“After being a VISTA for a few months, what have you deduced about your future plans?”
As many of you know, I am already pretty sure about my future career plans, being that I am currently enrolled in a Masters in Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program. I have reflected on other aspects of my future as an SLP, though, based on my VISTA position thus far.
One thing that I have gone back and forth with throughout these past 4 months (cannot believe that it has been 4 months!) is my interest level regarding working in a school. Although my overall interest hasn’t necessarily changed, my thoughts and feelings toward the educational system have. I still have a desire to be a school based SLP, specifically in an urban district. The language skills that I hope to promote and strengthen are skills that relate directly to literacy, which relates directly to students’ overall success in academia. With that said, the bureaucracy of school districts, particularly large urban districts, particularly the one I am serving with, has begun to decrease my interest level and cause me to broaden my horizons of where I see myself working after I graduate.
I know it is common for people to refer to the bureaucracy of a school district and the politics involved (including unfairness, a strange hierarchy, horrible allocation of power, not enough parent/ community involvement, unions that have extreme power, and many others that I may/may not agree with). I had these ideas and opinions before I began, thinking I knew how schools and districts were run, and that this experience would just give me further insight into the educational system. Well I was right…I have gained quite a bit of insight. I have realized that it is probably worse than I originally thought. A lot of things are not by the books, a lot of information is withheld from the public, you have to jump through a lot of hoops and that doesn’t even mean you will get things done, many of those with power are extremely removed from the schools, it is a business, but from what I know about businesses (which is not very much), it is not run very well and again, the list goes on…
I really am an optimistic person though, it’s just forums such as this that I seem pessimistic because of the information I am sharing. There are some wonderful people in the district, just like in many businesses. Hopefully they are able to gain more support in their work and move their agenda’s forward for positive change. These are the people I try to partner and collaborate and have been somewhat successful so far!
So now that that rant is over, I am extremely excited about my future as an SLP. Before I began my year of service I was questioning whether I wanted to limit myself to working in a school, or if I had other interests as well. Now that I am almost half way through my year of service, I am even more excited for my non-school practicum placements and the possibility of working in an early intervention or even a nursing home setting. Although I still have just as strong of a passion to work with children in an urban environment, it may be in a different capacity than I once thought.
And when you see me three years from now and I am happily working in a school in the RCSD, please point and laugh and I’m sure I will laugh too 🙂