Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lessons from the 1st Year of Graduate School

Well, this week didn't go as planned. Stay tuned for more exciting things later this week and into next week...While I'm waiting for the all-clear to post those great things, I wanted to take some time to reflect upon my first year of graduate school. 

1. Time Management  is essential and more frustrating than before.  I have had to have time management skills for awhile now, since I had school, clinic, and a job in undergrad.  When I got to grad school, it was a whole new lesson to learn over again.  I had to essentially learn to schedule when I was going to do homework.  I had to decide when it was more important to prep for clinic or read the chapter for homework certain nights.  Not everything could get done when I wanted it to get done.  I had to be ok with not completing assignments as soon as you could.

2. Everything will get done. With careful planning and not very much procrastination, everything will get done.  You will get clinic work done. You will get homework done.  It might mean some late nights or early mornings.  It might mean working ahead. It might mean doing homework on a Friday night.  It will get done.

3. Everything will turn out alright. I cannot tell you how many times I said, "I'm going to fail this _____" to my family and friends. In the end, I ended up doing just fine on things. Everything got done, I passed my classes, and I moved on to the next semester and clinic placement.  It sometimes just takes reminders.  I have sticky notes around my apartment and notes scribbled in my planner to remind me to breathe. 

4. Take time to learn and observe. You can only learn so much from graduate school.  It is hard to know what exactly they're referring to  Research is constantly evolving, too.  It is always a good idea to observe others and attend conferences and lectures if possible!

5. Stand up for yourself and your needs. There were many times this year that I wanted to quit.  I felt like people were throwing SO much on me and that I couldn't say no.  In reality, all I needed to do was tell them, "Hey, I'm overwhelmed right now.  I don't think it would be a good idea to do squeeze another family in for a complete evaluation."  They respected us for coming forward with our feelings and acknowledged that we were overwhelmed.  Sometimes it's hard to take that first step, but it is most definitely worth it.

6.  You don't have to be perfect. No one expects you to be perfect. Ok, maybe some do, but you learn to realize that those are unrealistic expectations.  Your supervisors expect you to learn.  How can you learn if you're already perfect??  If you were the perfect clinician already, why would you be in graduate school in the first place? Oh, and straight As are no longer a necessity.  Bs will get you the degree and you will find a job.

7. You can do a therapy session with minimal materials. I remember my very first few sessions I had a lot of materials. You quickly learn that you probably won't get to them all and that your clients may not like some of them anyway.  My first supervisor told me that my goal should be able to just come to the house and figure out what you'd be working on based on what the family had available in the house.  She also said to learn how to do a therapy session with just a plate, spoon, cup, fork, napkin, pen, and paper.  A FULL therapy session.  I also learned to use similar materials each time, if possible, with only slight adjustments.  In that, I mean pick something that your client likes and that will motivate them. Tweak it slightly.  Use the same cards, just in a different way.  Not only will your students like it, it will save you time and paper. 

8. TpT is a lifesaver! There were a couple times this past semester that I was completely bogged down by everything going on and felt as if I couldn't spend time prepping my own materials OR to check out the closet of materials at school.  What did I do?  I browsed Teachers Pay Teachers and purchased an activity for less money than a cup of coffee costs.   It saved me so much time and energy! If you haven't checked it out, you should probably do that...

9. Email is not always the best form of communication. Things are misconstrued over email.  People think the other party has attitude when, in reality, they do not.  It makes people go on the defensive and can get people in trouble for no reason. 

10. Our field is fascinating! There are SO many aspects and areas of our field.  Just look at the number of different classes we have to take and how different each of our caseloads are.  Oh, and look at the number of special interest groups ASHA has.  There is seemingly something for everyone!  I'm loving what I'm learning and doing and am hopeful that this spark and passion will continue in the future!

What were some of the lessons you learned in graduate school??

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1 comment :

  1. Love your lessons! Time management definitely is the best lesson to learn and most helpful in the future for sure. My girlfriends from grad school were and still are THE BEST!!! We try to get together at least once a year every summer (unfortunately for me, I'm the only one out of state so sometimes I miss out on the fun. Boo!). BUT...we've been there for each other's weddings, baby announcements, births, and even one of our friend's divorce (which was so disheartening)! The relationships I made at grad school are life long and deep. I hope so much that you are making the same types of friendships with your grad school colleagues b/c once you make SLPs friends in grad school...they really are for LIFE!!!! Hugs to you and best of luck for next semester!


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