Rockin’ the ASHA Health Care & Business Institute

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Where the heck is everyone? Oh. I get it.

So…here’s a tale to share, OK? Yours truly, this intrepid, Down Easterner editor-in-chief for the ASHA Leader news magazine, is attending his first ASHA Health Care & Business Institute. It’s Vegas (baby!), glistening with probabilities and paradox: palm-tree-lined streets press against yellow-brown desert; a chiming, smoke-filled casino perches an escalator-ride above a bustling, professional conference. And there’s me, all nimble-like, sprinting the gauntlet of one-armed bandits, dashing down the escalator, caught up in a dizzying quest to nab an interview or two. It’s the perfect time, ay-uh. Sessions are running now, but—if my experience at hundreds of other professional conferences holds true—there’ll also be a fair number of folks milling and networking outside the meeting rooms or chatting up the exhibitors.

Nope. The hallway stands silent. I duck into the exhibit hall.

Nada. There be tumbleweeds a’ blowin’. Heck, even a fair number of exhibitors are nowhere to be found.

My goodness—everyone’s in the meeting rooms. Yes, folks, the sessions at the ASHA Health Care & Business Institute are that darn good.

Packed with more sessions and CEU opportunities than ever (hey, check out the awesomely convenient and affordable PLUS Package recorded courses CE option), the 11th ASHA Health Care & Business Institute attracted a near-record-breaking crowd from April 11—13. It’s not difficult to understand why.

  • Tons and tons of practical advice. Interested in the most effective strategies for contracting with employees and third parties? How about the six principles of influence to best leverage yourself and your brand? The impact of using mainstream versus less mainstream speech on your career? Tips for reading the body language of your clients and colleagues? Want candid advice from an entrepreneur on how to build your own practice? The sessions on business management and strategies were packed!
  • Up-to-the-minute coverage and tips. Want to learn the best way that your program or practice can thrive under the Affordable Care Act? What about the latest, greatest apps for pediatric populations and adults? Need to know about Medicaid for children in 2014 or this year’s billing procedures and codes for SLPs? What about the newest requirements for securing health information? Attendees had at their fingertips the most recent goings on affecting communication sciences and disorders at these popular sessions!
  • The latest advances from the frontlines of treatment. Session after session, many featuring legendary CSD researchers and clinicians, showcased the latest approaches to assessment and treatment for clients affected by a wide range of communication disorders—aphasia, dementia, dysphagia, childhood apraxia of speech, and autism spectrum disorder, among others. Some of these sessions were so well attended that folks were sitting in the aisles and on the floor in the hallway outside—I gave up my chair many times…

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So, with such a gang buster conference going on, what was this editor-in-chief supposed to do? When in Rome….I immediately jettisoned the interview-heavy approach to coverage and swore a courageous but ultimately foolhardy vow to cover the sessions as completely as possible through the Leader’s social media channels.

Picture this: It’s early Friday morning, and I begin hopping like a killer rabbit (beloved Holy Grail reference required) from one session to another, tweeting and posting photos at #ashaigers on Instagram. Listen, snap and tweet; listen, snap and tweet. Whew! By lunch I was stretched rather thin, and then I had to do it all again that afternoon, the next day, and the morning of the third day. I didn’t waver. My grandmother was right—when a notion takes my noggin’, I get as set and fixed-purposed as an old New England stone wall.

And now it’s time for a slice of humble pie. In the end, I must admit that the Great Social Media Effort was nobly conceived but executed imperfectly, because 1.) there were so many wonderful sessions going on that I simply could not do justice to all of them; and 2.) in many cases, I found myself so drawn in by a presenter, subject, and/or an audience’s enthusiasm and engagement that it was very difficult to leave the room. Grrrr. I. Just. Couldn’t. Cover. It. All.

At long last, with the Luxor and its Strip kin fading behind, I had time on the flight back to reflect on an outstanding conference. The attendees LOVED it and learned much. Those I spoke with were uniformly excited about the sessions; many pronounced the meeting as the best yet. They’ll be back next year, I reckon. Come hell or high water, I’ll be there, too. Perhaps leading an army of Leader editors to help cover it ALL next time. Ay-uh.

