June 4, 2015

What to Expect When You're... A First Year School SLP!

*This post contains affiliate links.




 Let me be the first to tell you-  the first year will probably not be your easiest year. I can't promise you this because I have yet to even start my second year as a school SLP, but I am certainly breathing a sigh of relief that the additional work that comes along with the first year is now officially behind me.

Here is an outline of what to expect during your first year as an SLP. This could vary based on the state that you work in, but in Kentucky, this is how we roll.


This is the binder of blood, sweat and tears.
1) In order to become an official, teacher certified SLP, you must complete a Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KITP) year. This is a year-long evaluation system that is used to prove your competency and reflect upon your skills as a teacher. Now, before anyone pulls out their "WE ARE NOT TEACHERS!" banner-- I get it. Honestly, the evaluation system was NOT created for SLPs and it's very obvious in the design. However, since I want my teaching certificate (which is expected as a Kentucky school SLP) I had to complete this program.  You're expected to participate in 9 total observations (3 from your mentoring teacher, 3 from your principal, and 3 from a university assigned KTIP supervisor-- luckily, mine was an SLP professor from the university I attended). You must create and reflect upon the lesson plans for each observation, as well as create a leadership project, a collaboration project, a professional growth tracker and work plan (this is similar to what you would do in CIITS, if your district uses this) and an instructional unit. Oh, don't forget the 60+ direct consultation hours you are required to have (and log) with your mentoring teacher.  You can view a snippet of what this paperwork looks like HERE, but don't be fooled by the 50 page template they show you. Mine is closer to 200 pages. The hardest part was finding the time to complete all the paperwork involved with this program. The 2nd hardest part was modifying it to fit the role of the SLP. So much of this wants you to look at your "class as a whole", when in reality, we see approximately 20-40 classes (aka groups) a week, containing 1-6 students typically. Once this is completed, you will get your teacher certificate and can keep your KTIP binder on a shelf for the rest of your life because it appears no one ever actually looks at it. (Psst-- if you're looking for a GREAT binder to use, I recommend the Staples 3 Inch BetterView Binder with D-Rings.
"Why hello! Are you here to observe me again?
Come on in..."
(Photo from Matt & Molly)

2) You also must complete your Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY). In my opinion, this is no where near as difficult as your teacher internship year. 36 hours of mentoring is required by an ASHA certified SLP and you are rated based on your performance. This is another type of evaluation system to ensure workplace competency. To be honest, it sort of feels like a grad school observation except you should be much more confident in your abilities by this point. Your CFY consists of much less paperwork and stress than the KTIP program because it was actually designed for SLPs and therefore does not require modifications. Once this is completed, you will get your CCCs and become an ASHA certified SLP!









                   Me, last day of school.
3) You will not have all the materials, decorations, and organization you want. My room, albeit small, is the room I hope to stay in. However, there was NO shelving in my room when I first moved in, with the exception of one tall metal cabinet. It held the items that were already in it, but there was not much room for more. I scavenged halls before the beginning of school in order to find some sort of shelving for my room, but the "pickins" were few and far between. I ended up with one very short, unfinished, paint stained cabinet from a preschool room and an end-table looking thing with wheels. I made them work. I didn't like them, but I made them work. I used my classroom funds wisely and bought a tall Sterilite drawer organizer  (affiliate) and a 10 drawer rolling cart (affiliate) to keep by my table, as well as a rug to cover up part of the burgundy carpet. I bought some decorations from a teacher supply store (lanterns and owls to hang from the ceiling, and small owls to place throughout the room), and an owl shower curtain to place over my solid glass classroom door to reduce distraction from passerbys. The rest I spent on Amazon, TPT , Super Duper, Zulily, and thrift stores in order to get materials that I noticed would be useful for my caseload needs.



Melt my heart!
4) You will actually have to do SLP work in addition to all this other paperwork ;) Scary, right?! No, this is the easy part!! This is what you went to school for and this is your passion. This is the part that will carry over in years to come while the CFY and the KTIP business will disappear after year #1. You will create a schedule, group up your caseload, provide therapy services, attend IEP meetings (and schedule them unless you have a SPED secretary like my district), bill Medicaid (if applicable), collaborate with teachers and parents, complete legal paperwork related to SPED services, evaluate and re-evaluate, and you will be LOVED. Trust me. It may not always feel like it, but the children will grow to love you. I've never felt so appreciated by so many little ones before. It's endearing and makes every bit of the job so worth it.

Overall, let me say this. Your first year will be stressful because no one prepared you to be hit with all of this information and all of these programs at once. I made it through my first year will all of this, plus getting married and moving 4 times. If I survived, so can you. Take comfort in knowing that it will only get easier after year #1.


Let me know how you survived your first year! What did you encounter that maybe you were not prepared for? How did you overcome it?


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