When I founded Yorktown Therapy Services, I vowed to provide the highest possible level of care to every child I serve, For this reason, I am so honored to receive the ACE Award from the American Speech-Language Association! This award recognizes individuals across the nation for excellence in continuing education. I am proud to receive this recognition, and I remain committed to lifelong learning and to employing techniques rooted in evidence-based practice. #lifelonglearning #everychildmatters #knowbetterdobetter #ACE
The countdown is on! It will soon be Halloween…a seasonal favorite for me, in case you can’t tell by all of the Halloween activities I’ve been creating and sharing! But I just wanted to pause a minute and share some advice for those of you out there answering doors and offering treats on Halloween. PLEASE be inclusive. Please don’t require ANYTHING in exchange for treats. It is okay if a child doesn’t say trick-or-treat — many do not have the communication skills to do so. And it is okay if a child doesn’t say thank you upon receiving a treat. Children who come to your door will come with varying levels of communication skills, social skills, and physical abilities. PLEASE be kind and do not single out children if they don’t appear to “comply” at your doorstep. Also keep in mind that children will have varying levels of sensory abilities as well, and their coping skills may not be aligned with your expectations. Children may also come from homes with varying levels of income, and they may not even (GASP!) be wearing a costume. They may seem “too old” to you, and you may feel like they don’t “deserve” the candy and goodies that you are giving to other children. I am here to say PLEASE be considerate of these points and PLEASE be inclusive. We have no way of knowing the factors at hand, and very little harm, if any, occurs when you offer kindness and inclusivity at your door. I created this visual as a reminder and a way to spread the word if you choose. Please feel free to share! And a Happy Halloweeen….Trick or Treat for ALL you meet this year!
If you know me, you likely know that I am passionate about AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) and giving people a voice. Not only did I spend many years working as an SLP in the school setting where I fell in love with AAC, but I also taught the graduate AAC class at a university in Maryland for 8 years (check out this interview about some of my work!). When I re-located to Virginia, I continued my love for AAC as a learning consultant for an AAC vendor company. I learned so much over the years, and I am SO excited about providing AAC services now through my private practice, Yorktown Therapy Services.
In celebration of AAC Awareness Month and my return to private practice, I’ve created an updated version of my Classroom Core Communication Display! This tool can help decrease negative behaviors and give individuals a voice by providing daily exposure to AAC and core vocabulary in meaningful contexts. You can provide access to functional communication with this versatile core communication display that utilizes core vocabulary words to facilitate flexible, functional communication. The display also includes select fringe vocabulary and phrase-based messages to form a more robust method of communication. The display can be used on any smartboard in the front of the classroom (perfect for modeling use of vocabulary during instruction and general classroom communication!). It can also be blown up poster size and hung in therapy rooms, hallways, lunchrooms, gymnasiums, or even in home environments. Students can also utilize these core communication pages at their desk or in a personal notebook. I also love printing extra copies of this display to create file folder games, therapy activities, and card/board games using these relevant picture communication symbols.
This communication board was created using PCS® and Boardmaker by Tobii Dynavox® All rights reserved. Used with permission.
To learn more about modeling use of AAC, check out my favorite video on this topic! This video was created by Christopher Bugaj with Louden County Public Schools in Virginia. I LOVE showing this video to parents, teachers, university students, and anyone who wants to learn a little bit about AAC:
Thank you for reading and I look forward to hearing about how YOU make a difference in the lives of people with complex communication needs. Remember, everyone deserves a voice!
Here’s another fun resource, from my therapy room to yours! Your students will love this activity that feels like a party game — Halloween Matching/Memory! Use these picture cards to target a variety of speech-language and academic skills as you play this game — simply pair the cards with any task that students complete as they take their turn. I’ve also used these hidden around the room for a Halloween Treasure Hunt game. Print extras to send home with students as a Halloween vocabulary review (my parents have loved playing this game at home with their kids as well). This activity set include 8 pages (title page plus seven pages of picture cards) with 21 picture pairs. Just print, cut, and go!
Can I just say…I LOVE offering bundles for discounts?! Here is another bundle including one of my most popular Halloween activities — Halloween Pragmatic Question Cards! These cards are the perfect way to target pragmatic/social skills and Halloween safety, in addition to receptive/expressive language, critical thinking, and even articulation. Just pair these cards with any game board, or have students pull questions out of a jack-o-lantern for Halloween fun that is practical and interactive. These would also be a super activity for teletherapy sessions! Questions are designed to target inferential thinking, making predictions, problem-solving, managing conflict, and pragmatic language/social skills. Group discussions and brainstorming possible scenarios/solutions can be put to use through discussions about real-life issues. This bundle includes my originial sets 1 and 2 for a discounted price! PLUS a BONUS Fall game board for your therapy room or classroom! My students think this activity is just a fun game, but it really targets a variety of valuable skills. SO….Trick or Treat, take a peek!
