As I've started my first round of traveling therapy at a new school, I've been making notes of all the important things I've been doing (so I can duplicate it next time around!) It's been a little crazy over here to be honest! If you're in the lucky group of SLPs who are starting in a week or two (or maybe not even until September!), I want to share a few of my quick tips with you for a smooth transition back.
1. Take a quick inventory of materials you already have. I'm talking both physical and digital materials. How many TPT products do you have in your purchases that you've never even used?! I like to download all my digital resources from TPT, put them onto my google drive, and organize them by goal area on my computer. If I can see everything, I'm much more likely to USE everything! Common organization labels I use for my computer files are: language (separated into grade/age, for example "middle school," and sometimes I'll go even farther and make a folder for "main idea," "context clues" etc.), autism, AAC, social skills, basic concepts (I have SO many of this one that I usually separate it completely from language), articulation (within articulation, I'll separate by early/later sounds), book companions, seasonal (I separate this folder into each season and/or theme: pirate, spring, pets, etc.), and more. Check out this screenshot below to get an idea of how I like to organize! Don't forget to do this with all those freebies you accumulate, too!
2. Organize physical materials (games, toys, manipulatives) by theme. This has helped me SO much this past year. When I had my all my materials separated and aligned by theme/seasons, I was so much more likely to use them. Sorting my therapy materials this way also helped me donate a LOT of things that I wasn't using anymore, and helped me to become a much more minimalist SLP (#goals). More stuff does NOT equal better therapy! The best way I have found to do this is by putting toys/items into clear bins, and labeling those bins. It's a space saver for me, but it also gives my students a good opportunity to request items they see around my room. It helps us both realize the amount of fun items I own! For example, Mr Potato head is in a clear bin, as is my magnetic building blocks, my legos, and my beanie baby stuffed animals (circa 1997 lol). I also have a bin for each season which hold things like felt book companion pictures, manipulatives (i.e. fake snow, snowmen figurines, fake leaves, fake flowers, water beads, stuffed animals, etc.), seasonal sensory bin items (i.e. fillers, laminated cards for sensory bins). I'm hoping to show a little more about this over on my Instagram page soon as I get more and more organized for my new caseload! I made some cute labels for the bins I love the most; you can check those out over on my TPT site!
3. Do a quick n dirty lesson plan for each week of the month! I love doing this for themed therapy, especially for my little ones. Right now, we've been spending the last 2 weeks working on our Back To School theme, and we'll do that for about another week. I currently have my "quick plans" done for all months through May! (I'll share soon) I like to jot down a few books for each week that align with the chosen theme, and then I just search key words in my TPT materials on my Google Drive (from tip # 1) for words containing that theme, and I've got resources I've already purchased to print and go! (or locate in my already prepped materials and likely forgot about!). You can also do keyword searches on your computer/laptop, which has helped me when I KNOW I have something for some obscure theme I'm doing, but can't remember what the resource was (i.e. mermaids, lol). This has been a game changer for me and saves me so much search/prep time. Be sure to grab my free editable lesson plan template! You can grab it here.
4. Download all your digital/no print materials BEFORE sessions start, so that you can use them offline on a tablet or computer. Are you using No Print materials?? See what I'm talking about by clicking here. If you're using Google Drive to store all these awesome no print products, follow these steps below:
Tablet/iPad: Download the Google Drive app from the App store. When you open the app, tap the documents and tap “Make available offline." You can now download them into iBook or like, and use them on the go. If you're downloading from a site like TPT, download on the internet, then open them in your preferred app (I use iBooks), and they'll work offline!
Computer: Download this app
5. My LAST piece of advice is sometimes the hardest: give yourself GRACE. If I had forgotten this step in the past few weeks, I'd be a miserable mess (like when my group of 6 kindergartners were all either crying, screaming, or staring at me like I had 5 heads and refusing to speak...). So here's to a great year back, full of definite ups and downs, and reminding yourself that it's okay to not be perfect. I'll be reminding myself of that tonight over a glass of wine!