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Ready to step into the new school year with confidence and ease, SLP?

If you’re ready to tackle the unique challenges that speech language pathologists face in the first weeks of a new school year, then you’re in the right place!

In this episode of The SLP Now Podcast, Marisha shares her top tips and actionable strategies to help you start your school year on the right foot.

Episode Summary

In this episode, Marisha talks about:

 ✅Navigating the First Week. Discover strategies to set a strong foundation for the entire school year. Marisha shares actionable tips to ensure a successful start that reverberates through the months to come.

 ✅ Efficiency Unleashed. Ever wondered how to accomplish five crucial tasks in your first week while maintaining your sanity? Marisha breaks it down with practical suggestions to tackle your to-do list effectively.

 ✅ The Power of Relationships. Building connections isn’t just a buzzword. Marisha emphasizes the significance of forming strong bonds with colleagues and parents, ultimately enhancing your impact as an SLP.

Mastering Caseload Management. Caseload organization can be a puzzle, but fear not. Marisha dives into her best practices to ensure no student goes unnoticed, providing a seamless experience for you and your students.

Scheduling Simplified. Tackling paperwork and scheduling with finesse is a challenge, but Marisha has your back. Learn how to streamline your schedule and effortlessly review students’ files, setting yourself up for a smoother year.

If you’re ready to make the most out of your return to the classroom, this episode is an absolute must-listen. With Marisha’s expert guidance, you can transform potential stress into confidence + enthusiasm as you kick off a new academic year.

Tune in now to The SLP Now Podcast and set yourself up your best year yet!

“Start building those relationships because we are not an island, and we depend on our team to be effective in our roles.” — Marisha Mets


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In this episode, I share strategies for success in your first week, and I share five things that you want to do as well as tips for success in getting those done efficiently and without too much overwhelm.

So without further ado, let's dive in.

We want to introduce ourselves. We'll say hi to the office staff and the teachers, start building those relationships because we are not an island and we depend on our team to be effective in our roles.

Another strategy that's really helpful is to send out a form to parents. Because it's really hard to be able to connect with them, especially if we have a caseload of 60, 70, 80 plus students. And if there is a meet the teacher night or a back to school night, I will participate in that.

So now for step three, we get to start gathering our caseload information. We don't get it in just a nice little package. As you know, it comes from a lot of different sources. Hopefully your district has a list of students prepared for you. This is often found in whichever IEP system you're using, and you can log into that and you should have a caseload assigned to you. I go through that and that's my starting point, but then I just double check and reference any list that the previous SLP might've left behind, or if I'm at the same school district, the list from last year, just to make sure that no one's being missed. I start to build my caseload off of that, and then I just keep the feelers out there to make sure that no one is being missed.

Oh, have any of you ever had the nightmare that you had a student on your caseload that you didn't know about? That hasn't actually happened to me in real life, but I have had some nightmares where John Smith was on your caseload since July, but you never saw him. So just taking these steps at the beginning of the year, we'll make sure that that does not happen.

And then the next thing. We're starting to get ready for the scheduling component of our school year. So we want to ask for a class list. And typically whoever's in the front office is the person who will have that. It always takes them some time to get that put together, so that's why it's really important to introduce yourself to that office staff person and establish some rapport.

And then once we have those pieces of information put together, this is when we get to start diving in. What I typically do is once I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of my caseload, I will take some time to go through that list of students so that I can prepare myself for the year. All of the districts that I've been in have a way to print an IEP at a Glance. I use this for myself, but then also to share with teachers. I would strongly suggest to see if your system allows you to export a quick summary of the student's IEP 'cause that can save you a lot of time in compiling all of that information. If not, there are a lot of different templates available on sites like Teachers Pay Teachers. And I use that to do a file review, and I make sure that I have a general idea of what they're working on, make any notes of things that are really important in their history. This is also when I start to collect the information that's really important in terms of starting to manage the paperwork and all of those other components. So I make sure that I have a list of the students' names, the teachers and their contact information, parents and their contact information, the IEP dates, evaluation dates, and all of that information because that's what I need to get set up for success when it comes to getting started with all of the paperwork, like the IEPs and the evaluations, as well as just scheduling students out. I would strongly recommend trying to use like a spreadsheet or a Word document and then print if you want that hard copy. The SLP Now system lets me enter the students' names. At a glance I can see who their teachers are, what grade they're in, the IEP dates and the evaluation dates, their service time. And because it's at the beginning of the school year, none of my students have minutes yet, but it lets me track the cumulative amount of time that I've seen them, so that can be really helpful.

Okay, so let's dive into the schedule in terms of the paperwork that's coming up. Hopefully the previous SLP took care of things, but I've walked into schools where I had to do IEPs and evaluations right off that first week. And I just wanna make sure that I'm not missing any of that and that I'm also setting myself up for success for the future due dates that are coming up. So what I do, this is just a simple example. We will probably have more than three IEPs due in any given month, but I know that when I walk in, I feel really overwhelmed with thought of tackling 50, 60, 70, 80 plus IEPs in a school year, plus maybe 30 evaluations, like how in the world am I going to get that done? This also helps, again, reduce that overwhelm and gives me a plan of action. What I like to do is I map out all of the IEPs due this year, and then I look for trends. Okay, there's four due in August, 10 due in September, five due in November, two due in December. Then I would distribute that because I don't want to be drowning in the month that I have 10 IEPs and just be twiddling my thumbs the other month. For my work life balance and sanity, I wanna distribute that over the year. So I split them into chunks and distribute the work evenly throughout the school year, and that might mean that I'm writing an IEP for December in November, or maybe even a little bit sooner, but I just continue to work through the paperwork process. The meeting might still happen in December, but the worst part of it, for me at least, is getting all of those components together and updating all the baselines and figuring out which goals to write and meeting all of those check boxes for the actual paperwork process. The meeting in itself is fun getting to connect with the parents and do some problem solving and figure all of that out. That's a little mindset shift there in trying to enjoy those meetings, but it makes it so that I'm a little more sane throughout the school year.

And those are our five steps. So just to recap, step one, introduce yourself to the school staff. Two, send out a form introducing yourself to parents. Three, gather your caseload information. Four, review your student's files, and five, map out your IEP and evaluation dates.

Tune in to the next few episodes because we are going to talk about paperwork strategies, data collection strategies, even more detail on some of the items that we discussed today.

I can't wait to see you in the next episode!



Hi there! I'm Marisha. I am a school-based SLP who is all about working smarter, not harder. I created the SLP Now Membership and love sharing tips and tricks to help you save time so you can focus on what matters most--your students AND yourself.

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