Oh, that dreaded speech schedule…
Had I known what I now know when I first started working as a school SLP, it would have saved me so. much. aggravation. It doesn’t have to be that way. That is why I’m sharing my top 5 tips with you today.
1. Communicate Effectively with Teachers
Let’s face it. Teachers have full plates and sometimes the logistical struggles we face can feel a bit, well, invisible at times. Creating a speech schedule requires us to navigate a complex array of logistical constraints that vary according to grade level (and often differ on various days of the week).
I suggest letting teachers know what to expect in a clear, concise and assertive manner. Kindly explain that you will do your best to be flexible; however that you are navigating the schedules of X number of children.
Personally, I provide my teachers with a small list of their speech students accompanied by their relevant information. I also hand out a user-friendly speech scheduling newsletter (and I can’t begin to tell you what a game-changer this has been). I’m also not ashamed to say that I bribe…I mean…express my appreciation…with candy (I even created cute candy “thank you” tags for a personal touch).
2.Don’t Delay. Begin Right Away!
Trust me. If you start your schedule on Day 1, you’ll thank yourself later. Grab a student list and a highlighter to identify the students on your caseload and organize their pertinent information (i.e D.O.B., grade, teacher, special education classification etc). I often use a chart like the one below.
3. Group Students Strategically
There are many ways you can choose to group students. You may find it the most practical to create groups of students based on shared goals. Since you want your sessions to go smoothly, you might prefer to group students that have compatible personalities or learning styles. Sometimes, given all of the constraints you’re forced to navigate, it’s helpful to match students with the same service delivery times.
4. Identify Available Slots with Smart Charts
The biggest struggle I experienced the first time I created a speech schedule was figuring out when each grade level was available on each day. When I devised my chart system, my SLP life changed forever (no joke!)
After I use my first form to identify when each grade level is available,I simply transfer the information to my master sheet (see below) and refer to just ONE PAGE to create my schedule!
5. Use a File Folder Sticky Note System
So, I saved the best for last.
I’m too embarrassed to tell you how many erasers and sheets of paper I wasted when I created my first speech schedule! I now use an easy yet elegant, color-coded sticky note system in a neat file folder and simply move the stickies around to make changes.
Best of all, I created a page that fits in the top section of the file folder and each slot is the size of a sticky note! This makes everything neat, tidy and so organized! (Can you tell I’m excited?)
When all is said and done, I’m also sure to give teachers and students little Speech Schedule Reminder Cards.
Don’t feel like doing all this work yourself? Well, I have good news! I already did it for you! You can grab all of these forms and more with my EDITABLE, 50+ page Speech Therapy Scheduling Survival Pack HERE.
Here’s what some other SLPs said about this packet:
“This tool was such a lifesaver! No idea how I would have fit all of my caseload in without these resources! Scheduling was so much easier this year. Thank you” ~ Molly H.
“VERY helpful! I thought you did a great job of explaining everything. I would definitely recommend this to new therapists struggling with the big task of scheduling.” ~ Rebecca G.
I hope you found my top tips helpful and I wish you all the best as you get ready for the school year! Do you have any speech scheduling tips up your sleeve? If so, I’d love to hear about them!