As a school SLP, one of my most valuable resources is each student’s classroom teacher. Since I only see my students directly for a limited number of minutes per week, I rely heavily on my teachers to let me know what is going on with each student and to help carry over the skills we are working on in therapy. Positive staff relationships are a must to help acheive these goals!
However, it’s easy to get caught up in my own (seemingly endless!) to do list, and forget that the teachers in my building that are just as busy and overwhelmed. It’s easy to forget that classroom teachers have their own to do lists – definitely different tasks than mine, but just as time consuming and exhausting! As my husband started a new job in my building teaching first grade this year, it’s made me appreciate even more what our classroom teachers handle every day.
So today, I’d like to share three easy ways to help make your teachers’ days a little brighter, as well as help you build positive staff relationships in your building. One of my favorite quotes is, “Be the change you wish to see.” Everyone wants to feel appreciated and noticed, and why not start the trend yourself?
1) This year, my school started a bulletin board in our lounge to help promote positivity, and I helped design it.
What happens is each person chooses a name from the box with all of our staff members in it, and he/she writes a short note to that person, telling them something that he/she appreciates about them or offering words of encouragement. After the note is written, it is pinned to the board with the person’s name. You can do this once a week or once a month, choosing a new staff member’s name each time.
You don’t have to have a bulletin board and have the whole staff do it, either! You can keep a small stash of notecards, and take a minute or two to write a note of thanks or encouragement for anyone when you have a chance. You could even go digital and just send a quick email if you are short on time.
2) In a similar vein, you can have your students write letters to their teachers.
Writing is always something good to work on in language therapy, and writing letters can cover so many different goal areas! You can target word order, adjectives, expanding sentence length/complexity, pronouns, verb tenses, staying on topic, specific speech sounds, following directions, answering WH questions, and more.
I try to have my students write specifics about what they like about their teacher or what they have done in class. Sometimes, I have my students do this if I can tell a particular teacher is having a rough week, and other times, it’s just a random surprise. It can be really insightful to find out what students notice about their teachers and classroom, and the teachers are always very appreciative.
3) Be available and helpful whenever possible.
This may sound silly, but I always offer to my teachers to supervise their class for a minute so they can run to the restroom if I am picking up a student from their classroom. It’s a great opportunity to observe communication skills and interact with my students in their classroom setting, and something simple on my part that can help a teacher out a lot!
Also, I always try to send a reminder email to each teacher the day before any IEP meeting. I know they can be hard to remember, especially when I am scheduling a month or two in advance, and is especially important when you are split between buildings.
What are some ways you help build positive staff relationships in your building?