Monday, February 17, 2014

Should I Stay or Should I Go

Do you need a change?  Are you struggling with whether to stay in your current position or grab an opportunity that has come your way?  I think I can help, or, at the very least, give you something to think about.
In 29 years, I have worked in 6 different school systems in 3 different states.  I can't imagine how it would be to work in the same school system for all of my career.  I changed states (from Ga. to SC) because of my husband's transfer, and (from SC to Tn.) for personal reasons.  Within those states, the moves have been for personal reasons.
I learned something valuable at each of my places of employment.  In my 2nd school system, I learned to take a less than stellar evaluation and turn it into a positive.  I have a lot to thank that special ed director for:  that evaluation turned me into a better SLP (or Speech Clinician as we were called then).  My Nursing Home experience taught me the importance of documentation.  To this day, I document everything.  In fact, it saved one of my site supervisors:  he called me after we moved to SC because they were being audited, and he needed to know when I saw my kids.  BAM!  I had it in my calendar, so he was saved!

 
My 3rd system (which was in SC) taught me how to use PECS successfully.  I also learned how to bill for Medicaid, as well as learning that system.  My 4th system taught me the ins and outs of due process paperwork.  Seriously, that system was ridiculously anal about paperwork, so I fit right in!  I also learned how to be responsible for a speech department.  I learned more of the administrative side of being an SLP.
After 20 years, I told my husband I was ready to move home.  9/11 put things in perspective for a lot of people, and I was one of them.  I was ready to move "home" and be near family.  He told me to find a job, and we'd go.  So...in my 5th school system, I learned how to work in a large school system (the 3rd largest in the state), as well as how to work in a culturally diverse school.  When a position came open in my current school system (even though I was only in my 5th system for 1 year), I jumped at it.  
I can't say whether or not my professional development would have been stagnant if I had stayed in my first school system, but, as I reflect over my career, I can't say that I would have had the experiences that I had.  I remember the first student I evaluated with Autism...in my first school system.  I can remember the preschool hearing impaired class that was in my school...in my second school system.  I can remember a student with severe disabilities in my fourth school system who was disfigured to the point where I didn't know if I would be able to work with her when I first saw her.  But I did, and she ended up being one of my most favorite students.  
I've had excellent training...both through seminars and on-the-job.  I've met some amazing SLPs who have helped me and shared their knowledge with me.  I've had excellent special ed directors and principals who have supported me throughout my career.  
I've also had some tough times.  I've had tough parents who have made me feel incompetent.  I've had teachers who have made me feel like I don't belong, or that I'm not needed.  I've had students that I felt like I was getting nowhere with them, and some that I had no idea what to do.  
So, if you're debating whether to stay in your current position or grab another opportunity that has come along, I say, "Go for it!"  When you find a position where you're totally happy, you'll know it.  The experiences you gain from getting different perspectives is invaluable.  I can't imagine that I would be the SLP I am today if I hadn't changed positions.  I definitely think that it will make you a more rounded SLP with different experiences.  It will get you out of your comfort zone, for sure, but just think of what you will gain!

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