Planning to co-teach?

In the previous post, we discussed getting out of the speech room and into the classroom. We touched on the various models of co-teaching (descriptions found in this printable) and encouraged school-based SLPs to give it a try!

In this post, we’d like to provide some suggestions on how to PLAN for this service delivery model. So keep reading for some tips and your free printable lesson plan template.

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But first, let’s talk about the benefit of this model for students with AND WITHOUT disabilities…

For students with disabilities, this model can effectively increase participation in class, achievement and test scores, social skills and self-esteem. It can increase teacher expectations and generalization of skills. And of course, it helps reduce the missing of class activities.

For students without disabilities, this model can provide exposure to varied instructional strategies and activities. It can also provide additional help to those at-risk with specific skills. It definitely helps increase tolerance of differences. And it absolutely DOES NOT impede their achievement.

So we know the models (or check out the free printable in our last post for a refresher), we know why it’s a good idea (for some, not all students), we’ve found a teaching partner to take it on with us…now how do we plan for it?

First, pick a time to plan together and decide what you will need to accomplish during this time.

Always have a back-up plan in case meeting face-to-face it is out of the question…because it will happen!

Some suggestions – a daily or weekly face-to-face check in and debriefing; a planning notebook; email; post-it notes; phone calls.

Any other thoughts or systems that have worked for you? Comment below!

During the planning session, SLP and teacher will want discuss the following:

Teacher’s role

  • discuss the curriculum content and objectives for the lesson including topics, concepts, activities, outcomes, and methods of instruction
  • discuss common problems in the content

SLP’s role

  • discuss accommodations/modifications, strategies needed for instruction, materials, and activities
  • discuss the specific IEP objectives to be targeted

Together you want to be sure to discuss the co-teaching approach you plan to use; keeping in mind that more than one may be used in any given lesson. Room arrangement is also very important including where your speech-language students will be for each part of the lesson.

Since student assessment is important to both the teacher and SLP, you will want to be sure to talk about how this will take place for the lesson along with the specific supports needed for any given students.

Based on the lesson you’ve planned, don’t forget to outline the tasks you each will need to accomplish before, during and after the lesson. This includes material preparation, who will teach what, and who will assess what.

We have included a free 2-page lesson plan template that can help guide your planning session.

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Download it here

 

 

 

What are your go-to resources for planning for your co-teaching lessons?

 

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Service delivery: Thinking outside the box (or therapy room)

Service delivery

Anyone else’s district seem hyper-focused on the least restrictive environment (LRE)? Sometimes it seems it is all we talk about for students receiving special education services. So much so that we move from too many students being served in a small group resource setting to too many being served (inappropriately) in a general education (or co-taught) setting. Come on, no one model is best for everyone. It is an Individualized Education Program/Plan, right?

So what about when it comes to speech-language services? Where are those students being served?

In our experience, we see that MOST are seen in the speech room – you know that closet with no windows. Pulled from reading…or science…or chorus…or art history to work on speech and/or language skills. Hopefully they know what skill(s) they are working on, why they come – hopefully they come! The skills may be embedded in a curricular context but how often is it based on the context of the class they just left? How often do they return to that class having missed out on the instruction entirely? Hmmm…hard to say. Depends on the student, on the goals, on the class, on the day, on the week, on the month…geez give us a break. We have large caseloads, are overloaded with paperwork, and have tons of additional duties and responsibilities!

One size does not fit all but maybe we should better look at each student individually. Where will their needs best be met? It may very well be that the speech room is THAT place! But what about those for whom it is not? What about the students who are better served in their classroom setting (be it a special education, general education, or co-taught environment)?

Being in the classroom is such a rewarding experience. Not only do you, as the SLP, get to see the fast-paced curriculum your students are learning (or struggling to keep up with) but you get to show off your knowledge. Let those teachers see how they can incorporate language, scaffolding, strategies all day long…to build those skills that your students lack even when you’re not there.

Maybe you pick one teacher or one grade level. Maybe you go in once a week or once a month. Maybe you plan a 10-minute mini lesson or maybe you support the instruction that is already occurring. Maybe you do station teaching or parallel teaching, or maybe you and the teacher plan an hour-long lesson to team teach together. After all, it’s not a one size fits all model – for the students or the teacher(s) or SLP(s).

Download your free printable here for descriptions of the various models of co-teaching: 

co-teach printable
!DOWNLOAD NOW!

Give it a try. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll LOVE it and want to do more. And maybe the students will get much more of what they need.

Co-teaching is only one way to switch up your service delivery. Come back and visit as we expand on the service delivery discussion in our next three posts. We’ll cover planning for co-teaching, determining service time and a different and fun model for adolescents.

Comment below and tell us how you think outside the box for service delivery…

The CF experience: Mentor and mentee growing together

Back to school time is rapidly approaching! Are you ready???

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So you’re starting your CF this school year.

Congratulations on completing (surviving?) a grueling graduate school adventure. We know you learned a lot, studied a lot, practiced A LOT. We’re here to tell you that you will fall back on that experience often as you start your career. But this CF experience will greatly shape you from this point on.

