Working as a school-based speech therapist can be rewarding, but it can also be a challenging career. If you are a new therapist, you might not have a lot of confidence and experience to rely on. Even if you are a seasoned speech therapist, working in a school is different than working in a medical setting, such as a nursing home or hospital. Fortunately, there are several things to increase your chances of success:
Partner with parents: Collaboration with parents is an essential part of working as a school-based speech therapist. Parents are more likely to work on speech therapy goals at home with their child when they feel included and valued. If you fail to support parents, they may feel overwhelmed and powerless. Parents of your students should know what you’re working on and how they can help.
Locate a mentor: Finding a successful school-based therapist as a mentor can be a valuable resource. A mentor can help you learn more about the field and provide you with constructive criticism. A good mentor can also lend an ear when you have questions or concerns about how to handle a particular situation.
Don’t stop learning: Just because you graduated from school doesn’t mean you’re done learning. Speech therapy continues to evolve, and new techniques and strategies are always being studied. As a speech therapist, it’s important to continue to stay current on new research and advances in therapy. Read professional journals, attend conferences, and take continuing education classes.
Get involved: Professional speech therapy associations can be a great source of information. Consider joining a local or national therapy organization. Getting involved in a professional association provides you an opportunity to attend speech therapy seminars and workshops, along with meeting other therapists.
Treat the child; not the disability: When you work with each student, remember that you’re treating the child as a whole. You’re not just dealing with a certain disability or challenge. Children are more than their diagnosis, and not every child with special needs has the same needs.
Believe in your student’s success: One of the best things you can do for your student’s is having faith in their success. By believing in the potential of each of the children you work with, you help the child believe in themselves. Each child may progress at a different speed, and even small improvements should be acknowledged and praised.
Know your students: Children are all different. When it comes to speech therapy, treating all children the same may not be effective. Some children may need more repetition than others. What works for one child may not be effective for the next, which is why getting to know your students is so important. You don’t have to learn every detail about their life and family, but determining their strengths and what motivates them is useful. Knowing each student’s personality allows you to use different strategies for each individual student.
Do you have any additional suggestions or tips that have made you successful in a school setting? Feel free to add on any tips in the comment section below!