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Three Tips for SLPs Starting a New Semester

✨ Plus a full month of therapy plans, done for you! ✨

Returning to the speech room after a break (of the start of a new year!) can be equal parts exciting and anxiety-inducing as an SLP. 🥵

It’s great to have a little reprieve from routine and a few days that don’t require an alarm clock, but that return to normalcy can also be a little daunting after that PJ life.

That’s why our first podcast episode of this new year is super simple and actionable: A Week of Therapy for a New Semester.

Episode Summary

In this episode, Marisha talks about:

✅ The value of doing a check-in with your students.

This is a great opportunity to establish rapport, and do an informal assessment by observing how the student uses language in context.

Learn more about student check-ins:
After Break Activity

✅ The importance of reviewing students’ goals.

The first week back is a great time to review students’ goals. Marisha is a huge advocate for creating goal cards that students can pick-up on their way into a session. Reviewing goals helps to reinforce goal awareness, which helps the students to connect with the work you’re doing and communicate it to others.

Reviewing students’ goals also gives you a chance to facilitate a discussion with students about why their goals matter, how the goals can help them, and how they relate to their personal goals and aspirations.

For more resources about student goals:
➡  Click here to download a free goal card template!
➡  Check out this blog post,Speech Room Organization: Student Goals


✅ The power of collecting data

Normally, Marisha likes to focus on data collection for one goal per session. The first week back in the speech room after a break is a little bit different though — it’s a good time to see where the students are at with all of their goals.

If you’re returning to the speech room after time off, your students have likely been able to practice some of the skills you’re working on in a real life context. That means you can observe which skills they’re getting a handle on, and which ones could use a little more focus.

You can start collecting data by doing an informal assessment from the moment your students walk through the door — especially if you’re doing a check-in! Using a probe, you can review specific goals, and use the data you collect to make a game plan for the rest of the semester.

Take your data collection to the next level:
➡ Check out this podcast episode that goes into more detail on data collection: 5 Tips to Streamline Your Data Collection as an SLP


If we’re going on a road trip, we want to know the destination… but we want to know where we’re starting as well. That’s why collecting probe data on students’ goals in that first week can be really helpful.

—Marisha Mets

One more thing!

To make your return to the speech room even smoother…

Sometimes it feels like there’s a bit of a holiday hangover heading into January… one that has nothing to do with how many cookies were consumed or how much fun was had. 🤣

If you’re feeling those back-to-school blues in the back of your mind, then you’re in luck because we have the remedy!

Say good-bye to the new-year-same-overwhelm that hits after the winter break with:

✨ A month of therapy, planned for you!

That’s right.

Answer a couple questions in a fun little quiz about the age group you’re working with and the goals you’re targeting, and then we’ll send you therapy plans for January. 👇

January Therapy Plans for SLPs

This quiz does not have a fully comprehensive list of skills to target — but it has enough options to help us make recommendations, which makes for a great place to start.

Quiz Button

After you click “See my results”, check your email for recommended units based on the grades and goals you submitted — plus a quick video overview to help you put the plans to work! 💪

Hit the easy button, SLP 👇

Get your January therapy plans!

Listen to The SLP Now Podcast on Apple ★ Spotify ★ Google  ★ Stitcher ★ Castbox or wherever you listen to podcasts.


Speaker 1:
Hello there and welcome to the SLP Now podcast, where we share practical therapy tips and ideas for busy speech-language pathologists. Grab your favorite beverage and sit back as we dive into this week's episode.
Happy New Year. This episode is going live on January 2nd, and hopefully most of you are enjoying your holiday breaks, but I wanted to record an episode that you can listen to as you're heading back to school after the holidays and giving you some ideas to make your first week back a little bit easier. So I just want to share some of the things that I like to do at the beginning of a new semester or a new quarter after a nice long break for that first week of therapy to hopefully make things a little easier, like I said, and to get back into the swing of things and to help students do the same. So during those first sessions with students as they're coming back, I of course like to do a check-in, and this is really important for establishing rapport, but it's also a great opportunity to observe the students in terms of how they're using their language in context or in articulation, whatever goals are relevant for the student.
It's a really nice informal assessment. And again, just to establish rapport, we of course want to give students the opportunity to share what happened and what their favorite activities were. And if you head to the show notes, we'll have some quick activities that you can pull for that initial activity. So that is idea number one is to do a check-in. And then idea number two is to review students' goals. So the show notes will also include a little template that you can use to create goal cards for students. So if you haven't done this already, the first week back is a great way to do that. And I'll also link to a podcast episode that explains how I use these and how you can set them up, all of that good stuff. So you'll find the template and the podcast episode that goes into a lot more detail, but the short version of what reviewing goals looks like.
So I have my students make goal cards. So one goal card for each of their goals. I typically have them write the goal in their own words, and I create a little packet of cards for each student and they grab them as we start our speech therapy session. And then it's just the beginning of the session, we're reviewing those goals. It's really helpful for a number of reasons. It increases student goal awareness, which helps with our SLP PR I like to call it. So when teachers or parents ask students what they're working on in speech, if we are reviewing the goals on a regular basis, then they're able to share more often than not what they're actually working on. And they don't just say, "Can we play games," they're able to identify what they actually work on in speech and what they're there for. And when I do that, especially if students, maybe there's not quite the buy-in that we'd like, I make sure to facilitate a discussion with students about why the goals matter and how the goals can help them, and how it relates to their personal goals and aspirations.
And again, the podcast episode will go into more detail on that, but that is activity idea number two, to review student goals. And then I also like to collect some data. So in a typical session, I just collect data on one goal per session, but maybe for the first week back, you get to decide what makes sense for you and your caseload. But it might be good to see where students are at with all of their different goals. So with the check-in activity, I get kind of an informal assessment of their overall language and how they're communicating. But with a probe, I can look at their specific goals. And we have episode 159 goes into more detail on my data collection process and all of that. This will also be in the show notes, but check out episode 159, if you're curious what that looks like and what I even mean by collecting probes.
But it's the beginning of the semester again, is a great time to see where our students are at and making a game plan for the rest of the school year and trying to make sure that we're able to continue making progress on the student's goals. And if we're going on a road trip, we of course want to know the destination, but we want to know where we're starting as well. And that's why I think collecting probe data on all of the students' goals in that first week can be really helpful. And it gives us lots of nice data points to use when it comes to progress reporting and all of that as well. So just a recap of the three initial activities. One is to do a check-in with students. Again, the purpose of this is informal overall review of how they're communicating, but then also it's really helpful to establish rapport.
And activity number two is to review students' goals. Again, to increase that goal awareness, increase buy-in, and just make sure we're all on the same page. And then the third activity idea is to collect data on your student's goals. I call these probes. So I'll just do a little mini assessment of each of my students' goals and run through those real quick. And that's what I would do in my first week of a new semester. And then just to keep students busy while we're doing all of that, the check-in activity might have a little drawing activity or something so that we can manage behavior and expectations and all of that as well. So those are my ideas.
And again, to check out the resources that I mentioned, head to and check us out on Instagram @slpnow. We'll have some content related to this episode going live there as well. And I'd love to hear your comments and feedback. Feel free to send me a DM on Instagram as well, sharing your activities or if you use these activities, how they went and any questions are also welcome. So I hope you had a fabulous winter break and that your first week of a new semester. That's a wrap, and we'll see you next week.
Thanks for listening to the SLP Now podcast. If you enjoy this episode, please share with your SLP friends. And don't forget to subscribe to the podcast to get the latest episode sent directly to you. See you next time.



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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