#048: How SLPs Can Advocate at the Local, State, and National Level (Part 1)

Click here to earn ASHA CEUs for this episode. (Use the code SLPNOW to save $20 off your yearly podcourse membership!)

In this episode, I chat with my SLP bestie Kayla Redden about how she’s stepped into a leadership role, advocating for SLPs at her state level as the Secretary of the Kentucky Speech Language Hearing Association’s advocacy network.

Sounds so impressive, right? It’s also really comforting to know that our peers, like Kayla, are standing up for us and educating the world about the importance of our field! ๐Ÿ’ช

Working in a classroom, clinic, or even via telepractice, it’s pretty easy to feel alone โ€” like you’re working on a little SLP island. ๐ŸYou have the opportunity to be so independent (creating IEPs! tracking progress! building relationships!) and that can be freeing, but isn’t it nice to know that your peers, like the folks in your state’s speech and hearing association, have got your back? ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ

Kayla shares some ways for us all to speak up for ourselves. Whether you have the time and bandwidth to commit to sitting on your association’s executive committee, or if you just have 5 minutes a week to commit to signing petitions, and emailing your legislators – you can make a difference. Every little step matters! The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, you know? ๐Ÿ˜

So grab your beverage of choice (I’ll have a chai latte!), put your feet up, and RISE UP – I mean – listen in. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Key Takeaways + Topics Covered

– Advocacy Network – A platform for SLPs to be heard, develop leadership skills, feel empowered, and make changes in the systems where we operate!
– Local, state or national level involvement
– Check out what your own state association is doing, and support how you can (e.g., sign a petition, send a letter, promote their events and campaigns, volunteer).
– ASHA’s Take Action site has easy-to-complete template letters you can send.
– Complete surveys sent out by your association or ASHA. This data helps for advocacy work!
– Advocacy isn’t complaining!

Links Mentioned in the Podcast

Kayla SLP on Teachers Pay Teachers
Kayla SLP blog
Kentucky Speech Language Hearing Association & IKAN
ASHA’s Take Action site

Click here to download the supplementary guide for today’s episode!

Subscribe & Review in iTunes

Are you subscribed to the podcast? If youโ€™re not, subscribe today to get the latest episodes sent directly to you! Click here to make your listening experience auto-magic and as easy as possible.

Bonus points if you leave us a review over on iTunes โ†’ Those reviews help other SLPs find the podcast, and I love reading your feedback! Just click here to review, select โ€œRatings and Reviews,โ€ โ€œWrite a Review,โ€ and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is.

Thanks so much!

Transcript

Marisha: Hello there, and welcome to the SLP Now Podcast. I am incredibly excited to have another return guest on the podcast, Kayla Redden, and just in case you missed episode 45 where we talked all about articulation, and quick articulation alternative service delivery, a quick recap of who Kayla is. She is a school-based speech language pathologist, and she currently works at a rural preschool, and elementary setting. She is serving as the secretary of the Kentucky Speech and Language Hearing Association, and she has participated in KSHA's ICANN advocacy network.
She also creates amazing materials for elementary age students on her Teachers Pay Teachers store Kayla SLP, and she blogs about therapy tips at kaylaslp.com. I wanted to bring Kayla back onto the podcast because this month is Better Speech and Hearing Month or Better Hearing and Speech Month, and I thought it would be a perfect time to dive into just a quick brainstorming session on how we can step up as SLPs, and advocate for ourselves, our students, and other SLPs, so without further ado, hello Kayla.

Kayla: Hello.

Marisha: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today, and I'm just really excited to dive into the different roles that you've stepped into to advocate as an SLP, because you said that you're the secretary of the Kentucky Speech and Language Hearing Association, and I'm curious what led you to get involved there?

Kayla: One of my former professors actually reached out to me whenever she was serving as president for KSHA, and she just told me that she knew that I was working towards bettering myself as a speech therapist, and other areas just besides working in the schools. She had watched me blog and watched my work on Teachers Pay Teachers, and she asked if I would be interested in pursuing like a statewide role in speech therapy, and at first I was not too sure, because I've never stepped into such a leadership role before, but after I thought about it, and thought about the issues that are important to me, that I wasn't sure if I had ability to change, I thought maybe now it's my chance to step into this role, and see if I can make a difference at a larger level. After she reached out to me, I thought about it, and decided to run, and this is currently my second term as secretary for the Kentucky Speech Hearing Association.

