SLP Toolkit Podcast, Episode 43, Transcript
Well, hey Lisa!
How are you on this fine afternoon?
You know what? I have zero complaints, not even one.
Well, I have to tell you as close as I am sitting to you right now, I'm just so glad you–you're looking better. You're not hacking up your lungs right now. You didn't have the COVID or I wouldn't be this close to you. But you have had a cold for a week.
I have, it's been one of those nasty ones that turned into bronchitis and everything, so.
I know! And so I almost wanted to, like, reschedule this episode because is there anything worse than like \[makes cough sound effect\] all over the microphone.
Or me! So I'm glad you're feeling better. Thank goodness to modern medicine.
Yes. And I'm on–currently on the steroids. So if I get really aggressive at you or at out lovely guest in the confessional today, I'm going to blame it on the roids.
Okay. All right. Fair enough.
Okay. Who is our lovely guests?
I'm so excited! It's one of our SLP besties, Shontay Glover, in the confessional. How's it going, Shontay?
It's really good – hi, ladies! Thanks for having me.
Well, it's always a pleasure.
And long overdue! How the heck have we never had you in the confessional for this podcast?
We had her for real, for a whole weekend, which was awesome – IRL.
I have to say, this is not the first time you invited me into the confessional. This is just the first time I accepted.
Wow. She's playing hard to get, I like it.
Well, well, well, no – you know how we always talk about imposter syndrome and feeling like, um, what do I have to give? And I think the first time you asked, I was like, what am I going to talk about? What can I say that's different or would add value? But then I realized like, you know what? My perspective is valuable. So, hey, here I am.
And then you were like “screw the podcast – I'm gonna present for 20,000 people at SLP Summit!” Because it did–didn't it start with a podcast request and then no, not to that–I don't want to be an imposter there, I'm going to do a course for thousands of SLPs.
I'm going to go big.
Right? I like it.
Yeah! So I'm glad–I'm glad that you decided to really put yourself out there and just jump head first.
I’ll figure it out later!
That's right. That's right. I cannot believe that that was–that's the–man, that's summit, it is like a beast because it is! When are you ever in front of that many people \[watching you at once\]? The good thing is you can't see them all staring at you while you're presenting. Um, it's a huge audience and you’re live. Like at least with this podcast, if I say something crazy, I could technically edit it out.
But we still usually don't–it's gotta be really, really bad.
Yeah. That's pretty intimidating to know that you're live. And I'm lucky and grateful that I didn't know how many people were there because that would've made me even more nervous.
You killed it though. You're all–you're such a good presenter. And the information that you shared then, and even what you share in your platform now, it's just so good. It's like–it's so timely and so relevant in this field, you know? We've talked and this field has a major stick up its ass in many different ways. Yes.
Yeah, yeah. Let's get into that a little bit–about all of it, you know, the need for change and how we got to where we are and working together with the–the “Representation Matters” talk for the Summit. I was nervous because I knew that so many people might feel like I was stepping on their toes and they may not be ready to hear that and I felt like I took it easy. I didn't really want to go all the way in, because I really wanted people to listen and hear the message and not shoot the messenger and not get distracted by other thoughts, um, and it went pretty well. I don't recall getting too much negative feedback. And then from there we were able to move forward to the equity series, which I'm super proud of as well.
Yeah. Yeah. It's interesting because I didn't know that–I think we were talking probably around the time we were planning the equity series in, and maybe it was even when you were in town and we were just kind of hanging out and chatting. And that's what, the first time you kind of told us that you, um, softened–softened the kind of overall tone of that presentation. And I was shocked because I didn't even, I've never had to think about that–that I would have to like, you know. I do think about when I swear, or maybe sometimes I'm too sarcastic and people don't understand that sarcasm? I think about those things when I'm talking to people, but the fact that like here, you've got this information you want to share, and you have to consider that you're going to get people defensive and then they shut down and they stop listening and you don't want to get them turned off or have any hard feelings or hurt their sensitivity or their ego. I was shocked.
