We all have some memories of our first day at school as a student, but do we remember our first day and the first assignment as a SLP at a new school?
Where to start:
Nervous? Yes. Excited? Definitely more than fearful. Rusty? Maybe. First, be an early bird to get the favorable parking spot (no brainer here). What is the first thing to do when you step onto the campus? Many people would probably follow the straight zig-zag path to the main office. Try to become familiar with the school's layout prior to your first day, and do not be afraid to ask for help or directions!
The kind of training it takes to prepare SLPs after grad school should aid in boosting confidence, preventing nervous breakdowns, and help you to avoid feelings of helplessness. Training should include the “Who’s Who” with all terminologies (e.g. Principal, Office secretary, RSP teacher, SDC Teacher, Psychologist, Administrators and many more). It should also include the understanding of the complete IEP process (e.g. the IEP software, IEP forms, the verbiage, assessment reports, different protocols, various forms) and the list goes on. Writing goals and services may slightly vary from district to district. Also, let's not forget we have supervisors for CFYs and the district appointed lead SLP(s) for others as well, but what backs us up every moment is our in-depth knowledge of the complete process after our training. The worry of ‘Hot Cases’ (e.g. with an advocate/attorney), the difficult parents, the first IEP will be little less.
Expectations are High:
Once we are in this new territory, we are expected to perform in collaboration and in compliance from the very first hour. Within no time we may start getting the emails from team members for various meetings. Is our schedule ready? Keep your schedule handy to include IEP dates, upcoming meetings, and anything else you might need to be in attendance for.
You never know what your room set up might be initially. Sometimes you get lucky with a separate speech room equipped with its own printer, telephone, and a speech table. If not, reach out to your office secretary and place the work orders. Get all of the necessary access (e.g. school staff and SLP group email, student information software, IEP software, attendance, staff roster etc.). Try hands-on with IEP Software and check the amount of therapy material available or to be procured. Lastly, your arsenal bag on the first day may include a laptop, planners, binders, lunch, some snacks and hopefully some of the training materials you received.
Author: Sahil Sharma, M.S., CCC-SLP