Marisha: That is amazing, congratulations.

Kayla: Thanks.

Marisha: crosstalk get reelected, and so, what does your role look like as secretary? What are you doing? How much time do you spend on it, and how are you showing up there?

Kayla: I actually live the furthest away from anybody I believe from where we meet, but we do a lot of online meetings thankfully, so about once a month we have an online conference, like a Zoom meeting for everybody to get updated on information, and then, two to three times a year we meet in person. Everybody goes to Louisville, or wherever the convention is, and we meet, and we have meetings there. We have strategic planning meetings where we decide what we're going to do as a whole for the next few years, and then, we have our in between meetings for things such as convention, and advocacy efforts in Frankfurt and that sort of thing. We're meeting pretty often, just not always in person.
My role in particular, I mean, we thank secretary obviously taking the minutes of the meetings, I do that, but everybody pitches in really at every level to help make decisions and bring up concerns that we're hearing from members across the state, and see what we can do to work on those issues.

Marisha: That is absolutely amazing, and then, I also saw that you spoke at the KSHA Convention. I feel like that is a way to step up in some kind of advocacy role as well. What led you to get involved there and what did that look like?

Kayla: Well, honestly after I started on the ICANN committee I realized that maybe I can take a leadership role. Maybe I can handle that after ICANN, and the secretary position came open. I thought, why not speak on something that I'm passionate about? Another SLP and I, Desiree actually from SLP Talk. She and I presented over social media, and how speech therapists can use it to look for new ideas, or better their speech therapy, or connect with other speech therapists, or how to advocate for themselves, and their profession using online means, so I just ended up presenting on that too, and that was a great experience. If you haven't presented, I would definitely recommend to anybody listening, take that step and do it at least once.

Marisha: Did that opportunity come up because you were like the secretary of KSHA, or because you were involved in that advocacy network? Like how'd...?

Kayla: I just applied to present, but I really don't think I would have applied had I not already sort of stepped out of my comfort zone, because I'll be the first to say I'm little socially awkward. I'm not wanting to get up in front of a large crowd of people and speak, but once I started getting involved in the profession at the state level, it's just one of those things where, why not? I sort of got braver and decided to present too, but it wasn't necessarily because I was secretary, but I feel like I got the confidence after serving in that role.

Marisha: Yeah, that makes sense, and it's super interesting, because we've been talking for a long time as you were kind of stepping into these roles, and it sounds like it's not something that you thought that you kind of had. You didn't have a goal necessarily to become secretary, or do this speaking, or be in the advocacy network, so it's really cool to see that you kind of just stepped into these components, or did I interpret that incorrectly?

Kayla: No, you're completely right. I had never in a million years, if you'd asked me this five years ago, if I would have been serving at a state level, or presenting in front of 20 people, much less, a hundred plus people would I have thought I would be in this position, but things change, and I feel like I was pushed into new things in a good way. Things, I wouldn't have necessarily tried, left to my own devices, but just given that push it's opened up a lot of really good opportunities for me.

Marisha: Yeah, that's amazing, and then, you've also been talking about KSHA's ICANN advocacy network. What is that?

Kayla: ICANN is, obviously stands for Kentucky advocacy network, and it's a fairly new initiative that was brought forth by our now current president at the time she was president elect, but she wanted to see members get involved at a larger level than what they already are, and to show them that they have the opportunity to make changes big or small on their own, because I know a lot of members don't think they have a say, or they don't feel like their voices are heard, but she wanted to bring this initiative together to teach leadership skills to speech therapists across Kentucky, and show them that, hey, you can make a difference, and we're going to show you what steps you can take to make changes.

Marisha: Oh, that's amazing, and then, how did you learn about that?

Kayla: This was just something that was advertised prior to convention, and they reached out like through email to all the members, and just said, "Hey, if you're someone who wants to develop your leadership skills, and make a difference, then we have an opportunity for you." They offered some CEUs with it, so that was appealing, but we've had a pretty good turnout of people wanting to make a difference, and feel empowered. That's one of our biggest things is we want you to feel empowered, and to know that you can make changes big or small, and I just joined through that email, and said, "Hey, why not give it a shot?" And then, I learned a lot during my time there.

Marisha: Yeah, and that's amazing, and I bet you met some really amazing SLPs along the way too?

