March 13, 2020, will be etched in my memory as the time my family, school, state, and most of the nation’s education system was restructured. The way we taught and provided services were forever changed and I believe it will never be the same. On March 13th were told that we will be out of school for two weeks and teachers rushed to provide work packets and in the upper elementary grades, they planned to do work online. Therapists were not sure what our roles would be or how services would be provided. We all scurried around reading, messaging, watching every free webinar on the hot word of the season “teletherapy”. This therapist and every other therapist in my district, state, nation, school-based, private, EI, etc were all heading for the Teletherapy train.
I knew a little about teletherapy. I actually applied to provide teletherapy when we first moved to Louisiana. Nothing really came of it. I never did pursue it again. Now, there was no pursuing needed, this was a must. Seven weeks later and we are still out of school and won’t be back for the remainder of the school year. Sadly, there are rumors that we won’t be back in early August either. I really am praying that that is not the case. I love being home but I love having all 62 of my students in one place. So, to make the time enjoyable, I always try to find the positive in a situation and I have come to find that sheltering in place has many positive aspects.
Here are 5 Positives of Shelter in Place
- Slowing down: I do not have to wake up early or get any of my three kids ready for school. Mornings and Sunday evenings are relaxed slow and pleasant (unless someone just can’t get up).
- Family Time: Although my teen and preteen daughters enjoy being away from their parents, we have shared some good talks, laughs and family time together.
- Learning New Skills: I have learned and tried so many new things: twisted my own hair, tried new recipes (baked donuts), learning new tech skills, created interactive activities just to name a few. The best part is that these are skills that I will use for years to come.
- Reflection: Having quiet time to think about what’s important and being present in the moment. My husband and I walk together every afternoon and we just talk and give thanks.
- Simplifying: During these past 7 weeks, I’ve learned there is so much I don’t have to have or do and I like that. I would say we have saved money but it’s going to groceries and home projects.
5 Positives of Speech-Language Teletherapy
- Proximity: Everything is on my computer. I don’t have to clean toys, pick up game chips go and get students, drive to daycare centers. Everything is right here within reach.
- Parent Involvement: The parents of my Pk students and students with Autism are right there during the sessions and I get to coach them on how to facilitate language and model desired results. Being able to coach parents in the moment is something school-based therapist rarely get to do. This really is one of my favorite things about teletherapy.
- Proof: Teletherapy has provided proof that SLPs don’t play games. Parents, caretakers, and even my own family get to witness what I do every day. My kids and husband have never witnessed me in a therapy session, they knew what I did but now they know what I do.
- Change: Teletherapy provides a change in how I provide treatment and the type of treatment I provide. I now serve my students and their parents. I’ve consoled, coached, and cheered for some of my parents, during this time. It’s nice to have those connections.
- Learning Opportunites: I am learning so much so fast. ASHA is even allowing free courses until June! Seven weeks ago I had never logged on to Zoom or Google classroom and now I know them as well as I know the speech materials I’ve had for 20 years. I’ve sat through so many webinars on how to start teletherapy, materials to use, platforms to use, online dos and dont’s, how to serve PK, serve children with Autism and so much more.
This has all been unexpected, new, and weird. Two weeks of shelter in place has turned into over 9 weeks (and counting) of remote learning and teletherapy services. With all that is negative about this situation, sitting and reflecting on the positive reminds me that the sun is always there in place you just have to wait for the clouds to move out of the way.