Who else LOVES therapy and classroom activities with a seasonal flair?! Seasonal themes add such a fun, celebratory element to speech-language therapy. Festive games and activities appear to be my “specialty” — or so I have been told. Looking back, I have created a LOT of seasonal resources! And because I feel like celebrating, I decided to bundle some of my top Fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving resources into a discounted mega-bundle! This mega-bundle of activities will last through the ENTIRE Fall Season. Fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving activities galore to target receptive language, expressive language, pragmatics, articulation, and phonology as well as vocabulary and literacy! In this bundle you get 137 pages of printable games, lessons, stimulus cards, crafts, recipes, and more. Tried and true fun for your students, from my therapy room to yours. Check it out if you love minimal prep, easy to differentiate, printable activities with a seasonal flair!
I wanted to share this visual for you — a FREE graphic organizer/visual support for WH Questions. This recently updated support is a clinician favorite; I’ve received lots of feedback about just how beneficial this visual is supporting students who need help understanding WH questions and their appropriate referents. In my therapy room, I have this visual posted and ready to quickly grab in the moment. From my therapy room to yours! This one-page download is perfect for any therapy room (or classroom.)
If you’ve been following me since this blog started in 2012 (bless you if this is you!) you may know that I love to create therapy materials! Over the years I’ve shifted from hosting these materials on an external Google Drive to hosting them on Teachers Pay Teachers (what a wonderful invention by the way!). I have a variety of free and super cheap therapy materials hosted in my TPT store if you want to take a look. And I am SO EXCITED about having time to create again! So I will be sharing lots of materials here (including lots of free resources too!) so stay tuned. For now, I want to share my latest creation, this super fun Feed the Dog activity. I use this with literally any therapy activity or lesson and I get instant engagement and motivation from my clients/students. No need to struggle to find a game that I can use in therapy — I just pull this Feed the Dog activity out and pair it with stimulus cards, activity pages, or any other material, and kids love feeding the dog whenever it’s their turn. I also use this activity as a token reinforcement system to reinforce positive behaviors, task completion, and more. For whatever reason, it really works!
This activity set includes the dog face you can use to create your Feed the Dog activity (using a repurposed tissue box or bottle; see my image below), as well as bones to feed the dog, step by step directions, and a First/Then board customized for the reward of feeding the dog:
I definitely recommend this or similar tools for any therapy room or classroom! Hope you enjoy!!
It’s been a long while since I’ve posted an update here! As many of you know, my career branched out into a Clinical Assistant Professor position at a university, a job I truly loved! After about seven years of university teaching and clinical supervision, I relocated to my hometown in Virginia and began working in the corporate world as an SLP/Learning Consultant. When the world shifted in our post-covid era, I started to really long for personal connection again and dreamed of re-opening my private practice and serving children and families in my community. At the same time, my wonderful, hard-working husband was working to expand his dental practice and purchase the entire building that houses Geary Family and Cosmetic Dentistry. This larger practice and bigger space meant that there would be room for me to share his space (and his love for helping people) and open my speech-language therapy practice right in the same building! I am so excited to have begun this next adventure, serving families in my very own hometown. So, introducing Yorktown Therapy Services! Don’t worry; I plan on continuing to blog here to serve devoted supporters of Live Speak Love! I have lots of information and therapy goodies to share! But feel free to head over to my new practice Facebook page and give Yorktown Therapy Services some love!
Thanks everyone for continuing to support me and my dreams! Check out pictures of my new practice:
Love and thanks,
With summer just around the corner, I wanted to highlight some summer fun activities I created that were featured on the ASHASphere blog a couple of years ago. There are lots of ideas and FREE resources for you to download! Please feel free to pass on the free downloads — just link back to my site if you do. Thank you and ENJOY!
Wow, I am loving the response to my cute Owl Clipart – seems I am not the only one who thinks the little owls are perfect for the back-to-school season! You can read more about my year-round obsession with owls here or here. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to my love for the little creatures (in real life, I would probably just watch in awe and run for my life if one dared come close to me, hahaha. I am always fearful that my little five pound ball of fluff puppy, Cooper , will be carried away by a hungry fowl. But I DO love them from afar.)
