SLP Toolkit Podcast, Episode 44, Transcript
Well, hey Lisa!
How's it going today?
You know what, I am feeling pretty good. I had a really nice day yesterday.
Yes, and why, what was so special about it?
It was my birthday and it was heavenly. I'm so glad.
Did you get everything you wanted?
Well, yeah, I really, you know, sometimes I just let my birthday hit me and I don't really, like, plan out what's going to bring me joy, but I sat back and I mapped this one out. And it was: cancel all meetings so I didn't have to talk to anybody, take all three of my dogs to the groomers so they didn't stink anymore, changed the sheets on my bed because there's nothing better than clean sheets.
And you did them–you did all this yourself?
Oh, I thought the gift would be somebody does that for you–
No the done is the gift. I don't care about the–yeah, well, I mean, I didn't groom my dogs. I took them to get groomed.
It’s very different than the things I want for on my–on my birthday.
But, and then I got a steak and a glass of red wine at the Keg. It was a good night.
I'm so happy for you. Well, happy birthday. And I'm really glad that you're here today because we've got a super special episode planned.
Do you want to introduce who's in the confessional with us?
We are excited to introduce Perry Flynn to the confessional today.
Perry Flynn (01:45):
Thank you. And being a good Catholic boy, I have spent a good deal of time in a confessional.
What's the juiciest thing you've ever confessed in the confessional? Just pretend–you can call me Father if you want to, I have no credentials, but call me Father
Forgive me Father for I have sinned!
Well, we are going to be talking about some sinning in the school setting. So this is perfect!
I have–I've done. Unfortunately, I've done some of that too, so.
We could call it sinclusion.
There you go!
That is your specialty.
That's right. We, I mean, we just wanted to have you in the confessional so we could just hang out with you some more. We got to know you a little bit more, um, last summer we worked on a project together. And then you presented for usm SLP Summit. And so in that there were so many questions that we thought, okay, cool, let's have you on we'll address some of those things, and then we just get to hang out and chat. But before we jump into it, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
Okay. Well, I'm a good Catholic boy. I, uh, went to Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
[Woops] I did that for the people who, for the people who may know that.
Um, so professionally I have the coolest job. I tell people this all time, I really do have the coolest job. I love my job. So I work here at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and I'm a clinical professor here. So I do get to teach, um, the clinical practice class academically. And I get to teach with Alan Kamai, uh, the child language class. But the majority of what I do for the university is take graduate students two mornings a week to–to a therapeutic horseback riding program. And we practice true hippotherapy using the horse and the environment and the movement of the horse to facilitate speech and language goals and stick a little OT and PT in there too, with a consultation from my OT and PT friends. So that–that is fantastic. We have, um, I'm seeing four kids directly these days, um, at the one program, two of whom are augmented communication users. And then at the other program, it's really, equine-assisted learning the, uh, high school of self-contained kids goes there and they don't ride, but we use the horses and the barn environment and stuff like that to facilitate all that. So that is super cool and very–
Is that something you–I mean, obviously I didn't learn that in grad school. So this is something you do have to get accredited, like a different accreditation for that. Or–
There is it's, um, you know, like you have to take a Praxis and hippotherapy the whole, the whole deal. And then the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship also credits, um, therapeutic horseback riding instructors. So yeah, it's, it's a lot of accreditation kind of stuff too.
You know, I've worked with kids in the home health setting that I know that they had hypnotherapy and the families were always nothing but glowing about those experiences. So did you have a passion for horses or how did you land into that?
Yeah, so I rode, uh, I rode when I was a kid and still do ride. I have a off the track thoroughbred horse that I adopted. Um, and he's a very nice horse and really should be a show horse, hunter type, but he's probably just going to be, my midlife Ferrari toy will never work a hard day in his life, but, um, it works well for both of us really. Um, so I rode when I was young and a friend of mine said, I think you'd be really good at this therapeutic horseback riding thing, why don't you come and volunteer? And I volunteered in high school and then got the credential and worked at an amazing place in Pittsburgh that is closed now. It was, um, um, it, it was a residence. It is a residence, still is residence for people with intellectual disabilities. But we had a farm too, that was off the main campus. And we, in the summertime, we took a busload of the residents there every day and they got to ride and they all had their own little French garden and we raised pheasants to release and it was just an amazing place.
Yeah, it's so cool that even, I mean, I don't have a lot of experiences with being able to do that, but anytime we ever had a field trip, I was like the first one to volunteer. Like, can I go? Because it is so cool to get out there in the community and do these things. And like, I just loved it.
Yeah. So I, um, I did too, you know, I took kids on field trips all the time, and that can be a confession that we talk about later on if you'd like to, about field trips. But, um, so getting back to what I do, then I am a North Carolina state consultant, which is like the head of speech pathology for the public schools of North Carolina. And so, I do a lot of staff development, continuing education for the state department, I contribute to policy, um, all kinds of stuff like that that is, you know, at a very high level. So I am so lucky to have–I continue to be a therapist and work with students on a weekly basis, all–all the way up to, um, you know, the very–some people consider ivory tower of the state department.
I was thinking you should maybe try harder and in career, cause it doesn't sound like you've done much. You know, there are, there are some ways to advance in your career.
But it's all super cool! And you know, like, um, some people have said, well, how do you keep your personal life separate from your professional? That, well, I don't! Like it all just sort of bleeds into each other. And um, and then you guys know that I've done some work on the ASHA of board of directors too. And like you meet the coolest people like those, those are the people that you'd like to hang out with. Like you guys here in the confessional!
And I was going to say, you are so popular. And it's funny because I have known your name for a long time. And I actually remember being at a convention. And so I was like, oh my gosh, there's Perry Flynn. I'm like, oh, oh, you know, it's, I know you are. As you were saying, we had lots of requests. And so that's why–and I think we had met Marie in the spring and you guys are really good friends. And so anyway, it is, it was one of those things where it's like, oh my gosh, this is so cool. Now we're hanging out. We get to work together. There is nothing better than this community and networking.
You know, the more you get out there in, in sort of the public eye of the profession, the more you meet super cool people that you'd like to hang out with either virtually or, um, live. And, um, and that's just, you know, a real perk of all my jobs is that I've gotten to meet all these really cool people that, that have many–who have become my personal friends and, you know, like we meet up places around the country and enjoy each other's company, anyways. It's, um, you know, like volunteering for the state associations and, um, and ASHA work, it just continues to, um, you know, ratchet up your career and make it that much more interesting.
