During my early years as an SLP, I remember the countless hours I put into making materials and taking continuing-education (CE) courses. Years later, I found myself more confident and ready to pull out a student lesson plan at any time thanks to experience. I still received the CEs I needed, but was I growing the way I wanted to as a professional?
When I reflect back on that time, the moments that helped me grow the most professionally were experiences I created for myself. When I saw all the SLPs struggling in a school setting—including myself—trying to balance caseloads, testing, planning and meetings, I knew something must change. Hours of discussions with the speech-language pathology team, research and outside support led me to advise our administrators to adopt the 3:1 Service Delivery Model. And it paid off!
As a result, I was nominated to take on the role of lead SLP by my colleagues. The 3:1 Service Delivery Model allowed us to meet monthly and troubleshoot cases as well as share treatment ideas. It also built in a monthly Individualized Education Program day as well as consultation time to best support our students. Our motto was: “We are all in this together,” and together we grew. It created a satisfying feeling for all of us. I still regard that time as a couple of the best years of my career.
Being able to supervise grad students during their school-based internships provided another opportunity for my growth as an SLP. I formed lasting professional relationships with these interns and found they taught me as much as I did them. One of them became a colleague in my district and through her recommendation, I taught a course in communication disorders at her alma mater a few year later.
Later, when I joined a new school district and was told to create professional goals, I hesitated, thinking, “I’ve never written a goal for myself—how do I do this?” Yet, I achieved many unwritten professional goals throughout my career. Ultimately, I wrote two official professional goals and one led me to present a poster session at ASHA’s 2015 Convention: “Providing Whole-Classroom-Based Lessons: School-Based SLPs Provide the Evidence.”
With the new year upon us, I hope this post encourages fellow SLPs to reflect on what you achieved and that it brings comfort to SLPs just beginning their careers. You’ll get to enjoy so many experiences along the way. A new year brings new opportunities to create and fulfill your goals. Here are some ideas:
- Provide an in-service for teachers or parents at your school or practice.
- Attend a certification training and build your skill set.
- Reach out to grad programs to supervise an intern.
- Apply to present at your state conference or ASHA’s convention.
- Make changes to your service-delivery model.
- Choose an area of practice and focus on gaining more expertise in that area.
- Start your own private practice.
I hope to see you at the 2016 ASHA Convention in Philadelphia and hear what professional resolutions you made this year!
Annick Tumolo, MS, CCC-SLP is a school-based SLP, lecturer at San Francisco State University, and founder of Naturally Speaking San Francisco, a private practice specializing in home-based speech and language treatment. Like her on Facebook, follow her on Pinterest or contact her at Annick@naturallyspeakingsf.com.