Anyway, here is a repost of my ever popular WHO questions featuring the Owl Clipart I made. Hope you enjoy!!
I recently posted this meme on the LiveSpeakLove Facebook page and have since then seen it crop up on Pinterest and other sites. I must not be the only one! Anyone else a night owl? When do you get the most work accomplished? I’d love to hear!
Many of you read the recent post featuring Gretchen Hines and her poignant story of being Mom to a child with apraxia. Gretchen’s story of a mother’s love, sadness, frustration and eventual success touched many hearts (including mine) and inspired us as parents, therapists, educators and advocates. I am pleased to report that Gretchen’s story is featured in PediaStaff’s Parent’s Corner this week! Special thanks to social media extraordinaire, Heidi Kay, for picking up the story and spreading the word.
Gretchen’s post on PediaStaff: (click on image)
Thanks for reading! Lisa, LiveSpeakLove
SLPs, educators, parents, and anyone needing a bit of inspiration in life today — please join me in welcoming featured contributor, Gretchen Hines. Gretchen graciously agreed to share this very personal, heartfelt account of her journey as a mother of a child with apraxia. Perhaps you are on a similar journey with your own loved one, or perhaps you are working to make a difference in the lives of families like Gretchen’s. Whatever your story, I hope that you will find inspiration in this mother’s words. I know I did. ~Lisa, LiveSpeakLove
The following post originally appeared on Gretchen Hines’ personal blog, MommyCircus. Head on over to her site and let her know how you liked her story!
It has been a few months since I have posted, but September came, school and sports started and my time became sparse. But, I’m back! Hoping to catch up on and continue to post about the happy happenings of our large household.
What got me started tonight has been weighing heavy on my mind for a few weeks and I thought it best to make a post, in hopes that it may change, if only one persons perspective on what I am about to approach.
Sixteen years ago this past October, we were blessed with our first born son, Tyler. As any first time parent would do we carefully marked milestones…first smile, sitting, crawling, walking, first word… Tyler made all of those milestones mostly right on time. right around a year or so old he spoke “mama” and “dada” for the first time. His brother Ben was born when he was 13 months old and Tyler called him “kitty” because of the his large amount of brown hair. But, his words were few and far between. When he turned two I found out I was expecting a third baby, and right about that time fourteen years ago, our beautiful little red haired 2 year old boy stopped speaking at all. Instead, he mumbled as though he had a mouth full of food. We took him to the pediatrician, who referred us to the local children’s hospital for evaluation. We were told initially that he might be autistic. I was devastated. I felt guilty that I was pregnant again while my precious little boy would need so much help. I had no idea what the future would hold for him… We went to lots of appointments and testing and finally ended up in the speech therapy department at CHKD. They explained to us that he was not autistic, however he displayed the high intelligence that a lot of autistic children display. What he had was a condition they termed apraxia. The connection between his brain and his tongue had a malfunction within it, thus making it very difficult for him to form words. The diagnosis they gave stated that they were ” cautiously optimistic” that he would ever be able to speak.
We quickly began daily speech therapy and were told it would be best if we learn sign language to communicate with him. Our precious two year old boy learned to sign to us to let us know what he needed. I desperately wanted to hear my son speak as I watched his tiny hands sign things to me. I became his mouth. I spoke for him everywhere we went. I watched in utter sadness as he would try to play with other children, only to have them walk away because he could not speak to them . On the playground kids would ask why he wouldn’t talk to them. Children wanted to know what was “wrong” with him. So, I kept him to myself. I kept him away from other children. He was always a curious little fellow and dearly loved to scavenge around the yard for worms and lizards. He loved exploring, and we would often explore the woods behind our house, just me and him and his brothers. His younger brother Ben, who at this point was 2 years old and speaking enough for both of them was quick to understand that his older brother could not speak. This, was not going to work for him. Determined to have his brother speak to him, Ben would talk at him, often forcefully “talk to me” he would say. And he would talk and explain to Tyler all day long. To this day, and forever, I owe a debt of gratitude to my little son Ben for his part in helping Tyler speak. He was persistent and forceful and often arrogant, and I believe that he still feels a bit of responsibility towards Tyler that he will never understand.
