July 1, 2013 Columns

School Matters: SLP, School Thyself

Your day as a school-based SLP is packed from morning to night. So how do you find time for continuing education? Weave it in or go online.

In our field, as in all fields, we must keep up with a steady flow of new research so we can provide the highest level of evidence-based services. To prove that we're keeping up, as well as continuing to provide services competently, we need to meet ongoing professional and legal requirements.

ASHA-certified speech-language pathologists are required to abide by ASHA's "Code of Ethics," which stipulates "lifelong learning to maintain and enhance professional competence and performance." They must also keep abreast of professional and clinical changes in education and speech-language pathology, and maintain continuing education credits for ASHA certification, state licensure and state certification.

But who has the time to do all this? School-based SLPs have busy schedules and need professional learning opportunities that are easily accessible, relevant, evidence-based and affordable. How can they manage professional development efficiently and effectively— especially when they also may be required to participate in staff development they do not feel is pertinent to the profession, and that will not enhance their skills or services to students? There are only so many hours in the day, right?

ASHA opportunities

Fortunately, as technology improves, so do ways to participate in professional development. There are many options available for professional learning—some are virtual and some are even free. There are also many different avenues for connecting with other professionals electronically and through social media. ASHA offers many choices for professional development that include:

  • ASHA convention. Convention provides opportunities to learn about the latest evidence-based research and gain new skills and resources. The 2013 convention will take place Nov. 14–16 in Chicago.
  • Schools 2013 Conference. This annual summer conference is all about speech-language pathology in the schools. The 2014 conference will take place July 25–27 in Pittsburgh.
  • Online conferences. A recent, school-related online conference focused on supporting emotional, social and academic growth in adolescent language and literacy. With online conferences, members can listen to pre-recorded sessions at any time during a two-week period and participate in live online chats.
  • ASHA professional development programs. ASHA offers live and on-demand webinars. Also, visit the ASHA Course Search page to search a database of ASHA-approved CE providers for courses that meet your learning needs. You can search by topic, keyword, location, date and other parameters.
  • e-Learning.You can earn CEUs through self-study web workshops or by reading journal articles and passing a multiple-choice test. One great CEU source is Perspectives, the online periodicals exclusively sponsored by ASHA's Special Interest Groups. SIG affiliates can read their SIG's Perspectives and earn CEUs for a low fee.
  • Independent study.You can also meet CE requirements through independent work related to communication sciences and disorders. If you have a project that you would like to pursue, try earning CEUs through independent study. For example, you could present a staff development workshop on a topic relevant to the profession. Another idea is to form a journal or study group that reviews relevant professional materials.
  • Other professional development possibilities include free webinars and professional learning options at the state and local level. Your state association's convention, regional conferences scheduled in your area, or local university may provide great choices for professional development courses.

Learning by connecting

Another way to learn from your colleagues is to participate in the ASHA online communities. ASHA members can post messages about their interests and experiences, ask for tips and advice, and take part in online discussions on various clinical and professional topics. School-based SLPs may be particularly interested in three of these communities: schools; SIG 16, School-Based Issues; and SIG 1, Language Learning and Education.

You may want to check if there are any professional learning communities in your school—or consider forming one. A professional learning community is a way to foster collaborative learning among colleagues within a particular work environment or field. It is often used in schools.

And don't forget social media. You can connect with colleagues on the ASHA Facebook page, through Twitter and on Pinterest, LinkedIn or YouTube sites. No, the community and social media discussions don't offer CEUs, but they do help you stay in the know and widen your network of colleagues.

The most important thing is to keep learning and growing. As Benjamin Franklin said, "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." And John Dewey wisely stated, "Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself."

Susan Karr, MS, CCC-SLP, is ASHA associate director of school services. skarr@asha.org

cite as: Karr, S. (2013, July 01). School Matters: SLP, School Thyself. The ASHA Leader.

  

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