Showing posts with label SLP Tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SLP Tips. Show all posts

3 Tips for Taking Care of Business so the Fun Can Start!


Getting into the creative flow of therapy at the beginning of the school year can be a tough transition for some of us in the schools, no matter where you work. There is so much to get done before the actual fun of therapy can start. These tips to think about for the beginning of the school year can help you take care of business so the fun can start!

3 tips for taking care of business so the creative flow can start!
Have you noticed that schools seem to have their own cultures? After working in 13 different schools in 3 school systems, I’ve noticed that some of the aspects of our job can vary according to where you are working. Some of the changes, like the culture of a school, can make it a friendly place to work, or not so friendly. The exact type of paperwork and the timelines for doing it change from school system to school system, and over time, but there is always too much of it!

Somehow, though, despite these differences, there is a flow to therapy routines over the course of a school year. If you are new to a school system, or debating schools versus private practice, some of this information may be helpful to you! Click on any of the topics if you’d like to read more information on it. You will be taken to another blog post specifically for that topic.

Business for the First Month


Every year, the first month is busy with organizing your materials and therapy space. If you’d like some tips (and horror stories) just click on the topics. Some school systems move SLPs around depending on caseload numbers, but almost every school has you packing up for cleaning over the summer. So each year, you get a chance to revamp your therapy space and get organized.

In some schools, therapists have the same caseloads each year, with changes occurring when new students start at the school and others move on. Other schools, with multiple therapists, give out new caseloads every year. Either way, there are lots of IEP reviews and material purchases (or creation) going on to meet new IEP goals and student needs.

Lots of paperwork! Updating student information, setting up log notes and data sheets, and of course, the dreaded scheduling!

Don’t forget, you also need to set up your room behavioral expectations and make sure that the students you have grouped together fit in some way.

Because of all this paperwork, and having new students and/or new IEP goals, having open ended activities around can be very useful at this time of year. Other life savers  include books, crafts, comic strips, wordless videos, and computer activities.

Business for the Second Month


By now you have probably gone through multiple scheduling changes. If you don’t use post-its for scheduling yet, you should definitely give it a try. SLPs usually need to make schedule changes all year long for a variety of reasons: classroom schedule changes, students coming and going, and IEP related service changes being a few.

Many schools have a back to school night sometime during the fall that SLPS are expected to attend. It is a good idea to think about these general topics ahead of time in case you get asked questions.


•  Do you give homework and how would you like parents to help?
•  Do you have a session make up policy in your school system?
•  How do you stay in touch with parents regarding student progress?
•  What are your room rules and incentives?
•  Have a general discussion of what speech/language therapy involves ready to educate parents. You may be surprised how many really don’t know why their children are coming to you. Excellent free handouts can be found on TpT.
•  Have a statement ready to let parents know that this is not an individual conference, but that you will be happy to talk to them another time regarding their child’s specific needs.
•  Parents always love to see work their students have done. Make a bulletin board in your room for this!

Now that you hopefully have some of the basics going steadily along during the school day, the second month is a good time to do some informal assessments to get a better idea of your students’ strengths and weaknesses, both in their IEP areas and general speech/language skills.

Options can include:

•  Language samples
•  Pre/post tests
•  Recordings of speech production
•  Using computer activities for skill assessments
•  Making videos where they explain something they have completed, retell a story or give a narrative about an event.

My verbal students loved recording themselves and knew more about using Quick Time than I did. If you haven’t used it yet, here are some links to get you started.



http://osxdaily.com/2016/12/04/record-video-mac/

CREATIVITY- the Magic of OLA

You know all of those additional assignments that SLPs tend to get? It is true, they take us away from that endless pile of paperwork we have to complete, but they also provide an opportunity we might as well take advantage of since we are stuck.

To me, the creative magic of therapy comes with a flow you get when students are really involved, interacting with each other, and getting a chance to improve skills that they really need. Not just what the IEP goal says.

"What?" You might be asking yourself this. Speech/language test results and IEP goals are based on concrete, measurable skills, but life isn't concrete and measurable.

Take "C," a sweet middle school boy who was floundering in a regular education class despite having a good auditory memory, great syntax and sentence structure, and comprehension of facts. He came to my caseload with a goal for following directions, but he could follow 4+ steps and most concepts. I felt the magic begin to happen when I started to figure out what he really needed.

"How?" you might ask.  "OLA!" I say!

Observe. While you are walking to the photocopier, doing bus or lunch duty, or popping into the classroom, observe your students in their natural interactions of the school day.

