I can’t believe it’s already August….Summer always seems to fly by and now it is time for those of you in the schools to get ready to start the school year. For those of you new clinicians or clinicians starting at new schools here are some tips you might find helpful to get off to the right start.
Get the Introductions Rolling
Make sure you introduce yourself to the office staff and security guards. These people know the insides and outs of the school and can be so helpful when you need something or information about the school. It will be embarrassing in October if you need help and have to introduce yourself after working there for 2 months. These staff members will remember who you are so make an effort to get to know them.
Join in some school activities. Whether you join a school committee such as social committee or just sign up to help with a school breakfast or pitch-in it will make a difference. It’s a great way to get to know staff and make a presence in the school. Since I also am at multiple schools, I found it really beneficial to try and attend some social school events and help when I can at my schools. It makes teachers aware you are around and helps establish some of those relationships so later when you go to talk to staff members about students they know who you are and don’t feel you are just coming into the school to tell them what to do.
Get your caseload and review IEPs. With caseloads of 60 or sometimes more this can be overwhelming but so important. I found it helpful at the beginning of the year to make a word document and add some general student info and the student goals. This gives you a quick reference when talking to teachers and looking to make schedules. I often make this in a quick table format and leave a box at the end for notes so as I go talk to teachers about scheduling I can add in any comments the teachers have about the student or things the teacher may find important. Usually special education teachers work with their students across years so they may provide some helpful information about our more challenging students which can make a huge difference when you meet your new students.
Communicate with teachers! This is probably the most important and could be the most challenging. Again, with multiple schools and lots of students we often need to work with a number of teachers with varying personalities. I make an effort at the beginning of the school year while teachers are setting up their classroom to walk around the building, introduce myself to the teacher, and let them know which students of theirs I will be working with this year. I discuss the amount of minutes their student/students will be receiving and ask the teacher to think about times which may work in the classroom schedule. If the teacher knows their schedule I have them give me a few time slots which may work and tell them I will get back to them with my final schedule after I touch base with the other teachers. I also talk about trying to set up a time once a month or more depending on the student’s needs for consulting and collaborating. It’s important to let the teacher know you are around to help support them and establish a good foundation for collaboration in the upcoming school year. As SLPs we know Communication is Key!!!!
Good Luck starting up your school year!