Yeah, and the fact that you're still like in the schools and doing things, I think that's the difference too, is a lot of times, you know, especially when you're going to be like the PhD and then you just do research–you don't have that practical background or you go up higher on the–in the chain in ASHA, but then you've been out of the work environment for 20 years and you've forgotten everything, those real pain points that people experience.
Exactly. Right. Yeah. You know, when, you know, when people ask me, when was the last time that you were in an IEP conference and I can say, uh, last week? You know, I was in an IEP conference that may have lasted four hours like the ones that you participate in too. So, uh, yeah, I, that is–that is intentional on my part to try and keep very current with what especially school-based practitioners are experiencing. So–so that I have some credibility there.
Exactly right. And that's why–this is a Summit presentation you did specifically was about inclusion in service delivery models. And it is something that I think is so difficult. I know, personally for me it was something I love the idea of it. It was something that I knew it was best practice and it was the right thing to do, and I would attempt it, but I never figured it out, never successfully implemented anything. And so, um, I had even, I had referenced some of your articles, you've written about this topic before and in trying to learn some things. So we knew it was going to be a topic that was really important, but it was going to generate a lot of questions and it did. Um, and so again, I think that's why this is–it's perfect to have you talking about it because it'd be really hard for us to have somebody in the confessional who understands that it's–it's evidence-based practice and it's, research-based, it's a good thing to do, but has never really done it or not done it recently with caseload sizes like we have. So I think you're the perfect one to talk about it.
And first confession is I don't have a caseload of 50 or 60 kids. I don't, I see one classroom of self-contained kids that are 10 kids. And then I see those other four kids at the therapeutic riding permit. And I do not do IEPs on all of them. I am a related service and contribute to the IEPs of some of them. So there's my first true confession.
And that was one of the questions I saw is okay, yeah, what's your caseload, you know? And I'm like, get it, but that's okay. Yes, go ahead.
But back in the day–so we have a caseload cap of 50 in North Carolina. Now, back in the day, there was not a caseload cap. So I–I was in eight people's classrooms with a caseload of about 70 kids and being the lead SLP for a district of 40 other SLPs too. So, you know, and another confession? We were not billing Medicaid back in that day. You know, we had to do the documentation for our license, the planning and the plans of care and stuff like that. But–but I was not billing Medicaid.
And that came up a lot too. So I'm so glad you said that. Um, I was just thinking actually, you know what, let's not talk about inclusion anymore. Let's talk about how do we get caseload caps in states? Oh my gosh, it's amazing. Ariona does not have–does not have one here. And then we travel around and we've talked to SLPs, who they have caseloads of 75 or 80 and that’s insane.
And I'm getting all kinds of, you know, with the COVID era now and, and some other developments in a wide range of places, um, have pushed a lot of SLPs out of school service. And it's so unfortunate. So as those SLPs exit, North Carolina is not the only place that they are exiting, as they exit, you know, caseloads are–are rising. And even in North Carolina here, they are rising past that cap of 50. And, you know, I would love to recruit people and get them back in the schools and get the case loads down to, you know, really reasonable–but, but we must deal with what we must deal with, especially right now.
This is not always greener. I even saw that I was the lead in the district that Sarah and I worked in and we would have people that would leave the school, you know, and this is before COVID obviously, but still just thinking like I'm fed up with paperwork, I'm fed up with X, Y, and Z about working in the schools and they'd go do home health or private or something and would be back because they're like, oh, I actually–you know, there's still paperwork where you go, there's still going to be, if we're losing people in schools, there will be people that are, you know, being lost also in those other settings. So it's just more about, I think, aligning where your passion is. I always love schools because of the team model. I love that. I never felt like an island, that I had a built in support system for everything that I did with the student, so that's why even when it was tricky, it was always the best study for me.
I love being involved with their lives on more than, uh, you know, show up to my office once, once a week for half an hour basis, you know, you get to see your parents sometimes every day that pick kids up, you can talk to teachers about them and you see them over–over the course of years too and see their growth and be involved in their lives in that way.
Oh, I love that. That was my highlight. I there's nothing cooler than like I'd be walking through the cafeteria and there was one my students, or I'd see them on the playground or they shout from across, you know–I loved seeing them all date and seeing them for multiple years. It is, it's just the coolest and it's so contextual. Um, and so it–it's my favorite setting too. And I think that's why Lisa and I, everything we do is very focused on like, how can we improve the lives of SLPs so they stay in the schools? Because it's such a cool place to work.
Right. We appreciate that, um, that you guys are providing so much for SLP as in schools. And another thing, you know, some of our graduate students have said to me, yeah, I love kids, but I–I'm really interested in the really interesting funky ones. So I want to work in, um, you know, in a inpatient pediatric hospital. Okay. Right. So you get to work with them for, you know, six weeks or whatever, maybe, tops in that inpatient, pediatric setting. And then where do they go? They go to the schools for the rest of their academic careers, you know? And then you do get to where I worked with a child that had a left hemisphere [unintelligible] for many years. And, you know, like that was amazing. She–she was and is an amazing person for overcoming so much about that.
I do think they start to see that though. I saw that with the placements–we're right next to Arizona State University–so we would do placements of students that would even say, like, I only want to work with adults. So we put them in a high school because they are basically, you know, some of them are adults, but it is–I think they can see that bridge then of, huh, I didn't even think that this could be a possibility. And you–you don't get, I think when, when SLPs, especially, or the grad students, when they think that working in schools, they think, okay, I'm doing artic therapy all day. And I don't want to work with little kids sneezing on me and, and drooling on me. And, and like, you know, the young–the young aspects, but in high schools, man, that is a different world.
And it can be so functional. And you, you know, like we talked about in the presentation, you need to sell to your administrators, that you need to go with them sometimes to off campus settings, t–to make them, we know that those guys really need situational instruction in the goals that you're working on. That–that doing it in the speech closet or the speech, wherever is not going to generalize to the work settings where they need it. And if you just go a couple of times to the work settings, they've got it. Like, that is part that becomes part of their routine there. And–and you've facilitated that goal in the natural environment really authentically, really potently. However you want to say that.
