Monday, November 2, 2015

Why You Should Get Involved With Your State Organization

Last May, I joined Speech2U and other SLPs in a linky. We talked about why we joined our state organization. I just came home from the TAASLP Convention and I'm ready to talk about why you should get involved with your state organization. 
I, along with 2 coworkers, had the honor of kicking off the convention by being the first presenters for the preschool/school tract on Thursday morning. 
My coworkers left after the presentation, but I stayed so I could help out and complete my obligations. I was thrown into the position of being co-chair for the preschool/school tract. I say "thrown into" because I offered to help with whatever I could. Next thing I know, I'm getting an email introducing me and the other co-chair as co-chairs! There was a moment of panic and yelling, NO! You were supposed to call me! at the laptop. But, then I calmed down and carried on. And, it wasn't that bad...or time consuming. 
The result: We had an awesome convention with speakers that are relevant to the schools. Several people told me that they took away things that they could go back and start doing on Monday. THAT'S what it's all about, and that's a huge reason you should get involved with your state organization. 
This is how our convention is set up;or, rather, how it was set up this year (this was my first year attending): We have a featured speaker on Thursday, and one on Friday. There is an hour presentation before and after the featured presenter. This year for Thursday, we had a certain guy who is so on fire for Speech/Language, it's infectious. He brought us different ways to use apps that aren't necessarily "Speech/Language Apps". Things that we can do on Monday; things that will make our kids excited to come to speech, too, AND a way to take our therapy to a whole different level. 
I was stoked that I not only got to meet Erik X. Raj, but I introduced him! What a nice guy!!! If you've never seen him present, I would highly recommend it! Simply amazing! His presentation wasn't about promoting his apps (which are fantastic, by the way), but rather how he could help us learn to incorporate videos and apps into our sessions. (I've now re-downloaded youtube on my iPad...can't wait to use it with some of my kids!)
Friday, Jane Kitson (Atlanta area Mother Goose) spoke. I had the good fortune to see her a couple of times at the SCSHA Convention. She is just about to retire, but she still gets you motivated for the little ones, and gives you fantastic ideas to incorporate music into your therapy sessions. Seeing her present never gets old! She'll have you moving & laughing while she's planting those seeds in your head!
Thursday night was the "Exhibitor's Reception", which meant hors d'oeuvres & a cash bar. And networking. Since I was there by myself and didn't know anyone, I asked if I could sit with a group of SLPs who were from the same school system. We had some great conversation, and I picked up on a couple of things that need to brought to the attention of the "powers that be". 
Then came the "Spirit Competition". Students from the 5 university departments in the state could enter. They were supposed to incorporate their university, along with some speech/language lingo. Here's the winner (from MTSU):

This university only has an undergrad dept.(Hence the "Dear future grad school"!) The best intern I had was an alum from this university, so if you're looking for an awesome undergrad speech school, look into MTSU in Murfreesboro, Tn.!
Following that was the "College Bowl". All 5 schools were represented, and each team could have 4 members but only 3 were on the panel at one time. The questions were really tough! Following the rounds, there was a "final jeopardy" question; the teams could bet as many points as they wanted. I don't know these girls, but I was so proud that they won (since that's where I went for my B.S.):
They won the trophy for the year, a certificate, state bragging rights, and their Praxis fees are paid by EBS.  Well done, ladies!!! 
I have to mention the networking. See the lady behind the girls in the picture above? During the college bowl, she came up to me and we talked for a looooong time. She is super nice and gave me a lot of suggestions. We talked about presenting (and how to get invited to present at the ASHA Schools Convention) and state organizations. And, she just happens to be an ASHA Fellow. She made the comment that we're all here to help each other and strengthen our profession. That thought resonated with me through the convention: We're not here for our own personal gain (most of us, anyway!)...we're here to help other SLPs/SLTs/SLPAs become better, which will ultimately help our students.
There was 1 exhibitor that I had been looking forward to meeting. I was bummed when Meredith from The Peachie Speechie said she wasn't coming, but I did very much enjoy meeting her husband and her father-in-law (who is known as the Cariboo Whisperer, but I call him the Cariboo god!):
Seriously...the man is like a Cariboo magnet. I think he can walk into a thrift store and they jump into his arms. I saw quite a few of their shirts the next day, so hopefully it was worth their while to drive a couple of hours and spend the day with us.
Despite the audio/visual snaffoos (which were remedied in a decent amount of time), I thought the convention went very well. I don't know if I'll be on the planning committee next year, but I would definitely volunteer for it!
Bottom line: Get involved in your state organization so they will hear what those of us in the school trenches want and need. This year, most of the officers in my state organization are audiologists...they have no idea what our needs are (they are the first to admit it), and they won't know unless we stand up and make our voices heard.




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