3Teachers and Speech Language Pathologists are both highly-trained professionals in their areas. I know that I, as an SLP would really struggle to many things that teacher does on a daily (heck, hourly) basis. As "special educators", school-based SLPs have a specialized skill set that helps us to work with students that have speech and language disorders. Through our years of schooling and experience, there are specific strategies we use on a daily basis that are essential in how we help our students learn. For most of us, these strategies are so ingrained - we find ourselves using them on our own children and yes, our husbands. Sorry, babe.
Here are 3 of my favorite simple strategies that can be used in all classrooms with all students, every day.
1. Re-Cast and Expand
When a child makes an error in either speech (says "wabbit" for rabbit) or language (says "him is going"), it's not always necessary to correct them in a traditional way. Especially in a regular education classroom when the lesson may not about grammar at a particular time, correcting each and every error will eat up all of your lesson time. Additionally, correcting a child in the traditional sense and asking them to then say it the "right" way is not always optimal in a group setting.
Instead, you can re-cast the sentence or word back to the student as a way to model the correct production, without calling them out. Additionally, you can provide models of expanded language.
"Him is going."
"You're right! He is going to the store. Nice job!"
You have provided the student with positive reinforcement for their language attempt, while still giving them a model with the corrected sentence and shown them how they can add some more information.
This applies not just to students who receive speech and language (or other) support, but for typical learners as well as they learn new concepts. There is always room for expansion and you can model it for them as you "accept" the answers they provide.
2. Wait Time
Wait time is such a valuable tool when we think about language. All of your students process information in different ways and at different speeds. After the language of others is processed by a student, they now have to formulate an answer.
Imagine a scenario where someone asks you a difficult math question. As you're trying to calculate the answer in your head, they call out your name again and repeat the question, but phrase it differently. You've now lost all the information you were working with, and have to start over. You're almost at an answer and now they say, "Ok Jenny, why don't you keep thinking about that. Jaden, can you help her out?" and Jaden gives the answer.
Wait time is hard. Silence is hard. We are conditioned to fill it, especially those extroverts among us. Resist. Wait. Give students time to process the information.
The other benefit to this is that by waiting for them to answer, you are not "letting them off the hook" by allowing them to avoid. In a growth mindset, we want to encourage attempts, even if they are wrong. By leaving "space" for a child to answer, you are showing them that what matters is their voice and their learning - not just getting to the right answer as soon as possible.
Use all the visuals.
There is a common misconception that visuals are a "crutch" - that students will rely on them too heavily or won't learn to do things independently. However, when used well, visuals can be such a valuable tool in both academic and behavior facets of your classroom. Visuals provide students with another form of input and take the stress off trying to retain auditory information throughout the day.
Visuals do not need to be high-tech or even overly graphic. Depending on the age of your students - simply writing the schedule on the board can serve as a helpful visual for students.
With a visual schedule, knowing what comes later in the day can relieve the stress of students and allow them to focus on what they should be learning now.
Visuals can also take the place of interruptions in the classroom. I have worked with teachers in the past who have had success with small visuals they hold up to help remind particular students to keep their hands to themselves or lower their voices. This can all be accomplished as the teacher continues what they are doing without disrupting the flow of a lesson for the other students.
Outside of behavior, visuals can be used as reminders of steps in a process in science or math, things to check before turning in an assignment, morning or end-of-day routines. Graphic organizers are a type of visual and they can be very helpful for students to conceptualize difficult concepts or even organize thoughts with familiar ones.
Most importantly, visuals come in many forms and as students develop independence, they can be simplified and/or faded out. Visuals don't inhibit independence. In fact, they can foster it.
Let me start with how Kiwi Speech got its name. I currently live in Pittsburgh, but it took living in a few different states and countries to get here. One of which (and the one that is truly "home"), was New Zealand. When I was first starting my business, I wanted a name that represented who I was, but was also catchy and kid-friendly. A person from New Zealand is colloquially referred to as a "kiwi", hence, Kiwi Speech was born.
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