Gary Dunham, PhD, is ASHA publications director and editor-in-chief of The ASHA Leader.

 

Why the Gender Imbalance in the Schools?

maleteacherSLP

There is no one answer to the shortage of men in the communications sciences and disorders professions in general, and in school settings in particular. The article on this topic by Kellie Rowden-Racette in the August ASHA Leader presents several hypotheses—and elicits input from a variety of men who practice in school settings—to get at the root of the shortages.

Let me share my own story of why I became a school-based SLP. At Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh in 1980 I took an aptitude test as part of the PSAT during my junior year. The test suggested that I had interests and strengths to become a priest, veterinarian or speech-language pathologist. I knew the pros and cons of the priesthood and veterinary medicine, so investigated speech-language pathology which I had never heard of before.

As I investigated that profession it seemed a perfect fit. Science and language were strengths for me. I loved helping people especially children and thought either a school or hospital environment working with kids would be ideal for me. I have to say I never once considered how much money I would make. My parents had always instilled in me the ideal of finding a career that I loved not just finding a job—and it seems this was also the experience of my friend Rob Dellinger and James Brinton, both mentioned in the Leader article. So with the help of Brother Clement Smith I further investigated the profession and where I might pursue a degree in communication sciences and disorders.

For a variety of reasons the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (where I now work) fit all my requirements and I thankfully was accepted there. In the 1980s I could begin taking classes in my major freshman year. As I searched for jobs at the time of my graduation, two pediatric hospitals and two school districts were my targets. I learned that the two hospitals did not accept clinical fellows and was offered both the school positions. I began work for the Rockingham County Schools in North Carolina. Initially I thought, “I will do my clinical fellowship year in the schools and then move to a pediatric hospital setting.” I loved my school job so much I remained there for 15 years rising to become the lead SLP as four districts, including mine, merged.

Enough of my personal story. Onto the more specific comment in the Leader article. I, like Tracy Ball, have many friends who have shared with me that while they may make a very good living, they just drone through their day at a job they in some cases dread. Some of my friends are in prominent positions on the national stage but still express envy at my job—one in which I feel I make a difference for kids and the greater good of our world on a daily bases. Every day I am thankful that I feel like this way about my career/ daily work.

In conversations with young men (and women) of college age, I am impressed by their interest in serving the greater good of humanity and the world at large. At least in our conversations they recognize the value of enjoying their work on a daily basis over the almighty dollar. I do realize that sometimes the reality of college loans and the pull of the American dream have some sway over their ideals.

As I mentioned in the article, my experience is that while this generation is interested in the related services, they typically have never heard of or had any experience with speech-language pathology. I believe all of us SLPs, both men and women, would do well to get the word out about our rewarding profession. We all need to cast a wide net to recruit men to the profession. Part of casting this wide net might mean to mention the other related service professions to help our occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychology and nursing brothers and sisters recruit men to all of those professions (but hopefully catch the cream of the crop for our own).

We all need to do a marketing blitz to recruit the next generation for our profession. We need to take time out from our jam-packed workload to get in high school classes, youth groups, Boy Scout troops and undergraduate classes to introduce our profession. Every young guy I talk to at the gym, in line for food at volunteer events, I seize the opportunity to mention what I do, talk it up and plant that seed. In a couple of cases, I know the seed has grown and my chat has paid off. We could all participate in a marketing campaign on a grass-roots basis.

Margaret Rogers, chief staff officer for science and research at ASHA, noted that cultural currents of gender roles are slowly changing, and I agree. We all need to be that change we hope for by both recruiting men and by contemplating “masculine friendly” conditions in schools. I also agree with Margaret in that we are “midstream” in this current change away from societal expectations toward assertion of individual preferences in choosing professions.

I can provide an example of my personal (inaccurate) gender expectations. When someone says to me the word nurse I still picture a woman in a white dress with a cap. I think that is a functional of my age/generation. When I take one more second to consider the word my vision opens to men in scrubs, as I have encountered many male nurses (who wear scrubs). In some ways the profession of speech-language pathology does not have to overcome that generational picture of an SLP because we do not have a historical “look.” Our marketing campaign can paint the “look” of an SLP however we want in promoting the profession to potential students. We have the opportunity to “sell” the profession at least initially as lacking a gender bias.

