The start of every school year can be crazy. I have worked in different organizations and have had various roles within those organizations, and every position had different unique needs as far as start-up went. Here is the list of activities that I currently do. Take what you can from my list of beginning of the school year organizational tips, change them and adjust it as needed.. My hope is that we can all get a little more efficient with the back-to-school crazies.
1. Get an up-to-date list of students on my caseload.
Students (at least here) tend to move around, so knowing if anyone has left or moved is important. Getting an up to date list will let you know who is no longer in the district and if any children have changed schools. This will help you to do a quick organization of your caseload and help you update your databases if needed. Organize to meet with other SLPs to pass off student files etc…
2. Find out my student’s teachers and touch base with them.
This is usually quick if the teacher and you have worked together, but for new to me teachers, it is usually a longer chat. Talk about the students you work with and the services that you provide. Also get in touch with the student’s case managers (if applicable). Again if you have worked together before, this is usually a quick check in and if not, it’s a longer conversation. It is also a good idea to check in with the school’s admin. Make sure that consent to assess and treat forms are sent out to new students on your caseload.
3. Get class schedules for all my student’s classes.
It’s a great way to start to the scheduling processing. Some schools/districts have rules about what subjects you can and cannot pull student’s from. For myself, I don’t pull from gym and literacy classes. Gym is either my student’s favourite class or they need to be moving to help with gross and fine motor skills. If you can, find out what your students’ favourite classes are and try not to schedule during those times. Click here to get access to my current year at a glance calendar.
4. Figure out my schedule and send it to everyone who needs it.
This can be the most frustrating part of school start up. You are going to have to make revisions. Some SLPs send it out tentative days and times and have teachers sign their student’s up, other make a schedule and send it out. Do what makes the most sense for your situation. Make my year-at-a-glance calendar. I find that having a year-at-glance calendar helps me organize my time. I also make them into attendance calendars for my students. Click here to get a copy of my calendar.
5. Send out introduction letters.
I send out two different letters. The first one is to the school staff. It goes over again my role and who in their class is on my caseload. I also send out introductory letters to all my families. It goes over information that they will find important, including how to contact me. These usually go out after I have had a chance to try and contact families. Why do I talk with and the send home letters? I was at a management course once and they said that for people to fully understand the message you are trying to express, you have to tell the information more than once and it needs to be in more than one median (e.g., call, in person, email, letter etc…).
Those are my top five beginning of the school year organizational tips for SLPs. What is your favourite tip?