It’s that time of year. When the calendar says August or early September, it’s time to kick off a new beginning for teachers, students – and school-based therapists.

How can you best prepare for the new school year ahead? Sharpen your brand-new number-two pencil and take note of these tips, prepared with the expert assistance of Cobb Pediatric’s very own school-based therapists:

Get Organized

  • Get your materials in order. One suggestion is to buy a small cart to organize student folders that contain lessons and related information. Include copies of IEP goals, identifying information, and data sheets with goals, objectives and ongoing activities.

Consider New Learning Tools

  • Decide on a theme – and carry it throughout the year. Use it to decorate your classroom or work area, in parent welcome letters and other communications, and when you plan learning activities. Whether its sports, pets, hobbies or another area of common interest, it can be fertile ground for ideas and teaching techniques, even on the bleakest of Monday mornings.
  • Try out some new apps. Check out our related blogs on iPhone and other apps now available to add innovative new tactics to your day-to-day teaching plans. They are inexpensive and user-friendly, and they can be used in students’ homes as well as in the classroom.

Network with Other Professionals

  • Get to know your colleagues. They can be a wealth of information and guidance. Make time to interact with them at lunch and at school-related social events.
  • Get to know key support staff. This includes school secretaries and custodians. They will, at some point, become your best friends!
  • Ask questions. Especially if you’re a new faculty member, remember that everyone else was once there, too. Generally, veteran team members are happy to lend a hand or lend an ear, and they know the ins and outs of your new work environment.

Remember the Basic, Practical Stuff

  • Make a list and check it twice. Include the names of all students on your caseload, separated by grade. Include teachers’ names, room numbers, and therapy time slots for each pupil.
  • Find the closest bathrooms to your office. Seriously. Know where the rest rooms are, for both children and adults. You do not want to find out the hard way!
  • Calendars are a must. Buy a big calendar for your main desk and a smaller one to carry with you between schools and between home and school.

Go Easy on Yourself

  • Don’t expect perfection during the first few weeks. The school year is just getting under way, students are being switched from class to class, and it takes a while for a routine to develop. That list we just talked about? Write it in pencil, at least at first!
  • Get a good night’s sleep. This will help you stay alert during initial orientation sessions, in-service programs, and throughout the year.

Above all else, when the going gets tough – and even when it doesn’t – remember the reason you took this job: the students! Smile, embrace each day’s challenges, and enjoy each and every one of them!

For additional back to school guidance on your school-based therapy assignment, turn to the professionals at Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services. And here’s to a great year ahead!

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