Well, you have to think of where the country was at that time too. You figure Summit was in July of 2020? So we had so many national events, between pandemics and Black Lives Matter and the election stuff going on, that you could just see the ripples in our society of just polarization in some cases and, in other cases, people like holy shit, I feel like I've been asleep this whole time and I'm finally waking up and seeing what's around. So it was actually that, the timeliness of that talk, I think was, you know, it wasn't–it–you were asked to present prior to any of that, but it just ended up like just the perfect timing.
That was the uncanny thing about it. We had talked about doing that talk probably in January, before there was even a pandemic, and then everything just fell apart. But at the same time, we felt together. So it was perfect timing, and more people were open and wanting to hear it. What was, um, pretty touching to me in addition to the people who felt like their eyes were opened, was hearing from other SLPs of color who finally felt like someone was saying out loud what they were feeling, and giving them permission to tell their stories and share stories about people who look like them and whose experiences were similar to theirs because they had feared getting pushback from parents or administrators. But they finally felt like maybe it's okay. Maybe it's okay for me to be my authentic, true self and share my life with my students through different types of books that will not only mirror their experiences, but mirror my own too. And I felt–I felt hopeful. I felt happy to be able to give that to them, but it also made me feel sad that there were so many people who were hiding, um, because they felt like the field wasn't ready for it. And the people that they worked with weren't ready for it.
Yeah! I guess that's why I was so surprised. I was literally like all ears, tell me more, tell me all the things I want to learn them all, you know? Um, I think–and we've talked about this a lot–that timing of the pandemic and then the subsequent events that happened in May, um, and then the protests and–thank God for that pandemic because for the first time in my life, was I in a place to be on pause and not distracted by my normal day to day life that it was–that was the first time in my life I really, you know, paid attention. And then I was like, oh, where the hell have I been for 40 years of my life? I've got to make this all up now, you know, in a week and learn all the things possible. It's impossible, but I'm like, just anything I can get my hands on. And so then your presentation was like, oh my gosh. Again, like the timing was so insanely perfect that I just assumed everyone was just going to be like, yep. Tell me more. And so then when we did–we–we'll talk about the equity series and how that came to bem I assumed the same thing. That people are going to be like, yep, let's go, let's go all in on this topic. So let's first talk about the equity series and kind of how that came to be.
Um, so I think after, after the Summit talk and after talking more and more about, um, the need for representation, um, not just in our field, but in general, to give children those opportunities, I had started doing my Instagram Live, where I realized there were a lot of folks who had really good products and ideas and resources, but just didn't have a way to get the information out there. Um, so in doing those weekly chats, it was an opportunity to meet with a lot of people, professionals, parents, other SLPs. And then, um, the idea for having an actual conference came to be kind of birth from that idea, and bringing all this information to our field and to SLPs who, um, needed not only to have continuing education, but to learn more about this important area, because it's not just about, you know, um, the clinical aspects of the jobs that we do. We have to think about our clients too. And, um, I think I probably was a little bit more concerned about pushback than you guys may have been when we decided to do–because again, I worry. You know, 92% of our field doesn't look like me. So are they interested in this? Or are they going to say enough is enough and–
92% of our field is ugly! They don't look like me, I'm Shontay, I’m a gorgeous supermodel.
I’m sorry you don’t have cheekbones like me!
I got these from my mama! I'm sorry.
But, you know, in all seriousness, we did see, um, as Sarah was saying, we did see every one pause and you were forced to watch what was happening and maybe it was easier for you to ignore it because it wasn't relevant to your life or your experiences before but now we had nothing to do and it was right there, full view, for everyone to see what happened. But then when time passed, people were like, okay, it's over, and we're moving on. And the people who didn't want to hear about it anymore–how's this going to go over if we present it as an entire conference? But you guys were confident that it would be a success and I'm glad that we did it. I'm really happy that we have.
You know, I think I didn't worry about the pushback, um, obviously in the same way you did. I did worry about Lisa and I having anything to do with being the face of it. The last thing I wanted was for it to be like, you know, SLP Toolkit presents! Look at us! Look at us! And this amazing–I want nothing to do with like that part, but I wanted–we've got a huge platform.