Tracy Ball noted that men have an intangible special something in working with boys. In many instances, behavior is easier for us to manage, boys are more attentive. Men in schools have a tremendous opportunity to influence the next generation, and that is a great privilege.

I will end with this thought. Membership in ASHA is like a cruise. I think many people see it as a luxury pleasure cruise involving deck chairs and endless buffets. I, however, see ASHA membership as more of a Windjammer cruise. While we are getting to enjoy the beautiful experiences of our profession, we all have to pitch in to contribute to and enhance the experience. Just as the crew of the Windjammer helps cook, clean and steer, all of us SLPs have to promote the profession, recruit for it and help change cultural currents. I hope all of you will join in helping to bring more men into our rewarding profession through recruiting efforts and affirmative marketing on a grass-roots level.

Perry Flynn, CCC-SLP, is an ASHA board member, associate professor at the University of North Carolina Greensboro and the consultant to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction in the area of speech-language pathology. He is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Groups 1, Language Learning and Education, and 16, School-Based Issues.

Kevin Maier, CCC-SLP, an SLP in the Wyomissing Area School District in Pennsylvania, will share his thoughts on this topic in next Tuesday’s post on ASHAsphere.

What Every Beginning SLP Wants to Know

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Your course work is over.  Your campus supervision went well but now you are out in the “real world.”  You know about normal development.  You have read up on various language and speech disorders but now what?

During my more than four decades of work, I have found that the answers to the questions I get asked are not in textbooks. They are in the trenches of experience. Clinicians do not want to know when children eliminate fronting or when irregular past tense develops; they can look up things like that.  They want to know about the nitty-gritty of conducting a session.

Today an extern was asking a child to say, “I want the bus,” and he would not respond.  I stopped her and asked her what it was she wanted him to do.  She looked perplexed because this sounded like an odd question when it was so obvious that she wanted him to repeat the sentence.   Noticing her look, I then asked her what she was trying to “accomplish.”   She said she wanted the child to request.  Well,  if the child could repeat her sentence, he obviously had the structure, “I want the train,” and if he was whining, reaching for the train and saying “train,” then he had mastered requesting. So what was it that she really wanted him to do? What was it that she thought he couldn’t do?

When questioned about the child’s skills, the extern said that the child could say, “I want….” in various contexts and that he could label “train,” so she wanted him to use the structure of “I want the train” to get the train. What she was trying to accomplish, without knowing it, was having the child use the skills he already had. She was not teaching him to request. She wanted him to “use his words.”

Carryover is an integral part of therapy, but you cannot force a child to speak or to “use his words.”  This is a battle you will not win.  You can continue to ask him to repeat, withholding the toy until he says what you asked him to say.  But what purpose does that serve other than frustrating everyone?

To aid compliance, we set up a scenario in which there were two different toys in close proximity—so close that the child’s pointing did not make clear which toy he wanted.  Taking the toy he wanted was acceptable, but the extern continued to ask, “What do you want?” even when the child just took the toy.  As he took the toy, the extern would say, “Oh, you want the train.”  The extern then requested a toy she wanted by saying, “I want the ….” and taking it from her pile of toys.  She continued to arrange toys in such a way that pointing did not help the child get what he wanted, and when he whined, she ignored it. She just requested the toy she wanted and took it.

The extern set up play situations where she was able to ask, “What do you need now?” The child began to say the name of the toy he wanted.  With continued modeling, he said a reasonable approximation of, “I want the train” by the end of the session.  Exuberant praise and the acquisition of the toy were very reinforcing, and the child used the “I want” approximation a few more times during the session.  It did not become a “talk or else” situation. It was a situation where speaking made it easier for the child to get what he wanted.  The intervention was given context and the end product was the child’s obtaining what he wanted by requesting it.

