You're an SL- What?: Life as an SLP Blogger



In the pediatric speech world, you have to live under a rock if you've never heard of my next guest. She's the OG blogger and SLP TPTer. She wears allll of the hats and does allll of the things! Basically, I adore her and am so thankful to know her! She is a true trail blazer and an asset to our field! Mrs. Jenna (Rayburn) Kirk!

My name is Jenna (Rayburn) Kirk, MA, CCC-SLP. I live in Dublin, Ohio with my husband and our two dogs! I’m in my 8th year as an SLP. I went to Ohio University and The Ohio State University and studied speech-language pathology all the way through my education. 
I currently work as a preschool SLP in a public school. I’ve had experience in the clinical setting as well.  I always describe myself as a person who not only has a passion for doing the therapy part of our job, but as someone with a  passion for educational resource design and professional development for SLPs too. I pretty much love everything about our job except for the paperwork. 
After my CF, I started a website (TheSpeechRoomNews.com) where I share ideas and my journey as an SLP. I love the idea of peeking behind the curtains into someone else’s world. When I started sharing, not many people were really doing that yet. Now when you search for #speechtherapy, you get hundreds of ideas, but back then there were just a lonely few of us! 
I’ve presented on a variety of relevant topics to school-based speech-language pathologist including presentations at ASHA and ASHA Schools. Creating resources for other SLPs makes me feel like I really make an impact for not only my fellow SLPs but for the student they serve. I get to reach well past the 50 students on my own caseload and help children all across the country. That’s pretty amazing.  

How did you learn about our field? Why did you become an SLP?
I grew up next to a family with a child with autism spectrum disorder. I got to see what therapists did up close when they were in their home for therapy. It made it easy to see this was the perfect job for me! 

Give a description of the setting and population you work with. How is this different from other settings/populations?
I like to call myself an accidental entrepreneur. My dad tried to convince me to take some business classes in school in case I wanted to open my own clinic. I totally refused because the idea of owning my own business just never really sounded like something I wanted to do.   I started writing about speech therapy in 2011. From the beginning, my goal has been to connect with other professionals and to share what’s happening in my daily grind. Well, maybe not EVERYTHING. I try to share what works well! You can see my #SLPfails on Instagram though!
Shortly after I got started, Speech Room News turned from a hobby into a business. I realized I could take my passion for working with special needs children, my passion for problem solving, and my passion for crafting and make my own speech therapy materials. Like all passion projects, this one didn’t start as a business to make money. It started because I love to share, collaborate, and learn. Now that SRN is such a big part of my life, I’m happy to consider it not only my passion but a full-time job. Working as an educational  resource designer gives me the freedom to be really creative. Instead of sitting and wishing I had a resource when I’m working with a student, instead I sit and think about how I could create what I need. I usually create something really specific to a single student or my caseload. Then I think of ways to expand it to make it useful for more types of students. Then I dig deep to create something that’s also visually appealing and engaging for students. 

What is the greatest challenge you face in your specific setting that may be different from other settings?
When you’re creating something new, there is a risk there. For me, that can be the most difficult part.  You have the responsibility to know what is actually functional in therapy and the current research supporting that idea. Sometimes, I spends weeks making something and then decide it isn’t efficient enough for my liking and I start all over. Even if all goes well in the design, I might spend a month making a resource and then I have to wait and see if other SLPs think it’s something that will work for them too. I’m always waiting to hear what people think of a resource I’ve made. You’ll often catch me adding to resources once people in other settings use them because I want them to be as useful as possible.   I really pour my heart and soul into the things I create, and because I also work full-time as an SLP, that means I spend my nights and weekends creating. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it. I also refuse to give up the social life I love, so that usually means less sleep. I’m my most creative from 9pm-midnight. 

What is the greatest reward for you in your job?
My greatest reward is getting an email from an SLP who has been struggling to do to much, who finds my resources, and realizes there’s a faster, easier, or better way to do something. If I help her love her job again, I’m over the moon. One sweet email like that from a fellow SLP, fuels my passion to create for a whole month. 

What has been one of your favorite experiences as an SLP?
Being part of an invited speaker panel at the 2016 ASHA convention was something I never thought would happen! What an honor to be brought on board my ASHA’s social media manager, Kelly. I loved sharing about social media with other SLPs who run clinics or university departments. 


I’m beyond honored that other SLPs utilize my resources to make their therapy more fun, efficient, or streamlined. It’s amazing how connected we are in our profession right now.  Technology and social media get a bad rap sometimes but I think it’s really bringing SLPs together in ways we never could’ve done before. The use of social media and blogs to share the ins and outs of our profession is growing to be an important part of the culture of speech language pathologists. I’m really proud to be apart of that. 

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