Yeah. Yeah. And I was just thinking too, like, I think that's probably even maybe a good place to start. Like if you're not doing it for the most part, the majority of your caseload is pullout in the speech room, you know? And so then you've got to like, do these, like we always say, do baby steps. We're not tomorrow, you're going to do push in for everyone, but maybe that's where you start, try to go to some of your students, field trips, try to find some time to hang out in the lunch room with them. Um, and so talk first about just different service delivery models in general, because I do think the majority of us pullout into the speech room.
Yeah. Um, and that's not bad. And like, some people go away from my presentations thinking, oh, Perry Flynn says that we should do every kid in an inclusive–that is not, please don't get that that is what I'm saying, but we need to attend to least restrictive environment for the kids. And, and some of them a very restrictive environment is the least restrictive environment. And–and it is absolutely appropriate that you see some kids in the pullout situation in your–in your speech room one-on-one or in a small group or something like that. So that, that is where people feel most comfortable. That–that's more the medical model sort of, that we were trained on many of us, there’s more control. You're completely in control. It is your kingdom or queendom, um, that, that speech room is. And we weren't trained on, you know, like crowd control and behavior management, all of the things that, um, that you have to at least attend to somewhat in classrooms, but that's what teachers are trained on. And that's why we can work really well with them. It–it shouldn't be, if you're working in people's classrooms, it shouldn't be the time that the teacher takes a coffee break or something like that. Like we need them to ratchet up the impact.
I think, when we're looking at, even if you're working in a school and you're writing IEPs, if anything is the same for all of your students, that should be a red flag. So if you're, if they all have 30 minutes of service, if they're all being pulled out into the speech room, if they all have similar goals right there, you're kind of getting in a bind. And so that's where even if you're looking at every single one of my students is pulled out, does that truly meet their need? Is that individualized for their needs?
You know, I say this, when I going to do that presentation in the long version, I say, you know, the dark moment that I'm going to tell you here now is that if a lawyer were to get a hold of a schedule like that, they could guarantee that you have not attended to the least restrictive environment for every child. Because not every child, if you have a caseload of 50 or 70 or whatever you have, not, every child is appropriately served in a pull-out situation for half an hour, once a week or half an hour, twice a week. And I hate to say it, but, you know, even in North Carolina, we have probably lots of IEPs that reflect just that. Probably lots of workloads that reflect either half an hour, once a week or half an hour, twice a week pullout. And it just doesn't–you know, they're like, like you said, you, you don't need to like jump into this, the deep end feet first, just, you know, put a toe in. I did. I knew a teacher that I could work with and I said, hey, would you be willing, you know, I read these–this was in like 1987 or something like that–I read these articles and language, speech, and hearing services in schools sound super cool, Linda Miller, Nikki Nelson, um, would you give it a try? And she's like, sure, you know, we'll give it a try. So I started with one teacher who I knew I could get along with and we, you know, uh, set up a planning paradigm and, and we allotted time at the end to critique ourselves every, um, every effort. And, you know, we were real honest with each other, like that was awful. And what was it, the piece of children's literature that just doesn't lend itself well to what we're doing, or did we plan on the wrong goals, or do we plan the wrong activities? You know, and there were some things, there were some great pieces of children's literature that we could never make work. And, and I, you know, we tried redoing a whole lesson plan, like two or three years in a row, and it just never worked. So, um, so you just have to be flexible like that. And I, you know, I think speech pathologists–we talked to our graduate students about this too: perfection versus excellence. I think we want to be perfect every time
There’s no such thing.
There isn't! I told my graduate students yesterday, when we were at the question therapy program, we did a, like, what went well in Perry’s teaching on the horse and what didn't go so well. And I said, you know, every lesson I do, I can find some things that I would have preferred to have done differently. And so like, you got to open yourself to that, and it's a sort of vulnerable place if you're opening yourself to it with somebody else watching.
What is the book? Is it “Think Again”, is that the book that you introduced us to, Adam Grant? That’s the idea, so it's a great book, I actually think for, especially for speech pathologists, because it is kind of built into our field. I don't think it stops at the student level. I think if that's where we have so much imposter syndrome and everything where people don't want to open up about their struggles is because they don't want to verbally show themselves as being imperfect in any way or not the expert, or like, yeah.
So a lot of insecurity, I think in this field of like, you don't want to put yourself out there and admit you don't know things, right. It's just ridiculous. Especially in the school setting, we have to know something about everything and that's not possible.
Yeah, sure, we have to be generalists and, and yeah, no–no matter what kid moves in, you've gotta be able to manage that. And, um, you know, you have to seek out the resources. If–if you get a kid that has fluency issues, you got to seek out the resources that many of which you guys provide to, um, you know, to get yourself up to speed and fluency, or–or if you have voice kids, I had, I had a couple of voice kids and I, you know, called up my voice friend and said, what should I do about those kids? Anyway, ym, I think people are pretty good about that, but they do expect, like, perfection of themselves rather than excellence. And part of being excellent is that you mess up from time to time, but you learn from that too. And so I'll, I'll give you a perfect confessional here. Um, a couple of things about that first classroom that, that I entered into, I, um, you know, I said, so–so Deborah, here's what we're going to do. We're going to put all my kids in we're–we're going to split the kids into like three centers or three groups. And they'll rotate through the three centers. The teacher will run one teacher assistant and myself, and, um, we'll–we'll give extra hard hitting to the group that has all my kids. There–there'll be like four or five of my kids in that group. And that group will be all, and we'll really hit them hard now. So that was stupid. Fortunately it only, it only took me one, one class period two that was stupid. Like that undermines the point of inclusion! You know, with as many typical peers as we can. So, like I said, it only took me one time to figure out how dumb that was. And, um, and then we just, you know, intersperse those kids and use the typical peers as their models, you know, really effectively.
It's so great that you said that because I have had these conversations over the years, too, that there is pullout in the classroom. Just because you're in the classroom doesn't mean that you're doing inclusion.
When I come into the classroom and pull Johnny in the back corner, that's not push-in.
That's the therapy room environment, because you're, you don't have any typical peers involved in it. Least restrictive environment is as much with, or without typical peers as it is the location. It makes everybody think it's a location because they say environment. But–but if you have kids, you know, if you're on the playground with kids and you got the, your one little kid working at a picnic table at the edge of the playground, you're–you're still really in the therapy room environment because there's no interaction with typical peers.