And we wanted to be able to share it! And so that's when–the technology, we have, the platform, we have the audience as far as, you know, between us and our speakers and everything, and that's awesome. But the ability to share it in a seamless way is I even look at some of the online ASHA conferences? They don't go as smooth as, you know–the technology can be a barrier. So to be able to get it out where anybody who wanted to watch it? We did! We had purchase orders from Australia to watch the conference.
And so with that comes a sense of responsibility. And so it was kind of one of those things where we thought there's so many people who could do this and should be the ones doing this, and it shouldn't be us. And, um, so that's where we–we were more concerned on that–that end of it. And so when I think we were just having a conversation about what, uh, working together on something and some project, and I just thought, oh, this is so perfect because that's where the ally part comes in, right? Like, yeah, we're not the face of it. This is not our lived experience. Um, but we have a responsibility to grow, not only as professionals, but human beings and not just be performative. Not just throw up a post that says, look at us and what we stand for, you know? And so there, in that regard, I had zero doubt. I also kind of thought everyone was \[awakening\]. But like, I, I felt like everybody was kind of in their same place. And so not everybody–
I was going to say, I think that going back to how I said before too–I think we did become very polarized during those discussions. But I think I thought of it more of, if this is an, uh, something you do want to grow your mindset in and your skillset in, clinically and personally and professionally, I want those opportunities out there. And if it's not for you, then don't. Don't take \[the course\]. I think what I wasn't really maybe expecting was some of the–we got a couple of emails just when we sent out the, hey we're holding this series of courses, the equity series! And talking about what it was, the description is “That participants will walk away with practical strategies and techniques to help provide culturally responsive intervention to their clients. The change that we desire in our field begins with its membership, the SLP. Welcome to the equity series, brought to you by Having Our Say and SLP Toolkit.”
When you just read that it's beautiful, who does want to be part of that?
There's nothing wrong with it, in my opinion. But I do recall getting some feedback as well, that wasn't so positive, just based upon the description. And the courses were not polarizing–I don't think that they should have been triggering, but.
There are eight courses. And they're actually–if anybody, like you were able to join us, great, but these are still courses that are available on bethebrightest.com and we'll link to it in the show notes. But, um, there are eight courses they're all on demand through December: How to Integrate Diverse Books in Therapy, Integrating Diverse and Inclusive Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Cultural Competence and Humility Equals Cultural Compe-umility, which did I say that, right? I think we did. Microaggressions Begin With the End in Mind, Neurodiversity Affirming Therapeutic Practice for the Autistic Population, African-American English: How to Determine Difference Versus Disorder, Dynamic Assessments for Students Who Are Culturally and Linguistically Diverse, and Considerations for Assessment and Intervention of English Language Learners.
And when you think about what we do, especially as school-based SLPs, but anywhere you're trying to meet your students where they are and you're giving them what they need so they can succeed, that's equity. So I don't know why it struck a nerve other than people felt like we were pointing the finger at them? And maybe they just didn't want to take the time to look at how does this apply to me?. What–why am I biased? Why am I offended? And maybe you do believe that white is the default, and we don't need to be having these conversations, but that's more reason why you should be attending the equity series.
We actually offered it to–that was the solution that after, you know, we threw out, um, Sarah's emotional response. Well–and I just–I love to–we have our engineer who created both the Toolkit and Be The Brightest platforms. He is always very kind of level-headed and had the suggestion of, you know, we should just give them the conference and if they do, you know–that way they're not out any money–they could learn something. And, you know, if they don't, at least we've still done our part where we're not coming back and making this an argument. And it really was–we, you know, between, I think the four of us, we looked at–the texts were all very confident in how we responded to these people, because it was just like, uh, what? Like, I'm so confused by this, why are you so pissed?
