After spending ten years in-person in school districts in and around the suburbs of Chicago, I was ready to try a new challenge: teletherapy. I needed a change in setting, but I also wanted to have a better work-life balance and more flexibility. I am a parent of two little kids, and both my husband and I work full-time. It’s difficult to stay on top of household tasks like meal prep, washing the dishes, and grocery shopping! When I left the in-person setting for teletherapy from home, I left behind a commute of 35 minutes each way. Now, I know, it may not seem like a terrible commute, but gaining that extra hour made a huge impact on my ability to attend to my family. I could pick my kids up from school, stay on top of laundry and dishes, and get dinner ready at a reasonable hour. The changes I’ve experienced in my quality of life make me confident that teletherapy is a great choice for busy educators who still want to stay in the field, but require a schedule that is accommodating.
Teletherapy had been something that I wondered about for many years. When I thought about teletherapy and online learning, my biggest concern was about my students and their attention level on a screen. I had this fear that students would run away from a screen and be difficult to control, even with facilitator support. I was pleasantly surprised that students loved working online with me and did not struggle to pay attention. I realized that students are digital natives and did not have trouble with the medium of a screen to deliver their speech therapy. I also did not find it difficult to establish rapport and build relationships with students. Students enjoyed connecting with me and coming to speech therapy. I’m sure my positive attitude also helped - I was so happy to be working with my students virtually from my home office. I was also very fortunate to receive some fantastic support from facilitators who stepped in as needed when there was a behavioral concern.
TeleTeachers Founder & CEO, Emily Smith, has been in the teletherapy space for many years and founded TeleTeachers prior to the pandemic. TeleTeachers has been doing teletherapy since its inception in 2019, and was established before many school districts had to resort to “crisis teletherapy”. TeleTeachers had the ability and the privilege to become experts in the field of teletherapy without the panic or rush.
Teletherapy and online learning has been crucial in maintaining students’ education during the pandemic in 2020. And while online learning has not been everyone’s favorite, it has been a godsend for continuity. Additionally, there are many educators who have realized they like the virtual space and also students who have thrived in online learning. As we move away from the peak of the pandemic and out of crisis mode, we are now able to be more purposeful as we look to the future and plan education. We can align our priorities to achieve students’ success by working with both students’ and educators’ preferences for educational settings.