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Dr. Weishof: A major contribution to Play and Speech Therapy in Schools

Dr. Weishof contributes to a Play and Speech Therapy bookDr. Weishof has been the ISH’s Junior School Principal for the last 8 years, and in 2016, was named one of only two winners world-wide of the “National Distinguished Principals Award” announced by the United States Department of State, Office of Overseas Schools. Last year, Dr. Weishof spent 6 months writing an academic contribution to a graduate school counseling text,  “Play and Speech Therapy in Schools: Toward a Model of Interprofessional Collaborative Practice”. We conducted a 15-minute interview with her on this achievement.

Dr. Weishof, how long did it take you to write the article?

Dr. Weishof : I did this over the course of months during weekends and free time. Having worked with multilingual students my whole career, it is fascinating to combine the area of speech- and play therapy. I am very interested in the connection between psychological well-being and language.

Seeing that you included a stunning 127(!) references to other literature for 30 pages of content, I wonder how you managed to find the time and focus to create something like this? Is there a reason for having this vast amount of references?

Dr. Weishof: Every time different fields of study are combined, plenty of texts have to be read to get an overview. I had to grasp the subject areas of speech therapy, play therapy, professional collaboration, child development and child psychology which required studying lots of articles. I love reading and writing about recent findings on play and speech therapy, so it didn’t really feel like work reading through all the literature to be honest.

What exactly made you contribute to this book and what makes it so special?

Dr. Weishof: I completed my PhD studies with the editor of the text, Rheta LeAnne Steen, who was aware that my field of study would fit perfectly within the overall subject of the book. She wanted to include a chapter on consultation and child development in the school environment. While there are plenty of textbooks on children’s play in therapy, there are only a few that merge together the areas of consultation and play therapy which makes the book somewhat special.

What is the motivation to write a chapter in such a book and why exactly the subject of Play and Speech Therapy?

Dr. Weishof: There was a point during my academic studies in which I had to decide on an area of focus. I still remember vividly the exact reason for choosing a combination of play and speech therapy: there was a little boy who was nearly without speech; his mother (whose mother tongue was Portuguese) neglected him very early in his development. Meanwhile his father was deaf and only spoke sign language. You can imagine that the child grew up without speaking or hearing a language. The key moment was when he playfully went through different tones on a xylophone. We had experienced many silent sessions before, but at this moment the very first word he shouted was “Yeah!” and then I was hooked. You could see the power of playful learning and the willingness to speak at this very moment.

Have you published anything else before?

Dr. Weishof: I wrote a couple of academic articles for the “International Journal of Play Therapy” and conducted book reviews for the “Association of Play Therapy Magazine”.

How close are we at ISH to having an inter-professional collaboration between speech therapists, therapists, teachers and parents?

Dr. Weishof: I am very excited about the Junior School because for the first time ever we have implemented flexible time tables for EAL- (English as an Additional Language and ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) classes. The idea is for our EAL and ICT teachers to meet with classroom teachers once a week and collaborate on lessons – these co-planning sessions will be the foundations of our piloting various models of co-teaching. So far, the reactions are extremely positive and also the classroom teachers are very excited about the changes as they have more control over their timetables. Now, we will closely monitor it and have a look at the results but so far this is very positive.

How should one envisage this play-based learning?

Dr. Weishof:  The specialists and classroom teachers plan their learning goals together; afterwards they decide on the role that each teacher is going to take within the context of instruction. There are different kinds of models on how to deliver the content to reach the learning goals, and they have the freedom to choose the most fitting one. The last step is deciding on the forms of assessment.

Where do you see the Play and Speech therapy in schools 10 years from now?

Dr. Weishof: Hopefully more integrated with less stand-alone services and with teams of professionals working in blended contexts. The service delivery has to be more integrated. Ideally, all learning would be integrated into a child’s day without traveling to individual teachers, outside clinics, or separate facilities. You can say that it has to become even more holistic.

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