Can you remember why you wanted to become an SLP in the first place?
Was it for fame or money? Probably not!
I’ll bet that it was because you wanted to help people. Something deep inside of you gets stirred when you see that child’s face light up when she has some incredible breakthrough in communication. It’s transformative and life-altering. That’s why you became a speech-language pathologist. And don’t forget it!
So what happened. All of the sudden you woke up one day and the feeling wasn’t there anymore. Admit it; you dread the thought of going into work. You never thought this day would come and now that it is here, you don’t know how to make it go away.
Before we talk about solutions, the problems need to be better identified. You probably are suffering from at least one of the following.
- The number of children on your caseload far exceeds in a week that which any sane person could reasonably handle.
- The paperwork goes on and on and on, seemingly without end.
- You are frustrated by the realization that grad school didn’t give you enough knowledge to help some (or all) of your kids.
If some or all of this is you, then you might find some of these ideas helpful in restoring your passion for the work you love to do and the kids you love to help.
1. Make a Memory Board
When that never-ending paperwork and stress is draining everything out of you, it can be beneficial to have a visual reminder of why you got yourself into this in the first place. Why should visual reminders be only for kids? Do adults lose their ability to see?
One of the most effective visual reminders is a memory board. Place on it those sentimental mementos, pictures and notes from some of your most amazing kids. Those children in whom you have invested your blood, sweat, and tears to help overcome their most difficult challenges need to remain front and center in your life!
Whenever you need that “lift,” gaze into that board and remain in a hypnotic trance for a few moments so that the mountains of paperwork can't extinguish the fire in your soul. (remember to stay HIPAA compliant when you display those pictures!)
2. Simplify Communication With Parents
Many therapists struggle with communicating with all of the parents in huge caseloads. Without sacrificing the personal touch needed for each child, you need to find a way to automate that communication to the degree possible. In the old days creating checklists on carbon copy paper was the best option available.
Today, there are many apps or other automated options that are even more helpful. Once you design templates that convey which skills you are targeting, it becomes as simple as checking off boxes. Attempt to minimize the written word wherever possible, so that you will have more time to spend working with the students and preparing your sessions.
3. Don’t Be a Hero - Find Help for Those Lesson Plans!
While you may want to create the plan for every session to give it that freshness, this may be short-sighted. Strive to produce fewer lesson plans and replace them with canned materials you can pull off the shelf.
Since the progress of most of your students is probably slow, it makes more sense to create lesson plans on a monthly instead of a weekly basis. Once you have that general plan in place, you can improvise on a weekly basis with more standardized plans, games, and exercises.
Sometimes you need to see yourself as a long-distance runner. The secret of the long-distance runner is to establish a pace that allows him to finish the race. You need to see your lesson planning in a similar light. However, your goal is not only to get through the session but to enjoy the session by giving it your all. This means knowing where to cut back.
With so many pre-made lessons available online, it behooves you to do some poking around to see what resonates with your clientele and style. Sure it may require a financial investment, but remember what is at stake- your passion for your work!