When I speak to SLPs who are entering the field of telepractice, the first question I often get is HOW do I find, sort, and use "materials"? I remember how scary it was the first time I had to plan 10 sessions for the day, and I couldn't use the gold standards I was formerly successful with. Treatment sessions in Speech Telepractice look very different from traditional, face-to-face sessions. When you provide treatment via the internet, especially to children, therapy materials require a bit more "pizazz", in the absence of physical materials, toys and manipulatives.
Enter the very reason I created The Whimsical Word, Inc. Children are difficult to engage when the ONLY materials you present are black and white worksheets, or flashcards you hold up to your camera. An additional challenge? Most speech teletherapists work as independent contractors. Employers don't always provide a library of materials for use, unlike a brick and mortar setting. The cost of purchasing workbooks, flashcards and lessons quickly cripples the pocketbook.
In my quest to create a "digital file cabinet" worth of materials and ideas I could have at the ready, I turned to Pinterest. What? PINTEREST? Isn't that for planning weddings and creating picture-worthy recipes? Yes, and no. Let me explain.
If you already HAVE a Pinterest account, and you browse your feed regularly, you know that often, a pin related to speech pathology will eventually surface, because you ARE an SLP. The more you "pin" or "save" information related to speech, the more Pinterest acknowledges your interest, and places speech info in your feed. But Pinterest is also a search engine, like Google, and it is FLOODED with information related to Speech-Language Pathology. Everything from craft ideas for therapy, to links to videos demonstrating fluency techniques, to links to materials for direct purchase. It's ALL at your fingertips. Our access to information and materials has increased tenfold.
So, HOW do I use Pinterest to PLAN my therapy sessions? Here are the steps:
1) Create boards specific to treatment areas, age levels and/ or seasons (ie; Fluency resources, Autumn, Phonology for Littles). You can name them whatever you want, so it's easy for you to search when needed.
2) CAREFULLY search and select pins to save to each board. In speech telepractice, your materials need to be digital, and preferably in pdf format! Therefore, it makes no sense to save a pin that demonstrates how to make a Halloween craft out of paper plates and pipe cleaners. Or recipes you might make with a large group of kindergarteners. Use these terms to locate relevant pins: TELETHERAPY, TELEPRACTICE, NO PRINT SPEECH, DIGITAL LESSON, iPAD SPEECH, NO PREP SPEECH, VIDEOS FOR SPEECH; etc. Save ONLY items that are platform-friendly, or that you feel you can use over the internet.
3) When therapy becomes stale, or you need to plan for a NEW student who is unique to your caseload, you don't need to PANIC. Return to your boards to search ideas you have saved. Because you have carefully selected pins for materials that are platform friendly, you won't need to wade through pins that aren't relevant. Often, pins will link to materials for purchase on Teachers Pay Teachers or an SLP Blog. You can quickly locate and purchase speech-language materials for download that are engaging, easy to store, and CHEAP.
The key to using Pinterest to plan for treatment sessions is to resist the urge to pin anything that isn't useful for telepractice. I often see pins for adorable crafts, recipes, or theme-based therapy with puppets, toys, and songs. While these materials are ever so useful, they aren't practical on the fly. Most likely, you don't have the time to prep, nor do you don't have the "hands" on the other side of the screen to assist you. Storing practical ideas for ONLY telepractice will save you loads of time when you need materials quickly.
As telepractice evolves, I imagine one day, we WILL have the ability to work in a simultaneous virtual space with our clients. Today, we only have our screen, white board space, and our outgoing personalities, to draw students in. Using Pinterest for future planning has proven to be useful when time is short and caseloads are large and varied. If you'd like examples of what to pin, click here!
I've pinned thousands of ideas for telepractice only, at the ready.
If you need ideas NOW, check out my TpT Store! I've created almost 100 resources for telepractice platforms, for use with students of all ages. You can pin resources right from TpT, (look for the red "P" logo near the photo) if you'd prefer to browse and save for later! Search "teletherapy" or "No Print Speech" on TpT, and you will find several amazing resource designers who have created materials perfect for your platform. Pin away, dear SLP! It's time to start building that digital file cabinet of amazing ideas!