I also know that good teaching should engage students in their learning. Engaging thirty-eight students in a classroom at one time is not an easy task. I did learn some new techniques through suggestions following a Peer Evaluation, and through my own experimentation. I worked hard to incorporate Universal Design for Learning Standards, offering multiple means of presentation and responses throughout my assignments and instruction. I used Prezi presentation software in addition to the standard PowerPoint lecture format. I also incorporated videos, group break-out sessions and hands-on activities as much as possible. In addition, I realized that I needed to quickly learn everyone’s names (again, no easy feat in a class of thirty-eight students, especially in back-to-back sections.) Learning names helped me to include more students in class discussions, and to validate their responses and participation in a personal way. Connecting with students in personal ways also allowed me to better assess their personalities and learning styles. I noted that in the future, I would like to get to know students individually much sooner in the semester.
Finally, I know that good teaching should include intentional excellence. To effectively engage and inspire students in intentionally excellent ways, one must be prepared and organized. Organization is not exactly my strength, but I did work hard this semester to walk into each class with a specific plan and a designated purpose. I spent long hours and many late nights making sure each activity, assignment or video clip aligned well with my learning objectives, and that the selected tools would inspire and engage students. I wanted each and every class meeting to specifically increase the knowledge and expertise of all the students in my classroom. I periodically sought feedback from students regarding quizzes, assignments and assessments, reflecting on whether each course component was useful and relevant. I also collected feedback to assess whether I was meeting the learning needs of individual students. I did recognize changes that should be made in future classes, and I recorded those suggestions in a personal teaching log.
I feel fortunate to have had this opportunity to educate young adults in ways that reflect my core beliefs. I want to continue learning new ways to inspire and engage learners, while effectively preparing them for graduate school and future careers. I know that I have come a long way since I walked into that university classroom five months ago, with thirty-eight young adults eagerly waiting for me to teach. Reflecting on that first day and on the rest of the semester, I feel very successful despite some mistakes. I feel encouraged by what I have learned, grateful for the experiences I have had, and still confident in knowing that I am exactly where I want to be.