Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Week in Review

Another wonderful link up with Mary of Old School Speech fame. This post is especially fun because WE WERE ON VACATION!!! February ended with winter break. The timing was perfect. I was in dire need of rest and that is what I got!

The view at Ragged Mountain
Mack, me, and Nora

The kids and I skied three days this week despite the bitter cold. We skied at both Ragged Mountain and Waterville Valley, both in NH. Ragged is only 25 minutes from home and we love it. It's a typical New England ski mountain with plenty of green circles and blue squares for me. I will say one of the blue squares has an impressive headwall at the beginning. Needless to say, on one of of my runs I slid three-quarters of the way down, fast, very fast! Does anyone have any suggestions for how to keep eye glasses from fogging under ski goggles. It was vexing! 

I'm not a selfie sort of gal; my arms are too short, but I did think about speech language pathology once this week. I had an appointment with an endocrinologist. I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Hashimoto's Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease whereby the immune system attacks the thyroid. Great, big, fat bummer for my metabolism! I sat with this very smart doctor for two and half hours and listened to her talk nonstop. I left more overwhelmed and confused than when I arrived. This experience gave me some insight as to how parents and perhaps teachers feel as they listen to us explain heady test results and diagnoses that they are unfamiliar with. I do my utmost to avoid jargon and explain things as simplistically as I can without condescension, but WOW, this was eye opening for me.
I arrived home from skiing one day to a fabulous treat! I have been following the reviews of 3D SLP's delight, de-stress, and deliver boxes and finally ordered one. It's like a red cross box for SLPs! It's my first, but it definitely won't be my last. Thanks, Amy!

Sometime last summer my Instagram friend Speechreka posted some delicious looking creations she made using her Spiralizer. She extolled its virtues and suggested I buy one. Well, it took me a while to order one, but after seeing the dishes that could be prepared with this baby I bit the bullet. Mack and I prepared this absolutely scrumptious Zucchini Linguine with Garlic Clam Sauce. This recipe was found in Ali Maffucci's book Inspiralized. I had a little difficulty finding fresh clams because apparently the clammers can't harvest them because of the snow!
For my brain this week I finished a 1000 piece puzzle I began on February 1st, on a snow day. Believe it or not the entire puzzle was complete except ONE piece. I found the piece the next day in between two floorboards. Whew!
I also read Unbroken. This book is remarkable and if it's on your list and you haven't gotten to it yet, drop everything and read it. Some of it was difficult as the human rights abuses Louie Zamperini suffered were abhorrent. The overarching theme, however of the human capacity to survive is inspiring.
Tomorrow is back to reality as I complete lesson plans and check my meeting schedule. It's time to get back into our schedule, but I am so thankful that I had this week to rest my weary mind and body!

Favorite Blog Posts of the Month: February

I'm Linking up with Mary at Old School Speech for her Favorite Blog Posts of the Month: February Edition. Bloglovin' has a great new feature that allows saving blogs and categorizing them which has made this post so much easier to compile. The challenge then is limiting myself to five posts as I have saved 21 different and wonderful blogs!! It's no wonder I can't get any laundry done; I'm busy reading blogs! Oh well, we all have our distractions! Okay. Here they are!
Read and Write for Google
Sean Sweeney, the self-described "Speech Techie" is an amazing source of information on how to integrate technology into our speech therapy rooms. The information he provides is cutting edge and relevant. I will also admit, he makes me look tech savvy in that I am often able to disseminate what he shares with colleagues. Naturally, I always refer back his blog, but I feel so wonderfully nerdy that I can share techie-stuff! Thanks Sean, you make me look cool.
I saved two of Sean's posts this month, one on Read and Write for Google and one highlighting Jeopardy Labs.

Kelly writes one of the funniest blogs ever! I find myself truly laughing out loud when I read her posts. She had me at blowing projectiles at a cup pyramid! Enough said!

The Speech Bubble
Maureen's post appealed to me. I take a wealth of continuing education workshops to maintain both my ASHA certification and my state license, however, how nice to have an option that indicates I have received a credential for my efforts. I am going to pursue this.

The Budget SLP

Diana, a.k.a. The Budget SLP, has been doing this speech thing since 1978! She remembers the days of minimal budgets and as a result became incredibly resourceful. She faithfully scours the internet for budget and user friendly resources and compiles them in her blog for all of us! What an amazing gift! This particular post included over 50 free or inexpensive apps that lend themselves to speech language therapy. A post definitely worth saving! 

 I Heart Crafty Things
I Heart Crafty Things
No month would be complete in our speech room without a craftivity from the ever resourceful and creative Rachel of I Heart Crafty Things. My students loved this Love Monster puppet craft. It was the perfect compliment to the Love Monster story by Rachel Bright.

