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In grad school we learned A LOT ! But, at least for me there was no class in ‘IEP‘ , no seminar for ‘what to do when the student crawls under the table and refuses to get out‘. These are things I learned during my student teaching and through my years working in the schools.
There are many of us who are anxiously awaiting the start of the new school year, especially those who will be in the field as professionals for the first time! Some may be coming back to the game after a break from working. Others maybe stepping foot into the schools as setting change. No matter what, the nerves are the same. Here are some tips that will hopefully put your minds as easy, at least for a bit.


You Don’t Have To Know It All

You don’t have to have all the answers your first day, but the answers are out there. You have an abundance of resources that weren’t around even 5 years ago: Pinterest, speech blogs, Instagram. Then there are more familiar ones like Facebook groups, online journals, ASHA, and of course your colleagues. These resources are there, use them!

Perfect Isn’t Practical

Not everything will be perfect the first time, or at all for that matter. You may have a great activity planned, and then your great activity is over in a flash because your kids finished it a lot faster than you thought and you still have 10 minutes left.  You saw an awesome behavior plan on Pinterest but struggle to make it a success with a particular student. Sometimes it is a lot of trying and tweaking until you find what works, that’s ok.

Flexibility is Key

Being flexible is key. I’m talking Gumby flexible here. Scheduling students, meetings, assemblies, sick days, class parties , etc. It will mess with your mojo some days. But take a deep breath, it will work out. It’s ok to push into a class instead of pulling out your group to get their minutes in. Think outside the box, comprise with others.  In the words of Tim Gunn:


Common Core Won’t Be Common 

Common core will be everywhere! Don’t freak out! Make sure you understand the grade level common core expectations and where your students fall with them. Be sure your present levels of performance clearly state your students ability in relation to the common core expectation and that the goals you created are supported. Ask colleagues and co workers for advice too.


Eat lunch in the lunch room with everyone else. Even if it is just part of your lunch, get in there. Get out of your room and go talk with the people you work with. This helps to get your mind off things for a few minutes, get to know the people you work with, and can help you appear more approachable to colleagues.

Work is Work and Home is Home

Try and leave work at work. When the day is done, don’t take it home unless you cannot see any other choice. You will feel burnt out pretty quickly if you do. I know I did. Now, work stops at work so when I come home it’s time for family, and of course, house stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I do go in early every day so that work can stay at work when the last bell rings. That is what I have found works for me. Find what works for you so you don’t feel the burn.


Remember: you have the education, the training, and the ability. You can do this job and do it well! You will be fine 🙂

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Meet Maureen

Hey there! I’m Maureen Wilson, a school-base SLP who is data driven and caffeine powered. My passion is supporting other pediatric SLPs by teaching them how to harness the power of literacy and data to help their students achieve their goals…without sacrificing time they don’t have.

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3 Responses

  1. My favorite tips for any new school SLP:
    1. “That’s a good question, I’ll do some research and get back to you.” (Use this phrase whenever you need to, and then find the answer and get back to the person.)
    2. Be confident. If you’re new, you also may be young, which isn’t always easy. Prepare for meetings and know what you’re going to say. Try to eliminate upspeak from your speech.
    3. Try to socialize with teachers out of school. I got “in” with a group by attending a jewelry party at a teacher’s house. Best money I spent that year!

  2. Wonderful suggestions for a 1st year SLP! I would just caution, though, that if the IEP states that the services will be in a special ed setting that push-in services would not fulfill the IEP.
    Another piece of good advice is to make friends with the custodian and definitely the school secretary!

    1. Good points Mary. Reading IEP documents carefully is very important. They are legal and binding and must be followed accordingly. I definitely agree with you, making friends with the custodians and school secretary is a must!

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