We typically feel alone as SLPs in a school. But we can feel a part of the school community!
It can be lonely as a school-based SLP. We are often the only ones in a school (or district) and no one seems to understand what we do. They want us to take every kid, yet not during their instruction time. They don’t understand why we discharge students. They think we work on the /r/ sound all day. Wait…you work on THAT? Yes! I do!
Here are some ways you can easily make yourself feel like you are a part of the community and not standing alone on an island!
- Accept the “Speech Teacher” title
I know…we worked hard for the license and CCCs. But most of our colleagues don’t even understand it or care. If we want to feel a part of them…let’s have a similar title as them. We can throw around our certification and training during IEP meetings when it matters but on an everyday…let’s just go with it. It helps. We are teachers like them…we are there for the kids…showing up each and every day. We all are stressed in different ways so let’s bond over that.
- Show up when you can
We are busy and the last thing we need is to add more things to our plates. But go to meetings, happy hours, Sunshine committee events, and be present. Let people see you there. If teachers are going…we can too. The more they see you at things the more they will accept you as part of the building. (trust me…I am working on this one!)
3. Eat lunch with them
I know it is easy to work through lunch so we can leave promptly at the end of the day. But sometimes we need to leave our closets of therapy rooms and show our faces in a faculty room (if you are lucky to have one..I do not!). It helps to hear what their complaining about during lunch and chatting about. Be a part of the conversation while staying out of any drama!
4. Show and tell them what you do
Run a PD, invite them to take a look at what you do, send memos/emails that keep them informed on what you are working on with their students. Have a display of student work (without names showing) outside your therapy room. Keep a door open every once in a while so people can peak in. The more they know the more they will understand.
5. Be a team player
Help when teachers present a student to you. Try not to dismiss so quickly (even if it is a silly case and NOT our responsibility…again I am working on this one too!). Give suggestions on how they can help their student. Make sure they know their concerns were heard and that you will try and help them. Whether or not that student will get actual help from you doesn’t matter…it is letting the teacher or colleague know that you heard and that you are trying to help is all that matters. They will remember that!
Just some quick mindset changes can make a big difference. Feeling a part of a school community can totally help our well being at work and make it more enjoyable. We have to show up each day…why not enjoy it?!