End of Year Speech Therapy – If your school year was like mine you were probably busy all year; but the end of the year was SUPER busy and required you to activate your superhero powers. CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve managed to accomplish tasks that would make many cry, complain, and/or quit. Now that you’ve finished end of year speech therapy like a champ, what do you do?
If you’re reading this and you’re still in your school building, planning ahead is something you should consider doing before leaving for the summer:
Prep Your Goal/Data Sheets for the beginning of the next school year. Copy or print your data sheets for each student with the goals and objectives. Undoubtedly, you had to analyze data and report progress at the end of the year. Since you already have the numbers, take time to record the end of year data on the new data sheets. All of us have to consider regression after breaks when considering ESY, so planning ahead will save you time at the beginning of the year. Many districts require that IEPs due before October are completed in the spring; but, if your district doesn’t have that requirement, this is also very helpful when completing IEPs that are due at the beginning of the school year. You will really appreciate having done this at the beginning of the next school year. If you’re not returning to the same school and you record end of year speech therapy data on the data sheets for next year, the SLP who replaces you will think the world of you.
Prep Your Back to School or Introduction to Speech-Language Activities: You’re aware of the most common goals of students on your caseload. Identify 2-3 activities that you can use at the beginning of the year now; so that when you’re dealing with the chaos of locating folders, trying to schedule your caseload that’s growing by the second, setting up your speech-language room or moving to a completely new location, you won’t have to worry about planning ahead of time. Click here for The best of SLPs on TPT Spring & Summer Catalog for 2016 – specifically for SLPs.
So you’ve already left the building, and it’s too late to prep goal/data sheets and back to school activities? That’s quite alright. There are still many things you can do during the summer to help make the next school year less stressful and more efficient…
Organize Your Digital Materials: If you’re a TPT junkie like me and you shop the sales, chances are you have purchased many resources; but, haven’t organized them. If you’ve organized them, you’re a step ahead of me and on the right track. KUDOS to you, but don’t stop there. When you’re organizing your products, make a list of those that require a little (or a lot) of prep. As you’re making the list, prioritize the products based on the needs of your projected caseload.
Prep Your Products: So now you’ve organized your digital materials and found some resources you forgot about or didn’t have time (or energy) to prep. Take a few hours each week to work on preparing those materials from your list. If you have older children who like to help, this is a great way to have multi-task. You can be productive while bonding with your child/children. I used to love helping my mother (a retired teacher) make materials.
Shop The Sales: Unless you have a dream job where there is always money for materials and items on the SLP’s wish list, you should shop the sales. Many of us are product junkies out of necessity. Make a list of the school supplies that you use regularly throughout the school year, and watch for sales all summer. I know I always need highlighters, crayons, dry erase markers, page protectors, spiral notebooks, markers, glue sticks, index cards, etc. When you see these items on sales during the summer, BUY them (and save the receipts). Chances are you will still need more during the school year. If you find yourself with an excess, these always come in handy for RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) gifts or prizes for colleagues who participate in and help promote BHSM activities.
Planning Ahead For The Year: Many SLPs use themes, books, or a combination of both. Look at the calendar of activities for your school year (if it’s available), and plan or find plans for special schoolwide themes or activities such as holidays, special months (ex. Hispanic Heritage, Black History Month), special days (ex. Veterans’ Day, Election Day, Presidents’ Day, 100th Day of School, Read Across America, etc.) TpT (Teachers Pay Teachers) is a great resource; but, so are libraries and bookstores (including the book section of thrift shops). If you find books to address your themes, make sure to look for book companions for the books you choose before spending a lot of time and energy making your own.
Complete Continuing Education or Collaborate with an SLP who excels in an area in which you feel you need to grow. Often times during the school year, we would love to help each other; but, we just can’t seem to find an extra minute. Summer is a great time to have weekly or bi-weekly collaborative sessions either in person or online. If you’re not one for interacting with other professionals during your breaks because you want it to feel like a break, visit the blogs. There are several great blogs out with ideas and suggestions for almost every issue SLPs encounter. Go back and reread ASHA literature related to school-based SLP issues.
Take a Vacation: Many of us vacation, and some staycation. Most of us photograph points of interest on our vacations. Organize those pictures so that they can be used in therapy. There are so many goals (ex. inferring, asking and answering questions, describing, etc.) that can be addressed using pictures from vacation, and it gives your students an opportunity to learn a little about your family and your interests.
You’re probably looking at this list and thinking, if I do all of that I won’t have a break. The key is to complete a little bit at a time. Designate a certain amount of time each week to prep for the next school year. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish without having to think about writing IEPs, testing, attending IEP meetings, etc. At the end of the summer, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve accomplished by planning ahead. During the next school year, you’ll be so thankful that you sacrificed a little time during the summer to make your school year a lot less stressful. If you’re an SLP, who thrives on the challenge of last minute tasks, and emergency situations, have no fear, someone at your school will make sure you still experience those adrenaline rushes. Have an SLP (Spectacular – Lively – Productive) summer!
Bio: Truvine Walker obtained her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Speech-Language Pathology on the beautiful campus of Valdosta State University in Valdosta, GA. After 3 years of working in the public schools in northern Virginia, Truvine decided to broaden her horizons and explore the world of travel therapy. As a traveling SLP, Truvine has worked in schools, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient clinics, and inpatient rehabilitation facilities in a total of 8 different states. Truvine is finishing up her 17th year as an SLP, and is just as excited about the profession as she was in the very first year. In addition to loving learning about all things speech and language, Truvine loves bowling, reading, sightseeing, spending time with family, and of course, traveling.