Hello fellow SLPs,
I can’t believe the 2017-2018 school year is just around the corner. Some therapists like myself have thought about school, but just pushed it to the side. I keep on telling myself that I have some time left. WELL, now it’s crunch time! So, now I’m trying to figure out what kind of planner I want, what method of data collection do I want to utilize, and the biggest struggle for the beginning of the school year is scheduling.
First things first, I NEED A PLANNER! Therefore, I turn to the one stop therapy shop for all, teacherspayteachers (TPT). If you search ‘speech therapy planner’, there are over a 100 different options and most of them are under $5. One of the most useful things to keep my sanity is having a well organized planner. Some people can keep up with a color-coordinated planner with all their events; however, I am not that person. I have tried regular pocket planners from Walmart but that just didn’t work for the “on-the-go therapist.” I have found some great therapy planners on TPT that include useful logs for screening, reevaluations, and providing one stop organization for the school-based therapist.
Struggle number two for the beginning of the school year is data collection methods or data sheets. Data collection is part our daily routine; however, having an efficient method for collecting this data can make your life so much easier. Everyone has different methods that work for them. After six years of being a school-based therapist, I finally found a method that works for me. Whoever thought shipping labels would be useful for data collection? The Queen’s Speech blog gave me a wonderful idea! I carry my labels around on a clipboard and collect data for each of the students I see that day. That afternoon, or the next morning, I add the labels to my data binder. This method is very easy for any busy therapist. I’m not flipping through my data binder with the student there. I’m also not carrying around 20 individual datasheets on my clipboard. However, if this method does not work for you TPT also has some wonderful options. Be sure to check it out!
One of my biggest struggles every school year is to create a schedule most beneficial to the student. Most of the time, after I have created a schedule, I walk into the classroom and hear the teacher say “she is with the OT”, “he is receiving his resource time”, or “their music time changed.” The list just goes on and on. Every year on the first teacher work day I grab my master school schedule (times for P.E., library, art, etc), a therapy template (most of these are free on TPT), my caseload (including how many minutes of therapy each student has per week), pencil, and an eraser. I create groups of students that can be grouped together and students that need individual therapy. Next, I create a tentative schedule to work around the master schedule. Typically have to change this schedule for at least the first month, and if a student’s schedule works, then I will highlight it indicating that this time works. If anyone has a better method please let me know!!
Hopefully, these are useful pointers to help you start the 2017-2018 school year. Every therapist and every school district has their own obstacles that they must face but will eventually overcome. In the meantime, try to find your favorite bloggers and start creating a Pinterest board to help you organize and become the best therapist you can be!!
Author: Dipali Patel, M.S., CCC-SLP