And so I know you asked this before about like, what does inclusion look like? What can all of the ways inclusion can look just to, I think, spark people's imagination? Because I do think the first thing that pops into somebody's head, when you say inclusion is I go into the classroom and I either co-teach or, you know, work with a teacher I'm sitting in the back and don't know what to do, but that's even just the classroom is not just inclusion so how can this look?
The classroom. Yeah. There–there are many different ways. So, um, a really good resource for you is Marilyn Friend, F R I E N D. She's not a speech language pathologist. She's a special educator, but she's written lots about the models of collaboration, um, in classrooms. And there are, there are many different models. Like the–I did mostly the centers approach where a teacher ran one. If we add a teacher assistant, they did, and I did in the upper grades, the teacher would run one and I would run one, but we–we also, um, you know, co-taught like we–we split the class in half and equally took the kids ao they'd be getting closer individual attention. And then maybe we switched those two groups halfway through the class period. Sometimes we had either the teacher or myself leading the whole class, but then one of us was floating and maybe, um, you know, helping our kids with accommodations or modifications that they really needed to be successful on the, the work right then and there. And–and not just our kids, you know, any kids in that classroom that can benefit from our supports we were working with. Um, yeah, so the, the many models from Marilyn Friend are something to check out, and, and there were some weeks, you know, where either the teacher would say, Perry, I like, I can't even deal with this. Can, can you take the whole class? And I'm like, sure, I can, I'm going to be a teacher this week. And I would do the whole class with, you know, a great focus for everyone on the speech and language objectives that I had for my kids that were in the class. And that, that went great.
I think–and that's that, um, I think the part where I always struggled with is, well, I struggled with a couple of things. One: there's always that idea of like, I'm not, I don't want to be just an assistant or a tutor, which I felt like oftentimes, but then there's also that, how am I supposed to target their individual goals and get data and measure progress when I'm teaching the whole class?
Yeah, um, well, so, um, data can be like their, their worksheet can be the data, or if they're supposed to write something, if they're supposed to write a paragraph for you have them, you know, have the whole class, write the paragraph, collect the ones of yours and count the grammatical errors or count the, uh, you know, whatever your written language goal is for those kids count that up. And that's–that's a very authentic piece of data of very educationally relevant, authentic piece of data that you've collected on that kid. Um, or if, um, if, if you're teaching the class, you know, you might like call on your kid an extra couple of times and–and really keep data on how accurate they were at answering that “WH” question, if that's what, um, you know, their auditory comprehension skills are, or whatever your goal is. It's not, you know, you probably are not going to get quite as many responses in that kind of situation as you would get in the super drill and practicing your speech room, but they're much more educationally relevant. They're–they're occurring naturally. And, and we know, like I said earlier, that–that those natural environments are what facilitate the carry over there. A lot of kids that can do, you know, when people and teachers say this all the time: you where–you're getting ready to dismiss a kid, and if you're not communicating with the teacher a lot, they might be like 92% accurate on whatever in your classroom and you, you go to the conference to dismiss the kid. And the teacher says, well, he, you know, he's like 0% accurate in my setting on that. How could he possibly be in your setting? Well, ‘cause, you know, like we know how to facilitate that in our room, but we need to help facilitate that in where the kid needs to use those skills, which is a classroom, or to continue the answer to your question, it's not just a classroom, it's on the playground with typical peers. The lunch room is a super motivating place. I, you know, the schedule that I think I sent you guys as a supplemental handout or whatever, or it's on my website has me eating lunch with Ashley, was her name. I ate lunch with her once a week. She was an augmented communication user. And it was one of the most, um, you know, interactive, powerful times for her to use that device–was in the cafeteria. And I worked with the cafeteria ladies. So she would use that device, they would give her wait time, she would point to pictures or she would use the device to request her own food, and that was, you know, she loved doing that. And the cafeteria ladies, once I taught them how to interact with her, loved doing it too!
This makes me think just the, even this part right now, it just made me think it is that mindset shift. We are trained to, like, look at their goal and just, like, go after that one goal over and over again, practice, practice, practice, you know, where it's–and we talk about this all the time. When we're in the schools, it doesn't need to look different. I do curriculum based therapy and I, you know, there's so many things that I do do different than I would as a private clinician, but I still was thinking every time I'm doing those curriculum based lessons, how I'm targeting that student's goals and getting a lot of, um, opportunities and repetition and practice. Instead, I need to start–stop thinking about it in that, so linearly exactly. Like I need to be looking at this big picture, but that being said, if I'm noticing that they are still missing a piece of, um, you know, that objective one of the objectives of something that they're working on, can I, you know, have opportunities to go work one-on-one with them on that–that one skill?
Well, it depends on how you write your IEPs and how flexibly you–you write your IEPs. We always say, here in North Carolina, don't let a computer program or, you know, whatever platform your IEPs are hosted on drive the services that you provide to kids. You decide what is the best mix of service delivery. And then you find weaselly ways, if you have to, to make that computer program work for you and the legally binding copy is the paper copy of the IEP. So, you know, if you have to work around the, um, the platform and write in some places on, uh, on the paper copy and–and these days, most IEP programs have several lines for service delivery? So you can say, uh, once a week in the classroom, and 15 minutes a week in a burst blast, kind of, uh, approach in–in the hallway or, you know, wherever you're going to do it to drill and practice, get a lot of responses. And that's a nice combination of getting a lot of responses in your very sterile one-on-one speech type world construct that we understand, and then being in somebody's classroom and carrying over those, whatever the goals are, not just artic goals, but language goals, or fluency goals or whatever, carrying them over in the very natural environment.
I'm glad you said that–that came up a lot about my IEP software doesn't allow me to put these other settings, I only have the one option, or, um, you know, my, my district says I can't do that type of–
Section too, you can expound on whatever is in that search at the service box. You're–you can describe how their services are going to look. So it's just–I think it's what you were saying before, too, that we get into this mindset that we have to do it a certain way. I think even sometimes our therapy, that is why–when we get the feeling of feeling like an instructional assistant, it's like, oh, it's because I'm not talking, and I'm the SLP and I have to be talking and driving these therapy goals–but I had a conversation once with an SLPA that was working in a middle school resource room. And I said, here's how we can support–we've got these kids with language needs, she's lecturing and you're asking, or, and she's asking questions. So I was doing a thinking map of the lecture on the board that supported the information that the teacher was saying. So that is therapeutic intercention. And then supporting the students. Did they get it on their own? Or could you help point? So, but it's that mindset of: our mouth has to be moving for us to be useful. And that's not necessarily true.
