Monday, April 27, 2015

Getting to Know Your Favorite Online SLPs: A Linky Party

I am linking up with Natalie Snyders to share a little bit about who I am. If you read my blog you know I wear my heart on my sleeve, so I'm fairly transparent. These are the more unknown details, the items I don't frequently talk about.

Who am I?
My name is Annie and I currently live in New Hampshire. Previously, I made New Jersey my home and despite living in NH I will always be a Jersey girl! I am married to my best friend and we have two teenagers, nearly 17 and nearly 15. At this point our kids are fairly independent and my husband and I are reclaiming the time we used to have to pursue our interests. I have been working as an SLP since 1983 primarily in the schools, although for a while early on I did contract with a home health agency to supplement my income. I contracted to a number of schools in NH when our children were young so I could be home and provide some financial support to our family. I am finishing up my 12th year in a public school in NH and see myself retiring from this position in 6 years or so. In July it will be one year since I started blogging. I started in order to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone. What has followed as a result has been transformational.

What do I offer?
I have enjoyed this question, because what I offer is a little different. While I do have a TpT store, there are not a lot of products there and most of them are free. My joys come from posting what I do each and every day on Instagram (follow me at anniedoyle226) and sharing my musings and revelations on my blog ( My personal and professional journeys are completely intertwined and I really enjoy sharing what I have learned along the way.

My dream job?
My dream job would be entrepreneurial in nature. I really want to be my own boss and I would be cooking. I would love to own a shop that prepared different specials daily and only those specials would be available on that day. Of course there would be a variety; sweets, breads, pasta and meat dishes, all Italian and delicious. My shop would also stock hard to find Italian foods and delicacies. Things I've missed since moving to New England.

3 of my favorite things?
It's very challenging to commit to only three favorites. Reading, cooking/baking, spending time with my friends and family. I have to add a fourth...puzzles, all kinds.

Who else should I know?
I have connected with so many people in this great big social media world. It is impossible to limit myself to just one, but one of the first friends I made once I entered the blogosphere was SparklleSLP. I consider her my friend, despite never having met her face to face! Isn't that wild? She is smart and talented and supportive and just so genuine. Check out her blog ( and her TpT store (

Thanks to Natalie for hosting this fun linky party. It's been fun to learn about my most favorite bloggers on Earth; SLPs!

Cut to the Chase

This post may be disconcerting to some folks out there in the SLP world. Understand the ideas expressed are mine and mine alone and have allowed me to reframe my thinking around my desire for approval, for significance.

I recently began a book that supports the notion we are "Made to Crave" (Lysa Terkeurst). I began this study because I have had an on again off again marriage to food and I really want to get a handle on why. I've been 99 pounds, whereby I starved myself consuming 1/2 of a rice cake and a diet pill. I've been 186 pounds, whereby I consumed everything and anything. I am beginning to understand that I have been wired for cravings. As I read I was intrigued by this line, "...the object of our craving was never supposed to be food or other things people find themselves consuming such as sex or money or chasing significance." WHOA! What was that last item? Chasing significance? This last "craving" triggered something in me. I considered my life at work and how so many conflicts, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings were soundly embedded in my desire to be significant, to be heard, to be right, to be valued.

I follow the social media chatter closely and read the posts describing parent put-downs, administration admonitions, and teacher tirades. What typically follows are rescue posts by well-meaning SLP friends. These posts offer advice and solutions and...statements espousing our significance and value. I also read many posts expressing disdain and sometimes outrage over words like "speechies" or "speech teacher" terms that supposedly diminish our significance. I know, I so want parity with other professionals. I so want respect from others that sometimes who I want to be outshines what I do!

Dear SLP friends, read this aloud. "I am significant if I only ONCE remediate a distorted /r/. I am significant if I only ONCE tell a child, "I believe in you." I am significant if I only ONCE hold the hand of a parent and say, "I hear you."

I do not need to chase significance in the size or name of my room. Whether I call it a classroom, speech nook or clinic makes no difference. It's what I do in that space that brands me. I don't need to chase significance in my title. I will admit I was averse to "speech teacher," but my title doesn't qualify me, my actions do. I do not need the school psychologist to agree with my testing results or diagnoses to affirm my significance, for my value does not rest in the approval of another person. As long as I have done my work professionally, responsibly and ethically what I do is significant.