The main point here is to know what you are doing, what you are trying to accomplish, and what is that you are doing that is at cross purposes to what you actually want.  And to not make speaking a challenge for the child or a condition for playing, but to demonstrate that speaking facilitates communication.

I was a beginning SLP once, know the frustrations, and want to help. If you have other not-in-the-textbook questions you’d like answered,  pose them below in the comment spaces so that I might address them in future blog posts.

Irene Gilbert Torres, MS, CCC-SLP, chair of ASHA’s Multicultural Issues Board, is a clinician in New York City. She concentrates primarily on infant and preschool evaluations and supervision of graduate students. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Groups 11, Administration and Supervision; 14, Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations; 16, School-Based Issues; and 17, Global Issues in Communication Sciences and Related Disorders.

Welcome from the Leader Team

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Recently, ASHAsphere became part of The ASHA Leader, joining a celebrated constellation of content for and about ASHA members, including The ASHA Leader Live e-newsletter as well as the print and online editions of the Leader. We at the Leader are delighted with this news, the first phase of a dastardly-but-so-elegantly-orchestrated master plan to annex the entire WorldWideInterWebs.

As these bold, mildly inspiring words spasmodically spew from my hunt-and-peck typing, phalanxes of Leader editors are on the march, blood-red pens in full brandish mode. No domain with the faintest acronymic whiff of CSD is safe from us—and that includes you, Community School of Davidson, North Carolina.

All kidding aside, welcome.

During the inaugural year of the brand spanking new ASHA Leader, ASHAsphere plays a crucial role in supporting the Leader’s renewed commitment to serve both as a valued source of information for ASHA members as well as an engaging showcase of your lives, interests and goings-on. Indeed, this blog’s been a preferred gathering place for many of you, an excellent, lively sounding board for noteworthy and trending topics.

We at the Leader strongly encourage you all to keep doing what you’re doing—discuss in depth, debate vigorously, share your experience and perspectives, and keep the questions coming. We’ll be dropping by every now and then with news, highlights of particularly useful articles, and, just perhaps, some astonishingly wry commentary.

I’ll be quiet now so you all can get back to your blog.

Gary Dunham, PhD, is ASHA publications director and editor-in-chief of The ASHA Leader.

Tiffani Wallace’s 2012 Top CEU Courses, Books and Apps Related to Dysphagia

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(Photo credit)

2012 was full of a lot of new experiences for me.  I was approached at the beginning of the year to begin speaking on dysphagia for PESI.  My first speaking engagements were in North Carolina in December.  I absolutely loved it!  Granted, I still have some kinks to iron out in the professional speaking world, but all in all, I thought it went pretty well.  I can’t wait for my next speaking engagement in January down south again, then in Illinois in June. I continued work on my BRS-S and finally was accepted!  Not only accepted, I passed my test!  I can now officially put BRS-S after my name.  Such long-sought and hard-earned letters!

Soon after I earned my BRS-S, I was promoted to Rehab Director of our department.  I’m still learning the ropes and working on improving our department.  I love the new job duties though.

I went to ASHA and had the opportunity to visit old friends and meet new friends.  As always, I had such a fun time!  I again had the opportunity to present a poster session.  It had a great turnout.  I worked in the SmartyEars booth, which is so much fun.  It’s always great to meet people and show off SmartyEars apps.  I always feel a lot of pride when people want to see a demonstration of Dysphagia2Go.  I would love to say that I attend the ASHA convention for the CEU’s, but I attend for the socialization.  That is one week of the year I feel like I am in “SLP heaven”.

I decided to end this post with a list.  Everyone always wants to know my recommendations.  Here are my top CEU courses, books and apps related to dysphagia.

Top CEU courses:

The VitalStim course by CIAO seminars is invaluable.  It’s absolutely great information, with such a huge emphasis on anatomy and physiology.  It is definitely worth the price whether you use the device or not.

MBSImP course by Bonnie Martin-Harris, provided by Northern Speech Services is another outstanding course.  Again, this course is based on the anatomy and physiology of the swallow and using it in interpretation of Modified Barium Swallow Studies.

