Summer is quickly coming to an end and the school year is approaching fast. I always look forward to the fresh start with new students and new opportunities for planning, organizing and utilizing best practice.
There can be a downside to the excitement of the start of a new school year. Do you ever find yourself so caught up in the anticipation of new beginnings that you keep on adding to a never-ending to-do-list instead of checking things off? Yeah … me too. And this can get to be a little overwhelming.
Back-to-school season is one of the most hectic times of the year and it can be frustrating for some SLPs if they don’t know where to start. That is why I wanted to share five tips and strategies for the back-to-school hustle. These resources have helped me reduce the amount of stress I feel when planning for a new school year.
- Treat yourself.
As an SLP that is constantly traveling in between schools and to different homes, I need a bag that can fit all of my personal belongings, therapy materials, snacks, etc.My first tip for you is to buy a bag that can fit it all. I absolutely love Vera Bradley’s tote bags! They come in all colors and prints, but most of all, I like their tote bags because they are BIG and STURDY enough to fit all of my belongings.I had a Vera Bradley bag last year, but I felt myself getting tired of the color and pattern. Just like our kids need a change of pace sometimes, so do we. So go ahead and get yourself a new therapy bag that is both practical and aesthetically pleasing. Now, Vera Bradley bags can be a little expensive.That is why I usually shop for their bags at the outlet mall. You’ll be surprised to see how much you can save when you go to an outlet mall. Most bags are always marked at least 50% off the original price. Prices vary according to size, color, and print. Be sure to check to see if there is an outlet mall near you!
- Get organized.
My next tip is to get a personal planner/agenda so that you can mark all your IEP meetings, evaluation dates, report due dates, etc. I absolutely cannot work without my planner!Staples has a great selection at affordable prices. You can also check some out on TeachersPayTeachers that are more SLP specific. Sublime Speech has a great one that includes calendars, IEP note pages, therapy note pages, etc.
- Decide on Parent Letters.
There are a plethora of things you cannot do until you have your actual caseload, the related services schedules, and class/school-wide schedules. You can’t create your SLP schedule. You can’t start baseline RIOT procedures. You can make some general back to school lesson plans, but you can’t even differentiate them until you have student schedules and IEP goals. One thing you can actually check off of your to-do list is parent letters. Whether or not your school requires them, it is considered best practice to send home introduction letters. There are plenty of form letters you can find on TpT where all you have to do is fill in the blanks.I created these letters in Spanish and English, which can be easily edited to type in your students’ names and goals. In addition, I like to include an introduction letter about me so that parents feel comfortable reaching out to me with questions when needed throughout the school year.
- Print Out Teacher Referrals
If you have been working in the schools long enough, you know that the beginning of the school year is always crammed packed with new referrals from teachers. I often get approached in the hallway with, “Mrs. Lily, I have a student that I would like to refer for speech,” which is shortly followed by a summary of the teacher’s concerns. It can be tough to keep track of so much information during these hallway conversations. That is why I created a very thorough teacher referral form that can be filled out by teachers. I provide these forms to all the teachers in the building and make them aware of my referral process. Since I am at multiple schools and I might not always be available, I make sure to let the teachers know about my mailbox location so that they can place it in there once it is completed.
- Follow Fellow Speechies.
Whether it’s Facebook, Snapchat Instagram or Pinterest – most of us find ourselves swiping through one form of feed or another. What will be helpful this new school year is if you follow SLP bloggers who can continue to provide you with tips, tricks and lesson ideas as you scroll through your favorite social media feed.I’ve gotten so many great ideas from fellow speech bloggers. Check me out on Instagram and don’t forget to follow @bilingualspeechresources for all the updates and blog posts to come.
OH! And here are a few of our favorites on Instagram:
I hope these tips/resources allow you to have a super successful start to the school year. I would love to hear about your tips and advice for a new school year! Also, please share your favorite SLP bloggers down below.