Winging It

I was scrolling through my social media feeds the other day and a few comments caught my eye. The gist was with so much paperwork and limited time, most therapists wing it when it comes to therapy.

You guys.

It makes me cringe, not because I think you need to walk in with set lesson plans for each session, but because we undervalue our work.

We are quick to list our credentials and the hard work we put into our certification and wring our hands over inappropriate caseload sizes and low compensation, but when we say we “wing it,” we’re undermining our expertise and self-confidence.

You are spectacular.

Kids aren’t polite and they aren’t impressed by degrees or reputations.  I would argue they’re the toughest audience you could choose.  Those developing brains and bodies are also notoriously unpredictable—eager and compliant sometimes, defiant or inattentive at others. Which is why I find pediatric therapists to be absolute masters at their craft, so much so that they can improvise to best meet their students’ needs at any given time.

Great comedy and jazz tends to come across as spontaneous, but both require a lot of behind the scenes preparation to allow for that freedom of performance.  I think we’re like that, but on a more intimate stage.

Let’s celebrate that gift.

Take a moment to comment below with a pivot you made in therapy this week that made for a more successful session.




This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Lara

    Sometime the best sessions are the ones that are not planned! When I supervise graduate students, I share with them that there will be a day when I take their plans away and they have to “wing it” – not because I want to see them flounder or fail, but because I want to show them how much they do know without having to plan, and also to show them that that they must be flexible when it comes to planning sessions.

    In addition, I’ve been known to have “talk sessions” (and don’t plan anything other than topics to elicit conversation) with groups of my speech students. Those sessions are a way for me to informally assess their conversational skills. Sometimes when we (SLPs) plan, our targets are so specific that we miss the “bigger picture”. I actually enjoy “winging it” from time to time!

  2. Monica Faherty

    Yes, Lara – an important lesson to teach! This afternoon I will be discussing with a student the incredibly dangerous thing he did on Tuesday to try to ascertain his level of understanding of his action and the consequences that it triggered. You never know when behavior or emotions may cause a “pivot” in a session.

  3. Susan Berkowitz

    I agree! We “wing it” with a vast sea of knowledge and experience and need to acknowledge that. We can turn any read aloud into amazing language lessons just because of what we know. I ca “wing it” with any book; but the background behind it means that not everyone can do it. It’s uniquely what we SLPs know. Thanks for reminding us.

    1. admin

      Thanks, Susan!

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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.