Why is this so triggering? And again, the connection between equity and racism kind of threw me. So I did go do some research because that is the one thing that I am–I will always do. \[Unintelligible\] I went out and I did some, um, just searching on the word \[equity\] and kind of, you know, the history of it now, for the most part, there's just a lot of confusion about what it means. Like, I think everybody has an idea in their mind of what it is, but then when you really talk to people, your life experiences, um, and your worldview kind of shift that perspective a little bit, of the true definition. I guess it's not, it's a little–it's not concrete enough, right? So the Webster definition is “fairness and justice: for all people, but then you have to define fairness and justice, right? That's where everybody's now got a different view–worldview on what those two things mean. And I loved what you just said too, about equity is what we do every single day as special education providers. Not every single student needs the same support. Not every single student should get one-on-one time with me for 30 minutes a day. Not every single student needs a visual cue for things on their desk. Now, there are accommodations and things we do because they're just good teaching practices for everyone. But there's a reason why we look at what do–what does a kid need to be successful and how do we support them? And then I don't do it for Johnny because he doesn’t need it.
Or even within our own households. I think Shontay, you and I had talked about this on the Instagram Live that with our own kids, the chores that I give a five-year-old are going to be very different than the chores they give the 15 year old. The 15 year old will have more responsibility because it's equitable, they're older, they can handle more. And so, you know, there are things that you do differently for whatever you're accommodating for. And so it, yeah, it's just fascinating. People are fascinating.
And it's not calling anyone out. I think it's important for people to understand. And I think I said this in my, um, my summit talk. It's not just a learning and unlearning for everyone that I'm speaking to. It's a process for me too. There's a lot of information that I learned that I have to let go of. And there are things that I'm still learning. So we're all in this space together. I'm not an expert on Diverse AAC. I definitely had a lot of epiphanies when I was listening to, um, Dr. Boyd's presentation about, uh, cultural humility, because I'm not an expert in every experience and every ethnicity–I know my own lived experience, and I know that I am open and compassionate and want to make sure that I'm empathetic with everyone I work with, but that's–it doesn't make me an expert. So it's not like an us versus you kind of situation. If we all want to be better therapists, we all should be learning and unlearning a lot of the things that have been ingrained in us over time.
I was telling Sarah, my, um, my child, my oldest, has a sticker on their laptop that says “Constantly Unlearning:. And I was like, awesome! I was like, we need–we need to print something with that, because that is we, that is part of just living and experiencing. And we were all kind of pushed into some–
And it is–it's uncomfortable. Yeah. Self-assessment? Oh, it hurts.
That’s when you know–when you sit with that discomfort, that's when the change comes. If you're feeling like I know it all, I'm good where I am? Then great. You need to feel a little uncomfortable and then try to figure out why? Why am I uncomfortable? And what can I do about that to make that change?
And that's the shirts you had printed up too – “Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable”. Yeah.
Yeah. I love that shirt. I've worn that out before and I alway– I love when people are like, and people are like \[noise of disgust\].
“GROSS – EQUITY IS RACIST!!”.
They don't say, well, they don't say that to my face. That's the only behind closed doors.
It’s about time that we really start thinking about things and looking at it for what it is instead of whitewashing history or glorifying history and the truth of things. If we want to be a better society.
Perspective. Yeah. And and experience, it is listening to other people and this idea of privilege. I was, it was Jordan, I think, that posted this–the wheel of privilege, this isn't just because you're white. This is gender, income, education, where you live, what city, what house–
Height was on there, like, you know, height, weight, body, shape, all of that.
Your mental health, your sexuality, all of those things. I looked at that wheel and I thought, well shit. And then again, that's where in my mind, I think “oh, that's a level of responsibility, you got to step up and do some shit”. But other people take that like \[to be telling them\] “feel shame!”.
Yeah, like I worked! I worked for this income! I worked for this education! Or whatever. And it's like, that's…
And the assumption is that the other people must not have done enough. And that's why you're where you are. And not taking a look at your privilege versus their lack of opportunities. Yeah. I remember hearing Wes Chernin speak and feeling like I never realized that there was privileged in the fact that I don't have to share my pronouns. That was something that I never considered either. So there's so many levels to it. When you think about how it's not about your race, as you mentioned.