The career I chose was inspired. I believe I have written about how I chose SLP before, but in case you missed it, here is my story. I was 18 years old and not a real go-getter. I had lost my Mother three short years earlier and was living with my 29 year old brother, his 28 year old wife and my 14 year old brother. We were still shell shocked and learning the moves to our new dance. I was completing college applications and had not set the bar high. After my Mother died I did the bare minimum in high school, participating in nothing extracurricular. My applications were sparse to say the least. When I got to the the section of the application listing possible majors I knew I could do most anything. I was, for all intents and purposes, a tabla rasa. So I did what an 18 year old might do when faced with a life changing decision, I closed my eyes and pointed. I landed on speech language pathology. It was one of the most defining moments in my life. Here I am 32 years later still passionate about the field I "chose." Do I need to chase significance? No! Am I significant by virtue of what I have been called to do? Oh, yes!

I was chatting with my friend, Heidi one morning last week before work. It was time for me to pack up and head out. She left me with this warm send off, "Have a good day. Change lives." How much more significance do I need to chase? I change lives.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Interview With an Occupational Therapist: Part 4 of the Blog Chronicles

Photo Credit: Starfish Therapy
April is OT month, so in honor of the wonderful men and women who are indispensable to so many, the next guest "blogger" is one of my favorite occupational therapists. What follows are some beautiful responses; grab a tissue!

How do you see a true multidisciplinary team functioning?
The true nature of a multidisciplinary team is a group of unique and specialized individuals that collaborate with one another, sharing their own distinct knowledge, experiences, and talents, in order to collaborate towards a common goal. When serving the best needs of students this approach is essential and includes many players, including teachers, specialists, and of course the student and family. This is a delicate balance that is often very challenging to achieve in an ideal sense due to current constraints of the system and society in general. Life is just so busy! The value of sharing ideas, knowledge, struggles, and successes as a team is one that simply cannot be lost or forgotten if we are to do our best work and to truly meet the needs of our students. We are all just one piece of a very big and complex picture.

What message do you have for the powers that be (administration, DOE, elected officials, etc. Your choice).
I like to think that no matter what our status or title we all started out on this journey for the goal of helping children and positively impacting the future of our society. Our career paths likely all started because we saw a need, felt a calling, or had a passion for developing young minds, supporting families, and celebrating the joy of helping others. Unfortunately the nature of implementing these supports is complex and becomes entangled with the dynamics of economics and politics, among other things. I think at the end of the day, particularly the challenging ones, we all need to step back from the craziness and remember that person we were when we started out on our journey. What inspired you then? What were you hoping to achieve and contribute? No matter if we are "in the trenches" or writing policy behind a desk, if we can try to reach that common place of inspiration and understanding maybe we can be at least one step closer to meeting the needs of today's students.

What do you see as the most pressing issue impacting our students today? Why?
Beyond the challenges of meeting their basic needs of food, shelter, safety, and love (which, sadly, can be a daily struggle for too many children today)...children need to move, play, and get messy!! Call me old fashioned, but I am so fearful that with the trend towards instant gratification, increased screen time, over-scheduling, and growing academic and social demands that we are forgetting what is vitally important to child development. Children need to be able to explore their world through movement and use their hands to build and create. They need to be safe, but still have the freedom to play imaginatively and to learn to solve problems through trial and error. These are skills that build a foundation for the rest of their lives.

What energizes you to come to work everyday? What keeps it "fresh" for you?

I gain energy and motivation from the little everyday successes with students, especially when I can find the "just right" challenge to engage and inspire children that can be more difficult to connect with. It is even better when you can see skills and learning transferred into the classroom or on the playground. I find so much value in connecting with colleagues on a personal and professional level, although I wish there were more hours and opportunities within the days to do so. When I feel like I am becoming stagnant in my treatment plans and overall practice, I love attending an engaging workshop or reading a good book to learn something new.

Describe your dream work environment? How does your dream compare with your reality?
How can you make it a reality?
A dream work environment would be one where time and funding are plentiful! I would love to be able to implement some dream accommodations and strategies to engage all students. This would include access to non-traditional tools for all students, not just for those that "need" them. How great would it be to walk into a classroom where a student could read in a hammock swing, while another sits on a therapy ball to take notes? Maybe a trampoline could be built into the floor in a corner of a kindergarten classroom and a zipline through the halls! Ok, that may be a bit over the top, but it is nice to dream. I would love to be able to work in each classroom to provide strategies and support through a truly inclusive model and also have time for regular collaboration and connections with my colleagues and the families of the children we support.

