All Y'all Need. So I'm the first L in the ALL of our name. Sometimes, it's just me and Amy together, so we are AL. Or just Amy and Lisa, AL again. It's rarely LL. Amy doesn't like to miss out!
So the "bossy firstborn" hat is what I'm wearing now. My tip is something I just discovered this year. After 21 years of being an SLP. It's so embarrassing that I didn't think of it before. (Or uhm-BEAR-uh-suhn. I'll stop with the Texas thing now). Therapy time is precious. There isn't time to be wasted on making all students happy with what they want - the color of a marker, the part in a game, line leader, etc.
I've tried several things. I did years of "You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit". I didn't love doing things this way. After all, I'm trying to facilitate communication, and don't choices, self-advocacy, and acceptance come with that? Also, I had several groups who bargained - "Do you really want that? Wanna trade?" And that wasted time. So here's my tip, what I now say when starting out with a group:
Set out dry-erase markers, Reader's Theater parts, game pieces, or anything you are using that day that involves a choice. Each student gets to indicate their first preference by touching - not grabbing - the item. For Earth Day Ask Away, I put the sheet into a sheet protector, and students use dry-erase markers to eliminate choices, like Guess Who? If everyone is touching different markers for their first choice, they get that marker, and we move on to therapy. It takes 30 seconds tops. (The hands belong to me, Jim, and my daughter. Just pay attention to the choices, not our ratchet hands. They were reluctant hand models). Here, we all get our first choice.
Here's what I've noticed:
* Increased cooperation through communication.
If students choose the same first choice, one often changes. I hear comments such as "#1 wants green more than I do - I'll take the red." And then in a future session, comments like this one from #1: "#2 let me have my first choice last time, so I'll change this time." Okay, that's mostly from the artic-only groups. But it's wonderful to hear the problem-solving and communication going on!
* No more "Not fair!" complaints.
Typically, if two students want the same first choice and we work through the steps above, there is NO grumbling, whining, or complaining. Not even from my student with AU who has to have the green marker every single time. No need for me to take out precious therapy time to referee.
We don't always get everything in life we want. But I've given my students a choice. They know they might get their first choice in a future session.
* Students know the routine now.
I have one group with two artic-only students who are friends. When we were using colored pencils one day, I set out the 20 pencils and didn't say anything. I thought they would just start writing their homework words. Instead, they both looked at me and asked, "Do you want us to touch our first choice?"
* Increased efficiency and more time for therapy.
Really, it took you longer to read the how-to than it will be to carry it out. It now takes a very short time to introduce the lesson, get set up, and start communicating!
Thanks for reading, and I hope this help you out with your therapy! Be sure to follow The Frenzied SLPs for more great tips!