Some comedy skits are unforgettable and timeless. One of those skits is from the I Love Lucy Show, in which Lucy and Ethel get a job in a chocolate factory. Lucy and Ethel will be fired if they can't keep up. Suddenly the candies travel on the conveyor belt so quickly that Lucy and Ethel can't keep up. They begin to place the runaway chocolates in their mouths, hats, and dresses. As one would expect, the girls are fired due to all the mishaps.
I bring up this comedy skit because we can all laugh at the theatrics of the situation. Currently, we, as speech pathologists, are facing work that is happening faster than we want, and suddenly we become Lucy at the Chocolate Factory. Our job is demanding. It always has been. We find that our caseload grows faster than we can handle. We feel that our clients that aren't making progress are sitting on the conveyor belt, blocking the movement of the new clients.
How can we get off the conveyor belt?
First of all, we need to become the manager. Let's look at the things that are going well to model the remainder of our caseloads.
What makes your "fun" groups fun?
The right mixture of kids
When you can't have the right mixture of kids, you might consider using shorter sessions and dividing the kids up. You could try to find a 15-minute block somewhere and for one 15-minute block, see child A, the other child B, and the new 15-minute block, both of them. You have reduced your time with the combination and given each two sessions per week for increased frequency. **If you are reducing total time, please remember to adjust the IEP. **
They praise each other.
You can teach kids to praise each other and make it a game. They reward each other with nice words.
They understand why they come to speech.
Make a game of remembering what they are to do in speech.
They are hard workers.
We tend to work hard when we have the right tools and skills and understand the task at hand. We can freeze if we are afraid of the job. We can fear failing, being embarrassed in front of our friends, and being the group's joke. We can be afraid because we don't know how to begin.
Sometimes the actions of the students can mirror our fears about therapy.
They have the right tools.
Do you need the right tools? Are you worried about the expense? Try thinking about what your services cost the school district or the parent for each of your students. If you don't have the correct tool, you continue to incur labor costs with no return.
You are making progress with them
Analyze the problematic group. Was there a misdiagnosis? Were the goals skewed too high for the child? The IEP is a working document. Change it if you need to do so. After all, you need to get those kids off of the speech conveyor belt!
Lucy and Ethel had each other.
Do you have colleagues that support you? Do you support and comfort others? Find a way to be that friend/co-worker!
Make changes in your schedule that suit you and your students. Be reasonable with other staff, but take care of yourself.
Oh! Don't forget to eat some chocolate here and there! You've got this.