I hope you had a wonderful, peaceful, and productive February. Here comes March!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Social Media and Social Grace

When we moved to New Hampshire nearly 19 years ago we used to chuckle at the Yankee ways. Coming from "North Jersey" they seemed so quaint. One of the things that I found humorous was as two cars passed each other the drivers waved. It was an "Uh-Yuh" (please read with a New England lilt) moment. As transplants, or more correctly defectors, to New Hampshire we waved back with moderate discomfort. It was so friendly, so kind, soooooo not what I was used to. Over the years more and more transplants came to New Hampshire and the social and political landscape has morphed. As I was driving recently I waved to a walker and he stared back at me. People don't wave anymore. I am saddened by this.

I began thinking about social grace.

Social graces are skills used to interact politely in social situations. They include manners, etiquette (the specific accepted rules within a culture for the application of universal manners, deportment and fashion.

I wrote a piece about social media and a piece about writing. Here is where the two meld. It's no secret that social media has opened the flood gates of expression. It can be informative and fun. It can also be vituperative and mean. It can be weird and frightening. It has connected us with breakneck speed and what goes out there, goes out there FOREVER! It appears however that the hidden rules, the social graces, the just plain manners have not seeped their way into the collective mindset.

Well here it is for all to see, (or at least those who follow my blog, anyway) some suggestions for social grace:

  •  I follow a number of blogs and in many of them there are statements indicating how happy comments make the authors feel. I can relate. These comments allow the author to know someone has read their words and is thinking about their ideas. For better or worse. Comments may take time. Leaving a comment may require a log in. Sometimes the comment gets lost in cyberspace. All valid reasons for not leaving a comment, but for me, I want authors to know that the time they spent crafting a post was well worth it. Here is a tip I have learned, when leaving a comment, copy it before you hit post just in case it "doesn't take." I do this for all my comments and Teacher Pay Teacher feedback.
  • This relates to email and is something I have experienced largely at work. It appears to me, and this again is just how I view the situation, that when an email is received common courtesy dictates a response. It doesn't have to be a tome, just a short note back, "Thanks for thinking of me," "Great idea," etc. When I don't hear back from the recipient of an email I often wonder what they thought or whether they even received it! So, may I suggest that when an an email is received you write back? I think it's just good manners.
  • It has probably happened to every blogger courageously putting themselves out there...negative comments. It is so tempting to launch a full on rebuttal, but I have found that only leaves me even more frustrated. A skill I have only recently developed is to respond without defense (do I need to be right?) and simply say, "Thank you for the feedback." That is it. Nothing else. I recommend this tactic highly as it can save you from all manner of angst. It can also save you from a word war. Trust me ;)
  • I do love receiving comments. I also believe I should reply to each and every comment someone has taken the time to leave. Yes, it means a little more effort, but believe me when I say it doesn't take that much time. I imagine if I had a comment from each reader it might become a daunting task, but in reality, that is just not going to happen. For the headline bloggers this could be more challenging, however a single line acknowledging the comments that I love to receive is worth for me as the author.
  • Sometimes, as a reader you might notice a typo or grammatical error. You might not like the vocabulary the author uses or think the word is used incorrectly. Again, this is simply my opinion, everyone is entitled to their own course of action, but is it necessary to CORRECT others? Before correcting an author's grammar or critiquing word choice consider asking the question, "Is there value in this?" Consider asking yourself, "What is my motivation for doing this?" You may be surprised by the answer.
  • Finally, the cover of anonymity has afforded many people a sense of security used to lash out at authors with whom they disagree. The current state of the Internet world allows people to spew negativity with alacrity! Let's try to exercise decorum when responding to topics of disagreement. There is no rule suggesting we have to agree, however there is an unwritten rule that suggests we do so with civility and the Internet world should be no exception.
I believe the Internet has made the world a better place. I also believe that the same tenets that we adhere to in face to face interactions should be extended to the context of social media. Manners are manners. What do you think? I would love to know!!!

P.S. Thanks Erik for the link to the photos! Isn't that pic perfect?

Friday, February 13, 2015


It's that time of year again when love abounds. Hearts are everywhere. We do our share to bolster the economy and buy silly gifts. This year I decided not to spend any money on things, but rather to prepare a lovely dinner comprised of my families favorites, by request. It will be so much more meaningful (for me at least) to share a meal prepared with love and spend some time together while we can. Our kids are growing so fast and I love them so much!

