When I talk with SLPs new to the schools and especially to recent grads working in the schools, I often hear comments about the volume of paperwork. Paperwork can be tedious and time-consuming, but it is also a stark contrast to what we did in grad school. I think the bigger shock of working as an SLP in the schools comes not from the presence of paperwork, but from the absence of clinical discussion. New SLPs are fresh from an environment challenging them to think about and justify every clinical decision, analyze and evaluate new ideas, and collaborate and present their conclusions. In one recent conversation, an SLP told me how disappointed she was in her peer group of district SLPs. “All of our job-alike meeting time this year focused on the new IEP system and on Medicaid billing…” A school-based SLP can bring so much more than that to the special education table. But those possible contributions (like collaborating with staff, supporting the core curriculum, zeroing in on individualized strategies) require care and nurturing in order to grow. Few SLPs develop or maintain those skills in a vacuum.
It’s not surprising then, that our clinicians overcome traffic and family schedules and weather to attend Hello group shares. We meet over food or snacks, at a cafe, coffee shop, restaurant, or even at our Hello Clinic. The expectations are only that you bring questions and some ideas or resources to share. Creating a schedule, working with adolescents, managing speech homework, paraprofessionals, articulation, self-contained classrooms — these were just some of the topics that Hello SLPs, school psychs, and OTs discussed at our Group Share get-togethers this year. People often bring specific cases, sometimes with audio or video recordings, but the greatest benefit is our time together exercising our clinical questioning muscles.
The questions that drive our clinical work — How can I define the problem? What solutions or approaches have been tried? How can I interpret the results? What do I do next? — are what help Hello clinicians grow and learn together.