If you don’t like your fate, change it!

Please welcome my guest blogger, Annie, from The Learning Curve.  She believes that continued research, collaboration and creativity are the key to success with her clients. Her specialty is pediatric speech and language therapy with clients from 3-12 years old. She loves her job!

I know I’ve told some of you about this but I thought I’d share it again.  Just six months ago, I made a big change in my career path as a speech/language pathologist.For four years I had been working for the largest school district in my state. I can sincerely say that my experience there, as a brand-spankin-new SLP, was invaluable. I owe so much to the many SLPs who taught me the ropes. Yes, at times I felt like I was thrown into a maze with a blindfold and asked to find my way out, preferably doing a series of cartwheels or other acrobatics of choice.  But somehow, with the help of many friends and colleagues, I found my way through that daunting maze of scheduling, IEPs, laws and regulations, therapy techniques, and organization, and even came out with a few clumsy somersaults.  I loved working in the schools with the opportunity of approaching therapy in so many different contexts.  I might have stayed with the district forever, if not for the economic downfall of the country, which highlighted some issues.

You see, most people can expect some sort of increase in pay for years of experience. But in my unfortunate timing, every year that I worked for the district, there was a budget cut in education.  So we took cuts in pay (in the form of furlough days) and freezes in pay-steps.  Funny enough, my trend in yearly pay showed a gradual decrease every year. I was “okay” with it.  Really, I didn’t go into the profession for money. But then I had a baby and went part-time.  And that’s when I started feeling abused by the system.  I was expected to work extra hours every week (therapy hours, not prepping hours) “for the good of the students” (direct quote from a district meeting). I was required to attend meetings without getting paid for them, even though the full-time SLPs sitting right next to me were getting paid to attend.  I was not getting benefits or retirement.  Most importantly, while I was only working 2 days per week, my caseload was almost as high as a full time SLP in most states.  It wasn’t fair to me, or my students. But despite all the negatives, I really did like my job.  When the end of the school year was near I requested a decrease in hours for the next year.  This was attempt to decrease my caseload size.  The district denied any decrease in hours.  That was what convinced me to at least try to find another option.

I spent hours making and delivering resumes, writing emails, calling, even flat-out walking in and introducing myself to prospective employers.  It was slow and there wasn’t anything very promising, so I settled with the idea that I would just stay at the district.  I guess I could hope for a better situation if the economy ever recovered. I enjoyed a fabulous summer off with my baby boy.  Then 3 weeks before the school year was to begin I started getting calls and emails for other jobs.  A month later I had multiple job offers.  I was able to choose an environment that was better suited for me and my therapy style.  I was able to negotiate my own contract.

It wasn’t easy, in fact it was seriously hard! But I managed to change my situation to a much happier one.  I was reading my journal from last year and I am amazed comparing my entries from last year to this year, how much of an impact this change has made on my life.  I am so much happier in my new situation.

I think it’s a valuable life lesson in itself.  If you don’t like your current situation in life, you have the power to make changes for yourself.  I’m not saying go crazy and quit your job or ditch your life partner to go frolic in a meadow of flowers.  What I’m saying is, step back and decide if change is necessary.  It might be something as simple as a reminder of why you got into it in the first place.  Or you might need to make steps toward more drastic changes. Those decisions are up to you.  Life is about choices after all.  But it’s nice to know that sometimes, those choices really do lead to a happier you.

Here’s hoping that we all find a happier version of ourselves as we weave through this crazy thing called life.

*FYI: The title of this post is a quote from the musical AIDA. Bonus points for those of you who got that reference.


This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Mary Huston, MS, CCC-SLP

    Love this! It’s an excellent reminder that we all have choices even though many of them are hard and really scary.

    1. Annie

      I’m glad you liked the post. It was a very big change for me but so worth it. Isn’t it crazy that some of the scariest choices can lead to the happiest outcomes.

  2. Jennifer

    Hi Annie,

    What a great article! I have so many friends (SLP’s) working in jobs that they find instead of pay increasing, every year they see a decrease as you talked about. Your article is encouraging and shows that with some effort, you can change your fate. I think these people need to know that they are “deserving” of the $ they make and the increases they have worked years for. You’re right, I became an SLP, not for the $ but because I love working with young children (early intervention), however, people are not honoring themselves or their work if they decide to take less than their efforts deserve. Can I ask, did you end up back in a school district? I work as a contract therapist for the early intervention system in NY. The rules and laws can be frustrating at times, but I love working one-on-one and with parents. When the decreases in hourly rate continued each year, I decided I needed to change my fate. I created a tool kit and process called MILO Bear which helps to encourage language (choice making) while at the same time teaches parents strategies and ultimately how to find their child’s strengths. It has taken me 5+ years to create him, but the results are so gratifying. I suggest to therapists to look for other work, but also to think outside of the box. What would make their day easier? Is there a lesson(s) that they cannot find on the internet? If not, create one! For more info about MILO Bear go to: http://www.milobear.com
    P.S. Love your website!

    1. Annie

      Thanks for the comment. I have heard of Milo bear before. How awesome that you took your fate into your own hands. I love your story! How are things going with the MILO bear project? That is really neat!

  3. Ally

    This sounds exactly like a dilemma I am facing. What did you decide to do if you don’t mind me asking?

    1. Annie

      I ended up creating my own “business”. It’s really just me contracting privately with Charter Schools. It has been a fabulous opportunity. I love it so much. The charters are an interesting dynamic so if you wanted to pursue that route and have any questions feel free to email me. [email protected].

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The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.