I love the holidays because I can completely exploit them in therapy. These photos are just a "Whitman's Sampler" of fun we have had this week.
These were fun and effective activities from Meredith, The Peachie Speechie and Rachel, of I Heart Crafty Things 

We celebrated the 100th day of school this week and The Peachie Speechie's Valentine Heart Challenge was the perfect accompaniment.

Pam Dahm created this AMAZING critical thinking activity and offered it for free! My older kids LOVED it!

Pint-Sized Treasures highlighted this craft made with salt dough. This activity addressed vocabulary, pragmatics, following directions, executive functions, and more!

Cupcake Vocabulary was created by Lauren of Busy Bee Speech. The choice of antonyms and synonyms used was perfect for my primary (and some intermediate as well) students.

All the love in the air prompted me to reevaluate what I love about my profession. I selected Speech Pathology as a course of study when I was 18 years old. I was completing college applications and needed to enter a preliminary choice of major. I closed my eyes and circled my finger over the majors and landed on Speech Language Pathology. No lie! I suspect Divine intervention because I have never regretted that choice. Why? This is why:

I LOVE delving into a test manual in order to flesh out a speech and language profile. 
I LOVE collaborating with special educators and occupational and physical therapists, teachers of the deaf and nurses. 
I LOVE reaching out to the community to help our students and their families access services. 
I LOVE connecting with other SLPs via social media. Instagram is my source of inspiration, recipes, and camaraderie. The different Facebook groups are wonderful venues for troubleshooting difficult cases and learning about resources. The blogosphere has opened up my speech world tenfold. 
I LOVE my game closet! It has taken thirty plus years to stock it and some SLP will be very happy when I retire.
I LOVE my speech aide. She is a generous and kind soul.
I LOVE looking at my old DLM and Teaching Resources cards. They remind me I have a rich history in the profession. 
I LOVE the people I work with. They are my dear friends and have 
supported me in so many situations (sniff). They have been a part of our children's lives. They have shared my ups and downs and are a constant source of laughter and strength.
I LOVE being an SLP and despite some difficult situations and circumstances, this profession has also brought me the greatest joy

Thursday, February 5, 2015

To Yield Or Not To Yield?

I have learned quite a bit about myself over the years and I feel compelled to share my experiences in an effort to spare other young SLPs the grief I have known. I imagine it is safe to say that many professionals can relate to the experience I am about to describe.

Throughout my years of employment I have encountered situations where I have not agreed with others on a diagnosis or a prescribed course of action concerning a student. It goes without saying that I believed my thinking to be "right." In those moments of heated dialogue I felt my contributions to be relegated to the bottom rung of the professional expertise ladder. I walked away feeling battered, disrespected, frustrated, and professionally disregarded. Whether I was right or not, truly wasn't the issue. The issue was that I NEEDED to be right. The issue was that the others also NEEDED to be right and that was where the impasse occurred.

Photo credit: Martin on Flickr
Recently, a situation occurred where my results didn't support a diagnosis that was being encouraged. While it was very true my test results didn't fully support the diagnosis being explored there was a discrepancy between functional performance and the standardized results. There was clearly a discrepancy with how language was being used. This notwithstanding, I was committed to my position.

I spent several days before the meeting with a pit in my gut. I called my SLP and special education friends bemoaning my professional conundrum and seeking advice. I also sought confirmation that I was right. I considered how to get my way with the least amount of collateral damage (my professional integrity, my working relationship with my colleagues, my emotional well being, my student's best interests). And this, young Padawan learner, is the take away; let it go! I divorced myself of the need to be right. I decided that my need to be right was impacting not just myself, but the others on the team, and had the potential to impact my student as well. I was able to temper my summary by writing the following: "What is of paramount concern is the disparity between X’s standardized test performance and his reported ability to successfully navigate the social world. While the root cause of his difficulty is not completely understood, it is very clear that effectively using social communication is extremely difficult for X. This weakness in using language functionally will result in difficulties establishing and maintaining peer relationships as well as impacting his availability for learning in the context of the classroom." My need to be right was deafening! In letting go I was able to hear what my colleagues were saying.

I know that the need to be right is not exclusive to me. I know that most everyone is married to being right. I also understand that that need is the basis for most, if not all conflicts. It is what causes me to jump into defensiveness, however with this one little exercise of release I was able to free myself from continued contention and work collaboratively in the best interest of my student. I was empowered, not by forcing my point, but by releasing! It is counter intuitive and yet it it is empowering. I have been practicing simply saying, "You may be right," and it halts the conversation. Uncanny! There is power and strength in recognizing that my expertise is more apparent when I yield. In yielding, I found my voice and it is heard more clearly and more professionally than I would have imagined! Try it and be sure to let me know how it works!