Collaboration Corner: Why Finding Your Virtual Peeps Is Important

June 20

This month I wrote an article for Perspectives in School-based Issues (SIG 16), speaking to the benefits of professional learning communities (PLC). Professional learning communities are the ultimate form of collaboration (DuFour & Eaker, 2010). But consider expanding your boundaries a little further. Consider virtual PLCs; online communities through Twitter, Facebook, and online discussion threads. That’s right, social network sites and online forums can support your professional development, all from the comfort of your living room.

When I bring this up to my colleagues or friends, many groan… it’s one more thing, and how can you possible learn anything in 140 characters? Consider this:

  • One-third of public school speech pathologists travel between two or more schools (Edgar and Lugo-Rosa, 2007), thereby complicating the ability to meet face-to-face with colleagues
  • Professional development is meaningful when it is learner-centered, and by choice (Morewood, Akrum & Bean, 2010).

Virtual discussion forums can provide:

  • Opportunities to globally network with colleagues (Davis, 2012). More than just sharing hyperlinks and lesson plans, chatting with interdisciplinary teams and other educational staff, has broadened my perspective as a practitioner.
  • Online forums foster a chance to reflect (Davis, 2012). I have learned from the #slpchat colleagues, the #slpeeps, #spedchat folks, and the #edchat folks enormously. Many of these groups hold regular chats either every week or at least once a month.
  • Access information, or ask a question whenever you want (Dunlap & Lowenthal, 2009). Anyone with a smartphone can troll Twitter, or participate in an online discussion, any time of the day.
  • Access the only information that you need (Davis, 2012). Social network sites are completely dependent upon the user. This make finding information learner-centered, and not a boring, mandated, policy-driven affair.
  • A way to feel connected and supported (Hur & Brush, 2009). Sometimes getting out of your own workplace can help you regroup after a tough day.

So go ahead, dabble a little. Then advocate for yourself. Talk to your administrators. Write it into your professional development plan. Use the hyperlinks in this blog the and references listed below to support your case. Social network sites can be an affordable, meaningful tool for learning. For all the push to individualize learning for our students, doesn’t it make sense to do the same for those who teach them?

 Dr. Kerry Davis is a city-wide speech-language pathologist in the Boston area. Her areas of interest include working with children with multiple disabilities, inclusion in education and professional development. The views on this blog are my own and do not represent those of my employer. Dr. Davis can be followed on Twitter at @DrKDavisslp.

References:

DuFour, R., & Eaker, R. (2010). Revisiting professional learning communities at work: New insights for improving schools. Bloomington, IN: Solution.

Hur, J. W., & Brush, T. (2009). Teacher participation in online communities: Why do teachers want to participate in self-generated online communities of K-12 teachers? Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(3), 279-303. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/learn/publications/journals/jrte.aspx

 Morewood, A. L., Ankrum, J. W., & Bean, R. M. (2010). Teachers’ perceptions of the influence of professional development on their knowledge of content, pedagogy, and curriculum. College Reading Association Yearbook, (31), 201-219. Retrieved from http://www.aleronline.org/

 

 

Practice Portal: Making Its Way to You …

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If you’ve been a member of ASHA or NSSLHA for any length of time you probably know about the ASHA website and the resources offered for SLPs and audiologists. ASHA is currently focusing efforts on a new resource, known as the Practice Portal.  The Portal is designed to support your professional practice by offering guidance on professional and clinical topics, evidence maps, client/patient handouts, as well as templates and tools. As with any project, the work takes time. So far, development is complete on  five topics including aphasia, superior canal dehiscence, audiology assistants ,speech language pathology assistants, and caseload/workload.

Several more topics are on the horizon and more will be published later this month. Those include pediatric dysphagia, social communication and permanent childhood hearing loss. ASHA currently has dedicated staff members who work daily to move this project forward. We also gather input from our members from the relevant area of practice to assist with writing and reviewing the content at three separate stages of subject matter expert review. We are very grateful for the member volunteers who have graciously offered their time, skill and expertise to ensure the content is of the highest quality.

Each Portal page follows a similar framework depending upon the type of topic. The clinical topics begin with an overview, and include incidence and prevalence, signs and symptoms, causes, roles and responsibilities, assessment, treatment, resources and references.  Professional issue topics include an overview, information on key issues, resources and references. This framework makes each page easily navigable and user friendly.  Every portal page includes links to technical assistance, relevant Special Interest Group(s), products, events and related resources. All of ASHA’s clinical resources on the topic are included in one place.

The site is currently in “beta” or “trial” mode. During this time we invite you to review the site content and offer feedback. ASHA staff members will read and consider all feedback offered.

If you’re a school-based SLP, check out the SLPA and the Caseload/Workload Portal pages. The SLPA page features a newly developed Scope of Practice for SLPAs along with supplemental content that is designed to inform and enhance your daily practice as you supervise SLPAs.
The Caseload/Workload page features guidance on conducting a workload analysis, School Survey data and approaches used to manage workload. ASHA applauds the member experts who assisted with these pages.

When available, clinical topics also include evidence maps that are intended to provide you with tools and guidance for evidence-based decision making. These maps highlight the three components of evidence-based practice (EBP):

  • external scientific evidence,
  • clinical expertise/expert opinion
  • client/patient/caregiver perspectives

Learn more about the evidence maps

 

Join us as we develop new pages!  You can nominate yourself and others  as a subject matter expert (SME) to review pages and provide feedback.  Just send us a message indicating your clinical or professional area of interest.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Lisa Rai Mabry-Price is the associate director of school services for ASHA. She can be reached at lmabry-price@asha.org.