Working in public schools has many pros but there are a few cons to consider.
For MUST HAVE Material recommendations, don't miss Speech Pathology Resources: Schools
Schools offer a FANTASTIC schedule compared to other settings. You have summers off, holiday breaks including government holidays, and no weekend work.
* Side Note: I don't take work home with me. I don't! I do the best I can while at work and I am efficient with my planning and report writing. It might not be perfect but it is the best I can do. This balance is crucial for me and I make it a priority. Nothing is more important than my family time. If you take work home, then well, you will work weekends :(
2. Team Environment
Compared to other settings I have worked in, professionals seem to be the most collaborative in schools. A speech pathologist in schools will be part of a grade level team, a student's personal IEP team, the special education team, and the speech pathology department team. If you become an active member on each team, you can get a lot out of it. You can bounce ideas off others and learn from other professionals.
3. More evidence of carryover
This is missing from private practice and outpatient rehab. Teachers and therapists work together and each professional knows how to support each student throughout the day.
4. No Productivity!
This one speaks for itself! Productivity is very stressful and can hurt your paycheck. If you have low productivity one day, you must clock out and wages are less for that pay period. It is unfortunate that "free" time isn't used for team collaboration or reading up on the research.
This one is great IF your school caseload is manageable. If your caseload is too high, you are being very productive. However, if there is a field trip, assembly, and designated team time in a school, you don't have to clock out. You can use that time for billing, paperwork, or connecting with colleagues about students.
5. Overall, less stress
This is PURELY subjective. My job in the public schools was the least stressful compared to all my other jobs. I had amazing coworkers and a manageable caseload. I loved the age of the students and that most of my students were bilingual. This might not always be the case tough...
6. Working with children
Who would have thought (not grad school me) that my passion is working with children? But, it is! This is a BIG plus for me! I LOVE the energy of children. I love how learning can be so natural and inherently fun for them. Helping students develop strong communication skills and then seeing how they flourish in the classroom and in their social relationships is interesting, challenging, and rewarding for me.
IEP meetings, screenings, domains, evaluations, re-evaluations, collecting data....the paperwork in schools is lengthy and tedious. There is a lot of red tape, boxes to check, and specific formats to use.
I can't stand it! It is my least favorite part of working in schools. I understand the need for it but it doesn't make me like it. I'm not good at it. I always forget to check a box and I ALWAYS have a type. I would much rather spend my time working with students.
2. Less flexibility with assessment
Formal assessments only happen every three years. I understand the reasoning behind it and even agree with it. However, I like to use formal testing to assess progress and collect data on various areas of need to help create new goals. I KNOW that assessing progress in the classroom, comparing skills to same-age peers, and collecting data over time provides valuable information but sometimes I like a standard score. Sorry.
3. Update goals only once per year
I prefer to update goals as as needed and this can happen before the one year annual review. In schools, you create one main goal for the year and then 3 benchmarks to help measure progress. So much thought is given to this one goal and I find this guessing game annoying. No one can know for sure how long students can take to achieve their goals, and then there is pressure to make sure each student meets all their goals before the annual review. Therefore, sometimes the goals are too easy and some are too hard.
For language, it is hard to predict and write an accurate goal that spans one whole year. Student's language skills are complex and change based on a new classroom, levels of supports, etc...
Now you CAN update or change a goal at anytime but this requires meetings and a scheduling nightmare. It isn't easy.
4. Large treatment groups
Therapy groups can have 4 or more students in ONE group. Due to schedules and other factors, some children are grouped together who have VERY different goals. This BOTHERS me a lot! It takes a lot of skill to keep behaviors under wraps with large groups AND still work on each student's individual goal when some students are working on articulation, some are working on language, and some are working on fluency within a 25 minute time period. It takes a lot of energy and planning and it is not the best for the students.
5. Less contact with parents
Contact with parents is limited to IEP meetings and conferences. This is my LEAST FAVORITE PART. Parents are so essential for progress. In schools, it is awesome to have access to teachers and school curriculum materials and be able to support a child in a classroom, but parents must be involved too.