Many, many months of speech therapy later and one very persistent little brother…. my first born son at the age of 4, began to speak in sentences. And every word he has spoken since then has been a miracle. At this point, our therapy benefits had long since expired and it seemed as though our son had gone about as far as he could with speech therapy. His therapist agreed that he had progressed far beyond their expectations and it was probably best to discontinue his therapy. He did still have some difficulty with certain sounds, but we were satisfied that he could speak, and a slight speech impediment would not be the end of the world. At this point we decided to enroll him in pre school to help him learn to socialize with other children. I was scared to death. I wouldnt be able to be there if he needed help or if someone didn’t understand him. But, in true Tyler fashion, he was so excited to go to school. He went the first day and loved it, couldn’t wait to go back. He had such a good time at school and really seemed to be interacting well and making friends. And then came March of that school year. March is when the school holds parent conferences to discuss your child’s progress and determine a plan for the following year. My husband and I went for our conference on a March afternoon that I will never forget… A very misguided pre school teacher sat us down, and in not so many words told us that our son was “dumb” because she couldn’t understand him. She told us that he would never be able to succeed in a regular classroom and that she really didn’t feel that he should go on to kindergarten. Once again, that feeling of devastation set in. I cried the rest of the day and declared that I was removing him from that school. However, my level headed husband explained that it would not be fair to our son to take his school away from him because he loved it so much. That we would not let that teacher get the best of us. We would push forward, knowing that our son WAS capable of anything.
We enrolled him in private kindergarten the following year, and he thrived. His teacher was kind and understood him. She took the time to know him and she was able to see that beyond his speech, he was a very special, smart little boy. Feeling great about his year in kindergarten, we decided to enroll him in public school for first grade. Again, I was scared to death, but he was so excited. And, once agin in true Tyler fashion, he approached each day with such enthusiasm. I felt really good about our decision to put him in public school. And then, once again, a very misguided teacher decided that since she couldn’t understand him all of the time that he needed to be placed in special reading groups. But, not only could he read, he could read chapter books! I quickly had this situation remedied, however I had to agree to place him in speech therapy through the school so that she could better understand him. Come second grade, a year into public school speech therapy, little progress in improving his “horrible” speech impediment, he is placed into a second grade class for students with special needs. Once again dismayed at the treatment of my son by the public school, I am told that he was placed in this class under the recommendation of his first grade teacher. Determined to push forward, we kept him in the class, and actually found out that he had one of the most wonderful teachers we have had to date. She was kind and understanding, and agreed that he did not belong in that class. She took him under her wing and truly bonded with him. She let him speak in front of the class and give directions and be in charge. It was a wonderful year for him. He ended that year with so much confidence.We also found out this year that Tyler has a beautiful ability to look past others handicaps and differences and see that there is something good in everyone. He would tell me about the little girl in a wheelchair who was his friend and he never once mentioned that she was in a wheelchair. He went on to third grade and was placed in a high level third grade class. Again, he had a wonderful teacher, who saw his potential. He thrived that year and was actually placed in the gifted program. Fourth grade came, and while he again had a very kind teacher, we found out that year that this is the age that children become cruel. Suddenly Tyler was the brunt of a lot of jokes because of the way that he spoke. He would tell kids that he was from another country, and that is why he spoke that way. It was soon found out that this was not the case and he was criticized for everything from his speech to his red hair. But, as I had found out two years previous, Tyler has an extremely kind heart. He never spoke ill of any of the children who teased him, he would tell me that they were his friends.
This ridiculing continued through fifth grade. My worst fear realized, and I could not go to school and fix it for him. I had to stand back and sob. Which I did everyday that year. It broke my heart to watch my precious, beautiful son ridiculed, laughed at, singled out. Why, because he was different. He did not speak the same as everyone else. This year I pulled him out of speech therapy at school as this was a point of some of the ridiculing. Progress had not been made as the school system had hoped. But, I was happy with him as he was. My hands were tied. I tried to fight for him from afar, but this could only go so far. I asked him if he wanted to be home schooled, but he always told me no. Despite the treatment he received at school, he still loved it, and wanted to be a part of it. The bullying continued into middle school, and I watched as my once happy go lucky little boy became quiet, angry. He had had enough, but wasn’t willing to give up. He continued on alone at school.He had some good, understanding teachers, but we were still met with those that just could not get past his speech. He made good grades and was happy at home. He would not give up. I think that he knew somewhere, somehow there was a light at the end of the tunnel… That light finally came the end of his eighth grade year.
