Saturday, May 3, 2014

So Just, Trendy.

The word "trendy" has been an inside joke between many of my friends for several years. While I don't recall the first time someone cracked a joke with the aforementioned adjective, I do have a favourite candid moment with the word...

Imagine January 2011, while out for a friend's birthday supper at Dadeo, a local (and delicious!) Cajun food restaurant...around the same time "yam/sweet potato fries" started popping up on every franchise restaurant menu as an optional side (for the pre-requisite extra $1-2). This linguistic exchange occurred between two friends and a random stranger:

Female friend eating/enjoying/sharing her yam fries: I LERV sweet potato fries, they are so delicious.
Male friend: Oh, come on, sweet potato fries are so trendy. *said with proper mixture/emphasis of sarcasm and disdain.
Random server walking by our table, dead-serious tone: Hey! We INVENTED that trend!

Okaaay (*glottal fry*), so just, maybe you had to be there?? Disclaimer: If you are a resident of #YEG, and you ate at Dadeo anytime between 2005 (my first encounter with the delectable and complimentary jalapeno jelly served with biscuits while you await your meal) and 2011, I can only hope you will empathize with the taste bud explosion I encountered when masticating my first Dadeo sweet potato fry. Regardless, trendy is both a term of endearment and hilarity within my circle of trust. 

When Sarah's Real Life and Lucky B Boutique partnered to host the "Looking Lucky Style Challenge", featuring 10 Spring trends, I couldn't help but be intrigued. I completed VVBoutiqueStyle's "Black Out" challenge in January, and at the end of the month I had to admit that it made getting dressed in the morning significantly more enjoyable. Taking a quick peek in my not-so-humble closet, it became apparent that I already owned the items necessary to complete the trend-based "Looking Lucky" challenge:

1. Lace

 *Approximately 2 minutes before getting my nose pierced. Now you can say you've seen an awkward combination of my "scared" face and "excited" face.

*Approximately 2 seconds after getting my nose pierced.
Friend taking pictures: Well that wasn't so bad.
Friend holding my hand: Um, I think she just broke all my finger bones.

2. Pastel

3. Floral

4. Fringe Scarf (& also Tribal Print...)

5. Cropped

6. Tribal Print

*see #4 (er, and 5)...hopefully this SUPER cute picture of this adorable child's coat makes up to for the lack of separate tribal picture. So just, I'm going to have to go ahead and ask you to find me this coat in my size. Ok, great, thanks. 

7. Local Love
My favourite trend and picture, hands down...vintage shirt (from my mum) for an Easter weekend house party and new car (from our local Ford dealership).

8. Metallic

9. Neon

10. Geometrics (& also art prints)

And just like that, BAM!, a very trendy April was done. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Shine Bright Like a Diamond: The SLP Interview

Two years ago, I was beginning a highly anxious SLP2B job search. I was fortunate to be graduating in a year after a newly elected government had just injected extra funding into health and education ($ = an abundance of jobs), but that didn't lessen my anxiety...not even a little. Looking back, I hardly recognize the agitated and apprehensive little monster I had morphed into. I was extremely emotional and projected a lot of my worries about the future onto my loved ones. My personal life was doing its best to weather Hurricane SLP2B. I've decided to write this post to make peace with that nasty SLP2B. May she rest in peace.

A quick Google search will bring up an abundance of lovely blog posts and websites related to SLP interviews:

The Gladdest Thing Under the Sun

The Speech Room News

UT Dallas

Saint Xavier University

Home Sweet Speech Room

While very informative, I find that these previous posts focus a lot on 1) interview questions, and 2) rather obvious/general interview advice (e.g., how to dress). I won't touch on these subjects since so many great SLPs have already shared their brilliance on the interwebz. I will, however, give my own "if I knew then what I know now" list:

1) Get All Boy-Scouted Up: BE PREPARED

Besides the obvious "research the employer" advice that is always given to potential employees, I would advise SLP2Bs to REEEALLY go out of their way to get to know the specific site/organization they are applying for. Looking at the employers website is not enough. For example, in our school division, all of the Early Education sites look slightly different--some SLPs have their desks in the classroom, and others are based out of separate offices. Talking about all the amazing pull-out therapy experience you have isn't going to serve you well if you are interviewing with a panel who believes strongly in play-based, classroom-embedded treatment approaches. If you don't know someone who works in the building, get CREATIVE. I wish I had been smart enough to phone the schools I was interviewing at and ask questions about the structure/philosophy of the program prior to my interviews. Too scared? Phone and pretend to be a parent interested in enrolling your child in the program. How fabulous would you sound to spout out, "I am aware that your program is very focused on [insert philosophy here]. Let me tell you an example of how I have integrated [insert philosophy here] into my speech and language treatment in the past." PLUS, everyone knows the school receptionist is the most powerful person in the building. If you phone and introduce yourself prior to your interview, you're going to develop a relationship before you even step foot in the school and you may have him/her rooting for you to be the successful candidate.