Kayla: Yes. We all were given each other's contact information, and a lot of us still stay in contact. As a matter of fact more than one of us are now on the KSHA committee, or the executive council. I feel like it sort of opened people's eyes to hey, maybe I can even join the executive council one day, and make a difference that way. I think it pushed a lot of people's boundaries in the places they didn't think they could end up before.

Marisha: That's amazing, that's so cool to hear that, and then, just looking back, what did do you learn from these experiences? Like, what are your biggest takeaways, or aha moments, or like wins?

Kayla: I think before I was involved in any of this, I just felt like, I'm one speech therapist, I'll work out in the middle of nowhere, I don't have anybody that I can bounce ideas off of, because I mean, we're a small district. There's, like I said, 1.6 of us in our district. I don't have another full time SLP even to bounce ideas off of how can I make a difference or advocate for myself if I don't work in a district with 50, or a hundred other speech therapists? And so, going through ICANN, and becoming a part of the council has showed me that people are making differences every day, even if they're just one person out in the middle of nowhere, so it just showed me that where there's a will, there's a way, and it taught me the road to take to make the changes that I wanted to see.

Marisha: That is so cool, and then, have you made any changes, or can you tell us about any of the changes that you made from that experience? How has it impacted you in this school or with your caseload, or anything like that?

Kayla: I will say that it's inspired me to know more about Kentucky law, which doesn't sound very fun, but that's where speech therapists decisions are made on caseloads, and all of that kind of stuff, so how many CEUs you have to have a year. That's all statewide decisions. I think the first thing it taught me was learn what's required through the state, because when you know what's required, and what's not required, that gives you some leverage on things you can advocate for. For example, if you're a speech therapist, and a school is trying to push you over the caseload capsize, and thankfully, that's never happened to me, but I know places where it has, just knowing what those laws are, that's leverage, and that is something to help you advocate for yourself.
I think just learning what you can about your profession, learning what you can about state laws and legislator. I've read through the entire speech therapy section on the KRS, Kentucky Regulations just to know what I can and cannot be expected to do in my position. It's helped me advocate to my director certain things too, what's feasible, and what's not. It's just given me a confidence, and background knowledge that I didn't have before.

Marisha: That makes a lot of sense. Let's talk a little bit about if SLPs are listening, they're like, ooh, I want to get involved in this. What tips do you have for speech therapists looking to get involved? Because there's three levels we can get involved in, right?

Kayla: Yes, and that was one of the biggest focuses of ICANN, was we developed an action plan, and we had to develop an action plan for the local level, the state level, and the national level, and when we're talking about the local level, that's where you're talking about your district mostly. If something's going on in your district that you're not sure is acceptable, or like I said with the caseload caps, or any of that, that's the changes you can make within your school. For example, like one of my action plan items was to celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month throughout the entire school, because I've always put up inaudible a little thing on my door, what's an SLP? What do we do? But we kind of made it an event.
So, we put up stuff in the break room, and I made a little freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers, but it talks about what speech therapists do, what our roles are and like even has a place where teachers can ask questions. If they're not sure about something ask the question. One time I even sent out like little quizzes about what SLPs can do when teachers could answer it, and you can always give out candy, or something for the winner, but just making changes locally with your teachers, with your administration, and that kind of thing. Then the state level was what most of us start thinking of as far as state laws, and your state association. For example, you can email your legislators, and you can look up who your legislators are online. There's a really easy tool, you just type in your zip code, and it tells you who you need to email about issues that are important to you.
For example, Kentucky is looking for a salary stipend for speech therapist. It's been in the regulations for years, but it's not been funded for years, so we don't see that $2,000 and that is something that you can just email your legislators, and keep that on the forefront of their minds to when it comes time to vote on things, they're thinking, oh yeah, speech therapists in Kentucky really want that stipend, let's find a way to make it happen, and then, nationally is more of, when you think of ASHA. They work with all the state associations, and so, the things that they're doing to advocate for us, for example, they also have email templates on their site to where you can just run a letter, and you don't have to come up with all the ideas on your own. You just fill in the blanks, and they'll send it for you basically. So, there's lots of ways to get involved, just depending on what you want changed, and how involved you're willing to be.