Listen to what your fellow educators have to say about this student, especially the classroom teacher. They don't look at the student's problems from the same perspective as we have, obviously, but teachers spend a lot of time with your student in a group setting and are your best resource for real life observations. Respect your teachers for the skills they have in managing groups and understanding the larger picture of how your student functions in that group, all while teaching a curriculum and managing their own paperwork. Your therapy will be much more on target!

Act. When you co-ordinate the observations of your fellow educators regarding your student's needs, the observations you have made of how the student functions in the school environment, and your knowledge of communication needs, you can apply all of this information to how you address the IEP goals and the creative flow begins! You may not ever place a number value on it, or write it on a session note, but when you integrate the social, behavioral and communicative needs of your student into your therapy sessions, you will make noticeable changes that impact your student's whole school day.

And my student, "C"? After doing this, I realized that his real problem was being too literal! He didn't follow classroom directions well if they were ambiguous or could be interpreted too literally. So, we worked on following directions by figuring out different meanings of words and sentences, then reasoning out which one the teacher actually meant. Success!


So, don’t let the endless paperwork get you down! Once you have the basics outlined here under control, you can use your knowledge of your students’ needs to start getting creative in therapy! 

The next post will feature some creative ideas for Halloween!
If you have a favorite creative idea of your own, get in touch! I'd love to feature photos of your creative fun on my Pinterest board SPEECH & SPED: Halloween.  Just email me!

Enjoy!

The Worst Speech Rooms Ever! Plus Organization Tips for SLPs


Sharing our ideas makes us stronger, so I reached out to challenge my readers this month to get some of their best tips (and Worst Rooms Ever stories)  to help us get started on the right foot this year! If you want more tips, check out this blog post!

TIPS


Tatiana shares to be sure to have highlighters for color coding and lots of post it notes!
Annie says that she makes back to school less overwhelming by spending 5-10 minutes prepping every day during the summer.
Ashley devised a spreadsheet for her caseload including minutes, goals and IEP dates to be sure that no one is missed when she schedules. Another bonus is that the info is easy to share!
Kate responded, “My organization tip is to START EARLY. The time you spend at the end of May pre-organizing for fall is so worth it! Stock depleted forms, update data sheets, double check your roster and assessment log.”

Thanks for the great tips, as all of these ideas are helpful, but Annie is the contest winner for pure dedication! Congratulations!

THERAPY ROOMS

Having a space that is organized, pretty and functional can make work life so much better! A few of my readers sent pictures of their spaces. You can see their photos, plus more tips, on my Pinterest board SLP & SPED: Organization. If you have a photo to share, email me to be considered for adding to my board!

Organize Your SLP Space ! Plus the worst Therapy Rooms Ever!
Kate is excited to share her beautiful, new therapy room. After being in schools and dealing with whatever room she was assigned to, she now has her own gorgeous space. All of us with school experience understand why she is so thrilled!

Annie has a beautiful and functional bulletin board, which we all love! Check out this set which has beautiful strategy posters that make great bulletin boards!

Kim is still in a school, but she painted her desk to give it a bright and cheery look!

Taking a little time to make your therapy space your own is so important! Walking in to work with something that makes you smile is the best way to start the day. And, if you are comfortable in your space, you will foster interactions with your students that help them feel comfortable there, too.

Kate, your office space is beautiful! You are the winner of the contest and get a packet from me to use in your gorgeous room!

Tell your worst room ever story at Looks Like Language!

THE WORST SPACE EVER!


With our small groups, it seems that SLPs are often the last to get a space to work in a school (and often the worst!)

I invited my readers to share their worst space ever, and these are the responses. (One of the situations is mine!)

Be sure to share your WORST ROOM EVER story in the comments!



  1. My Worst Room Ever was what we dubbed "the Cage."  It was in the basement of the building, and was literally "cage" material that cut it off from the rest of the area.  I shared it with the band/instrument instructor and was constantly having to move all the music stands out of the way on the two days I was there.  There wasn't anywhere to hang pictures or make it more comfortable and a friendly atmosphere for my students.  Luckily I was only there for a semester when another room opened up for my use.                                             
  2. When I was student teaching, once/week we saw students in the custodian's closet, complete with the mop in the rolling bucket or water....and the SMELL!!  At another school, while I was student teaching, we saw students on the stage with the curtains closed but in the rest of the room, the BAND was practicing!!!
  3. More recently, I worked in an Early Learning Center.  I could see students in a room with 8 SLP's desks.  Multiple therapy sessions went on at the same time, teachers came in and out of the room to talk with the SLPs, parents came in, administrators, etc. Or my other choice was to see students at a table in the hallway outside the bathroom and a classroom for early childhood autistic students.
  4. I went to a new school where the principal hated speech paths. He took me to a boy’s bathroom that was IN USE! Really? When I said no thanks, he then led me to a dentist office where there was a dental chair and room to walk around it. Needless to say, I found my own space that year, which was on the floor of a stairway landing.
  5. Worst room experience - when I had to work on the stage at the elementary school while PE was happening in the gym  - only thing separating us was the stage curtain.  I had a very hard time trying to tell if my students were saying their sounds correctly :(
  6. Worst room for me was a previous janitors closet at a middle school. Still had water fixtures exposed, no windows, barely fit 3 students. However, if there would have been a tornado, I would have been set!
  7. I’ve been pretty lucky with rooms, but my first speech room consistently had roaches and roach poop in it :/
  8. Worst room was an electrical closet that could only fit my desk and a file cabinet. I had to search the school to find empty space for the actual therapy session.
These were all spaces I wouldn't want to work in, so I went to a random number generator to decide! Stefanie, congratulations! I hope you have a nice room this year to use your packet from me in!

