The university I attended was a medical based university, so I feel like were streamlined to go into the medical side of Speech Pathology. Since my hospital rotation didn't pan out as lovely as I had in my mind, I had a very open mind about the school based part of Speech Pathology. I got placed in Moore Public Schools and once again I had two different supervisors. I was at an elementary school 3 days a week and a junior high 2 days a week with my other supervisor Amy.
I went to my elementary school the first day and I was really overwhelmed at the amount of work there was to do. In my head, there were evaluations and treatments. BOY was I WRONG! There is duty, faculty meetings, RTI, morning announcements, more meetings, attempting to eat lunch, and planning. Kelli had "this way" with her kids and I thought to myself then wow she is SOO good at her job! I need to learn a lot from her because she knows what she is doing. I would watch her with the most difficult of kids and think-geez she does this so easily. It wasn't until after the sessions, that she would say "that was a difficult session for me" or "he really did well didn't he". Then I at that point realized that she didn't think she knew it all either! Well if she had been a SLP for years and she didn't know it all, then how in the world should I have to know it all. It really was a sense of relief to see her mind boggled about a session or two because it made me realize from a really early on time in my career that we are never going to "know it all" or "have a perfect day". There are going to be messed up sessions! Great sessions! Sessions where kids just need to talk about their home life! Sessions where a child just needs to be hugged! It was a very necessary part in my adventure to being a SLP.
The next day I met Amy. Not only did we share the same first name, but we were so much alike in how we did things, it was unreal. I immediate fell in love with the secondary level! She had such a passion for it that it really initiated my passion for the secondary level! I felt I could talk to the students without having to "fake talk" all day. I then began to realize that even though the public school was one rotation--there were two whole different worlds within the public school--elementary and secondary! The students eventually warmed up to me and the funniest part of this rotation was the students in the ID program began to call me "new Ms. Amy" and they called my supervisor "old Ms. Amy". It still is a joke between us to this day!
Throughout my adventure at the elementary level, I learned it is NOT easy to be a school based SLP, but at the same time it wasn't as bad as I was told it was from my other friends that went through their school rotation. I think it had a lot to do with my 2 awesome supervisors. Anyways, I learned in elementary that I loved the older kids and the preschool kids weren't my favorite, but I enjoyed the sessions. (if you have been reading my blog for long you'd know there isn't much in life that I can't find joy in). There was one day that Kelli wanted me to start seeing a preschooler that she had been working with. I was prepared and everything, but with a preschooler I knew prep didn't mean success. So I over-prepped for each session, so if I needed to I could just pull things out of the air to go. Through some help from Kelli, I got much better at working with this little guy and eventually began to get creative on my own. I developed a visual schedule for him and a new rhyme. Da da da dada dog sound..... it was my dog sound rap! My preschooler LOVED it and was able to score a d initial because of it! I for the first time in my school experience saw that "aha moment" from a student and I was HOOKED!
At the secondary level, I didn't see as many of those aha moments regarding "traditional therapy" but I saw more aha moments re: life skills and social skills. Amy was so good at bringing in life skills to her therapy sessions and I really liked the idea of going from "prep for school success in elementary" to "prep for life success in secondary". Again let me reiterate--they were two entirely different worlds!!
Kelli and Amy are now two of my best life friends! They are actually my "back up family" in case I go into labor and my husband can't get there right away. Not only did I gain an appreciation for the school setting, an appreciation for the amount of work involved and love involved in the schools, but I gained two lifelong friends who continue to support me in every way possible. I now work alongside both of them and now I feel like I make a good contribution to our "team of friends". It makes me proud and it should make them proud that I am the SLP today in the schools because of both of them!
Take away message: just because your university is a school based program or medical based program, try to go into your settings with an open mind! You never know the direction your supervisors might lead you to and you never know what unknown passion they bring out in you! Your friends are going to have opinions about different rotations and of course listen to them, but try to not have their experiences influence yours.
Another take away message: Just because you don't like a rotation during grad school doesn't mean you won't come back around to it. I worked in skilled nursing for a year before I came to the schools (even though I happened to love my rotation). I had another friend who HATED, I meant HATED her school rotation. She went to work in the medical field for 2 years and ended up not liking,. She transitioned back into the schools and is now going to get her PhD in administration because she wants to be a principal. So you never know where your life will lead, so don't burn bridges just because you THINK you don't ever want to work in that setting....
Much love! I hope you enjoyed my story!