I am a firm believer in the power of a trusty, professional looking clipboard. Why? First, I have found that interview questions can be extremely wordy and often have multiple parts. It is easy to get off track and forget what the original question was. This is not only mortifyingly embarrassing (and certain to shake your confidence), it will also make you look unorganized (even if you are the Queen of the Type-A-SLP Castle). Write down KEY WORDS while the interviewer is reading the question. Then take a few seconds to jot down KEY IDEAS that you want to include in your answer. Don't write full sentences/paragraphs/odysseys, just the key points that will help you to form a complete and fluid answer. Second, the clipboard can act like a bit of an organizational cheat sheet. I like to write down the initials of past clients I feel would make great examples to touch on during my interview.  If I can't think of an example to give, I peek at this list and can easily be cued to remember an interesting case study. I also write down any questions I want to ask at the end of the interview (e.g., mentorship availability), so I don't have to waste energy trying to remember them.

2) BUZZ Words

People always advise job candidates to "do your research". My advice goes further: DO YOUR RESEARCH & IDENTIFY/LEARN THE BUZZ WORDS. Hopefully you've already done this BEFORE the interview, so you could sprinkle them on both your resume and cover letter...but if you didn't, congrats, you got an interview anyways. The theoretical pendulum is always shifting, so it is important during an interview to demonstrate that you are HIP and WITH-IT...even without any clinical experience. In my specific SLP domain, all the cool kids are currently salivating over play-based, naturalistic, and embedded therapy. We pride ourselves on being collaborative, family-centred, and Reggio-inspired...I could go on...but I'll spare you before my jargon lulls you to sleep.


While it's lovely that you can recite the bullet points on page 156 from your Child Language textbook to answer my interview question...I want to know that you can and have APPLIED that knowledge to ACTUAL clients. Your photographic memory is impressive, but it's not going help you develop a relationship with a child and his/her family. I want REAL LIFE examples with your answers. Don't just tell me you're creative, tell me about a specific creative solution you used to solve a client's problem. Sometimes if you don't articulate the "right answer", your specific, real-world examples can demonstrate that you are capable of applying the "right answers".


I still remember being very, VERY young, and listening to my Mum tell my Dad about the preschool teacher candidates that she had interviewed as part of my sister's preschool executive. The first candidate was a certified, experienced teacher. She told the executive all the right answers. The second candidate was a young mother who hadn't completed high school. She came armed with sample crafts and circle ideas...she SHOWED the executive the right answers. They hired the second, less-educated candidate, and I learned a valuable life lesson: when it comes to interviews, it never hurts to visually cue your panel.

The next, related, lesson I have learned is to prime the interview panel. Say something like, "I have some activities/iPad apps/circle ideas I want to show you. If I am not able to work them into your questions, do you mind if I show them to you at the end of the interview?" If they say, "No," they are probably horrible people and you should run away. In my first SLP interview, I brought a big bag that had a stuffed bear inside, but I never had a chance to show the panel some of the fantastic, play-based activities I had incorporated the bear into in past clinical experiences. So I probably just looked like a crazy person who likes to carry around massive bags at inappropriate times...and I wondered why they didn't hire me? :/

These are my personal pieces of advice for those "Goin' on a Job Hunt". My tidbits might not be appropriate for all populations and settings, and I am sure that many may not agree with what I consider "impressive". What examples of outstanding interviewees have you encountered while part of past panels? In your opinion, what qualities and characteristics make a potential candidate shine bright like a diamond?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A House in the Sky

I recently read this remarkable book. Our last few book club selections have been just "meh", which made this literary gem that much more delightful. Although, to clarify, "delightful" is probably not an apt description of the real life horrors the author, Amanda Lindhout, endures throughout this memoir. Being the verbose "Speechie" that I am, I could continue by writing multiple, descriptive paragraphs depicting the merits this book offers its readers...OR you can just trust that my actions speak louder than any strongly-word praise I have to offer. What actions? The mere fact that I read this book cover-to-cover in ONE DAY (in between a multitude of naps, as I was home sick from work) and I absolutely COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN (seriously, I was extracting neon green mucous out of my nose with one hand so I wouldn't have to stop, sorry for the visual).

