Ways to Cope with Distance Learning

This is a whole new ballgame for most of us: Distance Learning. How do we cope with it? As School-Based SLPs, how in the world do we best serve our students from our homes? I'm going to outline my plan in this blog post.

1. I've set up a Google Voice Number. I wasn't able to set it up through my school Gmail account, so I'm using another Gmail account. It would be very easy to set up an account through an email created just for this time period. I don't like to give out my home number, although the very few parents who have it have not abused it. Google Voice makes it very easy to give a number to parents, along with specific office hours, where they can text, call, or leave a voicemail. I changed the settings so it doesn't ring my attached number, it only rings through my laptop when I have Voice opened.

2. I already had somewhat of a home office, so that was already done. If you have little ones at home, you have to do the best you can. I'm an empty-nester so we have a couple of empty bedrooms that were easily converted. My husband (who is working from home right now) has his office on one side of the house; mine is on the other side. If you can't set up a home office, find some corner of a room that you can designate as your office. Don't stress about your little one demanding your time during your work hours. Everyone is doing the best they can in this situation. Take care of your family first!

3. When it's quitting time, QUIT. Seriously. My school system has given us "office hours", so when it's 3:15, my work computer is shut down and I don't turn it back on until 8:15 the next morning. The temptation is there to just open up the laptop and check your messages or schedule that meeting, but...don't. It will be there tomorrow morning.

4. If you have a school laptop, use that for your school work. At this point, we are still able to access our schools if we need anything, only on certain days.

5. Lunch break. Take it. Again, the temptation is to grab a sandwich and sit back down in front of your computer. Take your lunch outside for a getaway, or just sit at the table...away from your computer. Enjoy it; once we get back to school you may not get a lunch break!

In the past week, I've had to learn how to use Class Dojo for more than sending parents messages and for classroom behavior. I've also had to learn Classtag for my other school. I was a little discouraged after being excited to finally having the chance to use Google Classroom, only to realize that I can't because of confidentiality. If I were to set up a class with all of my speech students at one school, the other students/parents would be able to see the names of everyone in the class. Luckily, Dojo and ClassTag are ways to send videos and pages digitally to parents/students.

This is unprecedented for all of us. We're all just trying to cope and serve our students the best we can. We had hoped to see our students via teletherapy, but my state has regulations that forbid anyone without a private license to serve students that way. So, we wait to see what's going to happen. Meanwhile, some SLPs are scrambling to get packets for students; others are using the homework folders and having the parents review them (with a tracking form being used to record when they are working on their speech). Never have I been more glad that I have given my students homework on a regular basis!

Stay safe, stay healthy, and get outdoors and get some exercise and Vitamin D!
How are you coping (or planning on coping) with Distance Learning? Leave a comment!

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