It's almost that wonderful time of year again- Back to School time, when the new school supplies are wafting their irresistible scent from the Target aisles and school employees everywhere are doing our best to enjoy these last few days of summer. It's also almost time to start seeing Speech Room Style pics all over social media, with amazing rooms/closets/offices decorated by creative SLP's from around the world. I love to see their creativity in action, but as an itinerant SLP, I can never really join in. For most of my career, my car trunk has been my office, and I didn't even have a permanent desk spot until last year. I know I'm not the only one, so I wanted to give some tips that have helped me stay organized on the road. Amazon and TPT links included for your convenience.
1. Know what materials you have. This is especially hard for me with my serious Teachers Pay Teachers addiction! A few years ago, I got tired of scrambling to make lesson plans every month and took the time to organize all of my materials into notebooks, which I labeled using these awesome FREE chevron-print labels from Ashley Hughes. I printed them on card stock to make changing them a snap. Each notebook is filled with materials by theme, which I put in plastic page protectors for ease of use. Since I don't have an office at any schools, I have to make sure I pull the materials I need a week or so before I need them and put them in my car "office" so they are ready to go.
If you're not a huge fan of the notebook idea, Jenn Alcorn at Crazy Speech World has fantastic ideas for organizing items by theme.
2. Make materials folders for each student.
I was assigned to 14 different schools and day cares last year, so I needed a quick, easy-to-access way to organize each student's materials. My solution was this lockable file folder box. I made a file for each day, then made folders for each classroom in the school I would be working at that day. Then, I could just grab each classroom's folder and have materials for each student there. In the past, when I have had only a few schools, I simply made files for each classroom. The great thing about this box is that you can use it to store any paperwork that has Protected Health Information on it to be FERPA/HIPAA compliant, if you add a combination lock. I don't keep IEP's with me unless I am on my way to an IEP meeting, but if the paperwork contains any Protected Health Information (Medicaid logs, data sheets with birthdays/goals, etc), we are required by law to keep it locked up when not in use. With this, I could lock up my therapy notebook each night. Which brings me to point 3:
3. Keep a Therapy Notebook...
This notebook is my lifeline during the busy school year! In it, I have sections for attendance logs; calendars for each school and my district calendar; IEPs, screens, referrals, and progress reporting; and extra copies of frequently-used paperwork, such as Procedural Safeguards for IEPs, extra parent notes, and other materials I don't want to be without.My printable, EDITABLE binder includes all of the basic paperwork I need: data logs, IEP Due Dates by month; Parent notes for Artic, Language, and Fluency; Evaluation Tracker; Screening Tracker; and editable CEU and Attendance Trackers.
4. ... and Keep It Organized.
A therapy notebook won't do you much good unless it's organized. This year I decided to add an SLP planning calendar, like this beauty from Jenn Alcorn at Crazy Speech World, right into my notebook in an effort to streamline (and save my back!). I am also so excited to be using planner stickers from Kiwi Speech to help beautify the IEP and planning processes.
My final tip for staying organized on the road:
5. Use a calendar- or 3!
This may seem like a no-brainer, but when you have multiple schools on multiple days, you don't want to be wasting precious time driving to the wrong school or showing up to the wrong meeting! I did my best to stay on top of paperwork by using the Google Calendar on my phone (*remember, if inputting IEP meetings, always use initials and not full names), as well as writing down each meeting and deadline in my separate planner, AND checking the calendar I keep on the back of my therapy notebook every day.
I hope these tips can help as you work to provide quality therapy from your car/office! Is there anything I missed that works for you? Include it in the comments!
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I'm Jill! I love to create and blog about fun, evidence-based resources that make the lives of parents and busy SLPs easier.