Friday, January 2, 2015

Bring it on 2015!

January 2, 2015 already! I recall being 15 and calculating how old I'd be in the year 2000 (39, and I thought that was ancient)! Time goes by so fast. Like most people, I've rung in many New Year's Days ticking off my resolutions and like many I've made it to December 31st not meeting them. As a result I decided to stop making resolutions! Instead, I aspire to goals. Naturally, I have a whole list of goals for 2015. 
I plan on tackling that stack of books that keeps increasing verticallyI plan on caring more for this body that keeps increasing horizontally. I plan on continuing to respond to life's stresses in healthy ways, despite what I am feeling inwardly (a.k.a. acting like an adult). To write more, to risk more, to do more. More, more, more! My goals also inspired me to take a closer look at what I want as an SLP. More specifically who I want to be. Who I want my administrators, colleagues, and students to see when they look at me.

I've worn the badge of an SLP for many years. This New Year's Day I reflected on the traits I believe are inherent to my occupation, my vocation, and any occupation for that matter. I narrowed my list of characteristics down to 10, although there are obviously, countless more. These qualities define who I hope I am. Yes, there are days I fall short, days I fail to listen or affirm. Days patience is fleeting. But, God willing, I will be given tomorrow and a new opportunity to do it better. I have a perfect and forgiving model and I can try again. In 2015 and always I strive to be:

An Innovator: As SLPs we are the MacGyvers of intervention techniques and tools. We see a game in a coffee carrier and a snowman in tap lights. Let's see what I can cook up with a stick of gum and some dental floss in 2015!

A Realist: We are a very compassionate and caring lot by nature, but being unrealistic about what I can do in therapy just sets me and my students up for failure. If after a long period of time one of my students isn't progressing, for whatever reason(s), I hope to remember to be realistic without guilt or feelings of failure. As a realist, I understand that not everyone will my accept my interpretations or my help. It is always their choice and doesn't reflect my skill, my knowledge, or me.

Safe Haven: School is hard. It is even harder for many of our students with speech-language difficulties. My speech room has been dubbed "The Vault." It is the place where it is safe to say anything. It is a place where academic pressure is greatly reduced, yet students are still challenged. It is a place where I can provide a safety net in a strategy or technique and all feel secure.

Dogged Diagnostician: I love testing! Well, not testing itself, but the interpretation. This is another place where our craft shines through. I love sorting through test results and digging in test manuals to flesh out an accurate picture of a student's speech-language skills. This is where we put the "pathologist" in "speech-language pathology."

An Acceptor: I mean, I want my and students and their families to know that I accept them for who they are, their foibles and shortcomings and their strengths, without judgment. I don't always like what I see and hear, yet it is not my job to judge.

A Role Model: I have an interesting history, better than some and worse than others. It is my story and it has uniquely prepared me for who I am today. I work and succeed each and every day and I want my students to know what they can achieve, to see what is possible, even when they think it is impossible.

An "Affirmer": I always try to remember to say, "I know this is hard" or "I know you get frustrated. Let's see how we can reframe this." I never want to take for granted how challenging what we ask children to do is and I value their efforts.

A Listener: I've experienced quite a bit in life, but my experiences don't qualify me to counsel. They do qualify me to listen, to affirm, to be understanding. Listening means just that, listening, without offering opinions, judgments, suggestions, or solutions. I don't always have to talk. I certainly appreciate a compassionate ear when troubled. That's a gift I can freely give to those who want it.

An Advocate: There have been and will always be times I need to advocate for a student. That can be an unnerving experience when my professional experience and opinion doesn't jive with that of my team. I will continue to be brave in the face of contentious situations or opposition and advocate for the communication needs of those I represent. It is the least I can do.

A "Laugher": Last, but certainly not least, I really don't want to take myself too seriously. The consummate SLP must have a sense of humor. I will always provide my students and colleagues with a place where silliness abounds.

Bring. It. On 2015! Show me what you've got! I am equipped with the traits for success and more importantly satisfaction and happiness! 

Do I dare try this?


  1. I love this! These are great goals to have before you for the new year. You're inspirational!

    1. Pam, thank you so much! Really, I think it's just being a kind person (with a little sass thrown in).

  2. As I read through your traits, I could identify with so many of them. Being a "Laugher" is so important in our field!

    1. I sure do wish I could be all those all the time, but alas I am a mere human! All the more reason to laugh at myself!