If you’re a speech-language pathologist, you know it takes expertise, creativity, empathy, and understanding to support your clients and help them grow. But what about SLPs who help students? What personality traits and specialized skills are essential for SLPs who work in private, public, or charter schools? Effective school-based SLPs are:
- Passionate – Working with children requires a high level of passion and commitment. A genuine love for speech, education, and children is the perfect combination for a successful career as a school-based SLP.
- Articulate – Your pronunciation is crucial. Kids take their verbal cues by watching and listening to you as you speak, so precise articulation is key.
- Team Player – In a school setting, you will work with a multidisciplinary team comprised of a combination of school psychologists, special education teachers, social workers, occupational therapists, and physical therapists. Being a team player is mandatory for cohesively working with various colleagues and developing plans and goals that are in the best interest of each child.
- Adaptable – Each child has different needs. SLPs must be highly adaptable even when providing services in various environments. This career allows you to provide in-home, virtual/remote, or face-to-face services.
- Organized – Between IEP meetings, therapy sessions, documentation, and billing, organization is a highly desired trait. To stay organized, use a calendar and other productivity resources, and don’t be afraid to ask other school-based SLPs what works for them.
- Resourceful – Being able to find and use a variety of resources is vital. Remember, sometimes, the smallest thing can turn out to be monumental and can encourage a child to speak. Something simple, such as a favorite character or squishy toy, may motivate your children to open up and practice their speech, so don’t be afraid to explore activities using what you have on hand.
- Insightful – It’s important to be able to read between the lines. Some kids may be too young to speak or may be completely non-verbal. As a speech-language pathologist, it's essential to pick up on body language so you can gauge your kids’ willingness or hesitation to participate.
- Patient – Children don’t just sit still for their entire 30-minute or 1-hour session. There may be lots of movement, outbursts, and bathroom breaks. Be prepared to be patient and familiarize yourself with each child’s routines.