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The Frenzied SLPs are here to talk about work relationships. I've had many wonderful licensed assistants who I've learned a lot from. Here are 5 tips in working successfully with licensed assistants.
5 Tips for Supervising Licensed Assistants in Speech and Language Therapy by All Y'all Need

1. Learn their story

When first meeting a licensed assistant, keep the focus on THEM. What is their goal in working as a licensed assistant? I've had some who wanted to make sure the SLP field was for them before grad school and some who are happy being a licensed assistant because they enjoy the therapy. How did they end up in this field? What is their experience and what do they hope to accomplish for your district or practice? What are their areas of strengths and interests and what do they need to learn more about?

I always share my story, too. I received therapy from a young age until 4th grade (when that lingering /r/ finally popped in), went to college, worked in journalism, then got jealous of the school breaks that my sister, mom, and aunts had, so I went back to grad school and became an SLP in the schools. I wouldn't recommend going into a field for just that purpose, but it's my story, and it's worked for me.

2. Ask what they need in a supervisor

Sadly, it took until my most recent assistant for me to learn to ask that question. She is not new to the field, and someone who is just starting out may not know what they need. But this question gets them thinking.

In the case of my current assistant, she wanted to be able to bounce therapy ideas off me and get my input on what I think would work and would not. That one question has been the basis of defining our work relationship. I'm not making her into a version of me. I'm giving her guidance in being a great therapist for the students.

3. Communication

Ah, another area I've learned a lot in, and I'm still learning. Before annual IEP meetings, the two of us talk about what a student needs. The IEP happens - and I forget to print out the new goals and objectives for the assistant. It's a small step that means a lot to the assistants, but I get so caught up in finishing the paperwork, I often forget that step.

Learn how your licensed assistant responds to supervision. For example, I don't like words I perceive as shouting. I really don't like emails that go out to everyone to address a few people. You know - follow the dress code, show up to work on time... I always think it's me when it's not. So I try to communicate with assistants by asking questions and then giving them my perception. I need to know how they think before I give suggestions.

I also try to communicate what the next week will look like and where I'll be on different days.

4. Be willing to learn yourself

I often tell my assistants that I'm jealous of them. They get to do therapy all day. I don't. Through the process of supervising, I've learned that licensed assistants are passionate and creative about therapy activities that meet students' goals. I've learned about new books, different ways of behavior management, and all kinds of creative lessons.

5. Be their advocate

I really don't like the term "licensed assistant." In the school system, it implies "parapro." Our licensed assistants have to have 24 hours in communication disorders classes in college.

A few years ago, a teacher at the school I worked at became a licensed assistant. There were several teachers who then stopped by to ask how they could be my "aide." I explained the process, and it wasn't as simple as they had hoped.

I also make sure my principals and parents know the qualifications of a licensed assistant. In Texas, we have to send out a letter every year telling parents who will be providing services, and it's a good opportunity to outline the requirements and qualifications.

I have had a few parents question the ability of a licensed assistant to provide services. In most cases, the parents have later expressed appreciation that their child is receiving more consistent services, weekly homework, and that their child really likes the licensed assistant, the points I make when parents ask. At IEP meetings, my principals often stress the same points and are able to talk about how the arrangement has worked out well at our school.

Being an advocate shows so much support and strengthens the relationship with my licensed assistants.

Since I started supervising 10 years ago, I've had several licensed assistants, and I've learned from each one. I truly hope my mistakes and tips help you in your journey. To read more, click on the links below:
Halloween can be a hard holiday to address. Scary, fun, imaginative... it's hard to know what's appropriate for schools. Here are some of our favorite activities for elementary.
 Not-so-scary Halloween activities for mixed speech and language therapy groups in elementary school
NOTE: Links to Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you click from our blog and buy that item, we get a percentage of the sale at NO COST to you.
 Too Many Pumpkins
"Too Many Pumpkins" by Linda White is a fantastic book about a woman who HATES pumpkins but ends up with a LOT. There are some jack-o'-lanterns in the book, but none of them are scary. There are themes about all kinds of ways to use pumpkins, neighbors, and sharing. My students love the language in the book, the pictures of the cat, and the secret at the end.

Pumpkins: Fact and Opinion (left in the picture) addresses difficult language concepts plus more. My artic students can work on speech sounds in words and reading aloud, and my fluency students can practice their strategies while reading.

Pumpkin Patch Spatial Concepts (right) is a great way to incorporate movement while listening for directions and prepositions. Just put the cards on a ring for easy flipping and storage. Students love pretending to put pumpkins on their heads and jumping into leaves!
 Mouse, Look Out! and The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything
Of course, the "The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything" makes the list. I bought it out of desperation on impulse in the early 1990's in a small bookstore in the mall. I've had to buy several copies since because the book is so well-loved and used by students - and me! The language is fun and patterned, and students laugh at the ending.

"Mouse, Look Out!" was a gift from my sister to my son. I'm borrowing it for a while. The setting is an abandoned house - nothing haunted here - and the illustrations are gorgeous. A cat hunts an unsuspecting mouse but gets his own surprise at the end! Once students find the ending, we go back through the pictures to find the clues. This is one book that I always find something new in EVERY time I read it. The book is no longer in print, which makes it a little more costly than most books.
 Stellaluna and Bat Fact and Opinion by All Y'all Need
Creepy crawlies in nonfiction activities are great for speech and language therapy. A lot of classrooms have Bat Week, so learning about bats ties into curriculum. My favorite bat book is "Stellaluna", and Bats: Fact and Opinion is great for following up with mixed groups.