In the spring of eighth grade we had to make his schedule for high school. I was once again scared to death. How was he going to make it in high school? He came to me with his scheduling paper for me to sign so that he could participate in ROTC. I was very skeptical about this decision. How on earth with the problems he has had with communication would he make it in ROTC. I agreed to it, and this… became the light…. He entered ninth grade alone, and I think afraid. But, he was met with some very understanding teachers. Teachers that saw past his speech, in fact I said something to one of his teachers, and she replied ” I didn’t know he had a speech problem”. But, by far, his involvement in the ROTC program was a God send. That year, he attended boot camp in the fall. He was awarded numerous merits and by the end of his ninth grade year he was ranked as a Petty Officer 1st Class in his unit. Something very few freshmen had done.He had new friends. He was finally my son again. For the first time in several years he was smiling again. Those cruel children from the past seemed to have dissipated amongst the rest of the school. He was finally able to be himself again, though I believe that through those past years we had lost a bit of who he once was. The outgoing little boy who once would stop and dance for no good reason, or sing out loud was gone, taken by cruelty and misguided expectations.
Last week my little boy, the one who would never succeed was named as Chief Officer in his ROTC unit. His commanding officer asked him which unit he would like to be in charge of next year. Why, because of his ability to communicate with other cadets. Because of his ability to lead and be a leader. This evening that same little boy, my precious red haired boy will walk across the stage at Gloucester High School as he is inducted into the National Honor Society. Succeed… he did! There is a small part of me deep in my heart that wishes those teachers who labeled him “dumb” because of his speech would all be sitting in that auditorium tonight. Would they know my son? Succeed he did… and he will. He will be great things!
So, the point I am trying to make here is this… Please don’t judge. Never label child. All of our children are beautiful blessings from God! They all have a beautiful purpose, whether they can speak or not, whether they are in a wheelchair, whether they look the way that society would have them look. They are all important and great, and can do great things if we just allow them to do so. If you see a child who needs a little extra help… see them, hear them, help them, understand them… And to all of those teachers and friends who did understand… Thank You!
About Gretchen: I am Mom to nine beautiful children. I am a nurse by trade, and worked as a critical care nurse for a few years before becoming a home health nurse. Home health nursing is where I met my best friend and soul mate who is a home health physical therapist. We were married a year after our first date and shortly thereafter began having children… lots of them. I quit working as a nurse after our third child was born to become a full time Mom and to focus my attention on the needs of our first child. I thoroughly enjoy homeschooling my younger children, and dedicate a large portion of my time to their education. In my spare time these days I am a photographer and writer. Being a mom to nine children has been my biggest challenge and my most amazing blessing. At times it can be an uphill battle…but, at the end of the day we are blessed beyond belief and I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. Gretchen Hines, MommyCircus
Are you a Ravens fan? 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:
Love you, Mom!
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!:
- Visual Supports for Behavior, February 2012
- Top Five Ways to Encourage Spontaneous Language , April 2012
- Question-able Material , February 2012
Not-So-Super!, March 2012
Top 10 Must-Dos for SLPs, May 2012
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 Pinterest and 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.
ASHASphere – the official blog of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. On their site, I was featured in the following articles: The Best Speech-Language Blogs A-Z, Better Hearing and Speech Month Roundup, and Making the Most of Summer Fun: Language-based Activities for Children and Their Families. Thanks, ASHA!
- PediaStaff – A National Pediatric Therapy Company who runs one of the TOP resources sites for SLPs and other service providers. Heidi Kay, social media extraordinaire contacted me early in 2012 and featured me on their site several times: SLP Corner: Earth Day Activities by Lisa Geary of LiveSpeakLove, Pinterest Pin of the Week: Encouraging Spontaneous Communication from Lisa Geary of LiveSpeakLove, and The SLP Professor’s Corner: Project Showcase – /fæbjuləs fənɛtɪks/. Heidi has already asked me to write more articles in 2013 to be featured in PediaStaff’s new “SLP Professor’s Corner,” inspired by the post I wrote about my students’ phonetics projects. Of course, Heidi!
- 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.
Thanks to all, and have a Happy 2013!
Now is your time to stock up on SLP and Classroom Resources — one last time before the New Year. From now until the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, ALL LiveSpeakLove resources are 15% off! Check out the goodies and get ready to ring in the New Year!
Here is another freebie activity for you to enjoy in this season of giving…Holiday Speech Language: Consonant Clusters! This quick, easy printable is perfect for RTI, group or individual practice or homework! Target consonant clusters in all positions of holiday words using a fun, seasonal activity your students will love. Hope you enjoy!!