Six Tips to Get Ready for the New School Year

For me, the new school year is exciting but can also be very overwhelming. It’s exciting because you get to see your students from the previous year. I like to see the types of progress the students have made over the summer. When I worked with preschool students, the development could be astonishing. I’m also excited to see the school staff again. But the new year can also be overwhelming because there is so much to be done. Here are a few things that I do to start the year off right.

1. Make any organization changes that didn’t work last year.


Every year I think about the things I’m going to differently this year. I take a few days before school starts to make any changes. For example, one of the changes I’m making this year is how I file my files. I have used the traditional system of filing alphabetically by last name. This year, I want to change it to organizing by action needed (e.g., assessment required, students with IEPs, therapy (with SLP or with SLPA), possible discharges, consultation services, students who have moved, discharged students). I’m hoping that this will help keep my caseload under better control.

2. Go through the SLP files


I go through the case files again. I like to make notes on post-its at the end of the year and put them in the file to help me organize therapy groups, assessments, etc. For example, some students don’t do well in groups or don’t do well in groups with certain students. These help to update caseload lists. 

3. Update my caseload lists


I get the class lists for the school. I highlight them based on the type of service they are receiving. I also have a spreadsheet with the name of the student, their classroom, their teacher, kind of therapy, priority for treatment this year, clear out the therapy blocks, quick notes. This also gets updated. The spreadsheets are given to my supervisor, the principal, the SPED teacher who co-ordinates services at the school and the SLPA assigned to that school. If any child has moved or changed schools, I will either close the file or transfer the file to the other school’s SLP. I have a school-specific organizational binder that contains the class lists, the caseload files, and general forms.

4. Update and print off welcome letters.


I like to print off my welcome back letters and get them ready. I print off three welcome back letters. One for the teachers describing what SLPs do, what kinds of services available, and how to access services. The second is a welcome back school for children who are already on my caseload. It talks about when I’m at that school, my contact information, and the types of services available. I will also send this letter out for kindergarten students, I know will be on my caseload. The third letter is for kindergarten students. It talks about the role of an SLP that I or the SLPA will be screening all the students, the process for accessing services, and my contact information. I write out the name of the teacher/students on it and organize the letters by classroom. I usually don’t hand them out until the second week of school. I find that parents can be overwhelmed by all the paperwork that is sent home in the first week of school. I find that by delaying a week, parents tend to read the information that I send out.

5. Go through and update my bank of visuals


I have a bank of visuals. I will have several copies of different visuals that we use in school. I like to have these ready so that if/when they are needed, people can get them as soon as possible. I go through the visuals and print off more that is required. Also, if I know that I have new students coming in that will require specific visuals, I will get those ready.

6. Go through my bank of forms and letters and print off any copies


While I love sending forms over the email, I find that if I can get the specific form to the parents or to a teacher ASAP (i.e., in thier communciation book), then I have more success getting the form returned promptly. I keep a bank of forms in my school organization binder.

Remember during times that you get overwhelmed (most SLPs do get overwhelmed at some point), that you got this and focus on chunks of your to-do list at a time. 


What are your favourite organizational tips?

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