Are you a school SLP? Here are five New Year’s resolutions for this next year, to help you focus on what matters most at work. I’ve also included links to freebies!
Resolution 1: Get your stuff done before you do someone else’s stuff.
Do you check your email as soon as you arrive at work in the morning?
Most of your emails probably contain other people’s requests- things they want you to do. If you let yourself get distracted all day long by answering emails, you won’t get anything else done.
Instead, work on your most important task of the day first. I use this free to-do list template, created by school SLP Jenna Rayburn Kirk, of Speech Room News. The template will help you sort your to-do list into 3 categories, so you can prioritize your most urgent items.
I usually check my email once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I have turned off email notifications on all of my devices to avoid getting distracting beeps and alerts all day long.
Resolution 2: Plan to discharge students when they’re ready.Our goal as SLPs is to prepare our students for a future in which they can communicate without our help.Click To Tweet
If you continue to serve students who don’t really need you, your caseload will get bigger and bigger. If you work in an elementary school, you will make the middle school and high school SLPs’ caseloads get bigger and bigger too.
Multiple SLPs will be serving students who don’t need speech therapy, and will have less time to help the ones who do. Students will be missing class for a service they don’t need.
Here’s what I suggest. Print out a list of everyone on your caseload and highlight the names of the students who are ready to exit. Look through the list at least once each reporting period, and see if additional names need to be highlighted. Make sure you have data to support your recommendations.
Before mentioning that you are thinking of exiting a student, contact the teachers and parents and see how the student is doing. Problem solve anything that is holding the student back. Check in every few weeks and see how things are going. Look at how others can help the student to generalize the skills beyond the therapy room.
If your student receives services other than speech, find out if your school psychologist needs to do any educational or psychological testing. In my state (North Carolina), exiting a related service requires a reevaluation. This can mean testing, although testing is not always required.
If you’re facing obstacles with discharge planning you’re not alone. It’s one of the most challenging aspects of being a school SLP. You might want to read my post about communicating with colleagues if you’re dealing with anyone who is particularly difficult to work with.
Resolution 3: Prioritize carryover.
Carryover is what happens outside of the therapy room, but if you as the school SLP don’t make it a priority, no one else will either. As soon as the student is able to complete a task with minimal cueing, find a way for him or her to practice it outside of your room.
Carryover tip 1: One of my favorite tools for carryover right now is pocket sized homework.
I’ve had success with using the program in both elementary and middle school. For a detailed explanation, I would suggest reading my article about pocket sized speech therapy homework.
Here is a link to the pocket sized homework sheets that I made. You can download a free sample and give it a try.
Carryover tip 2: My other favorite tool for carryover involves using a sticky note.
I give the student a sticky note, with a picture and text on it, to put on his or her desk (or assignment book). The sticky note serves as a reminder to use the speech skill, and should be visible to the student for most of the day. Teachers can tap the sticky note to discreetly remind the student to use the targeted speech skill during class.
As you can see from the picture above, the sticky note itself does not say anything about “speech therapy”. This helps avoid teasing. I printed the text and pictures onto the sticky notes using a regular printer at my house.
First, I made a template with boxes that were the same size as the sticky notes. Then, I put blank sticky notes onto the template.
Next, I made a document with pictures and text aligned with the boxes on the template above, so they would print on the sticky notes. Below is a picture from my Instagram.
In order to avoid jamming my printer, I had to figure out beforehand which direction the sticky notes template needed to be facing. After that, printing was super easy.
Here’s a link to the sticky notes desktop reminders that I made.
Resolution 4: Know your state’s policies and guidelines for speech therapy services in the schools.
In North Carolina, we have over 100 pages of guidelines. That’s way too much to try to memorize!
Rather than searching though a binder every time you want to find something, you can save an electronic copy of the policies onto your computer. That’s what I do. If you don’t already have an electronic copy of your state’s policies, they’re probably online and can be found with minimal digging.
When I need to find something specific, I open the document with Adobe and use their “Find” feature. This is so useful that I created a short Google Slides presentation with directions about how to scan a PDF document for a keyword.
Resolution 5: Pick one thing and organize the heck out of it.
You have slightly over half of the school year left. That’s more than enough time to organize something.
Last year, when I moved from a coworking space into my own room, I unearthed things that I had forgotten I even owned.
Now, I try and keep a running list of all of my activities. Here’s an example to illustrate the sheet I use. I continually add to the list of activities. If you’d like to download and use the Google Doc version, feel free.
Looking for a new data sheet idea? Here is an example of the data sheet I use. It’s available for free at my online store.
Looking for a new way of organizing your student data sheets? I use a number system to allow me to quickly file my students’ data sheets. I assign each student a number and write their numbers in the bottom corner of the data sheets. I file the data sheets into a binder after I’m done with my electronic therapy notes logging.
No one sees any student names when looking at the closed binder. When I open the binder, the see through tabbed folders allow me to quickly see everything on each data sheet.
Here’s a picture from my Instagram.
Thanks for reading!
These New Year’s resolutions are all about being mindful of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. By focusing first on the most important things at work, you can decide for yourself how much of the other stuff is worth putting in the extra hours for.
I hope this article has inspired you. Feel free to share these ideas!