December 31, 2017

5 New Things to Try in the New Year

Another year has come and gone. It's time to recharge and start fresh. I always enjoy seeing the end of year recaps and how everyone celebrates the new year. From end of the year count downs, to top social media posts from the previous year...and all the goals and resolutions for the new year.


I've never been good at setting (or keeping) new year's goals or resolutions. I usually start out with good intentions, but somehow fall back into my same old routine sometime before January ends. 

This year, instead of making a new year's resolution, I wanted to share 5 things that I plan to try in my speech room. You may already do some (or all) of these things, or you may not. Either way, I hope you will read and share your thoughts with me. Maybe you have some expert tips for me as I try these new things, or maybe you want to try them, too. Let me know!

1. Sensory bins
I know many SLPs are already sensory bin experts. I, unfortunately, am not. I tried using a sensory bin one time before Christmas Break and it went okay, but did not end well. The bin of rice ended up spilling in the back of my car.  I may or may not still need to vacuum up the dry rice mess.  This year, I want to give using sensory bins my full effort. I want to try using bins of different materials with all my speech groups. I know The Dabbling Speechie and Ms Gardenia's Speech Room both have a ton of sensory bin activities to help me get started!

2. Monthly speech newsletter
When I was a teacher, I often sent home a monthly newsletter to parents. The newsletter included a recap of what we worked on the previous month and plans for the upcoming month. I also included tips and information to help parents work with their children at home. I want to improve the home-school connection by sending home a monthly speech newsletter. I think it will be a great way to keep the lines of communication open and offer tips and ideas for working on speech and skills at home. There are several editable newsletter resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, including some from Nicole Allison and Speechy Musings

3. Growth Mindset Teaching
I have seen posts and info about Growth Mindset all over the place, but I have never really looked into it with any amount of depth. This year, I want to learn more about developing a Growth Mindset and teaching my students about it, too. Badger State Speechy and Speech to the Core both have great Growth Mindset resources, and I am ordering the book (Amazon affiliate link for your convenience).


4. Literacy Based Therapy Plans
Confession time...I have had this as a goal for a while. I just have not given it my full commitment. I love the idea of literacy based therapy, and I have a ton of resources to help me get started...I just need to commit and dive in. I actually have a full membership to SLP Now that I don't even use. Why? The SLP Now site is full of great literacy and theme based resources to help make this type of therapy easy. In the new year I plan to really dig in to all the resources I have and give this a go!

5. Step Out of My Comfort Zone
This is really one of those things that we hear often. Why is it so hard? This year, I know there will be changes in my professional life. I plan to step out of my comfort zone and explore all options available to me. It's time to be confident and not hold back. This is necessary for me to really try items 1-4 in my list. Anything new is often uncomfortable and scary. I will not hold back. Go big or go home, right?


There you have it...5 things you must try in the new year. Are you already an expert in any of these areas? Share some tips or words encouragement with me in the comments. I'd love to hear from you!  Or, let me know if you plan to join me in trying something new in your professional life. Let's go for it together!

Happy New Year!

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