August 20, 2017

SLP on a Mission...Working with Students in Honduras

This is a recount of my time spent in Honduras working with students at a local school.
Click HERE to return to the main post and read more about my trip to Honduras.

The following is a recap of my experience at the Abundant Life Christian School in Gracias, Honduras. My friend, Kristi, is a missionary in Gracias, and kindergarten teacher and counselor at ALCS. Her school is a bilingual private school that serves students from K-4 through 12th grade. They do not have regular access to a speech-language pathologist, diagnostician, or special education team. Kristi has a background in special education and has noticed some needs in some of her students. For the past year, we have been communicating about the students and the need she saw for speech-language evaluations. After a year of unsuccessfully trying to connect her with a bilingual SLP who might be willing to travel to Honduras to help out, I finally decided that I would go myself.

SLP on a Mission...Meeting Elsi

This is a recount of my time in Honduras with Elsi, a little girl with a cleft palate.
Click HERE to return to the main post and read more about my trip to Honduras.

In this post I am sharing about a little girl I met in the village of Santa Elena, Honduras named Elsi.


The mission team of 61 Isaiah Ministries first met Elsi about 3 years ago. She lives in a remote village up in the mountains in Honduras. She was born with a severe cleft palate and lip. The mission team was able to to arrange for her to have surgery to have her cleft palate repaired. Due to malnutrition, in Elsi's first surgery, doctor's were only able to repair her lip and nose. Her family was provided with a special bottle and formula, to help her gain weight and a second surgery was scheduled.

SLP on a Mission...More About 61 Isaiah Ministries

This post is more information about 61 Isaiah Ministries, the team I worked with on my mission trip to Honduras.
Click HERE to return to the main post and read more about my trip to Honduras.

About 6 years ago our friends, Shannon and Kristi, decided to move to Honduras to be become missionaries. They formed 61 Isaiah Ministries, packed some of their belongings, and moved with their 2 young children to Gracias, Honduras.

 

SLP on a Mission...How You Can Get Involved

The more I have talked to other SLPs about my trip to Honduras, the more I realize that many others want to use their skills abroad, as well. There are many different ways to use your SLP skills internationally. In this post, I will share a few that I know about. Please feel free to comment below if you know of any other opportunities.
Click HERE to return to the main post and read more about my trip to Honduras.



61 Isaiah Ministries
Kristi and 61 Isaiah Ministries would love to have more SLPs, diagnosticians, teachers, and other therapists visit them in Gracias, Honduras. Krisi has a group of teachers coming in October to help train the local teachers at her school and offer classroom support. If you are interested in joining this group, or making a visit with your own group (or on your own), Kristi would love to have you. Contact me at kristin@talkinwithtwang.com for more information on how you can get involved with 61 Isaiah Ministries.

Operation Smile
Operation Smile is a group that works internationally to provide cleft palate repair to children. You can find out more about becoming a volunteer on one of their medical teams by clicking HERE.

Autism on the Seas
Autism on the Seas is a group that provides support staff on cruises for adults and families living with disabilites. Volunteers provide activities, supervision, and assistance to families who want to experience the excitement of cruising. You can find out more about volunteering by clicking HERE.

Local Churches and Universities
You can also check with local churches and universities to see if they have any groups planning to travel abroad for mission type work. Some do not think about having SLPs join their teams, but we can offer valuable support to schools and families with children and adults with disabilities.

What other SLP volunteer opportunities do you know about? Comment below!

Click HERE to return to the main post and read more about my trip to Honduras.
http://www.talkinwithtwang.com/2017/08/slp-on-missiona-look-at-my-trip-to.html



SLP on a Mission...A Look at my Trip to Honduras

Life is full of adventures and experiences that we often do not expect. This summer, I had one such experience when I decided to join my church on a week long mission trip to Honduras. This was definitely not something I planned to do, or even really wanted to do at first...but I finally stopped resisting God's call and decided to go. The following is a recount of my experience during the week, and how I used my unique skills as a speech-language pathologist to serve in Honduras. I hope by sharing, other SLPs and educators will be inspired to find ways they can volunteer their skills around the world.


