You, in the Classroom In a recent ASHA online conference chat, Sherry Sancibrian shared how fellow SLPs can create innovative approaches to working with teachers on in-class services. The Leader listened in. Overheard
Free
Overheard  |   October 01, 2016
You, in the Classroom
Author Notes
  • Sherry Sancibrian, MS, CCC-SLP, is a distinguished professor and program director for speech-language pathology in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. She is board-certified in child language, and has worked in a variety of settings, including schools, early childhood intervention programs and hospitals, over the last 35 years. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 1, Language Learning and Education. sherry.sancibrian@ttuhsc.edu
    Sherry Sancibrian, MS, CCC-SLP, is a distinguished professor and program director for speech-language pathology in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. She is board-certified in child language, and has worked in a variety of settings, including schools, early childhood intervention programs and hospitals, over the last 35 years. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 1, Language Learning and Education. sherry.sancibrian@ttuhsc.edu×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / ASHA News & Member Stories / Overheard
Overheard   |   October 01, 2016
You, in the Classroom
The ASHA Leader, October 2016, Vol. 21, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.OV.21102016.np
The ASHA Leader, October 2016, Vol. 21, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.OV.21102016.np
Gail Korth: How do you prevent being used as a “classroom assistant” as opposed to someone who has valid input to the lesson?
Sherry Sancibrian: Barb Ehren addressed this years ago with her mantra: Maintain a therapeutic focus. It’s easy to feel like a classroom assistant, but if you start out making it clear in the beginning what gifts the SLP brings to the table, that will help. Most teachers don’t have our background—for example, understanding that many spelling errors occur with the child making a homorganic substitution (e.g., “m” for “b”). As soon as the teacher sees that I have different information, that helps us establish the relationship as equal contributors—not one as the “helper.” And remember: You need to help the teacher with a problem to be truly appreciated, so find out what is an issue for the teacher, and think about what you can do to help. And I make a point of telling the teacher early on that I don’t know curriculum—that’s the teacher’s area. Mine is speech/language and how that affects the classroom.

You need to help the teacher with a problem to be truly appreciated, so find out what is an issue for the teacher, and think about what you can do to help.

Geralyn Timler: Do you have advice for first-year SLPs (clinical fellows) on how to develop collaboration skills? What should some first steps be for new school professionals?
Sancibrian: It’s tough to be new! So, I tell my students to “find a friend.” If you can start out with just a couple of teachers who seem amenable to you going into their classroom, then word of mouth will help you get into other classrooms. I also share some of my favorite activities and strategies with a couple of teachers, and then other teachers want access to that information!
Be sure to cut yourself some slack! Collaboration is wonderful and I truly believe I do my best work with others, but it is definitely not easier. If you start with a couple of teachers (different grades), you’ll eventually see that you can use similar materials with other students and other classrooms. For example, I know that “Charlotte’s Web” or “Sarah, Plain and Tall” are routinely used in our elementary schools, so I develop materials based on those. And here’s a little secret: I deliberately take some of my materials with me to the teacher’s lounge to stir up curiosity about what I do! Of course, I offer to share/loan some of my materials for phonemic awareness, narrative, etc.

Collaboration is wonderful and I truly believe I do my best work with others, but it is definitely not easier. If you start with a couple of teachers, you’ll eventually see that you can use similar materials with other students and other classrooms.

