...an adventure in attitudes. (I kid.)
Also, I seemed to have let half of the school year slip by. I decided to transition into a part-time position with teletherapy this year, rather than tackling the cyberworld full-time again. For me, I don't know that a position solely online is my best fit. I will say, however, that I miss all of my online students from last year.
Today's all about high schoolers. Over the past year and a half with teletherapy, I've worked with several high schoolers: freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, all of whom needed therapy for receptive/expressive language skills. While many of them are polite and respectful, I did have a handful of students who wanted nothing to do with me, which made therapy tough.
When you're in cyber school, no one is stopping you from watching TV instead of logging into your classes (including therapy), especially if mom or dad work outside of the home during the day. Couple that with students whose parents do not give out their cell phone or email, and I hit a wall. Calling mom or dad to let them know Johnny or Susie hasn't logged in only goes so far if mom or dad are too busy at work to answer the call. Last school year, I would attempt to switch therapy to a later morning or afternoon slot, but this year, I'm limited to evening hours.
Out of my evening students this year, one faithfully attends every week and is highly motivated to increase his social skills to make friends. The other student, I have not been able to get in contact with at all, and it's now March.
One of my favorite ways to motivate my language-impaired students to show up and work in therapy is to use their interests. It doesn't bother me at all if a student wants to read The Hunger Games or listen to Demi Lovato, because we can tie in language to ~literally~ anything. Isn't the point of language therapy to increase a student's functional skills?
One student that I had scheduled for Friday afternoons from 4:15-4:45, was never an attendance issue, but I decided that I needed motivation based on her late time slot. Every week, we chose a song for the following week and we targeted figurative language, inferencing, main idea, and supporting details. She chose a song, I chose a song. And we 100% danced and sang along during therapy. I truly felt sad when she was sick or cancelled therapy, because if you think therapy only needs to be motivating for your students, you're sorely mistaken. :)
Another high school student of mine is working on social skills. This student is well aware of his deficits, and reminds me a lot of a video that circled Facebook a while ago. He is on the spectrum, and he is frustrated that he has social deficits, because his long term goals include friends, marriage, a family, and a career. He is passionate about his faith, so we use our therapy sessions to tie in appropriateness of conversations he may have at youth group, and we practice mock-conversation after mock-conversation (our YTD tally is somewhere in the 30's, I believe). But!!! These very functional and predictable courses of conversation keep him engaged and responsive to cueing in therapy. He knows the expectation is for him to participate readily in conversations, and he'll get the feedback he wants regarding how to make friends.
Therapy can be tricky with older students, but I think adding functionality and explaining WHY you're drilling those "dumb idioms" can help students realize there is a point to my bugging them beyond Language Arts class.
Any tips or tricks you have about working with high schoolers?
The Cyber Speechie