Marisha: Yeah, and I love that breakdown, because I feel like that made it a lot easier for me to start thinking about, okay, so what can I do at the local, state or national level? I love what you said about knowing the laws, and the guidelines, and all of that so that you do have a leg to stand on when you are advocating for change, and if you have that information to bring with you, I think that makes a much more convincing argument, and if you can present it in a well researched way, I think that has a huge impact, so that was awesome, and then, I loved your ideas for Better Hearing and Speech Month. I love the poster that you made. I actually wrote a blog post last year. I'll link it in the show notes, but I'll put your poster in the show notes as well.
But, there's lots of little simple, easy things that we can do to educate our teachers because if they know what we do, then we'll be showing up more effectively in our schools, and I think that has a nice trickle effect throughout the community as well.

Kayla: Right, and I think that sometimes even I've talked about doing a PD day with other speech therapists at my school, because even if teachers know, okay, you do speech, you do language, I get that. They may not understand the process of how a student gets referred or why a student they think should qualify doesn't qualify, so even doing a professional development within your school over a topic that teachers are unfamiliar with, even something as simple as special ed process, and the referrals, and evaluations for speech and language, something like that. It doesn't even have to be a month long activity. Just little things to bring awareness within your school.

Marisha: Yeah, I completely agree. My school, this is a couple of years ago now, but I did a presentation about the referral process, and that it wasn't even a long thing. I just asked for a couple of minutes at the staff meeting, but I think that was really helpful, and then, I've heard of other SLPs doing presentations on different strategies, so if you hear a lot of teachers complaining about behavior. We have a lot of training in behavior as speech language pathologists, and maybe partnering with a special education teacher if she's really great, or he or she is really amazing with behavior strategies too, or sharing, because we have such a wide range of skills that can be really helpful for teachers, especially when it comes to scaffolding, and supports and all of that, so there's so many things that we can do just within our schools and they don't have to take a huge amount of time, so I love those ideas.
And then, jumping back to the state level, I love the idea of contacting a legislator, and if there's an issue that if you are in a larger district, and there are a number of SLPs who have that same concern. If you guys can work together, and come up with a letter and then you can all send it. I think it has more power if it comes from multiple people, so that's a cool way, and maybe the state has templates ready for us, and just emailing them.

Kayla: Yeah, and definitely check with your state association, and I know I'm biased because I'm a part of our association, but if yours is anything like ours, we work constantly throughout the year with legislators on things that are important to us, and I don't think speech therapists always realize what the state is doing for them, their association and what their dues are going towards, but for example, our website, we're working on our own templates. We will have state specific issues. For example, the salary stipend, the interstate compact, and there's an audiology bill also trying to go through, but we've got things set up for that where you just fill it out, and it goes straight to your legislator, and we're trying to make it as simple as possible for our members, because like you said, there is power in numbers.
So, imagine if these legislators are getting one email versus hundreds of emails. They're going to notice it if everybody joins together, and that's part of the reason that we even have these associations.

Marisha: Yeah, and I think if you, one quick thing that we could do, if we're like, I have no idea what my state association is doing, you could email them, and ask like, hey, what are you guys working on? Or, maybe if you want to take a small action step, you can email them, and ask them, I don't have time to join to serve on a committee or whatnot, but is there anything I can do to contribute? And I bet they would have lots of different options to share.

Kayla: Absolutely. I know we're always looking for people who even if they can't join ICANN, or they can't serve like you said on a committee. We need people just to do little steps, and so, if you just asked, or you can even look on the website, and a lot of times, minutes from the meetings are posted, or they may even have current events that we're working on or current issues we're targeting. Don't be afraid to reach out because your association wants your help, so anything that you can do to reach out to them it's going to mean a lot to them. It's going to mean a lot when it comes time to advocate at the Capitol.

Marisha: Yeah, and I think even just joining the state association that only takes a couple minutes. It does cost some money, but it does support their ability to kind of make more progress, because I assume that the majority of positions are volunteered based.

Kayla: Yes. Pretty much everything is volunteer based, and I know that before I joined, well I've always been a member of KSHA because in college it was really stressed to us the importance of it, but before I became a member of the executive council, I just thought of KSHA as that's where you go to convention, and get your CEUs for the year, but then once I joined I was like, oh, there is so much more going on than just the CEUs, but that's why people join for the most part is they want to go to convention, and get their CEUs, but if you think about it on the other hand, and just think, okay, well my dues are also going towards getting that salary stipend, or getting a caseload cap, or whatever it is your state's working on, then it makes it even more worthwhile.

Marisha: Yeah, I think that's an awesome idea, and then, any other ideas for the state level?