March 23, 2017

Busy SLP? 5 Tips to Make Your Life Easier and Less Stressful

Welcome to post #3 in my series, Tips and Tools to Make Your Life Easier and Less Stressful. I'm sharing tips and tools that help busy SLPs on a day-to-day basis. You can read about tool #1: SLP Toolkit HERE.


Today I'm sharing some tips from my SLP life that will hopefully help you in your busy SLP life. I work for a rural special ed co-op and serve 3 different school districts. Most days I travel to at least 2, if not all 3 of my schools. I have to manage my caseloads at each of the districts, juggle meetings, conferences, RTI, therapy, testing, and all that other fun SLP stuff with limited time on each campus. That means I need to be on top of things and stay as organized as I can. If I slack even a little, all of the plates I have spinning come crashing down and it is exhausting trying to get things back in order.

So here are my top 5 tips to make your busy SLP life easier and less stressful:

#1: I know this may seems impossible, but I do my very best to never take work home with me. Taking work home means you are also bringing the stress home with you. I always try to keep work at work so I can focus on my family and recharge for the next work day. Think about all those times you have brought work home and then you don't get to it. Do you feel guilty for letting it sit? Do you forget about it and have to lug it back the next day still unfinished? Or maybe you actually get it done, but end up staying up late to do so...On days when I feel swamped and think I need to take my work home, I fight the urge and leave it. I think it's better to go in early, stay a bit late, and work through lunch if necessary. You need time to escape the chaos of work and recharge. Keep the work at work. :-)


#2: Find a planner or calendar that works for you and USE IT! Everybody has different ways of keeping track of important dates and deadlines. Are you a phone person? Does Siri remind you of your deadlines? Or maybe you are like me and love a good paper planner. Whatever it may be, find a way to keep track of deadlines and stick to it so it becomes a habit. I love my Happy Planner from Michael's. I got it on sale and used my educator discount, so it wasn't very expensive at all. I love that it has 3 rows for me to track my life. I use the top row for work related events, the middle row for family/life events, and the bottom row to help me track  my TPT Store and blog. This is the best way for me to stay on track and not forget meetings and deadlines. I look at my planner every morning so I know where I need to be that day...especially since it's always different! If you need some help finding the perfect planner, you can check out this SLP Planner Roundup post.

http://www.talkinwithtwang.com/2016/07/slp-planner-roundup.html

 #3: Build reminders into your calendar. Yes, I write down meetings and deadlines, but I also write myself reminders into my calendar. If progress reports are due on March 24, I will write a reminder to myself on March 20 that I need to make sure I have good data for each student. If I have a meeting on April 17, I will write a reminder to myself in the margin of the week prior so it doesn't sneak up on me. IEP meetings due in May? I'll make a list in the margin of April to remind myself that I need to schedule and prep the meetings. These little reminders help me to stay on top of my schedule rather than being overwhelmed by it. 

#4: Take 5 minutes of your day to breathe and recharge. Use this time to do something that helps you to take your mind off your busy day...breathe, take a long restroom break, sip your coffee, check social media, read a page of a magazine or book, or just sit and enjoy the silence or a good song. Just make sure you set a timer so you don't go over your time and end up more stressed. I like to sit in my car for 5 minutes before I get out at each school. I gather my thoughts and go over the game plan in my head before I go in. This time helps me to focus and prepare because once I get out of my car, it's fast paced and go go go until I get back in my car. 

