With the school year beginning, School Administrators are looking for ways to ensure success. Most schools have both teachers and speech therapists attending to students’ needs. Most administrators see them as working in disparate albeit complementary tracks. However their collaboration will ease an administrator’s stress while maximizing the kids’ benefit.
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are experienced in recognizing the symptoms and signs of a speech-language disorder and as such can help the afflicted child to overcome that disorder with timely and targeted intervention. But the first awareness and call for help must come from the teacher who interacts with the student on a daily basis.
SLPs need teachers to help them do the work that SLPs are trained to do. Because teachers have so much on their plates already, it is often challenging to keep up with every important clue that could signal any number of disorders. However, if the teacher can keep excellent records on his/her students, the chances of providing those students assistance can be increased.
Prompt and accurate diagnosis of a child’s speech-language challenges can ensure the optimal learning situation for those students in need. Alternatively failing to do so, will only mean trouble as it will result in either a late diagnosis, a misdiagnosis or an incorrect diagnosis. Much of this can be avoided if there is clear communication between the teacher and therapist.
3. Classroom Assistance
On occasion, it may be beneficial for the SLP to work with the entire class. Aside from being able to monitor particular children, it can give the SLP insight into that child’s “universe” which can sometimes be invaluable in helping the SLP to craft a program for the child. What’s more, with the SLP in the classroom, other kids who may need services may be observed as well.
Since the teacher and therapist need each other to maximize the child’s benefit, it is critical that a strong, healthy relationship be forged between the teacher and therapist. Forging this relationship is where the administrator’s role is crucial. Astute administrators will seek out ways to cultivate the teacher- therapist relationship and in so doing will be providing their student’s invaluable benefit.
2. Direct Communication
While it is critical for the teacher and therapist to communicate directly, it is also important that both communicate with principals, administrators, and other relevant personnel to assure that the needs of the students are being met. Often when funding decisions are being made that will adversely students who need services, an advocate for the student could make a difference.
3. The Intangible Benefit
It goes without saying that the benefits of collaboration are important and valuable in and of themselves. If nothing else, collaboration will result in better morale in the school for everyone, happier students and parents, and less stress for the principal and administrator.
And while it is ultimately the team members themselves- teachers and SLPs who are the ones responsible for creating a positive working relationship, by prioritizing frequent, transparent and open communication, the role of the administrator cannot be underestimated. A little bit of the administrator’s time and focus can bring significant and valuable returns for everyone involved!