Of course, my Dysphagia course.  I like to think that it is full of invaluable information.  :)

Top Books on Dysphagia:

Dysphagia Following Stroke by Stephanie K. Daniels and Maggie Lee Huckabee is absolutely excellent.  I’m in the process of re-reading it.  It is a book I will keep.


Drugs and Dysphagia
.  Great reference.


The Source for Dysphagia
by Nancy Swigert is my bible.  I love that book.


Clinical Anatomy and Physiology of the Swallowing Mechanism
.  Absolutely must-read!!


My Top Apps for Dysphagia

Of course my top vote goes to Dysphagia2Go.  I use this app all the time when I do a clinical evaluation of swallowing.  It lets me input all my data and then allows me to print a report of my findings.  This app is available for $39.99 on iTunes.

Dysphagia by Northern Speech Services costs $9.99 and offers amazing pictures of swallowing and swallowing deficits to share with your patients.

Lab Tests is a $2.99 app that allows you to look up lab values, their meanings and why the tests are performed.  This app does not require wi-fi to run.

Micromedex is a free drug app that is amazing and gives you not only information about the drug, but possible side effects, warnings, etc.  You can look up virtually any drug.

Cranial nerves is a $2.99 app that gives you information on all 12 cranial apps.  Not only does it give you the in-app information, but also allows you to, with the push of a button, access further information on the app on Wikipedia and Google.

 

I hope everyone has an amazing 2013.  I so look forward to all the new and great things to come!

This post is based on a post that originally appeared on Dysphagia Ramblings.

Tiffani Wallace, CCC-SLP, has been an SLP specializing in Dysphagia for over 11 years.  Tiffani has been very active in the social media world, creating 2 Facebook groups, Dysphagia Therapy Group and Dysphagia Therapy Group-Professional Edition.  Tiffani is also the co-author of the app Dysphagia2Go, available on iTunes.  She is preparing to travel nationally and speak on the topic of Dysphagia.  Tiffani writes a blog called Dysphagia Ramblings and is the author of www.dysphagiaramblings.com.  She is a 5 time ACE awardee and recently obtained her BRS-S.

Getting in on the Conversation: Tips to Get Involved in Twitter

A man huddles in fear from a squawking flock of twitter birds.

Photo by petesimon

(This post originally appeared on Lexical Linguist)

In my first post about using social media for a professional learning network (PLN), I introduced various forms of online media (mostly social media) that can be used to help speech, language, and hearing professionals create their own professional/personal learning networks. I then introduced Twitter by explaining the terminology you’ll encounter and a bit about the way Twitter works. Mary Huston then guest blogged on her intro to Linked In and has more in store for you on that topic at a later date. Right now, however, I want to get back to Twitter, since it has been the richest source of professional learning and collaborating for me.

There are some things you can do in order to get into Twitter and start using it to its fullest potential. I have listed my top 10 tips to get the most out of your experience. Some of these tips speak to gaining followers, but I want to be clear that you should never get caught up in how many people follow you. Twitter should not be a competition for followers for several reasons, but the biggest is that WHO is in your network is much more valuable than HOW MANY are in your network. Having more people following you is helpful because it gives you access to more connections, information, and makes crowd sourcing (i.e. posing a question to your community in the attempt to get multiple responses) much easier. However, you get more bang for your buck connecting with people in your profession who will stimulate and challenge you. Besides, just because someone has many followers, doesn’t mean that those followers aren’t spam or random people who don’t contribute to the community.

Have a real picture (called an avatar)

This picture doesn’t have to be of you, per se, although it is very helpful. The picture should, however, convey some sense of you to your followers. Please, please, PLEASE never leave the Twitter default egg as your avatar. You come off looking like spam or worse (not that there’s much worse than spam). I also consider it poor Twitter etiquette because you require your followers to be more vigilant about whether or not you are spam when you contribute to discussions. If you want to get more followers, ditch the egg.

Say something in your profile and give us a real name

This is especially important if you are using Twitter professionally in any capacity. I would say that lack of information in the ‘profile’ section is the number one reason I won’t follow people. Mainly, it’s because I don’t know if you’re worth following if I don’t know what you do or who you are. A brief description (e.g. ‘grad student in audiology’ or ‘SLP working in schools’) helps people to know who you are and why they should bother following you. I also suggest you include at least a general location such as province/state and country. It’s also nice if you can include your real first name (last name is more optional) so that people have a ‘real’ name to attach to you beyond your twitter handle.