Katie Justl: Service delivery that allows for flexibility based on the child’s needs (some pull-out, some in-class, etc.) is a wonderful approach that I would love to implement more. I am able to be flexible to some extent, but the IEP documentation requires me to be very specific. How do you recommend approaching the documentation of a more flexible service delivery?
Sancibrian: It can be a bit frustrating that the standard doesn’t seem to be the same everywhere, but I write IEPs that actually are rather specific. I include a certain number of minutes of direct pull-out services, plus a certain number of push-in, plus any indirect services. It seems as long as the plan is very clear about where the child will be served and how many minutes in each setting, it always satisfies monitors. What is left more open is exactly what happens in that setting—in the classroom, it could be something like centers, or it could be the SLP floating between target students, etc.
Mark Kanter: How you would recommend working on generalization of speech-language skills for special-needs students not only throughout their school day and at home, but also in the community?
Sancibrian: What a great question! I know that generalization is always a concern for us, so I’m glad you’re thinking about it. I’ve had some luck (when I get to work with families directly) by doing a “home survey” where I ask for important words in the child’s environment (e.g., favorite order at McDonald’s, names for grandparents, favorite weekend activity, name of their soccer team, etc.). Just doing the survey helps parents see ways they can address speech during their community routines. And some families are willing to plan an outing after we’ve practiced a particular routine (e.g., ordering a favorite meal, practicing a script for calling grandma).
Cynthia Bascara: It would seem “easier” to do push-in if kiddos with speech-language needs were grouped into the same class. Do the schools/SLPs who utilize classroom-based/push-in services do this (group/track their kids)?
Sancibrian: Once in a while, I’ve seen schools do that, but it’s pretty rare. With high-stakes testing, I think a lot of teachers would be concerned about having an unequal number of children who may struggle with literacy based on their speech-language problems. But I’ve also been in schools where the children from different homerooms are mixed for science or social studies, and sometimes I have found a “cluster” of target students who just happen to be in the same science class. I’ll go into any room where they’ll have me, so I sometimes find natural groups that are more efficient for me.
Patti Howard: I’m working at several school sites per week. What advice do you have to justify the time factor of setting up a collaboration schedule and targeting therapy within classroom goals?
Sancibrian: I don’t know any SLPs who have time to spare, so we have to make every minute count, right? The one place where you can save time is to learn your standards and the curriculum for a particular grade. Those don’t vary from building to building, so that’s why I have lessons based on very predictable literature I know a certain grade will read, science subjects I know they’ll cover, etc. I know that in Texas our fourth-graders will study the various groups of Native Americans that lived in Texas, so I have vocabulary, morphology and phonology materials developed around Apache, Karankawa, Kiowa, etc. I can then tweak it for the particular students I need to help that year. The time for collaboration is the hardest thing. Using technology has helped a lot because we can use Dropbox, Google Docs, etc., to share ideas when we can’t meet face-to-face. I think if you could work with other SLPs to develop a set of resources for each grade level, that would be fabulous! You only need a few topics per grade level to get you started.
Melonie Melton: In our program, we all want to collaborate (teachers and SLPs), but we struggle with having enough time together to plan adequately. Do you have any ideas for how we can make this happen?
Sancibrian: That is always the most challenging thing! I’ve found that if we can set aside a couple of hours at the beginning of the school year, it really pays off. I can look at the curriculum, and with experienced teachers, I can usually get an idea of what gives students the most difficulty. Remember that I want to help the teachers, so I’ll tackle at least a couple of the concepts/topics that seem particularly difficult. If we can take two hours to plan for a couple of months, and then just check in by email or really quick meetings, that seems to work. The first year is the hardest because after that, we can repeat many of the things we did previously. I’ve been lucky to work with building administrators who were supportive and also let us use some time on staff development days to meet. We were even able to get the pre-K teachers from three different schools together at one time, so that we could lay out a plan for the whole semester.
Thora Ulfsdottir: How did you address school administrators and school districts about using a new approach in providing therapy? What reasoning worked best in your case?
Sancibrian: The thing that has made the biggest impression is helping them understand two things: One, students will progress faster if more school staff understand what we’re working on and can help the student when the SLP isn’t present. And two, there’s a “preventive” effect to the SLP collaborating with the teachers. When teachers see some of the strategies we might use with targeted students, they often can use those with unidentified students. My feeling is that every year, I saved myself at least a handful of referrals just by sharing what I do! One of my moments of triumph was when a pre-K teacher asked if it would be OK if she used some of my materials when my students and I weren’t at the school because of final exams. When the teachers buy in and see how our ideas can help, that’s huge!

There’s a “preventive” effect to the SLP collaborating with the teachers. When teachers see some of the strategies we might use with targeted students, they often can use those with unidentified students.

Kelly Snell: How do you handle collaboration with a teacher who has poor classroom management skills?
Sancibrian: One of my earliest collaboration experiences was exactly that. Some of the “behavior problems” in the classroom also happened to be students with speech-language problems—imagine that! Although I usually assume the teacher has better classroom management skills than I do, in that case I ended up asking if I could teach the whole class for a couple of visits. I modeled Every Pupil Response techniques and added lots of visuals, and I hope I was able to show that children were more engaged when the language of the classroom was more accessible. Eventually we were able to try different strategies like centers, but that was after I introduced classroom rules with visuals as a reminder.
Alyssa Moos: I have found it to be difficult to work in the classroom at the middle and high school level and to feel like the session was helpful. Do you have recommendations at the middle/high school level? Do you typically try to go in during a specific class?
Sancibrian: I understand that, especially because students at that age do not want to draw attention to themselves. With older students, I’ve been able to go in and teach the whole class at times (e.g., a lesson on the brain or the ear in health class). But I often just pull therapy material from the curriculum, and ask the teacher how he/she can help me with generalization in the classroom. Sometimes, there will be a class that requires oral book reports or some kind of speech, and I can help the child practice that. Other times, I can plant a particular question with the teacher so the student has a chance to practice whatever we’re working on.
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
October 2016
Volume 21, Issue 10