Lots of Language

Join an SLP as she discovers what it means to do her job

Speech Teacher vs. Speech Language Pathologist

on September 7, 2014


It’s an argument I hear about on a regular basis and I felt the need to express my own views.

I worked hard for the P in SLP. I also think that people/colleagues should know I do more in my job than just fix articulation (speech) errors. The L is a huge part of my job.

I said to some of my SLP peers the other day that I will say, “I’m your speech teacher,” to my students.  Can you imagine the look on a Kindergartner’s face if I said, “I’m your Speech Language Pathologist.”  They would have no clue what I was talking about!  When I was working with high-schoolers I did introduce myself as the Speech Language Pathologist, because it was a great opportunity for them to learn some new vocabulary.  In addition, it was a great way to start talking about why they were seeing me and what my purpose in their schooling was.  Teenagers just want to hear it as it is and want to be treated as adults.  I also make sure that I am educating other teachers, parents, and adults by introducing my self as the Speech Language Pathologist and would never ever call myself the speech teacher to that group of people.  How can I expect people to call me that when I don’t?

I work in a district where I am treated like a teacher.  I’m paid like a teacher, hold a license through the department of education like a teacher (in addition to my national license through ASHA), and I am evaluated like a teacher (although thankfully my state is moving toward a Special Service Providers evaluation).  Let me stop there briefly, I have nothing but the utmost respect for teachers and what they do.  Both my parents and grandparents are/were teachers.  There is nothing like what a teacher does on a daily basis and I have thought in the past while watching my friend who are teachers teach that I could never stand in front of students all day long and do what they do.  I enjoy my 30-minute bite sized therapy sessions with kids and am grateful when I can send them back to class.  But the fact of the matter is, I am not a teacher.

I don’t know how to lead a class of 20+ student.  I don’t know how to plan a lesson (except for my therapy sessions).  I don’t know how to organize centers, or teach math, or develop tests, and homework, and on and on.

What I do know is: how to assess and treat communication disorders.  I know phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.  I know the difference between receptive and expressive language.  I know when to use dysfluent and when to use disfluent and that fluency isn’t just about reading.  I know communication. I am an SLP!

Having said that I believe there are more important thing to worry about than what people are calling me (although I would  be pretty upset if they were calling me Buttface).  I believe in actions; that if I am doing my job and helping students become better communicators than it doesn’t matter if I am a Speech Teacher or a Speech Language Pathologist.


Do you have any thoughts on the subject?  I would love to hear them!  Please comment below!




6 responses to “Speech Teacher vs. Speech Language Pathologist

  1. debfern says:

    I loved reading this. You so clearly stated what you do, what you know, and who you are while at the same time acknowledging the expertise of your teacher colleagues. I appreciate that! I am so proud of you. You worked hard for your title and your knowledge, and I love that you are now practicing in this wonderful profession where you get to help others. Keep on writing!


  2. smithZim says:

    I agree with everything you wrote! I remember an administrator at at a school for the deaf called me a speech teacher and I was horrified. Later, I realized he meant it as a high compliment. I sometimes named my room the Communication Skills Lab at secondary schools. I usually just called myself a speech-language therapist, but wrote SLP.


  3. Colleen M says:


    I found your blog and it’s absolutely great! But even more so, is the tree picture you use for you profile picture. Any chance you could send me the full picture or let me know where you found it. I think it would be extremely helpful when explaining language to teacher and parents. Thanks so much!!


    • efhawks says:

      I’m so glad you liked my blog. I really need to get on writing a new post… Lol! I found the tree here

      If you go to the bottom of the page there’s a link for “organizational reference kit for SlPs.” They use the tree as the cover page. This is also an excellent tool to use for linking standards to goals. It’s based on Colorado standards but it might give you an idea for your own state.


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