Even days after finishing "A House in the Sky", the book, and its message of hope, continue to resonate with me. From Amanda's central-Alberta, rural roots, to her wanderlusty, unsettled spirit, I can't help but relate to her constant, insatiable desire for adventure. I am also left to pontificate the journey to healing a friend is mapping after his own experience in captivity. I am blessed to call Jordan a friend. Read his story here.

I found this magazine article while searching for a picture of the book cover. It feels like an epilogue to Amanda's magnificent memoir--a story that despite dark, graphic details, reminds me that in life's tough moments, the key to survival is building your own hope-filled, "House in the Sky".

Thursday, February 27, 2014

We All PLAY For Canada

With the 2014 Sochi, Russia Olympics wrapping up this past weekend, I am compelled to write about Canadian Tire's marketing genius and their inspirational "We All Play For Canada" campaign.

If there is a single, grounding tenet that the foundation of my professional practice is built upon, it is, quite simply, "PLAY". This four-grapheme, three-phoneme word encapsulates an array of early childhood education and speech-language pathology jargon: play-based, authentic, child-led/directed, inquiry-based, discovery-based, naturalistic, embedded, student-centred, open-ended, Hanen-esque, and Reggio-inspired learning/therapy are all rooted in P-L-A-Y. I am so fortunate that on a daily basis, I am able to witness the growth and development of my paediatric clients as they learn through play. It is a magical process that brings a tremendous amount of joy to my professional life. I feel very blessed to work as part of a larger inter/trans-disciplinary team that promotes play everyday:

One of my favourite quotes in the Beacon Heights video comes from teacher Sheelagh Brown as she discusses the various professionals that collaborate with her, adding, "...and for three hours we try our best to be the highlight of their [the students'] day." Canadian Tire's campaign also emphasizes the importance and lasting impact of supportive, collaborative adults when encouraging children to learn through play:

I enjoy that the campaign attempts to balance the importance of adult-directed team sports like minor hockey and open-ended, child-led, backyard play:

Where I feel the "We All Play for Canada" campaign could have been strengthened, is in the rationale they present on the importance and complexities of play (although that probably won't increase their hockey equipment sales). I recently retweeted this picture (credit to both Nancy Niessen and Innovation2Learn), which beautifully describes the underlying intricacies of play:

I like the blunt message this quote delivers. Play is not JUST play. And regardless of our nationality, we need to support children and spread the message of how important it is that "WE ALL PLAY", each and everyday.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

In the Summa' Time...

Four+ months seems like a long time to neglect one's blog. As such, I have taken time to reflect on where that time went, and what I was dedicating my energy to:

1) PUF Season
My last post before I went into blogging hibernation was on May 8th, 2013. If you are not a preschool SLP, let me give you a brief and simplified explanation of PUF season in Alberta:

  • Children between the ages of 2 1/2 and 5, who have been identified in the community as having severe developmental delays, are eligible for "Program Unit Funding". Our program pools these PUF dollars and uses them to cover the expenses related to operating our school's Early Education classrooms.
  • March 1st is the first day our current students can be reassessed (using standardized speech and language tests) to see if they re-qualify for funding in the following year.
  • May 1st is the first day our SLP reports can be submitted to Alberta Education for funding approval.
So basically, from March 1st until I finish writing 30+ reports and 30+ code summary forms, my job revolves around assessment and subsequent documentation of these results. Sounds delightful, right?! Before you decide, there are some additional details you should be aware of:

  • Last year was my rookie year as a registered SLP. As such, my report writing skills were still being honed. I was NOT prepared to sacrifice the accuracy and efficacy of my reports, so my writing speed and efficiency was just slightly above turtle pace. 
  • We have a very small school with limited space and privacy. My desk and home-base is within one of our Early Education classrooms. And until PUF season hits, it is a truly BEAUTIFUL service delivery approach. It is great to bounce ideas off and constantly collaborate with the classroom team. At the beginning of the report writing process, I bounced around to different colleagues' offices/computers and had peace and quiet while I typed my little heart out. After some time, I became weary of constantly switching computers, desks, and offices. I found I was losing a lot of time each day just re-focusing in each new environment, so I did the logical thing and gave up. I went back to my desk in my classroom and started training myself to ignore both screaming children and the big puppy eyes standing beside my desk requesting, "Come pay wi' me." I know, I have no soul.
  • During this time I lost a week for spring break and a week off work while I recovered from sinus surgery (and when you're on the wait-list for 8 months, and SO sick of constant sinus infections, you don't want to cancel just because it's "bad timing" at work). If 2 weeks doesn't sound like a long time, think of it as "half a month of lost work time", it sounds more dramatic to me.

