Thursday, December 3, 2015

You Are Only as Good as the Weakest Link

We all belong to teams--in schools, these are IEP teams.  Some of you belong to 60 teams or more, apparently!

When I was younger, fresh out of college, I thought I had super powers, and could be the best school SLP ever, changing lives, making everyone happy, a modern day miracle worker. 

Ha Ha, I say now.
 I'm not jaded, just realistic.

The bottom line in a school setting, or any setting where teams need to work together, is that an SLP is really only as effective as the weakest part of the team.

Reasons abound:
  1. Goals are integrated.  "Speech" can't really function well without EC teacher or regular ed teacher support.  Are teachers willing to work on the communication/language goals, too?

  2.  The classroom teacher needs to be implementing communication goals in their setting all day (whether regular education or separate setting). Therapy with a speech pathologist is immaterial unless supported in the classroom.  Do others in the classroom try to implement communication goals?

  3.  Parents or caregivers need to be supporting and implementing IEP goals.  This is often difficult for myriad reasons.

  4.  Members of the team need to be communicating with each other.  Does the EC teacher know what to reinforce or elicit? Does the EC teacher care? Are members on the team reading emails or attending team meetings?

  5. Administration needs to support EC staff and students.  I could write essay after essay about how administrators often sabotage EC efforts, often inadvertently, but still with negative outcomes.  Providing times for collaboration, adequate staffing, adequate budgets, supervision, opportunities for trainings and professional development, and a space to work all contribute to helping teams work more effectively.  In addition, attendance during meetings along with thoughtful comments and objective decision-making is extremely helpful.

I've worked with awesome teams.

I've worked with teams with weak links. Those links suppress teams, and unfortunately affect student outcomes, and overall team satisfaction.

 My effectiveness as an SLP is only as good as the weakest link on a child's team.

So how many of you are aware of your “weakest link”? (This varies from IEP team to IEP team.) Once you’ve identified who or what your weak link is, it’s time to then map out a plan to rise above and strengthen the teamwork chain.

It's easier said than done.  



  1. This was a really good post. Thank you.

  2. Well-written post! I appreciate your looking at the "big picture". And-- thanks for the practical and creative materials you've created and shared.

  3. I have had these same thoughts many times.

    This is especially true when you are working with students that need AAC devices. I get so frustrated when I see that the device is over across the room because "he just doesn't use it", or "he was playing with it so we took it away". Do they realize that they are basically taping his mouth shut by doing that?

    You can show aided language stimulation videos until you're blue in the face, but if people don't "get it", it's hard to make anything that you do in therapy transfer to real life situations. I've been dreading setting up a consult for one of my students because I'm not looking forward to people looking at me like I have two heads when I explain that they actually have to model how to use the device-you know since that is the way we learn things!

    End of rant. Thanks for the post. Now time to change the world and come up with the answer to this problem, right? :)