Yeah. Constantly unlearning!
Going back to that comment about–I think for so long too, actually not even that long ago, that’s always so embarrassing to admit. Um, probably like five years ago, we were having a conversation about, um, being able to start our business. And, um, you know, I'm the first one to graduate from college in my family. Lisa was a single mother. We literally, like, went freaking broke coming up with the money for this desperately for– \[Lisa interjects “We were already broke!”\] – we went into more brokenness! And so we were talking about like, no, nobody gave us a handout! Like we worked for this, you know, and the person we were talking to is like, you still have an insane amount of privilege that allowed you to be in a position. And I remember being pissed and thinking, you know, we live in America, anything is possible in America. This is where dreams come true! You know? And that's why people want to immigrate to America because you can be there and do anything. And that was not that freaking long ago! And so then that was that moment of realizing that isn't true. Like sit in that for a minute, really start to do your own research on how that's not true and how to listen. Yeah.
It really starts with listening too. In our field we are a group of SLPs that take–talk about perspective taking all the time. Like that's what sight is. It's it's perspective taking of–that not everyone's going to have your lived experience. You need to listen to other people and you need to–to try to get into other people's mindset as best as you can. So you can be empathetic and evoke change.
And be curious. Yeah.
Um, even grad school, a lot of the programs are full time. They don't allow you to work. And not many people have that ability to go to school and not have a job to pay for their income. And I remember, I mean, I went to school, I graduated in the early two thousands when I was in graduate school. I was the only Black person in my program for the entire time that I was at the school. And I remember the–the assumption was that I must have gotten there by some sort of luck, some sort of affirmative action or something. I couldn't have gotten there on my own merit. So that was not that long ago. But again, it's about perspective and it's about the assumptions and our implicit biases that live in us that come from as early as a child, based upon things that you hear, things that you see and what you don't see, which again, goes back to why I felt so compelled to start doing the work that I do with the picture books, because we don't realize that the ideas that kids formulate very early, but ideas about race, they start long before your child is in middle school or high school. And it's all about what you, what you see, what you don't see, what you hear, what you don't hear. And then you come up to your own–you come to your own conclusions. So we have the opportunity to raise a better generation of humans, but only if we're intentional about it.
Yeah. I want to talk about that too, because that's, what I loved about your presentation is, um, for a long time, I have, I love literacy based therapy. And so I have a whole library of books and I always tried to be inclusive in the different types of books I did, but I did a lot of the like, um, Ruby Bridges. Let's do the book on Ruby Bridges and let's do–you know? And so it was kind of a novel idea, which again, embarrassing to admit, um, when you were really talking about like book selection, and it's really just about the variety of characters. And again, a piece of rep–representation gives me the characters themselves–them as themselves. Then there are people of color in these books. And so we talk a little bit about, um, like, like you were. We were just talking about the book selection–but what it is we should be doing with the books. I shouldn't just be like, look at me being so diverse and inclusive. I found a book on Martin Luther king Jr. We're–we’re going to read books.
