Chapter 6 Application

Chris Scally shares:

In the original draft of this post, the application paragraph appeared last.  I have moved it to the top.  My thoughts on application are all in the first paragraph.  The remaining paragraphs are a long-winded rant, followed by a link to a relevant This American Life Episode about the Harlem Bay College.

I have three thoughts on Chapter 6 application.

1) If we are going to ask parents to change how they talk to their children, perhaps it should feel like a conversation rather than an assignment, even if that conversation is delivered with a handout.

2) The IEP process does not help, in my experience, to create a feeling of team between the school and the parents.  I think that often the school and parents are a very solid team, but I don’t think IEPs help.  How do you create a feeling of conversation and team with your teachers and parents?

3) This chapter emphasizes the need for data to guide intervention.  I sometimes make the mistake of looking at the data to see only what the child is doing right or wrong, and not what I am doing right or wrong.  This may be my professional growth goal for next year.


So…. Chapter Six.  Was anyone else creeped out by this?

I have been reading along rapt and on-board.  I think our education as SLPs sets us up to believe in the power of early language environment and even if aren’t early intervention practitioners, we get it:  Joint attention, expansion, extension, turn taking, talk talk talk.  I was interested in the research showing how early language affects not only language but also processing and learning.  I was intrigued by the inter-relationships between the effects of early trauma and stress and early language environment.  I was excited by the tie-in to growth mindset.  And then….

[Insert screeching break-noise here.]  Something about the plan for universal home visits struck me as troubling.  Throughout this chapter, the author pulls back and says, “When supportive programs are needed, and offered, it is not delineating differences in our population,”  and states that basing the programs on science and not belief systems is the way to be sure that the programs are effective and work in the best interest of everyone.  I agree, but I fear “well meaning experts,” who aren’t members of the community they are trying to “improve.”  While I know that the author is pushing for necessary state and national funding, I wish there was more talk about community-based application.  Paul Tough, speaking about the Harlem Children’s Zone parent education program summed up my concerns,

The idea of trying to mess around in the private life of a disadvantaged family is one that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. It’s essentially telling poor parents that there’s a better way to raise your kids, and we’re going to tell you how. But somehow, that’s not what it feels like at Baby College. It feels like a conversation, like we’re on your side. Like it’ll be fun.

This quote, by the way, is from a This American Life Episode. (The last two acts of this episode are very off this topic but the first act is a great story about community-based change dealing with the need to change parenting styles in order to break the cycle of poverty.  They targeted pregnant women.  Talk about early intervention. ) The website for the Harlem Children’s Zone is here:

Thanks, Chris!


5 thoughts on “Chapter 6 Application

  1. Katie Cohen says:

    Chris, thanks for the posting the “This American Life” episode. (I love listening to that podcast too by the way.) It struck me: how excited the young parents were during interviews to be a part of the Baby College. The one man shared he had been teaching his family and friends about the strategies he learned from Baby College. Also the interviews with parents reconsidering and changing their discipline styles.

  2. Melissa G. says:

    Yes, Chris, I shared some of your same concerns. I was also very interested in the potential tie in between early stress and trauma to language development. It certainly made me reflect on some of the children I have worked with in the past. However, I also became concerned with the discussion of home visits in the study. I thought “Oh, those waters might be muddy now” ….. I have to keep bringing myself back to, “What can I do differently?” and focus more on Growth Mindset. I am trying to be more “Tuned In”. Was that from this chapter? I have revisited my “communication temptation” box of trinkets and mini “toys”. I have let some students explore the container for a few minutes and expand upon what they have to say. I used to only bring out the container with preschoolers that wouldn’t talk to me. Now I have found that a lot of language is unearthed with even the older kids that are allowed to explore the items. I’ve thrown in mini Etch-a-Sketches, odd shells, mini puzzles, etc. I am able to not only address speech-language goals (basic concepts, describing skills, vocabulary words, speech sounds, discussing with a peer….) but also “tune in” to what they find interesting. But back to the point, yes, I share some of your thoughts on this chapter and I am trying to focus on what I can do to help as it is overwhelming at times.

  3. Sarah Niemann says:

    Chris-I agree with your point about looking at our data in a different way-to remember it can be a reflection of what we may be doing well or not so well regarding the intervention and way we are going about things instead of just as a reflection of accuracy. I, too, need the reminder to really look at it partly as a reflection of what I may be doing and not just entering it in Ed Plan, using it for progress reports, and/or what the next goal and objective percentage might be.
    Looking at how I create a feeling of conversation and team with teachers and parents made me think long and hard about how well I am doing with this. Besides the IEP meetings, it is rare that both the teacher, parents and myself are all together-it may be the teachers and I meet or the parents and I meet etc. I have been trying to do a better job of contacting the other party to tell them what we were working on, trying, discussing what their ideas are. Although it is not in person and usually over email or the phone, I feel like it has helped to make sure everyone is in the loop and can brainstorm ideas together. Although this is small, I have also been trying to make sure I sit next to the parent during IEP meetings. I am one of those people that almost always sits in the same seat but after several meetings, I realized that many times the parent would come in and sit on one side and all other members were on the other side of the table.

  4. Amanda Piekarski says:

    I certainly agree with you on so many points!
    I like how you are thinking about ‘how’ we can support parents using language in the home. The idea of an assignment sounds like a burden! I know that as a parent that would be tough on me. Also the idea of going into homes was eye opening!
    What also stuck with me was about the need for data to guide intervention. I do find myself looking at the can/ can not aspect of kiddos.

  5. Carolyn Dent says:

    Regarding your comment on universal home visits, I agree it seems creepy and invasive. However, being on the “other side” of things and having a daughter currently in First Steps (PT and DI) I see the value of having a professional at your disposal to point out things you aren’t educated on or weren’t raised to believe as accurate (ex hold a child too much and you’ll spoil them). Maybe having an optional home visit for at-risk demographics (which would basically lead to a EI referral or not) up to one year could be an option.

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