Approach to Teaching

Teaching is a layered commitment, with many tiers that must be given full consideration.  It is willingness, on behalf of the clinical educator, for full transparency and vulnerability.   What keeps me returning to academia over and over again is the reciprocal relationship naturally inherent within the teacher-student dynamic; the teacher is learning too!

I have supervised and taught as an adjunct professor in New York for almost 15 years.  I have experience in many different types of programs, from large urban graduate programs (NYU, Columbia), to small, urban programs (Marymount, Hunter) as well as mid-sized suburban programs (Hofstra University).   My teaching approach has always been multi-modality—combining traditional lectures (with the requisite power-point slides) with non-traditional, inquiry-based learning.  I always take full use of the web-based communications each university has set up and download lectures as well as additional readings, simulation activities and relevant videos.  I encourage class discussion via this portal as well.  As I have always been a practicing clinician while teaching– I have found being able to pull on my treatment experiences and share them with my students, has been invaluable.  Opening up my private caseload for observation, scrutiny (and many times criticism!) and asking my classes to apply clinical thinking skills to “real” clients helps each student realize her potential that much faster.  And just like traditional language therapy, setting up a learning environment with the proper scaffolding and support, takes time and consideration.  The ultimate goal is always for the student to stand unsupported, with a strong foundation of learning and the tools to apply this learned information to new situations and succeed.  I have learned it is an art to take this scaffolding down and this is a unique consideration to each student.

Effective and appropriate feedback must be considered heavily with regards to clinical education.  As we all know, spoon-feeding students is not helpful, but watching them stumble and subsequently frustrate themselves as well as the client is also not helpful.  Thus, feedback is a major tenet of a successful educational experience.  One of my favored models is setting up weekly supervisory groups, as well as individual meetings.  The supervisory group must be small—no more than 4 students—and allows the students to share their experiences with their peers, as well as their goals and methodology, in a safe space.  Typically a portion of each student’s session is pre-recorded and watched together during this time.  The group is already well versed in each other’s clients and the student clinician discusses the video not only in regards to goals/methodology/materials…but also what she perceived worked and didn’t work.  She can share with the group how she felt during the session and ask her peers for feedback/input.  The group then learns about a different type of client and, in many instances, comes up with some really good ideas for the sessions going forward.

The individual meetings are more focused on the technical aspects of the client’s needs and facilitation of goals.   I typically take notes while I am observing and after I have met with the student –I let her have them.  Sometimes in the moment, it can be difficult to process—so having the feedback in writing is helpful.  Likewise, I like to have my students write a weekly reflection sheet—letting me know what has been helpful for them and giving them a chance to give me feedback about my supervision in written form that they may not have felt comfortable doing in person.  This is helpful for me as each student is different.

I have always felt compelled to “give-back” to our field and thus I am passionate about mentoring, supervising and teaching.  It also just feels good when a lecture goes well or when a student has an “ah-ha” moment under my tutelage.

I have taught the following courses on the undergraduate/graduate level:

  • Introduction to Language Development
  • Introduction to Language Disorders
  • Introduction to Speech Language Pathology
  • Speech Language Pathology in the School System
  • New Student Seminar
  • Principles of Intervention
  • Articulation and Phonological Disorders
  • Advanced Phonology
  • Motor Speech Disorders