That's not the case at all. We should–we shouldn't be sitting in the back of the room, you know, drinking coffee, they shouldn't either. But yeah, you are using your license, your expertise to do that mind mapping for the–for the kids to make them successful. So you are completely being an important part of that, even though you're being completely silent, perhaps.
So let's talk about–I think one of the most challenging things with inclusion is relationships. And the dynamic of the, the, the, the, the people in that model. Um, because I know I found–I really was always interested in inclusion and I always started with my SPED team, but even I have a now friend that was a kindergarten teacher where I was like, okay, I've got 13 of your kids, like I'm going to be in your classroom, like, it just makes sense to come in. But every year I felt like it depended on not just the two people, but even the dynamics of the classroom. And–and it’s that mindset of just being flexible and knowing that there are–there are going to be so many errors in the process of figuring all of this out and that is okay.
Okay. So I–I want to talk about that very much. I want to take one step back and talk about, um, the, uh, being permitted to do inclusion and in my travels around the country, like the, a big block seems to be unions.
A lot of union questions in this.
Yeah like, unions will not permit this kind of service delivery. And I don't, I–we are not a union state in North Carolina and I've never worked in a union state, but I don't understand how that could be possible? Because like the federal law says that we've got to be able to do that. So I think that's an advocacy opportunity for those people to advocate for their unions to provide, uh, you know, a variety of service delivery options. I think a union saying that that is not a possibility is–is a constraint of the clinical judgment of an SLP. So again, I'm not in a union state. I do–I do not have those pressures. So I can say that and not be kicked out of my union or whatever.
What’s your email again? So all of the questions they can field that right there.
I said that, and, you know, like just about got pelted with rocks, right? But I–I do think it's an advocacy opportunity to–to advocate for what is best for kids. You know, like a variety of service delivery models is best for kids.
And now that came up a lot about, well, you know, I’m in a union state and they said, I can't do that, blah, blah, blah, blah. So the other one was, um, advocating to the admin, like administration, about why this is better, but also you talked a lot in your presentation about workload, um, approach 3-1 service delivery model that all takes advocating too. And really in the terms of educating, and ASHA has great resources all about why the 3-1 service delivery delivery model is effective, that you literally could just print out. And that's your advocating, like, just share that with your people.
So, you know, I, I said earlier that I, you know, started out by, I read a couple articles about language speech and hearing services in schools and approached one teacher, but I also approached the principal and said, now this is going to be crazy. And–but here are the articles that say that this is the latest, greatest thing. And I–it's crazy that, you know, it was the latest, greatest thing in 1987 or something,
You were like I’m going to be shaking things up on campus, just to give you a heads up, it's going to get crazy around here!
Um, you know, and I–I was a young, I guess Whipper Snapper. And he was like, Mr. Flynn, that’ll be great, whatever you'd like to do, that would be great to do that. So, um, I didn't meet any opposition and I really didn't meet any opposition with parents either. I did have parents question this, but I could give them those articles. And I also had a little, you know, sort of information sheet, a very parent-friendly information sheet that I gave them that helped them understand that I was not watering down the services for their kids, but rather I was making them more educationally relevant and not removing them from the curriculum and hoping–hopefully helping them to meet the educational standards of the curriculum better.
Yeah. I'm glad you said that, but you've never had the opposition. I haven't either. Anytime I've ever approached my principal or, um, like even lead or something about it, you know, not-not that I always got my way, but it, it was not like–I think we think advocating means I got like a bit like a sign and I'm picketing outside of like the headquarters or something. It really would just be a conversation of hey, I saw this really cool thing and I really want to try it, what do you think? It'd be a brief conversation. And typically that was the response I got was the whole go for it.
Yeah. So back to your question, now we'll jump back forward to relationships and that all this conversation here is related to relationships, that if you approach these things in an emotionally intelligent way, really considering that on a meta level, you know, what, what kind of approach is going to be wise to get this across? Is it going to be a pushy approach? Cause sometimes there–there is a right time to be sort of pushy, but–but mostly it's, you know, gentle. And so I'd like to present this to you and, you know, modulating your tone and all that kind of stuff like that–that–that speech pathologist, for the most, part are extremely emotionally intelligent people. And if you present your, your argument, your proposal, whatever in emotional intelligence ways, you know, I think people are much more likely to say yes,
We talked to somebody [Unintelligible overlapping] effect or something like that. So what's in it for them. Yeah. So if you approach it from her, you know, again, we should be masters of perspective teaching, uh, taking, we teach that, but if you can approach it from the principal's perspective, from your special education director's perspective, from that teacher that you want to work with, their perspective, the student actually even probably need some buy-in to this as well.
Exactly, knowing who the audience is and speaking to that audience. Yeah. Like that's, that's how you sell it. Yeah. So, um, so I, I knew the first teacher that I, that I started with, I knew I could work with, but, but a true confession here: so a third grade teacher–we were at a huge school. It was a thousand kids, K through eighth grade. And so there were two speech pathologists. We had several self-contained classes too. There, there were lots of high needs kids. So there are two speech pathologists at this school. And, um, you know, people–people volunteered to be the inclusion class, particularly in the upper grades when there was only one inclusion class at the grade level. So this third grade teacher, um, I think she sort of did it by default. Like the other third grade teachers had done it and, or didn't want to do it or whatever. So she said she would do it. And the–we were–we were both like shocked the other SLP. And I shocked that she would want to do this.
She picked the short straw.
Well, I picked the short straw too literally. We didn't, neither one of us really wanted to go in that classroom. I picked the short straw literally. And so I got to go and I said, so Miss Teacher, uh, I'm going to be the speech pathologist that does your inclusion for this year. And she said, Perry, that will be very interesting.