Kayla: I just thank you again, maybe I'm biased, but just volunteer, and just reach out, and just see what the state needs from you, because there's always something even if it's as simple as serving on a committee or writing a letter, anything just makes a difference. Just showing up. I know that we have one day a year where everybody goes to the Capitol, and just showing up. Even if you do nothing but show up, that just shows power in numbers whenever you're there to support your profession at the Capitol, if you're able to do something like that, or write a letter for your association's newsletter. I would assume most have a newsletter. I know we have one, a letter about something great that your district is doing, or run an article about a struggle you're seeing, and how you overcame it. Just anything to help other...
Just because it's state level it doesn't necessarily mean it has to be with the legislator. You can reach SLPs across the state just by writing an article, and submitting it to a newsletter.

Marisha: Yeah, I love that idea, so many good things, and then, for the national level, I love how you mentioned ASHA's take action site. I actually just learned about that a couple of weeks ago from Michelle Dawson, and I went on there, and it literally took me two minutes, and I was able to shoot off a couple letters to legislators. It was incredibly simple, and I think that's a great way to kind of let your voice be heard, and take action without having it take all of your time, and then, we have so many different things going on, and it's hard to keep track, but ASHA, also has that Facebook group, which I think is a good way. If you can just turn on the notifications for that, you can get different updates on what they're working on as well.

Kayla: Absolutely. I know that's a common theme that I've seen is, we pay our dues every year, but then we say, well, what are dues going towards? I'm not sure where my money's going. I think that a lot of it is going into advocacy efforts that often go unnoticed. They're kind of behind the scenes, so just by joining, I think, it's on Facebook, it's just called ASHA Advocacy, just like that page, and see the things that they're working on, and the differences that they're trying to make, and I know they work very closely with state associations, and they have, I mean, I believe monthly meetings even, and they talk about things that each state is going through, and they assist in, helping states advocate for themselves as well.
But, definitely, just go click on that tab, that take action tab on ASHA, and just look through there, and find something that's important to you, and send off a letter, and just see how easy it is, and you're making a difference just by sending off that letter.

Marisha: Yeah, and then, a couple other things that I was thinking about as we were talking just opening ASHA's emails can be very helpful.

Kayla: Yes.

Marisha: They'll share, because I know our inboxes definitely get a little bit crowded, but they'll share different surveys, which I assume they use that data to advocate for us, so filling those out. They have virtual town halls once in a while, so there's a bunch of little things that we can do to kind of educate ourselves or to help ASHA collect the data that they need to continue moving forward.

Kayla: And, just don't be afraid to ask like what we were saying, just if you think there's an issue that maybe they're not addressing, just email, and say, hey, this is a real problem. Are you guys looking into this? And you may be surprised they may have been working on it for six months or a year. I know that sometimes we wish things could change faster, but I know we joke about it. It literally takes an act of Congress to get some of these things changed, and so, we don't often see these changes as quickly as we would like, so maybe just ask, and say, hey, is this something that you've considered, or that you're already working on? And, you may be surprised to find that it's been on their agenda for a while, but waiting on Congress to make those decisions sometimes holds people up.

Marisha: Yeah, for sure, and then, another idea too is to read the ASHA leader. Sometimes they have, or they often have, or always have good articles, and some of those are related to advocacy, and just keeping ourselves informed, and how to navigate different issues, and all of that, so that could be another great option.

Kayla: And, not be afraid to submit. Again, if you're doing something awesome, and you're proud of something your district has done, and you guys have had really great success with something, send that in, because that's advocating for yourself, and it's also helping other speech therapists work through issues they may be having, so just don't be afraid to take that step, and submit your own. If you're doing something great, let everybody know about it.

Marisha: Yeah, and I'll be sharing the links in the show notes again to where you can email ASHA, where you can submit to that leader, ASHA's Advocacy group, or Facebook page that take action site, all of that good stuff, and then, I won't be able to compile all of the state association links, but your state association should have a website, and if you can't find some of the different resources we mentioned I'm sure there's an email there that you can contact for more of that information. Okay, awesome crosstalk.

Kayla: I'm really, I don't want to overwhelm anybody up. I know that it sounds like I'm saying write these letters, and contact these congressmen, but really small steps. Even if you're doing something small scale, just advocating for yourself, and yourself alone, or for your students. Maybe you're advocating for some AAC devices, or something like that. That's advocation too, and I don't want to minimize that. I want everybody to know that's also very, very important work.

