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Career Story: Speech-Language Pathologist At An Elementary School

Speech-Language Pathologist At An Elementary School

Job Title: Speech-Language Pathologist

Type of Company: I work for a school district in suburban Boston.

Education: BA, Communication, Boston College •• MS, Communication Disorders, Emerson College (Boston, MA)

Previous Experience: I have worked as a speech-language pathologist in a pediatric clinic, private practice and elementary school for eight years. I also teach a graduate course at Northeastern University.

Job Tasks: I work with elementary school students who have difficulties with articulation, fluency, autism or general social interaction. I see them in and out of class in small groups and in one-on-one sessions. I also consult with teachers, parents and other staff, and participate in numerous meetings. I conduct a variety of diagnostic evaluations on students and report my findings to the members of their "team": parents, teachers, special educators, occupational therapists and school psychologists.

I try to help students become the best communicators they can be, no matter what their difficulties are. In each session, I choose a particular objective to work on: using verb tenses correctly, for example, or taking turns in conversation. I then explain the concept to the students and we practice it for approximately 30 minutes. Sometimes, we practice in a game format. Other times, we practice for roughly 25 minutes and then play a game at the end. To help students stay motivated, we use a monitoring system. At the end of each session, we review their behavior and give them checks if they've succeeded. Once they've earned a certain number of checks, they can choose a small reward.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The worst part of my job is all the administrative stuff: writing reports and other paperwork and going to meetings. These can be tedious and boring at times and eat up sizable chunks of my day.

The best part of my job is working with students. I enjoy getting to know them and watch them grow. It also feels good to know that I am helping them.

Job Tips:
1. Practice patience. Every teacher needs it.

2. Consider working as a speech-pathology assistant. You don't need to have a master's degree, just a bachelor's, so you can experience what it is like to be a speech-language pathologist before you commit to graduate school.

3. Keep an open mind. There are many different kinds of jobs a speech-language pathologist can take. You may not know which one you're suited to until you stumble across it.

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