Now Where did that Cheese go?

This may seem like a strange title to some of you. It makes sense when you know I am referring to a book by Spencer Johnson called “Who Moved my Cheese?”. It is a rather short story based on the processes people go through to cope with change. A friend recommended it years back when a work location of mine was making a lot of employment cuts. I found this book helped me to get the right perspective so I could move forward and make the needed changes. This seems to be happening a lot in the education setting. I recommend it to anyone going through a lot of changes. I see there is a children’s version now too.
I’m sure there are many more of you out there dealing with the same changes that I am. Employment cuts not only hurt the people who leave locations, but also those left behind to pick up the pieces. I think this especially holds true in the education setting where staff is required to do more with less and still be reassuring and good-humored with students who feel the impact of missed programs and staff. Some change is good as it allows us to develop in different directions and meet new people.
This brings me to why I’ve been somewhat absent from writing. When I ended the school year last Spring, my assignment was in one building with a rather large caseload/workload. Two classrooms for children receiving lifeskills training and the general education students made a significant caseload for one SLP in that building. I was told I would be staying in that building. On my return this Fall, I was surprised to find I no longer served the life skills program but was assigned to two elementary buildings with the use of a SLPA or speech assistant in one of the buildings. That has left me scrambling to adapt to a new building and personnel. Meanwhile the members of my special education team in the old building also changed. This means I do not have the same support personnel as in the past. I had developed friendships with them, so that hurt on an emotional level.
Working in two buildings brings its own challenges. This is not new to me but over the years things have changed to make it more difficult. New mandates have occurred that require special education team members to participate in meetings and collaborate with classroom teachers. It makes it more difficult when people are scattered across several schools operating on schedules that do not match. Also SLPs have taken on a major role of case management duties, particularly with children who have the eligibility of autism. This means many more meetings for behavior plans and consultation with staff. An SLP is not available for this same level of support when they are divided between two buildings. Yet teachers are asking for more support as the classroom sizes increase and children feel more overwhelmed. The scheduling is turning out to be a major hurdle.
On a brighter note, all SLP staff here have received I pads. I am having fun seeing how many different ways I can use it. It has to be one of the most versatile tools I have ever received to make therapy easier. It has an app called face time that I have already used to make contact with the SLPA at the other building. I envision having meetings with an I pad used as personnel reported in at a parent meeting. I may also use it as an observing tool as my SLPA conducts therapy.
So even though I have been an SLP for many years I am finding this year already filled with many challenges and a bit mind numbing. I am afraid that many of our new people are being overwhelmed as they begin their CFY year. Would anyone like to report in and say how they are managing?

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3 Comments

  1. Jane

    I agree with you. I have worked in the schools for the past 4 years and I am now leaving in order to start my CFY in a SNF. I am leaving for a few reasons…One, because I am interested in the medical field, and would like to get experience working with a different population so that I can be a more well rounded professional. I do enjoy working in the schools, but things are changing. It seems like we are now required to do more work and the pay is staying the same. When new grads (like myself) have $50,000 in loans, it almost forces us to leave the schools and work in the private sector to make ends meet financially.

  2. AM

    I’m a CFY in the schools and I’m definitely overwhelmed…I feel that my graduate program failed to adequately prepare me for anything, and most of the time I find myself feeling completely lost in the shuffle. I’m enjoying getting to know the children and staff that I’m working with, but I just feel lost most of the time. Some of these kids have problems that I have very limited experience in, or no experience at all, so it’s been a bit of a struggle to figure out what’s best to do for them. Overall my experience is just “all right,” but I definitely just find myself with my head spinning 99% of the time.

  3. cjmonty

    I’ wondered how you are doing since we have almost a month in. I don’t think grad school prepares anyone for all you need to know. We have all felt that. You will be surprised to find that students always look worse on paper and once you get to know them you will find ways to work with them. It is often just a matter of looking at it in a different framework. I think that is why it is important to communicate with other SLPs. Don’t be afraid to develop relationships with other people and try new things. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge from other teachers, psychologist etc. When I started this profession I never thought I would enjoy teaching adults or a whole class. I’ ve found I enjoy both.

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