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As speech language pathologists, we realize that language is everywhere but sometimes I know that I lose sight of how impacting a language delay could have on a student’s academic life. I am always a firm advocate for my students, particularly when they reach the 3rd grade, that if their language is severely impacted then they are most likely having difficulties in the core academic areas or having difficulties even just navigating through the daily nuisances of their academic day.
This message stuck even closer to home this past week as my students filled out their Valentine’s notes made by Maureen over at The Speech Bubble. I told the students that Valentine’s Day isn’t just about a boy giving a valentine to a girl or visa versa but this day is to show those who make us feel special in lives that we care about them or to thank them. One of my students insisted that she make her card for me even though I tried to encourage her to make it for a family member, friend in class, or an other teacher/adult in the building.
Tears started to fill my eyes as I read this message (now keep in mind we are still working on grammar!)…
My heart literally sank as I read these words, “You make me feel happy to me because make me smart.” She dictated to me that she had written, “You make me feel happy because you make me feel smart.”. I immediately looked at her and said, “Sweetie, you don’t need me to make you feel smart… you ARE smart.” She responded by saying, “Ms. Caldejon, I don’t feel smart when I’m in class.” It literally broke my heart to realize that this student didn’t feel as successful or confident outside of the speech room. It made me realize how difficult navigating the realm of a general education classroom could be for a student with a language delay. This moment also gave me insight into how important it is to work on skills that could generalize to the classroom because that is the ultimate test for our students. Though this is a bit of a sadder story, my hope is that it brings you a new found fire as it did for me to work make sure I make every student feel as though they are successful and capable when I work with them because that may be the only time of their day they feel as if they actually can succeed.
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