Speech paths have been offered some pretty terrible spaces to work in! What is your WORST ROOM EVER story?

9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!


Ever feel that if you don’t have your speech therapy space organized before students start school that the year will be a long, downhill slide?
And if you have multiple schools, the effect is just magnified!

9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!
Since time is so precious at the beginning of the school year, here are some tips to think about before you even enter the building. Going in with a priority plan can help you get off to a good start more quickly!

Organizing Furniture


     1.  Seat students where they can see a bulletin board with posters of the strategies you will be teaching. It is great for helping them to use the strategies more independently over the year.

     2.  Place your chair in a position where you can can reach the phone (for help if needed) or door (for students who are runners) before your students can.

3.  Have a low file drawer, or even better, a rolling cart, within arm’s reach of where you are sitting. This is the place to keep basic supplies, log notes, books and other therapy items that you are currently using.

4.  Have your desk/table with the computer in a position where the students can easily see from the table or pull their chairs over to it. This makes accessing online resources as part of your therapy easier.

5.  Consider individual student needs. Some students are better able to work in a defined area with boundaries.

-  If your room size allows, it is great to have a single desk for these kids who come individually. Place it where there is a wall at their back and/or side and they have an undistracted view, if possible. Windows tend to be more distracting than wall decorations because of the movements you can catch out of the corner of your eye.

- If your room is small, you have boundaries built in! You just might need to give your table a push in one direction or another to make it work.

In a perfect world (LOL), there would be a rug symbolizing a quiet break area next to the work area, with a ‘BREAK’ symbol near it, allowing you to prompt your student to request a break when they get up from the table.


Organizing Materials


9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!
1. There are so many ways to store materials! 
For my tips on how to store worksheets 
and TpT materials, check out this post.

2. Shelving is the best bet for games and toys. 
If you don’t have built in classroom 
shelving, inexpensive plastic shelves that 
come apart easily for summer storage can work.

- For young or easily distracted kids, you 
might want to have something covering the shelves until work time is done. 
Felt (or a colorful sheet) work great since you 
can just pull them to make the toys visible 
when it is request time.

3. Bins have many uses!

- If you do thematic therapy, try keeping a bin of books, activities and worksheets at varied levels within easy reach (on top of your short filing cabinet or in your rolling cart.)

- This makes it easier to quickly grab what you need and to adjust activities for mixed levels or add a quick activity to end the session.

9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!
    4. Containers! I just love containers!

    - Keep a container of some sort in easy reach with school supplies you frequently use.

    - Use colorful seasonal boxes, or containers to match your theme, to keep a review activity in to start the next session. You can even use felt shapes to match your theme!

9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!
Even better, put some thematic toys for younger kids, or challenge activities 
      for older kids, in the box for 
      unprompted language samples. 

Sooner or later, someone will get curious 
and ask about it!

The photos show some of the types of activities I'd have available for my 
      themes. 

Even if the levels and language skills are different, having a variety of fun activities on a theme helps pull mixed groups together!

The funny apple pictures and sorting board are from the Apple Activities set at my store. It includes describing puzzles, mazes and homework worksheets, too! 

The describing apples poster is a bonus freebie that comes with the Fall Language Skills Bundle. After you have taught the skills, it is great to hang on a bulletin board!

Your Organization Ideas


I’m reaching out to my newsletter followers this fall to share your ideas with us!

We work in so many different physical conditions and with such varied student populations, no one person could come up with solutions for everyone!

So, be sure to open your newsletter to get the contest details. A lucky someone will get a free set from my store to get their year off to a good start!

What? You aren’t following me? That is easy peasy to fix. Just sign up with the pop-up box. (Yes, I hate them, too, but they do make it easy!)

Next time, I’ll be sharing your suggestions and we will vote for the WORST EVER ROOM story!

Enjoy! 
Linda
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