So you’ve been given a graduate student intern….now what? If I’ve had this question asked of me once, I’ve had it asked a thousand times! Spring is a popular time for many school SLPs to host graduate student interns, so for the next few weeks I’ll be brining you a blog series of everything you need to know when it comes to hosting, and rocking, a student intern experience…for both of you. 🙂
Before your student ever comes, there’s a few easy things you can do to make your transition a smooth one. Here’s a few tips–
- Be friendly–If your future student hasn’t already, reach out to her! Send a short e-mail introducing yourself and give her a little idea of what your caseload is like. Many times graduate programs will encourage their students to take initiative and contact you first, but if that’s not the case, break the ice. You can also find out what her treatment experience has been thus far in her coursework, which will help get you into a “teacher” mindset. Trust me, it will calm her nerves and yours. A week (or so) before your student is to begin their time with you, send a more specific e-mail including your daily arrival and start times, a list of what you’d like her to bring on her first day (if anything), where to park, sign in procedures for your school, and of course a reminder to pack her lunch!
- Be prepared— Maybe you asked for a student teacher or maybe you were assigned one. Either way, you’ll want to ready yourself, your room and your students.
- Ready yourself–There are a ton of great resources on Teachers Pay Teachers for SLPs supervising a graduate intern. Some of my personal favorites are this binder from Maureen, this freebie from Hallie, and this download from Carissa. No matter if you buy or create your own resource, having a “handbook” will be a huge brain-saver for you! I always include basic school information, a calendar with important dates (midterms, school release days, staff meetings), expectations for both my student and myself (more on that later!), all of my computer and copy machine passwords as you feel necessary, a building map and a space for my student to write semester goals for herself. I also make my graduate students a separate data binder. I do this for a couple of reasons: first, there’s just something about someone else in my data binder. My data is 90% written in “Rachel-code” and short hand I know and understand, so I don’t like the idea of someone trying to interpret it or messing with my system. (Hi, I’m Rachel and I’m super Type A about my data collection). Second, it’s a good first activity for your student. I give her a binder and data sheets that are the same as I use for congruence, but it’s a great learning activity for her to learn to not only organize a data binder, but also make her set one up logically as she gets to know my students
- Ready your room–This is a good time for me to toss all the fall and Christmas activities away that are still laying out ;). Taking 10 minutes to get rid of clutter will help your student learn where your resources are while she’s doing observations. If you have the space, I like to put a student desk in my room for my graduate student. This gives her a place to keep her personal items and to sit while you are at your desk. It’s a welcoming touch and I’ve had students in the past mention how much it meant to see that I had thought of them in that way.
- Ready your students–Just as hard as it is for you to “turn over” your students for a semester, it’s a transition time for them. Especially for students with extra special needs, a “new SLP” can be a shift. I start talking about my incoming student teacher the week before she arrives. This helps my students feel more comfortable when my intern arrives and begins to do observation. When you’re used to working solo in your classroom for however long you have, you’ll be surprised what a different dynamic another person’s full-time presence can be! I also send out a parent letter 2-3 weeks before my graduate intern arrives. Your speech students are sure to go home and chat about the “new speech teacher”, and that can cause some unwanted alarm for parents. I always make the letter very positive and give them plenty of time with any questions or concerns.
- Be confident–My first reaction to getting a student teacher was “Uh, me? What do I know?” You know PLENTY! Again, when you’re used to riding solo in your room day in and day out, having someone watch your every move can make your heart race just a bit. You are a PRO at what you do and there’s nothing better for a student to see than you do what you were made to do, flub ups and all. After all, chances are when things go awry, and they will, ( my first student’s FIRST DAY of her internship with me? A bird flew in my classroom and sat itself down on my intern’s little desk next to mine. TRUE STORY, GUYS.) she’ll never know the difference. Unless it’s a bird. Then she might notice that.
Next week I’ll be back with tips on what to do when your student arrives, setting a plan for her time with you, and lots more goodies for getting this adventure off the ground!