I am glad I chose to write this post after my second week of teletherapy. If I had written it after the first week, it would have most likely been filled with **beeps**. I am not going to lie. After that first week, I was ready to cry and throw in the towel. Nothing went right. I tried out 5 different platforms that week. Each one starting out OK for the first kid, and quickly taking a nose dive by mid-morning. I ended up Facetiming some kids because nothing would work. Parents weren’t receiving email links for whatever reason. Certain platforms do not work right if the child is using a phone. I am telling you NOTHING went right. I also discovered that from 12-1, when everyone is at home for lunch, the video feeds don’t work correctly because someone is watching Netflix.
Many of families are asking “Why can’t you just use Zoom like the teachers are?” Well, as a one person private practice, the cost of Zoom is not practical. So I have to go into the explanation that I am trying to keep their child’s session within the rules of HIPAA, and why I can’t use Zoom. I am also struggling with parents forgetting their speech appointments. It’s much different when I can just show up on their doorstep than wait for them online.
Now that I have gotten all of my “gripes” out, let me tell you what I found that worked for me! I do not have my clients on a consistent schedule YET (like that growth mindset?!) but we are moving that way. I have to schedule around Zooms of all kinds-school, church, piano, karate, cub scouts, sports, you name it!
This past week, I started on Webex. I liked Google Meets too but all of my sessions were on Webex. They have a reasonable price tag for a sole provider like me. I haven’t discovered all of the ends and outs but I am getting there. The only problem I am having right now is getting audio from YouTube videos so that my clients can hear. I can hear it on my side but the kiddos can’t. (So if you know how to fix this, I’d appreciate the help!!) Once I set up the appointments in Webex, it generates an email invitation that I can then forward from my Gmail to the families. Those appointments pop up on my Google calendar too. (I am learning all the great things about G Suite too!) I generally set all of my appointments the afternoon before so the emails are toward the top of people’s inboxes.
I have also found some great sites to use during sessions that can go with my books. In addition to BOOM learning, I am loving The Ultimate SLP! Typically, I read our book, complete a BOOM activity and use the games on The Ultimate SLP as a reward (while still sneaking in more work!). The car racing game is a huge hit!! Some of my resources from my TpT store have been used as well. At this time of this blog post, I am working to make some of mine digital.
Now for the apps I use. I already had Remind and Seesaw but those are being used much more now! Each morning, I send a Remind message to all of the families scheduled that day letting them know their child has speech and check their emails for the link. The message goes out between 7:30-8am. Here’s one example of what I send in the mornings.
Before all this distance learning stuff, I used Seesaw to send families info on our sessions but only for the kids I saw at daycare/school. Now, I am working to get ALL of my clients on there. I created a Seesaw challenge that I assigned this week for some fun! One for my language clients, and one for my articulation clients. I work with a lot of little guys not in school so I really didn’t want to ask them to use Google classroom. Seesaw seemed to the best answer.
Some of the other “tools” I am using:
Headphones with Microphone (note: I bought this set for less than $30 in March. At the time of writing this blog post, they were $40!)
Blue Light Glasses: Here is a pair from Amazon. I got my pair from “Sparkle Hustle Grow”s subscription box a few months back.
Tote: Mine is a different style but a deluxe utility tote would work just fine too! I have several different styles of totes from Thirty-One that I used for different speechie things. My tote is on the floor beside my chair with all of the toys and books I need for the week.
So two weeks into this “working at home during a crisis,” these are the things that are working for me. Once I am done for the day, ALL of my tech goes away including the phone. I able to let my brain rest and spend time with the family!
Here is my newest YouTube video for parents! Feel free to share with your clients!