Saturday, November 12, 2016

Supporting One Another: The Power of Encouragement

This post has been on my mind since July. I have hemmed and hawed about writing it, and then thought, "It's time." I've been contemplating what support looks like in our profession. As speech-language pathologists we are 100% behind our students. We go the extra mile, we devote our time, energy and talents to helping our students/clients achieve. We spend our own hard earned cash. We create, remediate and advocate! All this for our students and clients. We would never consider suggesting our students can't or shouldn't try something new or hard. We would never suggest they not try something innovative or daring. Would we? I think not.

This summer while at ASHA Connect I was enjoying some social time with friends, old and new. We were a mixed group, ranging in age from 30s to 50s. Some of us worked in the schools, some in SNFs, some in private practice and some who even are COOs of health care organizations. Our common thread, speech-language pathology.  The conversation moved to our college days, as some of our group were reunited with college professors while at ASHA Connect. One would think the reunions were happy, not so.  I was shocked to hear from these accomplished and successful individuals that while they were in undergraduate or graduate school they were DISCOURAGED from continuing in the field, despite high marks. One was told she wasn't a "good representation of the profession." Another was told her voice was "too harsh." I recall a professor in graduate school posing to our class, "How many of you might pursue a PH.D? None I presume, you are not good graduate students." I felt flattened.  I was a great student with a 3.87 G.P.A., a graduate assistant in the department, and I was looking forward to a long and successful career. Clearly, however, I was NOT Ph.D. material. I have carried that with me my whole career.

Fast forward to today's internet driven world. We have SLP blogs and TeachersPayTeachers. We have Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. We have SLP glitterati and followers. Just the term followers makes me cringe! And yet, we all have the same goals, to help those who need it. For some reason a strata has emerged that breaks my heart. Sellers versus buyers. Posters versus likers. Names versus followers. Groups versus individuals. Who's in versus who's not.

Our field is fueled by advocacy and support and yet, it seems we have forgotten how to support each other. It isn't always outright, sometimes it's more subtle, like ignoring the efforts of groups/individuals viewed as rivals. Rivals for what? Followers? Likes? Sales? While at ASHA this summer I was flat out, face to face ignored by a "friend" who only chooses to speak to me when others aren't around! Of course, I know my value. I was initially hurt by the dismissal, then quickly realized it had nothing to do with me. On the contrary.

I may not be a big TpT seller (by choice, I have decided to focus on my practice and create when I have a need) but I have a lifetime of experience. I did therapy before lesson plans could be downloaded for $5.00. I was creating goals for diverse populations before goal banks. I was writing evaluations by hand before spellcheck. I was using ditto masters and thermofax machines before some SLPs were born. My hope for this community is that at some point we all realize the contributions we can offer to each other. Not just those in our niche.

My hope is that collectively SLPs learn to view each other as assets, not rivals. That we move forward as a group with each person sharing their vision, so that collectively we support those who need our support. Support doesn't necessarily mean advice, either. It may just mean encouragement. It means a professor encouraging the graduate student who needs to take a risk or make a change. It means offering encouragement to the person who thinks they can't to, "Yes, start a blog." It means encouraging a creative SLP to author products. It means encouraging the seller who just posted a picture of her new creation by commenting. It means encouraging the author who is successful and not begrudging them their success. It means so many things that are kind and loving and inclusive.

Imagine then a field where we all use growth mindset thinking and encourage each other to work hard and strive to be the best version of ourselves we can be.  How would that then trickle down into our own lives, our interactions with our families, colleagues and students? It may just be a dream, but it's a good one and it IS POSSIBLE. "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11


  1. The more we stand together celebrating each person's unique creative voice and success the more we grow and can empower as a profession. We do NOT benefit from division, envy, jealousy or negativity. Beautifully said, Annie! Proud to be a partner in celebration! Amy@3dslp

    1. #SLPally Let's move toward love and encouragement of all our efforts!

  2. THANK.YOU. Thank you for taking the time to put these thoughts in a post. Last year at our state convention, I spoke to an ASHA Fellow for a loooong time. We talked about a lot of different things; 1 of the things we talked about was the need for us to stick together, to encourage each other. That will make our field stronger. The whole idea of being an SLP has changed drastically over the past few years. The world of being an SLP has grown smaller. I don't think any of us feel that we're "out there all alone" like we did when we first started in the field. That's a good thing. Now, let's all stand together and encourage each other to be the best. THAT will make our field stronger.

    1. Agreed! Thanks for your unending encouragement!