Create a short, user- friendly handle

When you create your Twitter name, or handle, you should consider that people will hopefully be using it a lot. The best possible handle is your real name (e.g. @LNLeigh) or your first or last name with your job title (e.g. @SLPTanya). Please avoid long names when possible because your name takes away characters when people include it in tweets. Also, avoid strange characters like underscore or symbols at all costs – it is less user-friendly to type. Your handle, picture, and profile can work together to give people a flavor for yourself on Twitter (called branding). Give this some thought when setting them up. If you already have a Twitter handle and would like to change it, this is easily done. As an aside: if you are a speech therapist/pathologist, please avoid the word ‘speech’ in your handle – this has been flooded in our ‘market’.

Start tweeting

If you want to get into the game and start connecting with people you MUST start tweeting. Even if you have no followers and feel you are ‘talking to yourself’ you should be tweeting. Tweet relevant material such as links you found interesting and professional ideas or experiences you may have had. Before I follow someone, I usually check their previous tweets to see if they are ‘worth following’. A ready-made community such as the SLPeeps does allow for some leeway but signing up on the SLPeeps and Audiologists Twitter List will not automatically get you plugged into the community. At the time of writing this blog post, the audiologists do not yet have a centralized hashtag (that I can find) such as #SLPeeps to help create a cohesive community so it may be more difficult to plug yourself into that network without relevant tweets.

Retweet (RT) people

The BEST way to get people to notice you and to begin participating in the community is to retweet someone else. I frequently become aware of a new person worth following because they RTed me. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll be followed, but it certainly helps show your willingness to join the community. As I’ve said in a previous post, retweeting is very important to Twitter and RTing someone demonstrates to them that you are genuinely interested in their ideas and information, so much so that you feel it’s worth sharing again via RT.

Jump in on conversations (politely)

Twitter is a public forum so treat it like a party or giant convention room and join in on conversations at leisure. It’s not considered ‘rude’ to jump into a conversation, so long as you’re on topic and contributing to the conversation. You may want to start your first tweet with “butting in” to acknowledge you’re joining the conversation if you rarely tweet with the other tweeters, more as an introduction that you’ve joined. It’s also OK to just throw a link or resource that’s on-topic into the conversation and walk away again, although it’s better if you converse a little or acknowledge any tweets in response to your contribution. It is rude to bud into a conversation thread to plug your company, blog or similar in a random way, especially if you aren’t contributing to the conversation.

Tweet more than blog or company promotional tweets

It’s just not helpful to the community and in a social network, while networking is important, so is the social aspect. This means there must be give and take or sharing involved. If you are using Twitter SOLELY as a professional outlet for your company and your handle, profile, and picture proclaim this as such, it’s potentially OK. This is because people know what to expect when they follow you. However, I still urge you to participate in related discussions and provide tweets that go beyond promoting your company. @CASLPA is a great example of a ‘company Twitter account’ who also engages the related community. CASLPA is a professional organization that uses social media to maximize potential to connect with their members (and even their non-members). It’s the ‘social’ or relationship part that makes them so great at what they are doing on twitter.

Use hashtags to get noticed by people who aren’t following you

If someone is following a specific hashtag (e.g. #SLPeeps, #hearing, #slpchat, #audiology) they will see all tweets that include that hashtag (unless the person tweeting has protected their tweets). The #SLPeeps hashtag is probably the primary reason that SLPs on Twitter have been able to come together, grow, and create a very cohesive community. I often find people worth following because they tweeted with the #SLPeeps tag. Also, using tags appropriate to your conversation makes it easier to crowd source for information before you’ve amassed very many followers. You can add #SLPeeps to your tweet, for instance, and anyone following the #SLPeeps tweets will see your tweet as well, even if they aren’t following you.

