I managed with a basic grid schedule for a long time (and there are several available for free in my TPT store), but there are several tips I’ve learned over the years that I’d love to share with you:
1) Basic, Easy-to-Read Fonts
I was taught that any speech path should be able to pick up your therapy progress notes and start therapy. I believe the same holds true for your speech schedule. Keeping your schedule concise and easy-to-read will help you out if someone needs to fill in for you. I share a room with a monolingual SLP and in a pinch she has offered to do sessions for me when I’ve had longer meetings. My schedule is easy to read and she can use it to locate my students.
2) Put Your Name on Top
I always put my name in the header field of my speech schedule. I carry my clip board with me all day long (and it’s pretty distinctive — its back is multi-colored because it’s made out of recycled laundry bottles), but on the rare chance I leave it somewhere, it will be returned to me. There is another speech therapist in the building after all. I title it “Sarah’s Speech Schedule” or “Sarah Wu MA CCC-SLP/L”
3) Group Students by Classroom
I hate interrupting a classroom multiple times per day to get certain students. I’ve found that it’s better to group my students by classroom so I’m not constantly interrupting the flow a teacher might have going on in his/her class. Also, if your students are able to walk to therapy, this helps the teacher keep track of the time better. It does mean a have groups of different disorders, but I can usually make it work just fine.
4) Color Code Students by Feature
Every year I’ve have a different mix of students, but one thing remains the same: they almost always speak at least some Spanish (and some “puro espanol). In the years where I’ve had more English speakers, I’ve color-coded by language. Blue for English, yellow for bilingual, and orange for Spanish. For four years I worked at a school with over 1,200 students where I serviced children with autism and children with hearing impairments. Color coding helped me remember which direction I needed to turn in the hallway when I left the speech room!
5) Leave a Space for Notes at the Bottom
I’ve figured out that I like to write general reminders to myself on the bottom of my schedule. “Follow up about the FM system for Johnny” or “Mrs. Jones wants me to screen Jane for speech.” I can transfer that information to my master to-do list at my desk, but usually things occur to me when I’m away from my desk and floating around the school.
6) Add Teacher Names and/or Room Numbers
In the box for each group, I’ll put the teacher’s last name and room number. When I group kids from different classrooms, I put the room number in parentheses after the student’s name. That way I know where to go (or anyone who needs to fill in for me will know too)!
7) Check off Groups After You’ve Seen Them
I mark up my weekly schedule with checks for students I saw and empty circles for students who were absent. When I have to makeup a session, I write those students’ names in so I don’t forgot to write a note at the end of the day for those kiddos.
8) Scratch off and Mark It Up!
I used to think my schedule was some kind of pristine document and I wouldn’t write on it. But students are constantly coming aboard and getting dismissed. I put arrows to move groups around for changes in the teacher’s schedule or if I need to add a student to a group. It’s a living document and is constantly revised!
9) Block Out Evaluation and Prep Time (and Lunch!)
When I worked for Chicago Public Schools, we had a whole day for meetings and evaluations called “Team Day.” Four days of therapy and one day for everything else worked great. Moving to other districts I’ve found that they don’t do that. I have had to build in blocks of time for evaluations and meetings — as well as prep time. Check your school’s policies to be sure of how much you should get on a daily basis. I’ve seen everything from one hour to 1.5 hours per day of planning time. Write “Eval” or “IEPS” on those spots — do not leave them blank! Don’t forget to block out your lunch!
10) Leave Your Schedule on Your Desk
You can leave your schedule on your desk so that people know where you are! I work in the classroom for big chunks of time and sometimes people don’t know where I am. All they have to do is check my desk for more information!
What “hacks” do you use for your schedule? Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave a comment below.