A Day in the Life of a High School Speech-Language Pathologist
Updated: Dec 4, 2022
Follow the daily schedule of Paul, a licensed speech-language pathologist working with the high school and young adult populations.
*DISCLAIMER: All identifiable information has been removed and pronouns changed in order to comply with HIPPA.*
Its not every day you might find yourself speaking to a speech-language pathologist, also known as speech therapists. Believe it or not, we can be found in many fields! From hospital NICUs, to skilled nursing facilities, private practices, and schools, SLPs (our shorthand) work with clients/patients/students on all their communicative, swallowing, or feeding needs.
Below is a brief day in my life of what my typical job looks like in a high school setting.
8:00 AM - Arrival
I get in after about a 30-40 minute commute from my home. (It's the hardest part of my day to be honest lol). My office is located in the library and it is always bustling with students cramming for tests, teachers trying to get first dibs on the copier, and of course our amazing support services team! It is a blessing to next to the school psychologist which allows for frequent collaboration! I have about 30 minutes to settle in, grab my decaf coffee, and prep for the day.
8:30 AM - Session #1
My first session is with my 9th grader group. This particular group is working on identifying the main idea and supporting details in dense academic material. More often than not, I am using less worksheets and more interactive opportunities which can hopefully lead to generalization of skills in therapy. Today, we are breaking down TV Shows like Bob's Burgers and Spongebob, finding the main idea of those particular scenes while also targeting conversational skills.
(Word of the Day: Generalization ;) )
9:30 AM -Adult Transition Consultations
In my school, I feel privileged to work with several Adult Transition Programs. These programs are typically for students aged 18-22, allowing them to participate in worksites, volunteering opportunities, and community-based instruction.
I want to check in with a new student who was struggling at a new worksite. This worksite requires a lot of "on your feet" work such as cleaning furniture, emptying trash, and wiping windows. I used the student's consultation time, as mandated by their Individualized Education Program (IEP), to directly with them in problem solving what to do in new worksites. We came the realization that self-advocacy was a skill the student wanted to review and be more aware of so they could effectively let their job coach know when they were tired or frustrated with certain works tasks.
10:30 AM - IEP Meeting
Okay y'all. IEP Time. I have a few minutes to get my game face, my laptop, and head to the meeting room. Today is a triennial IEP for a student, meaning our team did a full comprehensive assessment in several areas to determine eligibility. IEP meetings typically include the family, students (encouraged to attend!), the case carrier, a general education teacher, and administrator, and all applicable service providers (i.e., SLPs, OTs, PTs, BCBAs, AT Specialists, etc.)
I am always mindful of my body language and my presentation of information since I know these meetings can seem intimidating for families and students.
11:15 AM - A Little Break :)
Our IEP meeting got out early, meaning I get a little snack break and quiet time in my office. It's important to me that I spend a few minutes out of my day to detach from my work on "veg" for a second. Putting on some Lo-Fi music, I quietly snack on Costco popcorn (my favorite) while playing a quick match on Hearthstone Duels on my tablet.
11:30 AM - Session #2
Second session of the day and all I am thinking about is lunch! Switching to hot chocolate, I feel energized for my pragmatics (social language) group. The past month we have been reviewing perspective taking and self-advocacy. We are practicing generalization by playing my favorite board Machi Koro. I love games that promote perspective taking, problem solving, and interaction with peers. I highly recommend Machi Koro for a quick paced city building game with elements of money management and RNG (random number generator...otherwise known as luck lol)
Safe to say, everyone left session roaring with laughter and new memories :)
12:25 PM - Lunch
YES. I MADE IT TO LUNCH. My lunch is actually me still working. This is the opportunity I use to collaborate with teachers or meet with administrators about issues that come up. One of the biggest lessons I learned is the importance of embedding myself in the school culture and faculty. Going to pep rallies, athletics events, and participating in staff PDs helps me to connect with the campus culture.
It also makes is easier to work with teachers on when to pull out students from their classes.
1:15 PM - IEP Meeting
After lunch I attend another IEP meeting. Today is light; sometimes I could have 5-6 IEP meetings that take up my entire day! My afternoon IEP was an annual. Parents came in with great questions and exciting conversations about classes to take next semester and volunteering opportunities!
2:20 PM - Session #3
My final session of the day is to push into a classroom. Sometimes, when many of my students share a class, I can collaborate with the teacher to "push into" their classes. Sometimes I work in the background, other times I can pull a group of students into a smaller group, and sometimes I will facilitate an activity for the entire class. Today, we were all working on contextual clues to define unfamiliar vocabulary. It was a tough session, so we ended with a Pictionary io game that got pretty competitive! A great way for students to end the day.
3:00 PM - Leave for the Day
At the end of a long day, I finish up my billing and SOAP notes. I check the calendar to see if I have any major events for the next day. I see that I have a meeting with the assistant principal over SPED (special education) to discuss a PD they would like me to contribute to. I even get an email from the US History teacher asking to consult about a possible referral for a student in their class.
With my schedule set up and all paperwork finished, I pack up and head out for the day, excited about another successful day of being an SLP in the high schools!
Speech Pathology: A Dynamic Career
Every day for me is a new challenge and joy working in the schools. With all this mind, it is crazy to me that my day is just one of many dynamic schedules an SLP can have!
Are you an SLP? What are your typical days like?