Be unprotected (at least at the start)

Again, I can’t emphasize how important it is to keep your tweets public in order to develop your PLN. Many people won’t bother trying to follow you if your tweets are protected because they cannot see examples of what you’re tweeting. Also, it’s a hassle to request to follow and then ‘wait and see’ to add you to a list they may have created to make following certain types of groups easier (more on lists another time). Protecting your tweets may have its place, but when growing a PLN it is a hindrance rather than a help.

Engage with your network

People who contribute meaningfully to the community get followed. It’s as simple as that. This means put out tweets, join in on conversations, pose questions to your community and respond to tweets that mention you or are directed at you. Even when you have many people following you it’s best to make every effort to respond to people if they direct information or a question at you specifically. You need to be contributing to your PLN in order to grow it and gain value from it.

Don’t just take my word for it. Here are some other sources if you want to see more:

Follow Fail: Top 10 reasons I won’t follow you in return on Twitter

20 Twitter Tips for New and Experienced Tweeters

Tanya Coyle, M.Sc., S-LP(C), is a speech-language pathologist employed in schools in Southern Ontario, Canada, and also teaches part time at a local college. Tanya is a life-long learner who actively networks with other SLPs via social networking, is co-founder and co-moderator of the #SLPChat discussion groups on Twitter, and is co-founder of the SLPeeps Resource Share and SLP Goal Bank in Google Docs (if you’d like to be granted access to these documents you can contact Tanya on Twitter @SLPTanya. Tanya is also the author of the Lexical Linguist blog.

Counting Down and Gearing Up

Fanabe beach sunset
Photo by ahisgett.

Though its only mid-August, I can’t help but sense the summer slowly but surely winding down.  In a little less than two weeks I’ll be doing what I do for a living…educating the speech-language pathologists of tomorrow at Clarion University.  I’ve had a good run this summer…plenty of baseball, music, iPod Apps, traveling, and socializing.  But the countdown has begun and it’s time to gear up for the 2010-2011 academic year.

In pitching this blog for inclusion in ASHAsphere I offered to provide an “inside” look into the life of a university professor for both current students, previous students, and future students.  To take the reader behind the curtain, if you will, and offer insight into the commitment those in my facet of the profession have made to teaching, scholarly activity, and community service.  As the new academic year approaches, it seems that now is as good a time as any to begin pulling the curtain back.

I’ve encountered people who think my job simply involves showing up for class at the start of fall and telling stories to a captive audience until school’s out in the spring.  If only that were true…ha!!  The senior citizen who walks on the treadmill next to me certainly gives me grief about this all the time.  While I do enjoy telling stories and sharing jokes with my students, what my buddy in moving vigorously but getting nowhere misses is that performing successfully in the classroom takes a year-round commitment.  True, the summer is a time for relaxing…but it’s also a time for recharging and recommitting.

A way I recharge and recommit is by attacking the professional literature with a vengeance.  I belong to five Special Interest Divisions so there is always something on my plate.  This summer I had the pleasure of reading a number of excellent articles (and simultaneously earning CEUs), including:  “A Historical Perspective of Voice Management: 1940-1970” by Daniel R. Boone (SID 3); “Designing Our Courses for Greater Student Engagement and Better Student Learning” by L. Dee Fink (SID 10); and “Current Issues: Incorporating Counseling Into Graduate Education” by Diane C. Millar, Kori L. Harrow, and Ashley A. Morgan (SID 11).  Not only did these articles serve to increase my knowledge-base about subjects I teach, especially in the areas of voice disorders and counseling, but I’ve also become better informed regarding how to teach them…instructional best practices if you will.

So though I’m fortunate enough that my summer is mainly mine to do as I please, it’s not a complete blow-off.  While I’ve spent countless hours punishing myself in the gym to tunes blasting from my iPod (it would be so much better if I practiced what I preached), I’ve also been preparing to become a better teacher in the fall….something I owe to myself, my students, and the profession.  Now it’s time to get back to whipping my syllabi into shape and posting student information online…August 31st will be here before I know it.

How did you recharge this summer?

Kenneth Staub, M.S., CCC-SLP, is an Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. He will be a regular contributor to ASHAsphere and welcomes questions or suggestions for posts.