A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on Top 6 tips for a successful year as a CFY Supervisor. A colleague had asked if I had tips and forms for working with an SLPA. I have been very fortunate on my path to becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist. After leaving North Carolina (the first time) and my position as a Special Education Teacher, I returned to California and became a Speech-Language Pathologist Aide. After working as a SLPA for a year, I decided that I wanted to be a SLP and returned to Grad School to do so. While I was in Grad School I was fortunate to work with and learn from several wonderful SLP’s! Later, I worked with SLPAs as an SLP. This is what I learned from being on both ends of the continuum.
1. Open Lines of Communication – Keep the lines of communication open and honest. Share information for the best way to contact each other. You may need to call your SLPA to let them know the schedule changed at the last minute or that you will need to be at an emergency meeting. Your SLPA may need to contact you to let you know that they are sick and can not make it. I found the best way is to share phone numbers but I know others who have only shared emails. I’m not big on checking my email constantly so calls and texts have worked best for me as both the SLP and the SLPA.
2. Set Expectations – Expectations create results. When everyone knows what they are expected to complete in the day, week, month, etc.. it makes everything run more smoothly. Definitely be honest and include the need for flexibility on both your ends.
3. Set Routine – Although flexibility is important so is a set routine. I always felt better about starting my day or week by knowing that I would be seeing the same adults and students on a specific day of the week. Sure, I knew it might change at any moment but I also knew more times than not it would be the same. By having the set routine, I was able to establish rapport and build professional relationships with the individuals I provided services to as a SLPA.
4. Talk About Best Way to Give Feedback- Personally, I prefer immediate feedback but not everyone does. I would definitely have a talk with your SLPA to find out what works best for everyone involved. I found that one SLPA that I worked with preferred immediate feedback while another preferred written feedback.
5. Treat as a Colleague – You may be the acting supervisor but you are also working as a team to meet the needs of your students (patients, clients, etc..). I found that I worked best with my supervisors that treated me with respect like a colleague instead of just an employee. When you give respect then you get respect. Also, it makes a working relationship that much smoother.
6. Show Appreciation – This is a must. Sometimes things get so hectic that we run around like crazy and just think about what we need to get done and by when. I know I can’t be the only one that gets like that during IEP time, progress report time, and the mad rush when an influx of students all show up right after spring or winter break. It is definitely important to show your appreciation for all the support and assistance that your SLPA provides by being flexible, following the schedule you provided for them, and providing you with valuable data and information about the progress made. I was very fortunate that many of my supervising SLP’s were appreciative.
However, I also had one that never showed appreciation and it made me feel not as excited to go to work. I also found that I was most flexible and helpful to those that were respectful and showed appreciation. Appreciation goes a long way. Remember, without your SLPA, your caseload would be double.
Do you need forms to help keep you organized and to provide written feedback and don’t feel like recreating the wheel? I created this packet of forms for organization and communication needs and provide it free to my friends on my email list. I hope you found these tips helpful!