After reading this I sent the following reply, "I seem to cry at the drop of a hat these days, but your responses were so heartfelt, spot on, and professional I did just that. Absolutely beautiful. You are an amazing OT and a warm and generous person." What more needs to be said?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Interview With a Student Teacher: Part 3 of the Blog Chronicles

We are fortunate in our community to have a state university. As a result our K-8 school assumes an active role in new teacher preparation. (The university does NOT have a speech language pathology major, but that is a conversation for another day!) Between students completing observation requirements, practicums, and student teaching, young and enthusiastic future teachers are ever present. These young men and women typically keep things fresh and bring an energy into the building. One such student teacher was willing to share her thoughts here and I am most appreciative of her candor.

How do you see a true multidisciplinary team functioning?

I see a true multidisciplinary team collaborating successfully together (being able to pass ideas off one another, not letting frustrations or emotions build up). I feel as though all members of the team need to be able to openly communicate with one another and support each other through moments of tension or need.

What message do you have for the powers that be (administration, DOE, elected officials, etc. Your choice).

I think that we need to stop focusing so much on standardized testing. Although it is important, I strongly feel like preparing for the test and teaching to the test takes away from a teacher's ability to spark lights in students and their interest and engagement in school. Also, all of the standardized testing is frustrating as someone looking to get a teaching job. With so many people applying for a single teaching position, it is encouraged to stand out and have all of these creative ideas and experiences. How do those things help you when you are so intensely following programs that are aligned to standards and testing? I feel like our focus on testing has taken away from the uniqueness, imagination, and creativity that school should harvest in both its students and educators.

What do you see as the most pressing issue impacting our students today? Why?

I believe that the most pressing issue for a lot of our students today are if their basic needs are being met. In a lot of cases across the country, students are not getting enough to eat, having the opportunity to shower, or a safe and nurturing home. I think that these factors greatly impact a students ability to successfully function in a classroom.

What energizes you to come to work everyday? What keeps it "fresh" for you?

The major thing that keeps me motivated to continue my schooling in elementary education is seeing the positivity school brings to students' lives and how happy they feel when they understand something that they struggle with. Also, having such a positive group of mentor teachers makes ALL the difference. I am extremely comfortable with my education role-models and I cannot imagine my road to teacher certification being more successful than it has been.

Describe your dream work environment? How does your dream compare with your reality?How can you make it a reality?

I believe that my dream work environment is very similar to the environment that I am currently student teaching in. I hope to have the opportunity to work in a school that is similar to where I am today.

It makes me happy to read such positive and enthusiastic commentary form a prospective teacher particularly when the trend for young teachers to abandon the field is increasing (and disheartening).

Photo credit: Woodley Wonder Works
For further reading on teacher dropout check out these articles here  and here

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Say It With Tats

I don't have a tattoo. I have no desire to see words or pictures forever emblazoned on my body. I especially don't want to see what those cool tattoos melt into as I age and my skin loses its elasticity. I am very comfortable expressing my likes and feelings verbally or in paper and pencil writing. My desire to keep my skin ink free might be old fashioned by today's standards. According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 40% of Americans sport some ink (NBC Nightly News May 2, 2014).

As I was thinking of the blank canvas that is my skin I started to imagine what sort of tats a speech language pathologist might like, outside of the obvious lips. If I were to subject myself to the tattoo artist's needles (YIKES) I might consider something like one of these; my top five SLP tattoo creations. Please understand, this is meant as a parody! The ideas are just for fun and by no means suggest that I believe having a tattoo is a no-no!

I credit my husband with "Lisp Free or Try," which is a play on our NH State motto "Live Free or Die." The "Speech Rocks" tattoo is New Hampshire's Old Man of the Mountain which came crashing down in 2003. 
Which one is your favorite? Do you have any tattoo ideas?

*I created these using powerpoint, PicMonkey, and/or

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Fib Revealed

We hope you had as much fun hopping through all our April first posts as we did writing them! Well, how did you do? It's now time for the big reveal.

I played the role of a munchkin in a 2009 production of The Wizard of Oz
This is a fact! Plymouth State University is located in the town in which we live. Each year PSU, through the Educational Theater Collaborative, stages a musical. This is a highly coordinated and involved show that showcases college students, community members, third through twelfth graders and some professional actors. This particular show was replete with flying monkeys and witches (really, a company from California was hired to fly our actors). Both of our children and I were cast as munchkins and after three intensive weeks of rehearsal made our way down the yellow brick road!