So if you put all those pieces together, you will likely come to the conclusion that I was ABSOLUTELY SPENT by the middle of May. After writing all day, 'er day, I had no desire to touch a keyboard when I came home from work each night. The ironic part is that during this time, I was asked by one of my former professors to give a presentation for current SLP studnets on utilizing "Mahara", the e-Portfolio/blog platform our SLP faculty uses to encourage clinical reflection and professional growth. I like to think I gave a very compelling and inspirational presentation singing the praises of regular blogging...which looking back, I guess, makes me a hypocrite. Welp, que sera sera!

2) "Wanderlust" is my middle name.
I have a magnificent job. A magnificent job with EXCELLENT holiday time. Working for a school division certainly has its perks, especially for an unsettled, adventurous millennial like myself. So after I finished work at the end of June, I spent a few days helping my parents with this

before I hopped on a plane and flew across the Pacific Ocean to SE Asia.

These are some of the neato experiences I had in while in northern Thailand:

I rented a motorcycle and made the 136 km trek to the quaint, riverside town of Pai. The mountain road to get there is complete with 762 curves. 
136 km + 762 curves = a moto-enthusiast's dream road!

I visited an elephant conservation centre and was asked by the staff if I would like to feed an orphaned baby elephant. Her foster mother is in the background.

The "White Temple" in Chiang Rai.

This is EXACTLY what it looks like. I can't wait to tell my grandkids about the time I rode an OSTRICH!

I was able to post a few of these pictures before my trusty MacBook Air crashed. Its untimely death meant that I carried around a VERY EXPENSIVE PAPER-WEIGHT FOR HALF OF MY SUMMER. So just, awesome. I mean, blogging is HIGHLY convenient when your laptop won't recognize the trackpad and keyboard. This was the resulting damage after I returned home:

I had purchased AppleCare with the laptop, so no harm was done to my wallet.

While I was toting around my broken baby laptop, these were some of the lovely times I had in the Philippines:

Hello, beautiful waterfall.

Oh, good morning, Batad Rice Terraces.

The boat's name says it all.

Unfortunately, because my Air required "major repairs", I spent 2 weeks in September without my baby computer. I also own an iPad, and during this time I was able to use it to reignite my passion for sharing and learning through social networking with other professionals.

Fast forward and I'm now settled back into work, my baby is home with Momma, and all is right with this blog lovin' SLP. :)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Thou Shall Blog Because, SCIENCE

Once upon a time, a n00b Speech-Language Pathologist created a blog--a nice blog, a pretty little blog. An eclectic blog that didn't exactly have a defined purpose or theme in its infancy. It took many moons, a 4 month hiatus, and a summer of sand, surf, and scuba, for the SLP to appreciate her blog was an e-capsule where she could compile authentic documentation of her many passions in this crazy, majestic world.

She had no intentions of letting the blog become yet another "project" she started and later abandoned out of boredom or fear of failure. Everyone (*and by "everyone", I mean professionals intelligent and open-minded enough to comprehend that Twitter is ALL.THE.AWESOME.) says blogging is good. Everyone* says blogging is good because blogging inevitably leads to reflective practice. Everyone* says reflective practice is good because...SCIENCE! So the SLP vowed to trudge (and by "trudge", I mean "type") on down her own magical path to nirvana (i.e., "absolute blessedness").

But the absence (from blogging) had made her heart grow fonder. The absence had made her fervour for social networking and online Professional Learning Communities blossom with vibrant colours and the fragrant scent of inspiration. Like never before, her mind was illuminated by the artfully crafted written word,

and she came to genuinely appreciate the linguistic genius of others.

She embraced her membership in the "Millennial" generation with a balance of zeal and grace.

She dedicated her energy to serving others (and herself!) with passion and compassion. She encouraged others to do the same, because quite simply

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Very Playful Pre-K Classroom

One of the Early Education (i.e., preschool) classes I work with has been immersed in the story of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle. Certainly this HAS to be the ALL TIME most popular book for early childhood educators to use in their classrooms. From a teacher-turned-SLP's perspective, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" is a total superstar in the realm of children's literature. There are SO MANY great concepts and language goals that can be targeted throughout the book!

These are some of the projects the students completed over the course of the month:

Painted egg carton caterpillars

Drip-dyed coffee filter butterflies (after they dried, students pinched the middle and twisted pipe cleaners to make beautiful butterflies)

Ripped paper and paper bag cocoons 

And my absolute FAVOURITE is the huge butterfly the students created by sorting different materials and objects and then gluing them to a paper butterfly template staff had traced and cut out.