Winter PD Retreat 2022

January 27, 2022 BY Gina Ossanna, CCC-SLP

Winter PD 2-22 zoom gridWe had an amazing day of professional development at our annual Winter Retreat this year! We started off the morning with Nia Thomas, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder and Editor of Bilingual Resources,  who presented on Culturally Responsive Evaluations and Intervention. Our key takeaway from her presentation was that the disparity between the cultural diversity of therapists and that of the students we serve has not improved in the last 2 decades. This makes it all the more important to be aware of our own implicit biases, and ensure that we are conducting valid evaluations and assessments for all students.

Perhaps the most stunning and mind-blowing fact from Ms. Thomas’ presentation is that standardized testing is not a legal requirement when evaluating for Special Education. (Wait. What?!) Ms. Thomas shared concerns with the validity of standardized tests and further revealed the extreme bias and lack of reliability validity of the Spanish CELF-5. The scope of our evaluation is not limited to standardized assessments – as clinicians, we can use other resources to really get to the root of what a student is struggling with. Here are some tools Nia added to our toolbox:

  • Culturally-sensitive interview forms, and how to ask sensitive questions
  • Dynamic assessment
  • Non-word repetition tasks (NWRT), which are a strong predictor of disability
  • Language sampling
  • Free Resources for NWRT and language sampling from the Leaders Project website from Columbia University
  • How to include information in evaluation reports on why standardized tests do not apply

Dr. Kyomi Gregory-Martin, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Assistant Professor, Pace University joined us in the afternoon to present on Cultural Humility for Health Care Professionals.

Dr. Gregory-Martin led a discussion around race, responding to microaggressions, and how to respond if you’ve been culturally insensitive. Being anti-racist is a process. We will always have to examine our beliefs and make adjustments. She stressed the importance of a nonbinary paradigm for thinking about our actions and that of others.

Together, we viewed a Ted talk by Jay Smooth (How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race), where Mr. Smooth used the refreshing and hilarious analogy of “spinach in your teeth” to let others know if they said something racist or offensive.

Beyond race, Dr. Gregory-Martin shared many “-isms” that exist in our field, such as linguicism, which is a bias against someone who speaks a different dialect or uses different grammatical structures. She also pointed out that “Pandemic Entitlement” exists, and it factors into how well individuals are able to focus on therapy.
My biggest takeaway from Dr. Gregory-Martin’s presentation is that cultural competence is less important than cultural humility. Personally, I appreciated the reminder to reflect on my own culture and how it influences my work and expectations. If I come to every student with an awareness of cultural diversity and that each student has experiences unique to them, it will make my work as a clinician more effective and meaningful.
Be sure to check out our Instagram story from the day for more fun facts and quizzes from the day!