I'm willing to give it a try. And then I was like, great. And it was! So she was a fantastic teacher, like, uh, you know, our school's teacher of the year, a couple of times. And she was so organized–I mean, you like one of the most left-brained, organizedm linear people you've ever seen. And she was fantastic for our kids. Like the ADD kids, her room was perfectly quiet. She spoke like this [low] all the time. She didn't–she didn't over-talk she had hand symbols that if you were talking out of turn, she would go [Raises finger].
Your fingers raised for those people that are listening. He leaned into the camera and raised his pointer finger.
And this finger had–had a meaning and they, you know, everything had a meaning and it was a fantastic classroom, but you know, it wasn't like a real language rich classroom, I wouldn't say so. Anyway, uh, you know, we planned it, the planning was very different. She was clearly the queen of that domain. And I was clearly an intruder. Not–not a guest, but at the beginning an intruder. Okay? So, you know, being emotionally intelligent and–she provided me the absolute perfect opportunity. We were doing–I did a lot of cooperative group work and maybe the second or third time I was in the classroom there, we had planned cooperative groups. And, uh, the kids, you know, took off. And even the low kids that were being included that had some cognitive issues, you know, we found ways for them to be involved in those cooperative groups. Everybody had a role and she said, Perry, my classroom is very noisy. And I said, yes ma'am but please listen to why it's noisy. Everyone is on topic, go listen. And everyone was on topic. Like every group was having a conversation. They were talking, they were planning. [Snaps] That was what sold me right there. And I didn't have any of that. Any more of that in the–in the future, she loved the cooperative group work. I was no longer an intruder in her classroom. I was welcomed in her classroom. Like that moment was what sold me.
Well do you see, I know when we used to get students in the district that we worked in, they're learning so much about all the latest and greatest things and they feel so emboldened and can't wait to get to the schools, but we would sometimes take that pause to kind of flip the narrative of: you can't just go blazing, like you said, is her environment. I think any teacher you work with that is their environment. You are coming in, you know, as a guest and then hopefully as a partner on a good day, or often an intruder, but it is–and I thought I would flip it and just say, how would you feel if you were sitting in your room, providing therapy and a teacher came in and told you how you're supposed to start doing things? I mean, it seems so intuitive, but I think even veteran SLPs sometimes they're like, but this is what's best for the kid. Well, it might be, but I loved that idea of use your emotional intelligence to connect in with the individual personality, but what's in it for them. And then once they see it, they have to have buy-in it's mutual buy-in.
And so now going back to talking about field trips. So I went on a lot of field trips too. And at the beginning it was the same teacher. I overheard her saying, there's Mr. Flynn, going on another field trip–
Uh huh. Until I was working in her class and went with her on field trips. And you know what, the North Carolina Zoo, I had activities planned for every environment at the zoo. And, you know, we weren't just like cruising around. We went to the environment, we measured the, um, the tongues of the, uh, of the animals, whatever. And you know, like how many foot prints, uh, whatever it would take to cover this much ground and stuff like that. The giraffes we measured the tongues of the giraffes. Um, because there, there was, I, I took a course at the North Carolina zoo that taught you how to use all the aspects of the zoo, tied to the curriculum.
Yeah, we could have a curriculum up for these field trips, places that you're going to, that you can pull the language stuff out. I have a confession: I want to go on a field trip with Perry.
I do too.
We’re inviting ourselves.
Uh, yeah, come, come to North Carolina Zoo is I think the best natural habitat zoo in the, either the world or the country. It is beautiful. And so we used to take kids there all the time. And, um, and the teachers really appreciated that I had so many, you know, speech and language activities tied to the curriculum planned at each of the habitats.
Let’s talk about planning. That came up a lot. Um, so what, uh, what are you planning on your own versus what are you planning with the teacher? How are you finding the time to plan with the teacher? Because–
Yeah, again, in my–in my schedule, that's on my website. Now you just Google search my name on the website, the inclusion materials there, there's my schedule. I had planning time with eight, each of those teachers, about a half hour planning time a week. That–that was part we did. We planned together. So now that was a little labor intensive for the first year or, well, really the first year that I was with that teacher. But if you put the time into planning, the third week of kindergarten, next year, we know that we're going to talk about whales. And so we pull out the whales lesson plan, and then I really just tweak it for–for the goals of the kids this year.
Front loading the work to make it–you save so much time in the end.
And so I had that time built into my schedule, but as the years went on with those teachers, sometimes it was like a drive-by in the hallway. Hey, we're going to do the whales lesson this week. Okay, great. I'll have the, uh, the goals embedded and I'll see, uh, you, you know at our time on Tuesday, you get those materials that you get, I'll bring the materials I got, you know, we knew what materials each other had for the whale lesson. And we did it.
No, I saw something where you did say you–we may have to advocate to try to get some, like, uh, if I am getting going into the third grade teacher's classroom: I could have one student in all four third grade classes. Do I try to advocate for the admin to place all students in one class?
Okay, yeah, so we asked for clustering, okay? We asked if the administrator would do the clustering and minded. He–he was happy to do it. We didn't overload anybody. And we asked the teachers if they–if they were willing to take that group. And, um, so I'm just thinking of another confession to tell you here in a minute about clustering, but, um, yeah, so we clustered them, but inevitably, you know, like a kid would move in or, um, there, there would be too many kids in a–in a classroom if we clustered them all. So, uh, everybody was fine with visitors. Like, we had a visitor this week, every, you know, week at nine o'clock and third grade, the other third grade kids came over and were visitors. And so they were in that classroom, you know, all the third grades were studying basically the same content at the same time. And so it, um, while we were removing them from their own classroom, we weren't removing them from the curriculum that was going on or typical peers. And, you know, they had buds and they developed buds and we facilitated those friendships. And that went really well.
And again it’s the flexibility thinking that it's not–this is not going to be–your first year is not going to be perfect. Your 10th year, probably isn't going to be perfect. It's the idea of let's troubleshoot things as they come up, let me start small. Let me–which is what I did after this. And you're like, it didn't work for me. I'm like, I don't think this works. Even our campus wouldn't do clustering, the elementary campus I worked on, because the teachers got–their bonus incentive started getting connected into test performance. I do understand there are logistical things that may not happen there, but, or even, and even if they were clustered or if they weren't clustered another challenge was we had some teams that mapped out their grade level plans. So it was pretty similar. We had other teams that were totally rogue. So you just have to kind of roll with that and you do the best that you can and it's okay. It's okay to not have it be perfect.
