I've been at a Story Grammar Marker follow-up training today on Talk to Write, Write to Learn. If you're not familiar with SGM, you need to be! It is the single most used therapy tool in my bag of therapy tools. If you're not familiar with it or need a refresher, don't worry! I'm dedicating next week to nothing but Story Grammar Marker, including a day for SGM and Autism!
But today, we're discussing teamwork, which is unavoidable as an SLP. I'm one of the lucky ones. I am blessed to have a strong ESE team that I work with daily. In addition to me and another SLP, we have a full-time VE resource teacher, a psychologist, social worker, behavior specialist, RtI Coordinator, Diagnostician, OT, and our Autism and EBD teachers. Thankfully, we are all willing to help each other out, fill in when needed, and call on each other for advice. However, in addition to our ESE teams, there are two other very important links in the chain: teachers and parents.
I'll start with teachers. It didn't take me long to learn that it is imperative that we have good working relationships with our teachers. As SLPs, we're not just there to service our kids during the time they are in our rooms. We need to be in close contact with their classroom teachers, letting them know what we are working on, how the student is progressing, any concerns we have, and listening to their concerns. I often ask the teachers what they are working on in the classroom and build on that in therapy. Therapy should not be "extra" work for the kids. It should help give them interventions they need to be successful in the classroom. In addition, I want the teachers to know that I am there as a resource for them. This is even more important now with the enactment of RtI. Teachers, just like us (and everyone else), are swamped. Often times when there is a language concern, teachers appreciate our input on interventions or modifications they can be doing in the classroom. With students who are working on artic or fluency, we can show teachers how they should respond or encourage the students outside of therapy. Teachers are invaluable. And we need them to know that we are on their side, that we understand their frustrations, and that we are there to offer our expertise when needed. One more note: there are still other professionals out there who aren't exactly sure what we (SLPs) do. At the beginning of last school year, my SLP colleagues and I put together a short PowerPoint on what we do (and the types of students we see) to present at a faculty meeting. This helped many of them know the referral processes when they do have a student they are concerned about. In addition to the PowerPoint, if a teacher had a student who was on our caseload, I tried to give them a little research or information on the student's disability and how they can help, in addition to a copy of the student's IEP and any classroom accommodations.
OK-The other link is undoubtedly the parents. Research shows that when parents are involved in the therapy process, the students are much more likely to succeed. This is the case in other areas aside from academics as well. Parents are a necessary and extremely important part of the team. Having a good rapport with your parents and staying in close communication with them throughout the year is very important. I even send home parent surveys around January to see how I'm doing. Homework is important and letting parents know how they can help their child will help the child progress faster, as well as make your job easier! At the beginning of every school year, I send a letter home to the parents introducing myself and giving them my contact information. I also send home a letter before Christmas Break, and a Summer letter attached to homework packets for summer vacation. Attached below is a copy of the letter I give my parents at the beginning of the year. In addition, I have a bulletin board for parents to see what is going on in speech and language, and have some handouts for Parent Nights too. There are some awesome handouts for parents on MommySpeechTherapy, too!
I send home this Student Information Sheet for parents to fill out each year, which gives me not only important contact information, but also great insight into the parents' concerns. You can download this form and others for free by clicking the link below!
How do you collaborate with your team members to ensure student success?