Marisha: Yeah, and I think it's helpful to brainstorm some of the different things that we could be doing, and I completely agree that we don't have to be doing all of these things especially when we're juggling a giant caseload, and personal life, family, all of that, but I think if you're frustrated with something, I think that ends up taking a lot of your time and energy because, I don't know about you, but I feel like that's the case with me. If I'm frustrated about something, I kind of stew about it. I spend a lot of time thinking about it, but if I don't do anything, then it's just kind of a waste, but if I can send off a quick email, or be involved in a small, or a big way, I feel like that gives me a lot of like energy, and enthusiasm, so that I can show up better in all areas of my life, and then also, hopefully, eventually see things changing as well.

Kayla: Yeah, and I totally agree with that. When you realize you're down, you're like, I don't know what to do about this problem, and my boss doesn't understand, and nobody's listening to me. If you just take the time to just think about, okay, what steps can I take to make a change? You feel better, you feel more confident, and especially when you see the change happen, even a little change, you're like, okay wow, so I can do this. If I have a problem, I can work my way through it, and I can solve it, and come out better for it, and it's just learning those leadership skills, and how to approach things, and it's scary. I know that I don't want anybody to think I'm complaining, and that is my biggest fear is that if I advocate for myself, somebody somewhere is going to say, "Well, Kayla's complaining that she has so many students." Or, "Kayla's complaining that she doesn't have this."
I think you have to shift your mindset, and know that advocating is not complaining, and it's all about how you present the information. Just go in with some knowledge, if there's laws involved, know what you're talking about when go you in, and standing up for yourself, and don't think that you're complaining if you're trying to make a difference for yourself, and your students.

Marisha: Yeah, and a lot of the things that we "Complain about." are I think we complain about them not because, oh my job is so hard. It's because we're trying so hard to serve these students, and large caseloads, or low salaries, so we have to like go work somewhere else to make ends meet. I think we get most frustrated about the things that make it hard for us to really serve our students, so if you frame it in that way, because I really think that's how most of us are thinking. We're in this profession because we want to serve our students, and that's what we're here for, so I'm not advocating for, I don't know, fancy vacations on the beach. I'm advocating to be able to see my students make progress, and to be able to show up for them in a way that makes a difference.

Kayla: Absolutely, and I think that's one of the biggest things when states don't have caseload caps. You're not complaining that you have too many students. You're worried that you're not going to be able to serve your students to the fullest, because you've got so many of them, and so many demands placed on you, so when you shift your mindset into, I'm not complaining about me and my job, I am trying to be better at my job, and serve my students better than I think that it flips a switch for administration, and even within yourself because you realize I'm not complaining, I'm just trying to do my job the best I can.

Marisha: Yeah, and it all comes down to what is best for our students.

Kayla: Absolutely.

Marisha: Yeah, and I think if we have that whether we're talking to a principal, or trying to get AAC funding, or at the district level, or whether we're talking to legislators, or whatever it may be, I think coming with that point of view, and the data to back that up, I think that's incredibly powerful.

Kayla: Absolutely. Don't be afraid to advocate. It's not as hard as you think, I promise.

Marisha: I meant to ask about this earlier, but you mentioned committees a couple of times, because you're in a year long position, but are there committees in, and I guess you can only speak to KSHA, but are there committees that are shorter term? Like, if you're working on the convention, or something, is that something that's not quite as long? Do they have shorter term projects?

Kayla: There are some positions council-wise that are two years, and then, some that are one year, and then we've also formed some like ad hoc type committees to where it's just for the length of the event, or something. We have convention co-chairs, but that's like another year long position, but there's always volunteer type committee positions, so even if it is helping to plan, I know that we have different events throughout the year, like inaudible Alliance Day, where PTs, and OTs, and SLPs go advocate at the Capitol together, so even if it's something like that where your maybe job is to find families who want to join in, and go to this to speak on behalf of PTs, OTs and SLPs. There's always little positions here and there that we need to fill, and I know it is hard, because not everybody has a lot of time.
And even, I wasn't sure if I was going to have the time for the position that I have, but I think that if you've got a lot going on, do something little like that. We're always looking for volunteers for smaller committees, and I don't have an exhaustive list, but I know that's one example of any event your state puts on, they may need people to show up and help run the event. That's just like a maybe two month commitment to get things ready for that.