So–so I'll tell you a true confession about clustering. So we, you know, clustered kids and some teachers really wanted those kids and volunteered and loved working with them. And, uh, we had a teacher, a fifth grade teacher who really did and wanted to work with those kids and stuff like that. And it was great and she wanted to, so again, it was me that went into that classroom. And so I observed, and, um, she was–she was a fast talker and she was very sarcastic and a lot of kids loved her. Like many of the, you know, good language processors got her, but the poor language processor could not get her. She scared them. Like she, you know, she, she was trying to help them by like sort of picking on them and, um, giving them more attention and it was scaring them. And so in an ever so emotionally intelligent way, I brought some of this to her attention and, you know, help to coach her through those kinds of things. And it–it only proved to get worse because of my coaching. And so like that just wasn't being a successful classroom for our kids–but she was trying, but it just wasn't working. And so, you know, we said to the principal, Hey, we–we keep our kids out of that classroom. And he was like, sure, fine. And, um, year after year, she would say Perry, once again, I don't have any of your students! And I was like hm! Imagine that, that’s crazy!
That's funny! Yeah.
That’s amazing – I have had those same experiences and there are definitely the teachers where I'm like–you kind of feel sorry for that teacher though. That is so awesome. Because every year I'm like, that's the thing. Can you take this one? And then they're–they're always getting some real challenging students, you know, but some are just better at it than others.
Some, some are. For regular kids that were good language processors? She was fantastic. But poor language processors just did not get her. Her humor was over their heads. It was just a bad, bad deal all around.
Yeah. See, and you wouldn't have known that if you weren't in the classroom.
I wouldn't have, exactly. And so, you know, so we knew to help kids be successful, that was not a place even though she wanted it to be, it was not a place. So I'll tell you about, uh, this was on my list of confessions. I'll tell you about another teacher. This was a good confession. Another third grade teacher who was young, she was like, this was her second or third year. And I'd done inclusion with her the year before. And she's like, Perry, I already, I'm getting stagnant here. I cannot teach using the, um, using the materials that they're given me in the pacing guide that–that the school provides. I–I want to teach like themes and everything play off of that theme. Like I want to teach about the, for example, the zoo and I want to do measuring math, science, social studies, everything around the zoo. And I said, I am all about.
It's not the school board’s dream, but it is good.
And so, you know, so we were, you know, multiplying giraffe footsteps. If the giraffe takes, you know, 10 steps, how many footprints are there in the giraffe, uh, enclosure, whatever. You know? So like we did everything about the giraffes, where do they live? They live in Africa, you know, how far is Africa from the United States? How would you get there? Everything like that. So we, she and I wrote an integrated curriculum for her whole year. And, and, you know, she was like, I wonder how they're going to do on end of course, end of grade. They did better on end of course, end of grade than the third grades that followed the pacing guide. Yeah. So, and, you know, I was only in, I was only in her room one hour a week, and this was, you know, like my pet project that I worked on at night. I'm not telling speech pathologists to do this in every classroom. It's something I wanted to do, but we did it together and it was so amazing and like the kids loved it and she loved it and I love being there. And–
That is the perfect world. And I do, I think I loved preschool because I love that age anyway, but I think that's why I loved preschool: because I was in the classroom. It was the models in both districts I worked, it was always that the SLP was in the preschool classroom. Yeah. Was thematic. I knww exactly I was in there. So I knew exactly what the theme was each week. And I could tie into it so easily. It was so easy! And then you go into elementary and it gets a little hard. It's not as easy.
It made sense. It was practical for kids. I mean, and I did this at the high school level too. We made, you know, algebra, thematic, but not, but, but only for that one hour a week, you know, I'm not telling you that I am terrible at math. I'm probably LD at math, but, um, you know, so I wanted to go into an algebra class. Like I wanted to take that on. That was a challenge for me. And, uh, it worked fine. Um, that one hour a week, you know, I studied up on my algebra and that week was mine.
I'm not doing that one.
Sarah's out. For the whole hour you had her and now she's out.
Okay. And now I have, this is like, not totally on topic, but it's just, again, I know there's questions on this that came up a couple of times and I thought, ooh, someone's going to be so sad if I didn't get to it. But I like this question because this is, we get asked about HIPAA a lot too: how can you do therapy in the hallway or in the classroom or anywhere else? Doesn't that violate HIPAA privacy? [Lisa says “and FERPA” and Sarah shuts her down] Well, that's why I wanted to–they specifically said HIPAA. So let's talk about that right now about HIPAA compliancy in the schools.
Well I’m not, disclosing any, you know, confidential information about the kid. I'm telling him to say–but, but you know. So maybe people will know he's a speech kid, but how–how do they not know that every kid's a speech kid, because if you're getting them out of the classroom, like they go with you two times a week for half an hour and other kids, I think it's more confidential that you go into people's classrooms and serve, you know, every kid and–and do that. But, you know, so I don't see that that is secluding them or exposing them any more than it exposes our kids that where–if you're, you know, if you're really worried about that, go in the janitor's closet, take the kid in the janitor's closet, that's in the hallway and get your hundred responses in a burst blast kind of situation, or, you know, next door, take the kid next door to the empty classroom while those kids are out at recess or, you know, again, problem solve that.
It's not, I, again, I think that's the model or–going back to graduate school and everything was about HIPAA–we’re not HIPAA providers in the school setting.
FERPA’s about access to ed records, right? And confidentiality, not in the sense of, you know–
I think in our head we think like, oh my gosh, we can't ever say, or do any of these things because HIPAA, this and that. That's about personally identifiable information and records.
That’s medical information, yes.
Yes. So yes, we do have to follow FERPA and I always loved the kind of general rule is everything should be on a need to know basis. Like I don't talk about my students with anybody unless they need to know. But like you said, I actually think that's more confidential that you're in–those other kids think you're in there to help them!
So just make sure you're not yelling her social security number in the hallway then it’ll be cool.
