10 Ways to Show Appreciation for SLPs and SLPAs: A Guide for Special Ed Administrators

05/15/2024

10 Ways to Show Appreciation for SLPs and SLPAs: A Guide for Special Ed Administrators

Each May we celebrate National Speech-Language-Hearing Month, an excellent opportunity for special education administrators to recognize and celebrate the indispensable roles that Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) and Speech-Language Pathologist Assistants (SLPAs) play in their districts. 

As districts continue to face staffing shortages and challenges in attracting new related service providers, it’s more essential than ever to ensure that current speech-language team members, who tirelessly support students with communication disorders, feel well supported and deeply appreciated.

These professionals are on the frontline, enhancing students’ abilities to succeed academically and socially. Here’s a guide on how administrators can show their appreciation in meaningful ways that not only acknowledge the critical work of SLPs and SLPAs but also bolster their morale and help them to remember their “why”.

1. Offer Professional Development Opportunities

Professional development is a cornerstone for any educator, especially for those in specialized fields such as speech-language pathology. By offering opportunities for SLPs and SLPAs to attend relevant workshops, seminars, or national conferences, administrators demonstrate a commitment to the professional growth and continuous learning of their staff. 

For instance, funding attendance at the annual American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) conference not only allows them to gain new knowledge and skills but also to network with peers, which can rejuvenate their passion for their work and bring fresh ideas into your district.

2. Write Personalized Thank You Notes

A personalized note can go a long way in making someone feel valued and appreciated. Taking the time to write personalized thank you notes to each SLP and SLPA in your district, acknowledging specific instances where their effort has made a difference, can significantly boost morale. 

Whether it’s a successful student outcome, a creative therapy session, or their day-to-day dedication, these notes can be powerful tokens of recognition that reinforce their importance within the school community.

3. Provide Flexible Scheduling Options

The work of SLPs and SLPAs can be emotionally and mentally draining. Offering flexible scheduling options, such as flexible start and end times, opportunities to work from home when not seeing students, or comp time for extra hours worked, can help them manage their workload and reduce burnout. 

This flexibility demonstrates that the administration recognizes the challenges of their roles and is supportive of their need for work-life balance.

4. Upgrade Equipment and Tools

SLPs and SLPAs rely heavily on various tools and technologies to provide effective therapy. Administrators can show their appreciation by ensuring that these professionals have access to the latest equipment. 

Upgrading old software, providing new therapy materials, or even investing in ergonomic furniture can significantly impact their ability to provide high-quality services and their overall job satisfaction.

5. Publicly Acknowledge Their Successes

Public acknowledgment of a job well done boosts the morale of SLPs and SLPAs while also raising awareness of their crucial role within your school community. 

Administrators should look for opportunities to highlight their successes in district newsletters, school board meetings, and social media platforms. Celebrating their achievements not only honors them but also educates the wider community about the valuable work they do.

6. Subscribe Them to Professional Resources

Knowledge is a critical asset in the constantly evolving field of speech-language pathology. Subsidizing or even covering the cost of subscriptions to key journals, online resources, and memberships in professional organizations like ASHA ensures SLPs and SLPAs have access to the latest research, therapy techniques, and industry standards. This not only supports their professional development but also enhances the services they provide to students.

7. Offer Wellness Resources

The emotional and physical well-being of SLPs and SLPAs is crucial to their ability to perform their roles effectively.  

Administrators can show their support by offering wellness programs that might include stress management workshops, mindfulness training, access to fitness centers, or even onsite massages during particularly stressful periods of the school year. Such initiatives acknowledge the stresses of their roles and provide them with tools to manage their health.

8. Designate an SLP Appreciation Day

Setting aside a day to specifically celebrate SLPs and SLPAs during National Speech-Language-Hearing Month can make them feel especially valued. This could involve small gestures like hosting a lunch in their honor, presenting them with certificates of appreciation, or simply giving them a shoutout during morning announcements.

A dedicated day highlights their contributions and can significantly enhance their sense of belonging and value within the school community.

9. Introduce Efficient Technological Tools

In today’s digital age, the right technology can streamline many aspects of education. Introducing efficient technological tools like Amplio Speech & Language can drastically reduce the time SLPs and SLPAs spend on non-student-facing tasks such as documentation and planning. 

Tools that can streamline these processes allow them to spend more time doing what they do best—directly working with students. Demonstrating a commitment to reducing their administrative burden can be a significant form of support.

10. Establish a Feedback Loop

Creating a system where SLPs and SLPAs can regularly provide feedback about their work environment, challenges, and needs shows that their input is valued. Whether it’s through regular one-on-one meetings, suggestion boxes, or staff surveys, giving them a voice in the processes that affect their work can lead to improvements that make their roles more manageable and enjoyable.

 

Recognizing the hard work and dedication of school SLPs and SLPAs with thoughtful, meaningful gestures enhances their job satisfaction and reinforces their integral role in the educational success of students with special needs. By implementing one, some, or even all of these ten strategies, special education administrators can create a supportive atmosphere that acknowledges and celebrates the critical contributions of these professionals. 

This National Speech-Language-Hearing Month, let’s commit to making our schools a better place for SLPs and SLPAs, ensuring they have the resources, support, and recognition they need to thrive. 

As you plan these initiatives, remember that the best way to honor SLPs and SLPAs is by consistently supporting their professional and personal growth throughout the year. These actions can make a profound difference in retaining quality professionals who are crucial to the success of our students and school communities.

Laura Sutliffe

Laura Sutliffe

Laura is a District Relations Executive, supporting usage and adoption of Amplio Speech and Language alongside our district partners. Laura has over 30 years of experience as a nationally certified Speech-Language Pathologist. She is a founding member and director of the Tiny-K Alliance, Infants and Families Program.

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