How to Build an Amazing Speech Teletherapy Toolbox
You have decided to become a Speech Teletherapist, so congratulations! If you are beginning your training, you may have taken a look at your platform, and might be wondering about your current stash of Speech-Language Materials. "How will I use these "hard" materials in a virtual world?", you ask yourself. I found myself a little concerned on how I would continue to use my "gold standards" in therapy, when my table top was a lack luster white screen. It wasn't long before I learned some tricks, and found some amazing resources that reduced my stress, and allowed me to maintain the quality of my therapy.
Get ready to diversify that toolbox!
1) Invest in Apps: My favorite app is Abbyy Fine Scanner! This handy-dandy app for iPhone allows me to take photos of my favorite worksheets and flash cards from my cell phone, and quickly turns them into pdf versions for use on my platform. Once you take a photo, you can email it to yourself, then download and save it. You can save multiple pages to one document, which I love. And, I find it faster than scanning each individual page on my scanner/copier/printer. This has allowed me to continue to use my favorite worksheets and activities digitally, without stress.
If your platform allows for screen sharing, and you own an iPad, you can "mirror" your iPad, making the apps you already own accessible to your students on your platform. Unfortunately, one drawback is that the student will not be able to manipulate the features from their end. However, the clinician CAN use the touch screen on her side. I've actually found this slightly beneficial. My student is now required to use language to give me directions on what they want me to press/select/complete. If you'd like to learn how to mirror your iPad, here are directions here to learn how! https://www.mirroring360.com/how-it-works
2. Purchase a Document Camera: Many teletherapists have invested in a document camera or "Elmo" as students love to call it. This camera allows you to easily project your "hard materials" such as worksheets, flashcards, etc. on your computer screen. You can also use it for game play! Your students can see when you roll a "die" or use a spinner, or take turns playing Memory. Although YOU have to manipulate all of the pieces, the document camera still allows you to use those materials you loved in face-to-face, table-top therapy.
3. Use Teachers Pay Teachers: I will admit that I was never a fan of Teachers Pay Teachers...until NOW. I always found lessons to have too many directions (that I didn't have time to read), or too much preparation (I refuse to laminate, cut or glue). However, Teachers Pay Teachers has rapidly evolved! More and more lessons are NO PRINT and NO PREP. If you have a membership, use these KEY words in the search bar to find FUN, colorful and engaging materials that can easily be used on your platform: TELETHERAPY, TELEPRACTICE, NO PRINT, DIGITAL . Some sellers also have amazing E-games that you can screen share and play with your students. Games and lessons are very affordable, a tax write off, AND easy to store on your flash drive (no paper required). Check out the materials that I have created specifically for Teletherapy Platforms by clicking here!
4. Let Pinterest become your BFF: When I was on "on the ground" therapist, I had a large black cabinet filled with hard materials. It was neatly organized by area (Articulation, Language, Fluency, etc.). Plan time was scarce, so it was necessary to have my materials neatly arranged, as I needed to quickly locate items at the start of each day. As a teletherapist, my Pinterest Boards are now my "black cabinet".
Pinterest is an amazing search engine. Type in keywords such as "online games", "videos for kids", "teletherapy materials", "no print articulation", or "free speech language materials" and you will find a plethora of information. Time and time again, when I have been searching for something new to use with my online students, I've found it on Pinterest (or TPT, which I have then pinned BACK to Pinterest for later use). I've built my own personal boards chuck full of resources I can go BACK to when planning for sessions. If you'd like ideas on how to build your own Boards, check out my Pinterest page by clicking here.
5. Use Your Colleagues: One of the most amazing things about being a teletherapist, is that you are now connected to a large group of professionals that seems uniquely collaborative. You are no longer "bound" to the 3 other SLPs in your school district who share materials with you. No matter where or HOW you are providing teletherapy, I have found that other Speech Teletherapists are always willing to share their therapy ideas and resources with you. I often wonder if this is because materials for teletherapy are "digital" rather than "hard". You can't borrow your friend's Super Duper Book, then forget to return it, when you are a teletherapist! But you will find that no question goes unanswered when you are looking for a specific strategy or material to use with a student.
I have learned some great techniques and ideas for therapy from other creative SLPs in online forums and groups. Facebook has private groups dedicated specifically to teletherapy, and ASHA has created their Special Interest Group 18 for Telepractice. If you are on Facebook, type "teletherapy" or "telepractice" into the search bar. If you are specifically interested in collaborating on ideas for materials and teletherapy, join us on Facebook at Teletherapy Materials for Speech-Language Pathologists.
Using these 5 strategies above, you will find that creating a Speech Teletherapy Toolbox will be stress free! Use this preparation time to build a NEW collection of digital resources to have at the ready. Go ahead and unpack those Gold Standards. Set up a small bookshelf near your desk for the hard materials you'd like to keep. Get yourself a flash drive with extra storage, and put that black file cabinet in a garage sale. You probably won't need it much longer.
Congratulations on your new adventure!