There I was again. Sitting on the floor of my therapy room. Crying (the real ugly kind). I was feeling really bad for myself at this point. Why was this so hard? “No one understands what I do. My caseload keeps growing. I don’t feel supported. I’m drowning in paperwork. My students aren’t getting the support they need.”
I was so unhappy, and I wasn’t sure if I was meant to be an SLP.
After months of wallowing around school, I realized that it wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I could keep complaining and feeling awful, or…I could do something.
That was the shift that I needed. Things started changing for me. And–even though everything wasn’t perfect–I started loving my job again.
If you’re feeling drained or defeated, you are not alone.
If you’re feeling drained or defeated and want things to change, keep reading. 🙂
Step 1: Find the value in all of the things we do.
Yes…even IEPs and Medicaid billing.
Here is some of the value I have found:
- IEPs help my students access the curriculum.
- Meetings give me a chance to connect and collaborate with parents and teachers. Especially parents. It’s not easy to have a child with special needs. Parents deserve our attention and support.
- Medicaid billing provides funding for our district.
- Mixed groups allow students to help each other. I’ve seen this help with carryover. I’ve seen students support each other in the classroom. It also fosters understanding for differences. All students have strengths and can use them to support their peers.
Your perception of “value” might not match my perception. Think about WHY we do these things and find your own value. I promise it’ll help make it a little less painful!
Step 2: Connect.
Reach out to SLPs in your district.
Collaborate with teachers at your school(s).
Connect with SLPs at conferences, in Facebook groups, or in the SLP Now community.
It makes the job a lot more enjoyable! If we make the time to establish those relationships, it’ll be easier to overcome challenges. Having a network of people to reach out to can make a world of a difference.
This doesn’t have to be time intensive. Make small efforts. Have lunch in the staff lounge once a week. Chat with an SLP before/after a meeting. Simply smile and say “hi” in the hallway!
Step 3: Take action!
Is there something that makes you really mad? Something you just can’t stand to see happening?
There are so many things that I used to stew about.
- Why isn’t this student getting the support he needs in the classroom?
- Why does my workload feel impossible?
- Why doesn’t the district support me?
I wasted countless hours stewing with colleagues about how bad things were.
And the result was… We were just angrier and more frustrated.
Instead of complaining, I started using that energy to implement change.
I started small…
- I looked for tools to make my job easier. (Check out some of my favorites here.)
- I asked my colleagues to share tips and tricks.
- I did research (e.g., caseload size, interventions).
- I read Mindset by Carol Dweck.
And I started building…
- I joined a committee.
- I became a Girls on the Run coach.
- I started teaching my students about growth mindset.
- I scheduled meetings with administrators to share research.
Instead of complaining, I was able to start influencing change.
You don’t have to set out to change the world, but–next time you want to sit down and stew about a problem–shift your thinking. Focus on the solution rather than the problem.
“I don’t have time for that.”
“The system is broken.”
“It’s just me.”
Yes, we can continue to complain and list all of the barriers.
But where will that get us?
As SLPs, we are problem solvers. We can find solutions to these issues.
If we don’t, the alternative is pretty grim.
Let’s shift our questions.
Instead of asking “Why are things so horrible?”, ask yourself “What can I do to change the situation?”