The new school year is fast approaching and I am getting nervous. I have been practicing speech-language pathology for 7 years now, 6 of them being in the school system, and I still get nervous at the beginning of every school year. I know what I am supposed to do (thank goodness I got my first/CFY year way behind me) and what is expected of me, but I just can’t seem to shake that school girl feeling. Many of you who are reading this post, however, may not have your first year behind and like me at one time, may be at a complete loss as to where to start. So this post is for you. First of all, I know you know what to do. We all know though, that knowing and doing can be two completely different things. Let’s jump in. The bulleted list below is set up to show what I suggest you do first, next, etc.
- Buy a desk calendar – I”ll tell you why in a minute.
- Get a username/password for the online system your school district uses. My district uses “Infinite Campus.” This system has all the students listed within the school/district that you are employed at.
- Within this system, generate a report of students that receive speech-language therapy services. Make sure the report specifies who you are case manager for and who you are service provider for.
- Get a pen and get ready to write on that calendar.
- For each student you are CASE MANAGER for, look up their IEP, then write down their IEP review or re-evaluation due date. VERY IMPORTANT!!! This helps keep you legal. ALSO make sure that when you write this student’s name down on the appropriate date, MAKE NOTE of whether or not the due date is for an annual review or a re-evaluation. PLEASE please PLEASE make note of that. Had I thought to do that my first year, it would have saved me a lot of stress due to timelines…
- Start in on those meeting notices, if necessary, to meet those timelines. Contact your special education director or another SLP and/or special education teacher in your district to see what your district’s guidelines are on what is required of you as case manager to get the parents in for those ARC meetings.
- Get a schedule for all the grades you will be serving. You can get a master schedule, which can be pretty general for some grades, from the principal, guidance counselor, or the online system. I personally like to get a master schedule from the guidance counselor for my older students and go to the individual teachers for the lower grades. Why the overkill? In my experience the little ones’ schedules do not always strictly follow the master schedule’s times. Though the master schedule says that Ms. D’s kindergarten class is having free choice in their classroom from 1:00-1:30, they may actually be having their math lesson from 12:40-1:10, then move on to free choice. That 10 minute overlap can completely wreck my SLP schedule because I may have someone else scheduled from 1:30-2:00 after my Kinder group and that is the only time of the day I can get my someone else. A little tidbit about me: I don’t pull the little ones out of reading or math. It’s a personal choice…WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT: completing a SLP schedule is not something that happens overnight and may not even happen within a week. At the beginning of the school year, EVERYONE’S schedules are constantly changing. Don’t write your schedule in blood, and be prepared to change it several times. That’s the case for all school SLPs that I’ve ever met – no matter if it’s their first year or their 20th.
- Make your schedule. Remember, be patient! And creative! FIRST, look at what their IEP specifies regarding speech-language therapy frequency and duration. Also, take note if their IEP specifically states individual or group therapy. There are so many different scheduling options. Some may work, some may not. Some people do 5-minute therapy where they pull their kids individually for 5 minutes at a time, 5 days a week. Some do individual or groups for 20 minutes at a time, 3 days a week. If you can group your student’s according to goals, that’s great. If that doesn’t work with your school’s schedule, you can group students according to class or grade level. I have to do that frequently because my school’s schedule is jam packed and each grade level is doing something very different throughout the day.
- Therapy! Finally! Start pulling! Have fun! If it is taking a long time to get your schedule finalized, do what you can and do your best and that is all that matters at the end of the day 🙂
I hope this post did not overwhelm you more than you already may be. Your speech therapy students are so lucky to have you entering their lives. Take care and good luck!
Please leave a comment on what you liked about this post or what you would like to see in the future!