So make the most of it!

Not a CF or SLP-to-be? Keep reading for tips for CF mentors!

Your mentor is definitely observing you during direct treatment, possibly testing and hopefully supporting you in preparation of (and maybe at) your first staffings/meetings. Take advantage of this time with an experienced SLP. Make sure they provide you with feedback – preferably written – and use the constructive comments to keep growing.

Get your free feedback form here (and keep reading for additional freebies)!

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Implement your mentor’s suggestions, tweak them to meet your needs, share your thoughts on how it worked. Ask for advice on difficult cases or tasks.


To put it mildly, paperwork is abundant as a school-based SLP. Your mentor probably has some great tricks up her sleeve!

Have a group you can’t wrangle?

Ask her to observe and discuss some tips or strategies.

Have some goals you’re unsure how to target?

Talk it through.

This is what the CF experience is all about! To refine your skills under supervision, be supported as you implement all you’ve learned, and to begin the process of continued growth and learning as a SLP.

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Check out this free printable to help you keep track of all the experiences you and your mentor will share.

 

What are you hoping to gain from your CF experience?

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So you’re mentoring a CF this school year.

Whether it’s your first mentoring experience or you’ve done it many times before, it is an opportunity to grow your skills in various ways. You will learn about yourself – your strengths and weaknesses – and inspire a new SLP.

So make the most of it.

Not a CF mentor? Keep reading and save for when this great opportunity becomes available!

You’ll spend valuable time each month with your CF. You’ll observe therapy or testing, you’ll talk about strategies. You’ll provide constructive criticism and PRAISE. Remember how far these new SLPs have come. Think about how far you’ve come since you completed your CF experience. And take this opportunity to learn and grow even more.


Sometimes we get so caught up in our day-to-day (busy) lives as school-based SLPs that we get stuck in our ways. Step back and watch what that new SLP is doing – look at it as a type of continuing education for you. You may see this CF implement a strategy in a way you’ve never thought…or you may come up with these new ideas as you help her grow. Either way, it’s practically guaranteed that you will grow and discover new tricks. A new way to get a /r/, an innovative approach to curriculum-based instruction, an inventive material for comprehension…

Tackling a grouping issue you haven’t encountered before?

Talking through the challenges with your CF will enlighten you for when it inevitably happens to you.

Stuck in a rut of IEP goals?

Working with your CF to write and implement hers will no doubt give you new ideas for next time.

This is what mentoring is all about! Sharing what you know and admitting what you don’t. Working together to find the answers and growing together.

Check out our freebies for CF mentorship including a CF feedback form, checklist of experiences and log of activity/visitslog pic

What do you hope to gain as you mentor a CF?

 

 

Educational impact and school-based practice

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So there’s this three-pronged approach to determining special education eligibility in the school system…

  1. A student exhibits a disability
  2. The disability adversely affects educational performance
  3. Specially designed instruction (and/or related services) are required for the student to progress in the general education curriculum

So step one doesn’t seem to be too difficult. Standardized tests, criterion-referenced assessments and other formal and informal measures are available to SLPs for this purpose. Didn’t we all spend most of our graduate school class time studying the various communication processes and what constitutes them being ‘disordered’?

Step 2 – that’s another story we’ll come back to in a minute…

And step 3…well let’s just say that most SLPs want to help everyone. It’s kind of in our nature! But we cannot do it all. And we have to think about all of the expertise in a school building and what EACH are specially trained to do. If the student can’t get their needs met by other individuals on the team, perhaps they require your specialized instruction. But, let’s be honest, sometimes someone else can do it.


So back to step 2…what is adverse educational impact anyway?

Well, of course, it’s determined on an individual basis so there’s no formula for it. But it definitely includes academic and social-emotional performance.

The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) provided some clarification to ASHA in 2007 confirming that educational performance does not just refer to academics.

We’ve touched on the communication skills evident in the Common Core State Standards (see that post here). The skills addressed by an SLP are clearly required for so many of these skills – easy way to justify that educational impact? We’d say so.

And it’s fair to say that educational impact for language skills is WAY easier than articulation, voice or fluency skills…but not an impossible task at all. Sometimes getting the documentation from the teachers is the hardest part.

We know that even a single-sound articulation error MAY impact a person’s self-confidence and social-emotional well-being. It’s that word ‘MAY’ that we have to be extra careful using.

Unless you are one of those SLPs with a crystal ball,

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shouldn’t we consider if there is an impact AT THE TIME OF eligibility?

Is decreased intelligibility an educational impact? Sure…how do you determine progress in the curriculum if you can’t understand the individual?

Refusal to read aloud or participate in classroom discussion? Of course, if we can pinpoint that this is related to the communication disorder.

Does the student spell like they speak? Probably some good evidence that the student isn’t even discriminating.

What about teasing? It absolutely happens…but we’d venture to say that not every student is teased and those that do experience it are not always bothered by it. Shouldn’t part of the evaluation process include how the students themselves feel about their own speech?

There can be this mindset that the educational model neglects students with communication disorders unless they are failing academically. But there is so much more to success in school than just academics.

What does adverse educational impact mean to you?