Marisha: Yeah, I like that. I'm curious what is next for you? Are you using this framework to set goals for yourself, or do you have any ideas on what action steps you want to take in the future or which issues are kind of at the top of the list for you?

Kayla: I do know that I would love to continue serving as a council member just because I really enjoy knowing what we are working towards, and learning what we have capabilities to change, so that is something that I would like to continue is to serve on the executive council. I would be open to other positions. I'm not sure if presidency is in my future, but there's other areas I think I would like to serve in as well, and then, also we have these events where we go to the Capitol, and I live so far away that I've never got to go to one, but that is something that is on my to do list, is to actually go to Frankfurt and attend one of these advocacy days, because everybody it seems like on the committee lives within an hour, and I'm four and a half hours away.
It's a trip for me to go up there, but that's something that's important to me, and if it means I have to take a day off of work to go advocate for myself, then that's something I would like to do in the future that I haven't got to do yet, but just be more involved. Like I said, ICANN showed me some of the things that I can do, and I've already done. I write letters to my legislators. I want that $2,000 stipend to be funded, and so, I'll make sure that since I want that to be funded that I'm the one writing a letter into them, because you hate to be the person who says, "Well, I want the money, but I'm going to let everybody else write the letters, and I'm not going to mess with it." I want to be in the action at this point." And, it showed me what I can, and what I need to do.
I've taken some steps. There's some that I want to continue to further myself with, and even presenting, again. That's something that I've already been talking about next year, maybe trying to present again at KSHA, and just small steps, reaching out to other SLPs, reaching out across the state, reaching out to legislators, reaching out within my school building and just making it known what we do, what we can do and what changes we want to make.

Marisha: Yeah, that's so helpful, and I think it's overwhelming too like if we're thinking about, I don't think I'm serving my students to the best of my ability because of my large caseload. That's really overwhelming to think about how in the world am I going to break that down and make progress towards that goal? But, I really appreciate all of the ideas that you shared to help us start navigating that whether just if we're not confident, or ready to reach out to our principal about that issue, or to our district leaders. We could contact the state association, and see if they have anything to offer, or maybe the ASHA leader has articles about that, or yeah.
I feel like you shared so many ideas, and we definitely didn't cover all of the potential options, but I think it's a really helpful starting place, so that if we are struggling with an issue, we can be problem solvers, and kind of look at our different resources at the local, state and national level to figure out how we can start navigating that, and being the change that we want to see.

Kayla: Exactly. Just take it one step at a time. Don't think you have to change everything or that you have to change anything quickly. Just figure out your steps, and just take that first step, because taking that first step will probably empower you more than what you realize. Just stick your toe in the water, and see what you can get done, because you can make a change.

Marisha: That is amazing. Well, thank you so much for sharing all of these tips with us, and just your experience too. I think that's really inspiring, because like you said, because you're one of us. You weren't like born the secretary of KSHA. You kind of just took a brave leap and stepped into that role, and I think it's something that any of us can do if we want to. It's just a matter of taking that step, so with that, is there anything that we missed, or any last tips or suggestions that you wanted to share?

Kayla: No, I think that about covers it. I want you guys to know that if I can do it, and me being socially awkward, and an introvert, and everything else, if I can make these changes, and I can step out of my comfort zone to advocate for myself and my students, then I truly believe in every single one of you, and that you can do it too.

Marisha: Yeah, and I've seen SLPs make some really amazing changes. In one of my districts, the SLP was absolutely amazing, such a strong advocate for us in our team, and she was largely responsible for a significant salary increase, and changes in kind of our contract that made a huge impact and that'll continue to make a huge impact over, I don't know, she impacted so many SLPs because of all the future years that, that will stay in place, so it's really exciting about what can happen, the snowball effect of all of these little actions, because she started out small too.
She was just taking one little step at a time, and she just kind of continued climbing up that ladder to the point where she actually had significant impact on all of those types of things, so we've got this, we can totally do this. Just start with one small step kind of in that direction, and it's really cool to see where that can go.

Kayla: Absolutely.

Marisha: So, thank you so much for sharing your time, Kayla. I so appreciate you, and yeah, best of luck with all the other advocacy that you have planned.

Kayla: Thank you, and thanks for having me.

 

Tags:

marisha-mets-about-mobile

Hi there! I'm Marisha. I am a school-based SLP who is all about working smarter, not harder. I created the SLP Now Membership and love sharing tips and tricks to help you save time so you can focus on what matters most--your students AND yourself.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share
Pin