Because I have to rotate Bat Week, my sister Amy also made some fact and opinion packs for spiders and (shivers) snakes.

Use suspenseful, fun, or nonfiction activities to address Halloween in your school.
 Not-so-scary Halloween activities for mixed speech and language therapy groups in elementary school

 Trick or Treating Lesson from All Y'all Need

Buy the big, cheap bag of variety candy.    Make sure you unwrap some candy.
Next, break a few pieces of candy and put the candy bits in your bag.
Also, leave some empty wrappers in the goodie pile.
It will make sense.
This is a trick and treating lesson.

State your 4 expectations:
#1 Give an appropriate greeting
#2 Say “trick or treat”
#3 Say “thank you”
#4 Do not eat your candy

Each student must greet you and say, “Trick or Treat” before you hand over a random piece of candy.
Or maybe a candy wrapper.
You hand them a piece of candy.  
They are not allowed to pick their own candy or grab from the sweet stash.
The response you are listening for begins with “Thank you”.
Thank you…..for the empty candy wrapper?
Thank you……for the candy that no one  in my family likes?
If there is no “thank you” expressed, feel free to take the candy back.
The kids sit with their candy until everyone has been tricked or treated.

Now, you can discuss trick or treating with your students.
Kids will express their opinions.
Especially if they only got an empty candy wrapper.
So, be ready.
I have kids stand up if they received a treat and ask them to explain.
“I love lollipops!”
I have kids stand up if they received a trick.   Sometimes the trick kids have to speak first.   They just have to tell you about it.
“Hey, all I got was an empty wrapper.   You already ate my candy.”

This is my effort to end drive-by trick or treating.
Good manners are always appropriate.
Safety is always stylish.
The kids are allowed to throw the candy away if they don’t like it.
The sweeties throw away the empty candy wrappers and broken pieces.
You teach why the sweeties should not eat the broken pieces.
You can remind them they don’t have to eat all the candy on Halloween night.

After the discussion, give half of the class a new piece of candy.
A partner will come to them to trick or treat following the same expectations.
Yes, students will remind you that some students have two pieces of candy.
At this point, you even everything up so that all students leave with only treats.

Did you know that Halloween is on a MONDAY this year? Is there anything scarier?

Halloween. On a Monday.

Dress-up. On a Monday. Excited students ready to trick-or-treat. Celebrations on a Monday night. Staying up late on a Monday night. There goes the rest of the week, right? Maybe not.

Here are some ideas that will keep your students engaged and learning.
 Dia de los Muertos by All Y'all Need
Dia de los Muertos is a holiday I've started to introduce to my students. Some of my students celebrate the day. There are holiday items in our grocery stores, discount stores, and craft stores. Even if my students don't celebrate, they are seeing skulls and skeletal mariachi bands. It's a real-life opportunity to teach about their environment and to learn about a holiday that may seem creepy but is really full of tradition and remembrance.

Note: Items from Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you click from here and buy them, we get a percentage of the profit  at NO COST to you.

Amy has a couple of book suggestions. You know, Amy. She's my sister who just also happens to be an elementary-school librarian and believes in oral language. So you KNOW her suggestions are good ones!

Amy also made a wonderful Informative Reader's Theater for The Day of the Dead, or El Dia de los Muertos. It explains how the day is a time for remembering people and the traditions that go along with it.
       Day of the Dead Reader's Theater by All Y'all Need
Because I have many students working on Wh- questions, I made a game that explains Dia de los Muertos. The focus is on answering what, who, where, and when questions. The answers are in the information on each card.
 Dia de los Muertos Day of the Dead Wh- game what who where when speech and language therapy All Y'all Need
And to address pronouns, Dia de los Muertos is part of our Pronouns, Places and Possessives scenes.  
 Fall Set 2 Holidays for Speech & Language Therapy by All Y'all Need
The scene is set up for true pronoun discrimination. You can say, "Show me HE is sitting down", and because there are both a boy and girl sitting, the student has to rely on pronoun knowledge and not the word "sitting." The pack comes with an instruction page for you (it's the upside down one - you look at it while the student looks at the picture) and a B&W homework page. 

Halloween is on a Monday. That doesn't mean the rest of the week is sunk. Learning about Dia de los Muertos is a wonderful holiday for our students to learn about.

Are you ready for some football?!?!?!? Here in Texas, we're ALWAYS ready!
High-school football is a huge community affair for us. Our elementary students have siblings and neighbors who play football, coach, and are in cheerleading, band, and drill team. Every Friday is Big Red Friday - full of red spirit shirts, red face stamps, and cheerleader outfits and football jerseys. This week, we addressed the topic of football in speech & language therapy.

Many of our students have difficulty with fact and opinion. Oh, yours, too?

Amy made this wonderful Football: Fact and Opinion unit. I love it because it works well with mixed groups. Language students can focus on language concepts. Artic students can practice sounds in words or reading. Fluency students can practice strategies.

Plus, when it isn't a student's turn, they can write on the Fact and Opinion homework pages. A fun game for mixed groups with homework - I call that a touchdown!

We also read about Gunner, Football Hero by James E. Ransome. Gunner is an underdog, and we love those stories. (This is an affiliate link, which means that if you purchase the book, we get a percentage of the sale at no cost to you.)

A great open-ended football board game, Down the Field by Jenna Rayburn, kept the students' attention and was great for target drills.

Let's hear it for football in therapy!

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