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(#23)  The Get-Going Guide for the New School Year (Part 1 of 3)

Greetings SLP!

School’s here. I have no clue where summer went. It’s always the fastest time of the year.

Following is a helpful suggestion of something I’ve done in almost every school I’ve ever worked at. It’s simple, constructive, and I enjoy doing it.

You could easily slip this in during the work-days prior to school starting, i.e., the pre-planning days. You know, the 3 or 4 days everyone’s at school for meetings and school prep and there’s no kids? Kinda nice, actually.

What’s the suggestion? To Make Teacher Rounds (think doctors in a hospital).

At first glance, visiting the teachers just seems like a nice, friendly thing to do, and maybe, even a bit of a time-waster. But, there are real reasons and benefits to doing teacher rounds at the beginning of the school year. Hang in there with me as we explore and get specific.

Make a point to go into to each classroom and greet each teacher in the school. Yes, that includes all special ed teachers, etc. You may not even know some of the teachers, or, maybe you’re new to the school; it doesn’t matter.

Here’s the deal: As you stroll into each classroom, generate a personal commonality with the teacher and make a connection. Connect personally as much as you can within those few minutes; just how many minutes is up to you (typically 5 to 10). This deliberate encounter goes way beyond a personal greeting and a smiley glad-you’re-back.

Share your personality.

Be genuinely interested in her.

Find and merge your commonality(ies).

Examples:

  • If you both went somewhere over the summer, determine if your vacations were similar in some way; show appreciation for her experiences.

  • Maybe her daughter got married and you ‘ooh ‘n ahh’ over the beautiful pictures as you express how they remind you of your daughter’s wedding.

  • Maybe the teacher has used blue as her primary decorating color for her room and it’s your favorite color, too.

  • Maybe you saw her working late last evening. Let her know you admire her dedication and work ethic; after all, YOU were there, too.

  • Or, if nothing else, you can agree on the heat—you both think it’s great and hate to see fall arrive, or, you both detest the heat, etc. Weather is always a handy go-to topic.

Come up with at least one commonality, i.e. a personal connection—WHATEVER it is!

This impromptu visit sets the tone for the year between you and each teacher. If you have a lot of teachers and a poor memory (like me) you might even take notes (after you leave the room).

You see, somewhere, sometime during the school year, you’ll have an opportunity to BRING UP YOUR COMMONALITY WITH THAT TEACHER: “It’s still hot; we’re still good!” “Your blouse is the same color as your room—I love it!” “How’s Stacey doing with her new marriage?” “You’re not staying ‘til 7 again tonight, are you? You’re amazing.” Etc. etc.

Keep in mind: Personal connections pave the way for professional ones.

Let the teachers first see you as a caring and approachable person. You have the rest of the year to show them your speech-language pathologist side.

In addition, just before you leave her classroom, tactfully share with her that you will be working together; don’t ask, just assume you’ll be working together. In reality, she may rise to the collaboration occasion, or she may not. Begin the school year assuming she will. As you exit her classroom, you may say something to the effect…

“Wow, it’s been great getting to know you better! I think we’re going to have a really good year! I’m working on my caseload, and if I’m not mistaken I have a couple kids in your class—lucky kids! It’ll be fun working and coordinating strategies with you for the kids. We’ll be in touch!”

And you will. But for now, you move on to the next teacher. Thing is, you’ve got 30+ teachers to connect and collaborate with. They have one SLP, you.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting you build good-buddy friendships with all teachers in or outside of school. What I am saying is: Create an in-school environment so that each teacher feels that she is extra-special to you.

Keep this tucked away as an unspoken goal. This doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process; an accumulation of common encounters. This personal,brick-by-brick foundation leads you to a professional working relationship built on familiarity and trust. This relationship can be extremely beneficial—to your kids, to your teachers, and you.
Next week, The Get-Going Guide, Part 2 of 3: PAPERWORK.
Have a great week!
Char

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