Yeah. Somebody did say–I did, I read the, all I read many of the questions. I just didn't answer them. So somebody did say, uh, you know, my–my high school, my middle and high school kids are, are especially–how, how would this work with me identifying them? Well, you don't wanna identify them. Like you go in and you work with the whole high school class or the middle school class. So it's very confidential. They are not identified. Now. Maybe you make sure that you get that particular kid a little extra help, you know, you spend a little extra time with them, but there might be some other kids in that classroom that you spend a little extra time with too that are not identified on IEPs, especially, you know, situationally, the teacher may say, you know, we're, we're teaching this, um, this construct, this linguistic construct, you know, in written language or whatever. And these particular kids just really are not getting this one–hey, could you take that as your little group today? Sure. I'll take my IEP kid, but I'll take two or three of those other little kids that aren't getting that particular language construct too and we'll work on it together.
I did–I saw that question you were talking about, about when the students are older and there's so much more awareness and you know, they, they kind of want to blend and so–
That helps them to blend. You don't say I'm the speech pathologist and I'm coming into your classroom today to work with Tommy. You know, at the high school, the high school that I worked at, they would get on the PA system classroom and say, Mr. Flynn's here to see blah, blah, blah. You know?
So now what about, gosh, and I go back to like my mind on the restrictions and all these rules I have to follow and policies. Like it gets tricky when we start working with students who are not on IEP, doesn't it? Isn't there some kind of, like–
Not in a–in a general education environment. It's not, if you pull those kids out to your special education classroom, that's the–if they cross that threshold, that's the problem.
But them coming through on my center is fine, me moving around the classroom and even working with them a little bit, that's fine? Okay. Thank you. I knew that was–that would come up after that.
The threshold, the threshold into the special education room is, you know, and I've encouraged people to do like pragmatic groups. Kids don't have to be placed in special education to work on pragmatics. There are a lot of kids that could benefit from our knowledge about pragmatics that are just, you know, regular old kids. They don't meet the definition of eligibility. They–they don't have a disability that negatively impacts academic achievement or functional performance and needs specially designed instruction, but they made a couple of those and we can work really well with–I did not do this. I did not do this, um, there's a confession. Um, but you could work really well with a counselor and have a, uh, pragmatic group, you know, of four or five kids that are mixed, maybe some special education kids, maybe some not, sit in the–work in the library together, or the counseling room together, or something like that to work on pragmatic skills. And that's, you know, how you do that without, without having to call those kids special education kids when they really aren't, but they need, they need some pragmatic help.
I used to love too, did you ever use the curriculum, um, Ellen Prichard Dodge had communication language? It now is Comochi, but I used to go into gen ed classrooms and do that communication lab. And all of the kids loved it, gen ed, SPED, they love that crap.
So, you know, when I was in kindergarten and you know, I still pulled kids out and kindergarten that came into the kindergarten class and I pulled–but I still pulled kids out too during the week. And, you know, inevitably kids will go Mr. Flynn, you take him all the time, you never take any of us! I–I said, once a year, I said, I there's going to be a time when I'm going to take everybody to my classroom, you're going to get–and we usually did it at Easter time. We either did it at Easter time or St. Patrick's day and the leprechaun visited my classroom Patrick's day, or the Easter bunny visited my classroom. So all the kindergarten class got to come to my classroom. We sat in a circle. I had a big classroom sat in a circle and you know, like we did an activity or two. And, and then I said, you know, now everyone has gotten to come to my classroom, but it was, you know, it–where we were calling it a typical education environment because the whole class was there and everything, anyway.
Yes. I love it. I literally, I was just like, I have 500 more things that I want to talk about. I think we're going to do a part two. I think this will generate, I hope some questions. So you guys email us at podcast@SLPtoolkit.com.
Yeah, I know. Cause I feel like when we first got on, we promised you and I have like 40 minutes maybe, and now we're at an hour and six. So thank you.
We'll do a followup, but you guys email us more questions. I have plenty. I think we literally could talk to you at least another hour easily, because I think this is so important. It’s not easy
Yeah. I think it is, it is important. It's not easy. And it takes a leap of faith. Like you've gotta, you know, you've gotta be emotionally intelligent. You've got to let go of your being the one and only in your little speech place. And…
And you need to put yourself out there. I know I don't love to be observed. So I feel like if I'm in there, you know, and the teacher;s watching me, is she going to be like, what is this person doing?
So it's basically, I think the theme is get out of your own way. Get out of your own way. Have fun!
Yeah, no, exactly. Have fun. Give it a try. People, people say to me, you know, you can never go back and work in schools. I could go back and work in schools, in a heartbeat. As long as I didn't have a micromanaging principal, I could go work with teachers again. I love that. Like, it was so professionally stimulating for me. I love it.
It really is the best. There's a lot of the worst parts of it too that we’ve gotta try to fix it.
The outcomes for kids like we're strikingly better. Yeah.
The majority of their waking day is spent in a school setting. I mean, it's like the power of that. And the way that we can connect into that setting for them is that's why we advocate that it is the greatest, the greatest place to work.
So Nikki Nelson talks about, maybe I said, this is the podcast too, Nikki Nelson talks about the revolving door approach to special education that, you know, the–the most needy kids, are maybe getting OT, PT, and speech. So they're in the classroom, and then the speech language pathologist comes and gets them for half an hour, and they go out, they leave the classroom and the curriculum, and then they come back in and then, uh, you know, an hour later, the OT comes in and gets them. They are just a revolving door in and out, and they're missing all that curriculum, and they're the kids that need the curriculum, the most–the most repetitions of the curriculum to master it. And we keep taking them away from it, doing something that is, is likely, completely disjointed from what's happening in the classroom. So like, that doesn't make any sense. That's just not common sense.
Yup. Yup. We have a lot of rethinking to do, relearning.
Well, I feel like the theme over even the past year, year and a half has been constantly on learning. We've said that in our thinking our last podcast episode, it's, it's okay to unlearn. And that's where, when we referenced that book earlier about Adam Grant and “Think Again”, it's, you should be excited about learning. You should never get caught up in that expert trap because that's just not how we're designed to be. We're not designed to be perfect.
Yeah. Oh, it's been a pleasure. I can't wait in real life. I know you said you're going to ASHA. We don't get to come this year, but we will see you in real life some day and have a beer.
I will look forward to that time. I appreciate so much working with you guys. I love working with you guys and I appreciate what you do to help school-based speech pathologists be at the cutting edge of stuff.
Yes, exactly. And you too. Thank you so much for all of your contributions to this field and for your time, it's been a real pleasure.
My pleasure. Thanks everybody.