Yeah, no. So for one, if you're looking for books about people of color, try to find books where the kids–where the characters are just doing normal everyday things, no one wants to constantly see stories about people who lived a long time ago, who were, um, changemakers, but not entertaining, not exciting, not they don't want to always hear about stories of oppression or struggle or immigration when they're seeing images of themselves. So find a story about a little boy who's just in his neighborhood and meeting the people who live in his community, he just happens to be Black, or find a story about a little girl who becomes the first president and she happens to be Latinx. Um, you know, one of my favorite books is about a little boy and he is, um, Indian. And he's hanging out with his friends or having a playdate, but his dad is cooking for them.Everyone can relate to that, right? You go to your friend's house and you're going to eat something, but he's nervous that they might not like what his dad is cooking because it's Indian. And while they're waiting for it to cook, they just hang out. They play and they do the things that kids do. But it's not a book about race. It's not a book about culture. It's just about like–kids do things that they always do. And in the meantime, they're waiting for a snack to be prepared, but it gives you the opportunity to have conversations. So to answer your question, Sarah, when we read these books, we need to be prepared to point out stuff. You know, it's okay for you to point out the fact that this little girl in, um, The Day You Begin, this little girl is worried that people won't look like her because her hair is curly and everyone else in the classroom doesn't have thick, curly hair like she does. Or if you're reading The Name Jar–I had this happen to me. I was reading The Name Jar, which is about a little girl who comes to America from Korea. And, um, she's worried that people won't be able to say her name or that they will make fun of her. And I had a student say he couldn't say her name and he's like, well, I'm not Chinese, I can't say her name. And it was an opportunity for me to one: correct him and say she's not Chinese either. She's Korean. And we talked about what it means to be Asian. And we talked about, it's okay for you to not be able to say someone's name but you can ask them how to say it. And then you have the opportunity to practice with them and get it right. But it's not okay to make fun of someone's name. It's not okay to not take the time and respect their name to learn how to say it. So be okay with having those conversations, age appropriate conversations.
Oh, it's so good. I love that. Tell us about, um, your, how you came to the idea for your book.
Oh, my book! Um, so I started off finding books because the kids that I was working with, they hadn't seen another Black person live and in color. So they will touch my skin and be like, Ooh, chocolate! I'm like, I mean \[unintelligible, uncomfortable noises\] so I was thinking like, I have to find other images, other sources, for them to see other people who don't look like them. And as I started creating this library and posting about it, someone asked me where was my book? And at the time I didn't have a book. And, um, I remembered that I was invited to co-write a book with someone and that person abandoned the project. And it made me think like I could write a book. And then I thought about my own experiences working with different children and a story that I wanted to tell was about going to the barbershop. I love sitting in barber shops. I don't know if you guys like to sit in the salon and listen to all the conversations, but I'm a people watcher and I thought that was the perfect setting for a story. And then I wanted to add to it by combining my experiences, working with autistic children and how that might look. My brother is a barber and he cuts a lot of children who are autistic and he talks about how it really helps when he talks to the parents ahead of time and they give them a heads up. Like this is our first time, or he's nervous, he's scared of the Clippers. So I wanted to put all that together. And that's where Liam’s First Cut came about. I didn't know that it would become an actual book that I could hold and buy and put in their houses and in their libraries–and it’s amazing to see. But, uh, yeah, it was just an idea that popped in my head one day. And then I said, you know what, I'm going to go for it. It's almost a year later now.
Now do you have, um–I actually was just looking at some of the feedback from your course, because I wanted to see if there was any other things I want to make sure we hit on. And, um, somebody was asking about, um, like a book companio, do you have a book companion for, um, for your book?
I do. I created the lesson plan that goes with Liam's First Cut. It is, um, on my Teachers Pay Teachers store and I put it–I put it together because I wanted to show people how I use books in my therapy sessions. And I think it's great for whether you are a teacher, a classroom teacher, an SLP, or even a parent, because it helps you to use the book in different ways, besides just reading the story, how you can make those different comparisons and how you can talk about, um, how Liam's experience might differ from someone else's experience. But yet I did create that. And I also made a social story because the book itself, I think, is a social story. If you wanted to just read the story to your child, before they go to the barbershop, you could do that. But then I made a coloring book to help you go through the process. And I wanted it to look like Liam. I wanted it to be a social story where you see a child whose hair we say like, um–we often say in social stories, when your hair gets too long, you get it cut. But that's not always the case. Sometimes you want to cut your hair because you want to change. So I was very specific and intentional with the language I used in the social story? And I also wanted to be, um–I wanted to include the things that I've learned about being more, um, uh, I guess, accepting and embracing of neurodiversity. So not telling a person, a child, that you know, um, this is a chair and you must sit here, but introducing the tools and introducing the things that you would see and telling them about what that experience would look like.
