Did you catch the round-up of Words SLPs Should NEVER Say? Here's the sequel!
The Frenzied SLPs are giving SLPs some words to say - not that we need any. SLPs are in the business of communication. I don't have any specific words for you. I DO have some tips that MAY have been learned through several life experiences, so keep reading.
Giving a positive start helps ease the concerns of staff and parents. It's not unusual for a teacher to come tell me, "Little Johnny/Mary is hard to understand. I didn't tell you because I think it's developmental, but I don't want next year's teacher thinking I didn't do anything!" I have two options for a response. A) "Why didn't you tell me sooner! Do you know how timelines work at the end of the year? Always check developmental with me!!!!" B) "Thank you for noticing possible concerns. Tell me more." Answer B gets in thankfulness, praise for noticing, and a calmness, at least on the surface.
At IEPs, parents can be anxious about facing a whole table of school staff. Giving a positive statement about the child and then sharing concerns can help get everyone on the same page. Starting out the meeting with, "Little Mary is not progressing. We want to retain her. It's the best decision. I'm sure you agree. We have lots of meetings, so just sign here" is probably not the best way to establish rapport. No matter how much is on my plate, I have to remember that this meeting is for this parent's child and think about myself on the other side. Even if parents start out with, "We are so worried/frustrated/mad about...", I prompt myself to start out with, "Little Mary is so delightful/funny/cooperative/loving...". That eases the tension and helps everyone focus on the student.
2) Go back to the start. When I attend spring meetings - either staffings or IEPs - it's easy for the first statements to be along the lines of, "This kiddo isn't making it!" and then move to options for retention, additional testing, more interventions, etc. These are options that need to be explored. I like to go back to where the student started, current skills, and what the plan will be. Going back to the start either confirms some progress (sometimes very slow), no progress, or regression. The meaning of "IEP" may be discussed.
3) Say nothing. Sometimes, listening is powerful. Sometimes, teachers or parents just want to share their journey.
4) Tone. Oh my, tone is so important. Especially at this time of the year, the words may be right while the tone is panicked, angry, frustrated, sarcastic, etc. School staff is held to a higher standard than students and parents. Am I okay with my words and tone being recorded? If no, I have to rephrase or keep quiet.
As we go into the final quarter of the school year, my key words are "positive" and "tone". Find out what other SLPs are saying by clicking on the links below. SLP bloggers, we would love for you to link up! Use the image at the top of this post as your first image and let us know what you always say!