#5: Try using no print or no prep materials with your students. I have to admit, I am a speech therapy materials junkie. I love interactive books and cute themed games and activities...but I also have 3 schools I have to carry my materials to/from and very little time to laminate and prep. This year, I have developed a love for no print and print-and-go types of resources. With no print activities, all I need is my iPad and I'm ready to go. I use articulation apps in place of artic cards. I download no print resources from Teachers Pay Teachers into iBooks and have them on hand at all times. Print-and-go activities are great because it takes less than 5 minutes for me to access the file on my computer, print it, and set it down on the table ready to go. There are so many great no print and print-and-go resources on Teachers Pay Teachers and many are free! Just add NO PRINT or NO PREP to your search when you are looking for resources. I have several FREE print-and-go resources in my TPT Store, including activity booklets for /th/, activity booklets for /f,v/ (temporary freebie), articulation sudoku, a spring themed compound sentences packet, prefix & suffix worksheets, and a comprehension and sequencing freebie. Click on the links or the images at the end of this post to get these FREE NO PREP resources.

These are just a few things that I do to help me manage my busy SLP life, making it easier and less stressful. Do you have any tips to share? I'd love to hear from you. Share in the comments or feel free to send me an email. :-)

Links to my FREE NO PREP resources on TPT. Click each image to be taken to the file. 

 FREE /th/ Activity Booklets

/f,v/ Activity Booklets

 FREE Articulation Sudoku

 FREE Comprehension & Sequencing Practice

 FREE Compound Sentence Packet

 FREE Prefix & Suffix Worksheets

March 16, 2017

Busy SLP? Tool #1 to Make Your Life Easier

We've all been there...a long list of students to test, reports to write, IEPs to prepare, and progress reports...oh the never ending progress reports. Springtime paperwork seems especially never ending and overwhelming. Unfortunately, the paperwork will always be there, but there are ways to make it easier and more manageable.

Today, I want to share one tool I have been using to help streamline my paperwork. It's seriously one of the best tools for busy SLPs, and I can't recommend it enough. SLP Toolkit!

slptoolkit.com

SLP Toolkit is a web-based service designed to help SLPs be more efficient with their time and management of all that paperwork. It helps with data collection and documentation, progress tracking, writing present levels, IEPs and more!

I have been using SLP Toolkit regularly since right before Christmas Break.  It has reduced my stress level immensely. I want to share a few of my favorite features of SLP Toolkit and how it can help make your busy SLP life easier.

Present Level Assesments
My absolute favorite feature of the Toolkit is the Present Level Assessment library. I use these with every new evaluation or re-evaluation, when I get new transfer students, and before every annual IEP meeting. There are a variety of assessments available to help assess student strengths and areas of need. (Just a few are shown in the picture below. There are many more.)


Each assessment features questions and activities that thoroughly assess a child's skills. I use the elementary and fluency assessments the most, but there are so many different ones available.


A few weeks ago, I needed to prep pretty quickly for an annual IEP meeting for a pretty tough student. I stressed about it for about a day before I remembered SLP Toolkit has some great functional communication assessments, too. I ended up with a very good list of the student's strengths and weaknesses and was able to fully justify my new IEP goals with good solid data.

After you select and administer an assessment to your student, you can save the results in the Toolkit and print a summary. This is the fastest way to get a good picture of a students strengths and needs, and it's paperless!!!

The Toolkit also gives you a list of suggested targets for goals based on the student's needs.

You can then select areas to work on and a progress monitoring test will be created and linked to that student's digital file instantly! It's like magic!

Progress Monitoring
I use the progress monitoring tests to track student progress on specific goals. The Toolkit tests make it quick and easy to collect data and track progress. It even provides beautiful charts and graphs that you can print or snip and insert into your IEPs!


This is a great way to show growth and progress over time. It's also a great visual for you to see improvement.

Strategies
A third feature that I love in the Toolkit is the strategies library. In all of our IEPs and evaluation reports, we are required to provide strategies teachers/parents can use with the student. The strategies library in the Toolkit helps make that so much easier. All you have to do is select the area the student has needs in and a list will pop up with strategies that can be used for that particular skill.

There are many, many more features in SLP Toolkit, such as goal writing, printable data collection sheets, and more!I could go on and on about the features and tools. If you are interested in learning more, I suggest looking through their Facebook page or blog. You can also try it for free with up to 5 students.

Be sure to check back next week for more tips and tools to make your busy SLP life easier and less stressful.