Yes! Okay, good. I'm still good. I will link to that in the notes too, because I do, I think it's really helpful to have that example, um, to see–like I actually was going, I was going to write a book companion for one of the books that I've used a million times and I have like some things and some “Wh” questions is–I can never think of those on the spot, child-friendly definitions. Like when I'm trying to like define a new word that we put up, you know, a pop-up in the book, I can never do it on the spot, so I like to have it. But I was even like struggling and found myself thinking what–what more, there's more I could do with this book, or there's–what other like, areas could we target or how can we stretch this further? So I think that, okay, that'd be so cool if they can see that example, um, of different ways to be able to use that, because then you can kind of recreate the wheel with other books.
Absolutely. And, um, I have a few that I've made so far because for those same reasons, I want people to see there's so far that you can go with a book besides just looking for your target sounds or answering questions. I want you to think about perspectives, and I want you to make those connections between the characters and your life. And I also often include a letter to send home to parents. So for like the, um, The Name Jar, because it's–so it's so much about your name and how your name is a part of your identity. I wanted to get families involved. So I created a little activity where you talked to your parents and find out where did your name come from? Who named you does, your name have a meaning. Um, but it's another way to get parents to get involved. It's an extension of your therapy session. It doesn't have to end after that 30 minutes in your therapy room
Question, because I think I remember from your summit presentation: didn't you say that was it when you were coming up with your book library–didn't you have some self analysis, like, oh my gosh, I don't even have a diverse, um, library myself, like for your own children? Or was it for both at home and at school.
So I had a diverse library at home, but that was because I wanted my kids to one feel affirmed in their own identity. So I made sure that I went out and looked for books that had characters that looked like them. Then I also wanted them to see books with people who didn't look like them so that they will be open and receptive to different cultures and backgrounds. But my work library did not look like that. My work library was full of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bunch of Stuff and a lot of books featuring animals, \[Unintelligible\]. It was influenced by the influencers that I was following and who would make the classroom.
I think it's curriculum, going back again, that this is what you see a lot in the curriculum – those kinda of stories.
Yeah. And that was the norm. The default was to either have a book that either featured a character that was an animal or a character that was white. So that's what I gravitated to. And then when I realized that these kids don't–I thought about how would my daughter feel if someone walked up to her and said “Chocolate!” and touched her arm, or if someone reached out and touched her hair in the classroom, how would she feel as an adult? You're like, that was weird, but as a child, how would you feel? So what could I do to try to mitigate that? I could show them that your reality is not the only reality and let you enter into different worlds through books. So that's when I realized, like I have to do something about the books that I'm using. I love books. I love making crafts with books, but I have to try to mix this up because we need to see something else other than what's already been put out there.
And have you ever gotten any blowback from that? Um, you know, like when you send the letter home or, you know–I think some even asked maybe during one of your Summit or your Equity Series presentations about what if the parents are like, don't you be teaching my kids anything, you know?
Yeah or even not even, you know, from different cultures. It could be, you know, religions, it could be, um, sexual orientation, representation of characters that are–maybe a lesbian couple with the focus.
I have not, I somehow amazingly I have never had any pushback. I've had teachers who, um, did not want to give up Dr. Seuss and didn't understand when I said like, I'm happy to read your class, but I'm not going to read a Dr. Seuss book. But I've never had anyone, um, refuse a suggestion when I suggest that we use a different book. I talk sometimes about how pre-K teachers always plan ahead and they know that I'm going to do, um, community helpers and they have a book that they use year after year. And I've made the suggestion, like how about we use this book instead? And they're often open to it as long as it fits into the theme. I've never had anyone say no to anything except Dr. Seuss and not understanding why I chose to stop reading and sharing Dr. Seuss books. That was the big one. When it comes to, um, to gender and orientation. I'm not having a conversation with children about sex or orientation. I'm showing you that a family could look different. A family may consist of two moms or two dads, or just the grandmother and the child. But what I want you to understand that, when you say family, no matter how it looks, these are people who love you and nurture you and care for you, regardless of what the situation may be. And I want be–to not make someone else feel othered or different because their family experienced barriers from yours.
