It’s that time of year again. (How did that happen?) School starts soon, and it’s time to get organized and get to know the students you’ll be working with when you resume your school-based OT practice for 2017/18.
One key to your success will be getting to know your students and fellow education team members. In addition, you can plan to group students together appropriately – making for a social environment, but not one where any individuals are overly loud or aggressive. And you can use some basic organizational tips to plan for your best year ever.
The start of every school year is hectic, but you can minimize stress and make things easier and more fun by using these tips:
- Have a system. You may want to use color-coded folders, binders for daily notes or file folders with your most popular handouts. Keep the latter right in your bag, so you have them at your fingertips when needed.
- Schedule a meeting with yourself. Do this at the end of the week. Start now and continue throughout the school year. Create a time slot in your schedule to sit down and go through all your papers, notes, emails, texts and reminders from the past week. Then, reorganize them with the week ahead in mind. It will be a huge time saver in the long run.
- Set up your therapy space. If you have an actual OT room, design, equip and decorate it. Motivational posters are helpful. If you travel from site to site, clean and organize your car so you have adequate space for your equipment and supplies.
- Have extra activities prepared. Some activities you think will take fifteen minutes may take only five. It’s critical to plan in advance and have extra resources to fill unplanned, unstructured time.
Getting to Know Your Students
Get to know your students as well as you can, as soon as you can, by:
- Learning about their curriculum: Start out by understanding what is expected of each youngster on your 2017/18 caseload. Use IEP goals if your school follows common core standards.
- Getting a clear picture of each child’s goals and skills: If you had a child in therapy previously, find out whether anything has changed during the summer. If there has been a decline, collect data to justify additional services. If a student has improved, adjust their goals accordingly.
- Being patient and nonjudgmental: Never assume that a child can or cannot achieve a certain milestone. Get to know each child personally and individually. Don’t make determinations based solely on what you’ve read, especially when it comes to motor skills.
- Collaborating: Introduce yourself to teachers and other team members. Explain your role and how you can help. Encourage people – including parents – to contact you with any questions. Provide the necessary information for them to do that.
It’s a new year – an exciting time for you as a school-based OT. Are you looking to add to your toolbox of resources, or perhaps take your career to the next level? If so, read our related posts, or contact the Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services team today. And here’s to a fantastic year ahead!