My Monday’s motto is simple and to the point this week. When life hands us not so great circumstances, we have to find a way to turn it into something sweet and positive. Easier said than done, right!!?? There are parts of the SLP job that brings a sour, bitter taste to our mouths. Most of you are probably screaming one of these fun words at the computer right now….PAPERWORK, HIGH CASELOADS, and MY CLOSET FOR A SPEECH ROOM!!
With most things in life, I have found that with all wonderful blessings, there is always an obstacle ready for me right around the corner. Each year as I progress further as an SLP, I remember what my “lemon” was for the year and that turning point when I sucked up the sourness and decided to make something sweet out of the situation. I wish I could go to happy hour with you all and swap stories because I have some of those “is this really happening to me” type of stories that can only be shared around a table with good drinks and snacks to share.
This year I have a caseload of 59 (it started at 55), a room that doesn’t have a bathroom next to it, materials to use with the ability to order more if need be, a great boss, supportive staff and of course, fun, amazing SLP’s to collaborate alongside. My lemon this year, I hate to admit is working with middle school students. Before you judge hear me out. I love, love, love all of my Independent Living Skills students, my social-pragmatic students, my social-emotional students and my 7th grade girls that I get to teach language intervention. My lemon is the 1/3 of my caseload that DOESN’T want to see me at all, no matter how nice, if the IPAD is dangled in front of them or if they get to pick the activity. Even when I have brought in youtube videos there was still whining for the first 5 minutes of the session. There have been a lot of moans and groans from some of my groups. We are talking every single time I go to pick them up! I even resorted to the mom lecture: “Sorry, but this is part of life. We all have commitments that we need to fulfill that we don’t want to, so enough already!” It worked enough to get them to my room and then the disgruntled looks and sighs continued the rest of the session. It’s not that I don’t want to work with middle school students, in fact I have some of my fondest memories working with this age group, but it is quite defeating when I have to battle them all session for compliance.
Middle school kids are really awesome when you can get them talking and participating. So, after a couple of weeks of venting with my hubby, I decided it was time to bring in reinforcements. A.K.A hot cheetos, takis, sour patch candy, and Arizona ice tea. I originally got these goodies for my students with social-emotional disorders as an incentive for expected behavior. They have to have 4 sessions with more expected marks vs. unexpected marks to earn one of the above mentioned incentives. I of course, called parents and checked with teachers before implementing this system. It has been working awesome and my time with these students has been really “sweet” since starting this system.
Last week, when I had to go pick up my little cherubs because they wouldn’t come on down on their own, I couldn’t stand hearing the unpleasant comments, so in a moment of desperation I blurted out “will you work for hot cheetos?” Well, I tell you ladies and gents, the little ones perked up, the complaining ended and we actually completed some work. Whew…..thank goodness I found something that worked! The rest of the week went smoothly and the stress melted away. I continue to remind myself that when faced with unhappy situations, it’s always best to find a solution rather than wallow in the muck wishing someone would just make it all go away because in most cases, no one is coming to rescue you!
Do I wish I didn’t have to provide snacks to students that really should be intrinsically motivated to come see me? Yes, I do. But I also recognize that this is a temporary solution to get buy in and I can fade this system with time. So, I hope you are able to make something “sweet” this week and turn your trials into something positive to share. I would love to hear your “making lemonade” story. It always feels better knowing someone else has been there too. (349)