"I Didn't Get to Go to ASHA" Blog Hop - The Value of Listening

I don’t know about you, but I sure wish I could be in sunny Orlando right now!   While I unfortunately can’t bring you some nice, warm sunshine, what I - and several of my other wonderful blogger friends - can provide you are some therapy ideas and nuggets of wisdom!

 You’ll want to make sure to hop through each blog in order.  Keep track of the letters on each post, because you’ll be able to enter them at the end for an awesome prize package!  (Keep in mind, the hop and giveaway close at Saturday, November 22 at 11:59 pm EST.)

The Value of Listening

To become a more effective speech-language pathologist, I have a simple piece of advice: listen.

          As SLPs, we often love to talk!  After all, it’s part of our job as master communicators, right?  Get a group of us together, and we can talk for hours.  We also talk with our students constantly, guiding them and teaching them new skills.  We feel like if we aren’t talking, we aren’t doing our jobs.  Do we know that listening is an important part of communication?  Sure we do!  But things can get so busy and hectic in our every day jobs, it's easy to forget to take the time to do so.

          Sometimes, the most important thing you can do in your day is to take a step back and LISTEN to what your students need to say.  Did you ever stop to think that you, as their SLP, may be the only adult that day to spend one-on-one time with him or her? 

          One way I make time to listen to my students is to go get my students for each session.  Yes, our elementary building is huge, and my pedometer says I average about 4 miles a day walking up and down the hallways each school day.  It can take up to 5 minutes to get from the furthest wing of my building back to my speech room, depending on how crowded the hallway is.  But I consider this time a valuable therapy asset to get to know my students better.  I ask how they are doing, and what has happened since the last time I saw them – and then I listen.  Most of my students love having that individualized attention, and I learn valuable information about their lives. 

Something that research has shown is that if you can connect what you are teaching to your students’ prior knowledge and experience, you have a much higher likelihood of making those concepts stick.  If you take the time to listen to your students and what is going on in their lives, you have a better picture of what prior knowledge they might have.

In addition to helping to activate their prior knowledge, listening to your students is also important in identifying underlying problems that might be going on in a particular child’s life.  Honestly, some students might have so much going on, that producing their R sound correctly is the last thing on their minds! 

Once you have worked with a student for a while, you can generally get a feel for when they aren’t feeling well, or something is bothering them.  If there is something bigger going on, there is no way you are going to have a productive therapy session. Sometimes, you have to listen to what your gut is telling you, throw the therapy plan out the window, and listen.  Ask the student what is wrong, or keep him/her behind when you send the other students back to their classroom.  Maybe a classmate is making fun of them, or their allergies kept them up all last night, or they just failed a test.  Maybe their parents are going through a divorce, or maybe they are worried if they will have a place to sleep tonight. 

You will never know everything that is going on in that child’s life, but if you take the time to listen and earn their trust, your therapy will be much more effective in the long run.  Sometimes, you can do something about the problem, like talk to the child’s teacher, or call home.  But sometimes, all you can do is listen, and tell the child, “I am so sorry that you are going through this right now.  I can’t fix that for you, but you know what?  I am on your side.”

          So, my mission for you – take some time this week and truly listen to your students.  I guarantee, it will be worth it in the long run!


For the giveaway, write down the following as the first letter for the secret code:

To go to the next blog in the hop, click here to visit my friend CC over at Super Power Speech.

To skip to the last blog, click here.



  1. I agree wholeheartedly. It makes a world of difference when you extend that listening to your colleagues, as well.


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