I was recently asked this question: “What makes you good at what you do?” My immediate response was “good instincts.” During my senior year at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, my supervising SLP (Joan S) at one of my clinical sites (self contained ESE school) told me I had a natural gift for working with children with significant disabilities. But good instincts aren’t the full story.
It helped that I had good pre-service preparation, as well as excellent mentors and colleagues who encouraged me to self-evaluate. During many therapy sessions, I was required to tape record my interaction (this was 1977). I had to listen to myself and evaluate how well I was doing in learning how to ask appropriate questions, model language, and prompt responses. My teachers, mentors, and colleagues taught me that being “good at what you do,” comes from knowing what, as a therapist, you bring to the table. What are you doing – or not doing – that helps people using AAC systems to be more competent communicators? I still routinely do self-evaluation by looking at videos of myself doing therapy or conducting lessons. And I ask trusted colleagues to give me their frank, but kind critique.
Every day, I’m learning about what I do that makes me good at what I do. What about you? What makes YOU good at what you do?