SLP CFY -I remember my first year as a new school Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), and I was walked into my very own little bitty speech room. My room was literally a closet inside the art room! After I was shown to my room, the administrator left and I was by myself. I felt lonely and scared – and I didn’t know where to start.
…I don’t want that to happen to you! Here are five things you can do to start off feeling happy & confident as a brand-new school Speech Language Pathologist.
Speech Language Pathologist Caseload List– After you’ve completed training, attended the inservices at your school, and made introductions with staff members, get your hands on a caseload list whether you need to get it from someone else or print it out yourself. Servicing the students is why you’re there so let that be your starting point. Then you can look for files in cabinets or online IEPs so you know what you’re dealing with!
Study your Speech Language Pathology Files – You want to feel confident that you know these new students’ goals. The only way you can do that is if you have a long period of focused time to peruse either physical files or online IEPs. So after you’ve grabbed a doughnut and coffee from the teacher’s lounge, go back to your room and close your door so you can get to work. Closing your door will help you stay on task and minimize interruptions.
Review the Speech Language Pathologist Materials Stash & Plan Accordingly – If your new speech room is already stocked, you are set, but if not, there are ways to feather your nest without spending too much. My first year I had a speech closet and it had no materials. I had very little of my own I since I was just starting out. I hit up garage sales in affluent suburbs and checked out local thrift shops for basic board games as well as many great children’s books. For digital downloads, check out teacherspayteachers for quick and easy stuff, too!
Organize your Speech Language Pathologist IEP Binder and Progress Notes System – Some clinicians prefer a binder whereas others prefer having a physical file for each student in a drawer, but find the method that works for your caseload and school(s). Print everything out and three-hole punch it now, before students start or during the first week of school, because it will be a lot to do when you jump into therapy. Having everything at a glance as the school year progresses will make you feel on top of your caseload’s needs.
Meet Teachers and Ask Questions – You know your caseload, you’ve reviewed students’ goals, and you’ve assessed needs in terms of supplies…now you are ready to start the scheduling process. Since you are a brand-new SLP and don’t know anyone, I suggest sending an email and then following it up by walking around. Here’s what you say, “Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m the new speech path here! I’m going to be walking around to introduce myself and to get an idea of which times work best for you to see your students. If we don’t get a chance to connect, please reply back with at least two times during the day which are the best for me to work with the students in your classroom that have speech concerns.” Every school is different and many experienced SLPs just schedule students without worrying about getting each teacher their best time. However, you are new and this is a great way to meet everyone and they will know you are a team member.
I know that you will have a terrific first year as a new school SLP, even if it feels a little chaotic at the beginning. Everything will work out if you have a chance to organize and get your feet under you before you start working with students. Good luck!
Bio: Sarah Wu is a bilingual speech-language pathologist from Chicago, Illinois. She blogs at speechisbeautiful.com
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