And I think that's the one thing too, if you know, a lot of this is baby steps and, you know, again, it does have to have action. It can't just be all words and thoughts. Um, but that's a great first step is diversifying your library, finding ways to use, um, books in therapy, more that are inclusive and have a variety of characters and things like that.
And Shontay has a great link on her website that we will link in the show notes as well, that, you know, if you're looking for some good recommendations beyond also Liam's First Cut.
Yup, which I have a signed copy of, that’s right.
And you can get a signed copy too on my website!
What!? I thought it was just for me.
Sorry. Well, your message is special for you. Okay?
The special zoom readings that she does every night, while we're dipping like chocolate chip cookies and milk, and she reads us Liam's First Cut? That's special.
Yeah. You're really funny. Um, but the other step is I cannot recommend enough: those equity courses. This–the topics were so spot on, every single course, I can't–I always think like, did I have a favorite? Honestly, I didn't. I learned something different in every single one of them, but they really are critical to us as professionals. But that's, I mean, specifically as professionals, if, if you don't want to change yourself as a human, that's cool too, but no, I'm just kidding. But as we're professionals, we have an obligation and it's an ethical responsibility. Um, and ASHA says you have to have at least a minimum of one course per year or one course, every interval, that's on a cultural issue.
I think it's per interval, it's–it should be every year, but it’s per interval.
It should be more than one.
By the time you retire, you’ll have four courses!
By the time you’re done you'll be so well-versed, you'll be woke–as woke as I am. Yeah. No, but we gave you eight. We gave you eight and they're priced affordably because it's the Equity Series. And so we thought, okay, let's make sure that they're accessible for everybody. And they're online and they're virtual on demand.
And we have school districts that are paying for it so we can sell all eight courses as a package, just email firstname.lastname@example.org if–if that's something that you think your school would fund for you, because they do that. I think this is a resource that, you know, also districts are saying, we need our staff to get on board with the times, man.
And again, I think this goes back to–it was maybe–it was, um, Wes’ presentation for Summit a couple of a year ago, whenever that one was. You don't have to agree with all of this or like, you know, some of the topics or things you might have your own feelings about, but you do have to know it cause you have to respect it in the individuals you work with and serve. So even if you're having kind of some difficulty in thinking that, um, you know, I don't need to know that because I don't, it just conflicts with my personal beliefs, that's cool, but you–you still have to, you know, um, be understanding of the people that you work with and understand what they need and how they can best feel supported. And so, um, I, I think during the summer we did some, some–one of the themes for our summer school was on having the, the speech room should be a safe place. And that's just part of it. I mean, every student who walks through your door, or that you walk into their classroom and work with them should feel very, very safe and trust you. Um, and, and so this is a critical piece of, you know, of course we, we need to know cool stuff about apraxia and, you know, fluency and comprehension, but this is just as equally, if not more equally important. So I really hope you guys will check that out and, and definitely check out, um, Liam's First Cut. Add that to your library as we're all growing our new libraries.
I think I just wanted to add to that, as SLPs, we have to remember that it's not our job to, um, fix our clients. We're here to support them and support them so that they can be successful. So when we think about that, then you kind of take your own stuff out of the way. You have to look at what they need and meet them where they are and not try to insert your own beliefs. Cause that's not what we're here to do. Perfect.
Perfectly said and that is a perfect way to end our episode. I cannot believe that we finally made this happen.
And how was it? Was it okay? Was it scary to be in the confessional with us?
No it was fine! It was–
“I did a sleepover with you two, nothing can scare me or surprise me anymore!”
I could survive a confessional if I could survive that weekend.
And that's one of those situations that what happened in the hotel room stays in the hotel room.
Yes, and it wasn't even in Vegas. It should’ve been, though. \[Overlapping laughing and agreeing\] Okay, we're going to end this episode. Thank you again. We love you so much and love any opportunity we can get to chat, um, professionally, personally, and everything in between.
Thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure as always. I love you guys too. It's always a good time.