Wondering if working with the older speech students are for you? Already work with them and need to feel refreshed?
If you asked me 8 years ago how I felt when I was told that I would be placed in a 5-6th grade building…I would tell you that I was NOT thrilled. I had experience working in a middle/high school 2 years prior to that. I didn't mind it then, I also knew that was temporary. I was just doing a leave replacement. I guess knowing that this could be a more permanent position…it hit me differently. Could I handle it? Would I be inspired? Would I be able to make a difference with these older students? Could I keep them motivated and interested in my lessons? Those were just several thoughts that crossed my mind. But jobs were scarce….I was grateful for ANY opportunity. I signed the papers and accepted my new position.
The first year was how you would expect a first year at a new job, even though I was not new to the field. I was learning my way around the building, learning the different personalities, learning everything. No time to really learn the curriculum…that would have to wait until I had the basics covered. I was given a caseload with a variety of goals that were new to me and I did what I had to do to survive. I bought some books and materials and hoped that my lessons worked. Did I mention there wasn't Pinterest and although TpT did exist…it wasn't as popular and there weren't any SLPs on there. (Hence why I started blogging and creating resources in 2012! I needed to fix that quick!). I learned quickly what I needed to do to survive…I needed to break things down so my students could be successful. I had to my the one place where they could feel successful. They were constantly failing, being told they couldn't do it, always dealing with the pressures of a fast pace curriculum and demands on the teachers.
I had to put on my superhero cape and do what I had to do since I did have the luxury of no curriculum or similar pressures. I made my room inviting (cute decor helped) and made my activities fun. Challenges, games, competitions….anything to spice it up. It worked. I realized working with the older ones can be fun in a different way. Over the years…I have learned to love this age group and what it brings. I will break it down so you can learn why I love it so much now.
- You can have real conversations with them. When they act out or misbehave, you can reason with them. You can talk about real topics going on around them. You can be a person they feel comfortable talking to.
- Never bored. There is so much they need to work on still. I never feel bored. They can benefit from any language-rich activity! They love it when I incorporate picture books. They never get a chance to read/hear a book for fun!
- Less boogers….more fun. I have definitely gotten sick less since working with the older ones! I also don't have to deal with potty accidents either!
- They are independent. I can let them walk on their own to my speech room. I have the minutes in between each session back for bathroom breaks or for prepping for my next session. I trust them to come. They prefer to come to me than to their specials that their classes are in.
- I love seeing their ah-ha moments. School is hard for them. They don't enjoy it. I am a part of their day/week that they can feel successful. They can learn on their level, their speed. Seeing their eyes light up when they finally get a concept or answer a question right…worth it all!
Those were just some of the many reasons why I love working with the older speech students. They need us to still care for them and help them and not give up on them. Want to read more about my favorite ways to keep my older students motivated? CLICK HERE to read that blog post! To view my activities for older students bundle in my TpT store CLICK HERE! I would love to hear what you think about working with older speech students? Feel free to leave a comment below!