Beyond the Basics in the School Setting The ASHA Schools Conference was an exciting event in Kansas City in late July—even the weather cooperated—and as it does every year, this conference demonstrated the value of focused learning with professional colleagues through an ASHA event. Members on the front lines in dealing with speech, language, literacy, workload/caseload, response-to-intervention ... From the President
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From the President  |   September 01, 2009
Beyond the Basics in the School Setting
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School-Based Settings / From the President
From the President   |   September 01, 2009
Beyond the Basics in the School Setting
The ASHA Leader, September 2009, Vol. 14, 23. doi:10.1044/leader.FTP.14122009.23
The ASHA Leader, September 2009, Vol. 14, 23. doi:10.1044/leader.FTP.14122009.23
The ASHA Schools Conference was an exciting event in Kansas City in late July—even the weather cooperated—and as it does every year, this conference demonstrated the value of focused learning with professional colleagues through an ASHA event. Members on the front lines in dealing with speech, language, literacy, workload/caseload, response-to-intervention (RTI), classroom acoustics, and other cutting-edge issues found it easy to network and collaborate. The idea exchange went both ways—presenters gave highly informative sessions, and participants also brought valuable perspectives to share.
Regional meetings provided a lively collaborative scene. Members spoke about the need to communicate the value of school-based speech-language pathologists and audiologists. They had a wealth of ideas about how to accomplish this. Some clinicians commented that their principals did not value them to the extent they did other educators; an enthusiastic group of clinicians discussed ways to improve administrators’ perceptions of our services.
The clinicians who had achieved better relationships with administrators stressed the importance of being a part of the education team and participating fully in events important in the life of a school program. They suggested offering to conduct in-services for other teachers about RTI or reasons to refer children for speech, language, or hearing services to engage the larger school community in issues central to their scope of service.
Others encouraged going beyond the basics, which also was one of the conference themes. Vicki Graham, who works in the schools in Wilson County, Tenn., brought her principal into the screening process for children with communication challenges. She gave him a brief checklist to complete during an interview with a child referred for services; when she noted improvement, she asked the principal to meet with the child again and complete a new checklist. In that way, the principal saw first-hand the improvements the child was making. She also involved the principal in the “graduation” exercise for a child ending treatment—boosting the principal’s participation and the child’s self-esteem. Her message: “Don’t wait for administrators to come to you to learn about your program. Find ways to engage them.”
Participants are using technology to interact with parents. Clinicians with their own pages on a school’s Web site keep parents informed and offer parents a chance to post questions; parents also can launch Web dialogs with other parents to gain support. One clinician is using the wealth of information at www.asha.org to provide Web links about various disorders on her Web page to give parents immediate access to information about their child’s communication challenges.
Much dialogue centered on the possible rewards and risks of RTI. Most felt RTI was a risk worth taking—although initial implementation may increase workload, workload should decrease over the long term. The outcome of full implementation of RTI brought a mixed response. Although more children across the school landscape would benefit from this type of intervention and avoid placement in special classes, some clinicians were uneasy about administrators’ reactions to the smaller caseload numbers that might resultСand the corresponding effect on funding.
Members expressed concern over scope of practice issues—often called “encroachment”—from individuals with newly created or no credentials. They do not fear job security, but are concerned that students would not receive the services they need to overcome communication problems and achieve success in reading and written language. States sometimes address personnel or budget shortages with newly created designations, such as academic communication specialist or communication development specialists. Participants saw ASHA’s response to these certificates through state-national relationships as extremely important.
The mood of conference participants was clearly upbeat. Salaries, caseloads, and paperwork continue to be top concerns for school clinicians, but participants in Kansas City were eager to gain new information and implement best practices in their school settings. Members of the ASHA Board of Directors at the conference felt a sense of optimism and deep professional commitment from these high-energy participants--and left with a deeper understanding of the challenges facing school-based members and an abiding respect for members’ creative strategies and solutions.
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September 2009
Volume 14, Issue 12