About Melissa

So how do I condense the alphabet soup of the past 20 years that led me to this space of empowering educators and parents to make sense of language disorders?

Let’s wind back the clock to 2004 – I had just finished my teaching degree and I felt like I was good to go! I had majored in special education which I felt was a great bonus and I couldn’t wait to get to my new class. I had the knowledge, I had my pretty pink notebook and I had bought the ‘sensible’ teacher shoes.

Then I did Day 1.

It was not a fun day. Because even though I had a mainstream class, my class was brimming with students with additional needs – some diagnosed, some undiagnosed, some flying under the radar and others literally flying around the classroom. (Well ok, not literally flying, but let’s just say there were behaviour issues and I was NOT equipped to deal with them!). And the kiddies who required extension? They didn’t even get a look in.

Before you ask – Day 2 was no better. Neither was Day 40.

So here I was, a first year out teacher, with my very class, in a mainstream school so I didn’t necessarily have all the special education resources that you can often find in a specialist setting.

The reason I became a teacher (and I assume you are the same) is because I wanted to help children. Not just help them but help them to thrive. I wanted my classroom to be the place that lifted them up, made them feel happy, worthy, important and heard. But at the moment all I had were kids that were either bored or very confused. And the guilt and stress within me was only mounting.

Teaching really is a ‘sink or swim’ profession so in an attempt to make it back to shore, I poured myself into my work. I would arrive at school at 7am just to spend the next 90 minutes creating differentiated worksheets and resources just for that day’s lessons. I was over it before the kids even arrived at school! My drive home was spent calculating what I needed to do that night. My weekends were at my computer. I didn’t exercise. I didn’t see friends. And most of all I didn’t sleep.

Needless to say, I burnt out super quickly. I remember standing in my Store Room one lunchtime just sobbing, trying to modify a worksheet in time for our maths lesson starting in seven minutes (I didn’t finish!). I knew something had to change.

I started looking at ways that I could work smarter, not harder to cater for my students. I researched like crazy and found that a lot of the strategies that I could use with the kiddies with additional needs were actually going to benefit the whole class anyway! My classroom started to shift.

And then, in 2006, I was blessed beyond belief to have a speech pathologist in my classroom three days per week. What a marriage made in heaven! I brought my ‘teacher skills’ of knowledge of the curriculum and she brought the ‘speechie skills’ of specific language skills focus. I started creating resources that helped our classroom to run smoothly and break down vital concepts. Our students thrived.

And maybe it was just severe FOMO, but once I saw what my Speechie colleague was doing every day with our students, I was hooked. I could see how vital it was to teach in a way that catered for these children, all day, every day. All students benefited anyway and it was saving me hours of work in the evenings.

I loved the approach so much that I went all in and headed back to uni to train as a speech pathologist. And boy was it worth it!

Now, I have the best of both worlds – I work in private
practice as a speech pathologist in an amazing team but I also collaborate with
teachers, helping them to navigate the overcrowded curriculum and show them how
they can enrich their class with language skills, using lesson plans they already

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