During the initial school closures due to Covid-19, school-based therapists became teletherapists with little or no preparation – and with no choice as to how it would affect their lives. This quick transition exposed cracks in the educational system – which we can read about online ad nauseum. This June, at E-Therapy, we are staying on the positive side by reflecting on what went right, what we learned about ourselves, and what we want to do more of in the future.
Here are a few of the things that rose to the surface:
1. My students, at all disability levels, respond well to technology
Using technology with special education students has been super successful. For example, it surprised many first time teletherapists how well kids with AUD respond to computers, tablets, and other devices. Some were worried that losing direct in-person instruction would be detrimental, but it turned out the other way – kids with AUD actually thrive with less direct instruction. They were able to focus on the device without the constant distractions and environmental stress of the classroom.
Therapists saw increases in
- Ability to control inappropriate behavior
“It’s especially helpful for tracking their ability to pay attention,’ noted a therapist on Facebook.
We heard from therapists, and classroom teachers, as well, that when they are back onsite, they want to continue using technology. Because the need for in-home instruction could remain a constant if schools end up using a hybrid model, they want their students to be better prepared.
2. I love using online technology
When using a great teletherapy platform, like E-Therapy’s STAR Platform, to deliver services, communication between members of the IEP team, becomes way easier. The instant messaging feature, as well as easy-to-access reports and session scheduling features, save loads of time. Security and privacy issues are also accounted for with private session rooms assigned to individual students.
The activities teletherapists use with their students are no less than amazing. One of the most popular resources is Boom Card Learning Games. E-Therapy SLP, Jill Ketron, says, “I love BOOM cards! They are super interactive, and there are many free or inexpensive options on Teachers Pay Teachers that address a variety of speech language skills.”
3. Commuting is so March 2020
The driving reason (no pun, intended) behind the creation of E-Therapy came from our founder, Diana Parafiniuk. Diana lives in Arizona and was literally traveling 800 miles every week to the rural schools she served. She spent more time in her car than she did with her students.
Some new therapists expressed the same frustration as Diana, so moving their practice online via teletherapy made a huge difference for them. Here’s what we heard:
- Every morning I am fresh and ready to get started. I don’t miss my buzz-killing hour commute in morning traffic at all.
- I feel like I have ‘found’ time. My dogs are really happy to get in a couple more blocks on their walk, and I still have time for meditation.
- As a person concerned about the environment, I like that I am helping decrease the number of commuters from the roads.
4. My productivity has increased
A 2015 Stanford survey found that employees who work from home gained 13 percent in productivity as opposed to those who remained in the office. That was greatly attributed to the absence of distraction and a loud work environment. But educators’ abrupt move from in-school to at-home learning isn’t quite the same since our children had to come home, too!
Those of us who have older, independent children or no children, plus a dedicated workspace fared far better. The elusive work-life balance suddenly became attainable. Therapists found that they had wiggle room in their schedules to take care of personal tasks or even have an actual lunch “hour”.
These things made a difference in their feeling of connectedness:
- MORE CONSISTENCY IN PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS: Regular check-ins with other therapists, teachers, and parents
- MORE WORK LIFE/FAMILY LIFE DELINEATION: Draw a line in the sand that separates work life from family life
- VIDEO BROUGHT A DEEPER SENSE OF CONNECTION: Collaborate with colleagues on video calls rather than phone calls
5. My quality of life improved: It’s just plain fun to be a teletherapist!
Among the positives we heard, one of them came up more than any other: Yoga pants.
Yes, please. While you still need to look professional and presentable on top, where the camera sees you, you can get a little more comfy on the bottom. No more tight waistbands or uncomfy slacks (although you DO still have to wear pants as we have seen illustrated on viral videos of interviews or reporters accidentally showing off a bit of their undies!).
Let’s face it, a good cup of coffee can make or break your day at times. One of the great, delicious and warm, benefits of being a teletherapist is that you can have all the fresh, hot, great-tasting coffee you want, pretty much whenever you want. Just head to the kitchen and brew a pot or pop in your favorite single serve cup.
Snacks, lunch, and regular bio-breaks
We mentioned work-life balance above. If we do end up going back to the school building, one of the hardest things to do will be to develop our teacher bladder again. Isn’t it wonderful to be able to take a trip to the restroom whenever you need to? ‘Nuf said about that.
We also mentioned the kitchen! No more bland, tasteless lunches that are soggy from your lunch box or too cold and stale from the break room fridge. You now get to create fresh, healthy dishes for your meals and snacks.
One of the best things about working at home is that you can snuggle your fur babies all you want in-between sessions and during breaks. No more waiting until the end of the day to give attention and love. This is good for us humans, but it is also good for our furry friends.
Connections with your students
The best benefit of them all, though, is the connections you make with your students! Teletherapy is FUN. When you are having fun, and it shows, and they are having fun, they get so much MORE out of the sessions and are excited to log in and join you for therapy. Now, there’s a novel idea!
Ready to join the world of teletherapy? Come introduce yourself and check out all we have to offer. Get started as a teletherapist.