I poached the course at the 2013 Run Like a Diva Half Marathon in San Juan, PR.
Fib!!! I did go to San Juan to meet my friend (also an SLP) and run in the half marathon. When we went to the registration area I was told registration was full. My friend was diligent and had registered earlier online. I, on the other hand, was a slacker and thought I would register in PR. I debated about poaching the course, running without registering, but then decided running 13 miles early in the morning in the heat and rain wasn't really that appealing. Soooo, I stayed in bed. My friend ran and finished first in her age group. If my memory is correct she finished in 1 hour, 45 minutes. Very impressive!! 

In my defense two weeks earlier I had completed a half in NH. I did not finish first in my age group. I finished. Period.

I drove and did speech language therapy in NJ in a repurposed school bus.
This is a fact. In 1985 I worked for Essex County Educational Services Commission in NJ. ECESC provided supplemental instruction, compensatory education and speech therapy to the non public schools in Essex and Passaic Counties. Some of these schools were parochial and therefore, since we were a county commission, we couldn't work in the buildings. This was due to the "separation of church and state." Pretty silly, since that's not exactly what the separation of church and state was established to do. In any case, we worked in repurposed school buses, campers and trailers that parked 20 feet from the building and connected with a giant plug for power. It was an interesting two years. 

If you participated in the blog hop, I do hope you had fun trying to figure out what was myth and what was reality. I thought it was a blast and was surprised by what I learned about my fellow bloggers. What an interesting and diverse group!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ode to Mud

Summer in New Hampshire is delightful. We do have a few days of intense heat, but overall, we can get away with a summer sans air conditioning, a fan no, but air conditioning, yes. Autumn is what we are famous for. Crisp, clear days of vibrant color. Winter begins around Thanksgiving and lasts until at least the end of March, often. In fact the last weekend of March 2015 saw snow and 20 degree temperatures. Then comes the most dreaded of all seasons MUD, I mean spring.

While the rest of the country is basking in the beauty of the Earth's rebirth, we in NH are slogging through feet of ooey, gooey mud. We live on a picturesque dirt road, but the melting snows and a frost line that descends to five feet creates a driving nightmare.  I have had to don my Wellies and carry a 3 year old and 1 year old up the mountain because my car was up to its fenders in muck, all the while trying not to fall and lose my babies to the demon mud. Walking through the brown goop is a form of aerobic exercise as it sucks you in with sheer delight. Forget getting the car washed; it's like, well, throwing money in the mud! Yes, I believe the mud is hell bent on making my life muddy! Mud season, as it is called here was one of the hardest things for me to accept when we moved. With longer days I am ready for spring, for crocuses, for daffodils, for warmth.

What's a New Jersey transplant to do? Roll up my pants and slog through! I've decided to embrace all things mud and work a week of speech activities that are mud related. Why not? MUD HAPPENS!

In the spirit of nature (and mud) and following Amy's lead, with my third through fifth grade students we are going to embark on haiku writing. A simple formula consisting of three lines all about our demon beloved mud.

My fifth through eighth grade students will be expanding their language horizons with some muddy figurative language. Here is what I came up with:
  • It's as clear as mud.
  • Don't be a stick in the mud!
  • He's as happy as a pig in mud.
  • Sea of mud
  • It's as slick as mud
  • mud slinger
  • Sling mud at someone.
  • His name is mud
  • Hey, mud sticks!
  • Here's to mud in your eye!
  • Mud duck: I wasn't familiar with this one, but it means an unattractive person :(
  • Drag someone's name through the mud
  • Mud happens: an original!

What would mud season be without mud crafts and songs. An old favorite is "I Love Mud," but I found this very funny video I think my younger students will enjoy.

Mud crafts? How about some chocolate scented play-doh? This recipe can be found on I Can Teach My Child. Click the picture below for the instructions.

I also thought a fun and easy craft could be done by cutting out mud splats from brown paper and gluing them on a larger piece of paper. This can be the inspiration for a creative writing activity, sequencing activity or vocabulary activity.  And finally some "dirty words." Click on the link below for a simple articulation activity that can be given as homework.

I'm hoping my attempts at embracing mud season will help me get through it. For those of you who haven't experienced mud season first hand I hope this glimpse into NH mud is enough to encourage visits during our other three magnificent seasons. If you do venture here during the infamous mud, don't say I didn't warn you :)