Let’s take some time to chat about therapy planning!
And yes… I know what you must be thinking (because I felt the same way): “I have a million things to do; how will I find time to plan my therapy sessions?” From the beginning of the school year until the end, we’re on a never-ending roller coaster of activity—set up our room, review student files, update materials, meetings, parent-teacher communication, and more. Did I say never-ending? Oh yes and, of course, help our students achieve their therapy goals.
And the term “lesson plan” never resonated with me. As a school-based SLP, I’m not a teacher, so why should I have a lesson plan?
So, what I found was I needed a mindset reset. And a plan.
Shifting My Planning Mindset
Since the concept of LESSON PLANNING felt so daunting, I decided to shift my attitude about it. Planning doesn’t have to be an overwhelming and time-consuming task. And it certainly doesn’t need to be a multiple-page document that takes weeks to complete or need to resemble the lesson plans a teacher creates. Planning can also look differently for every SLP.
So, what’s the big deal about planning?
Most of us wouldn’t take a road trip without considering where we want to end up, what stops we want to make along the way, and what route to take. If we don’t do a bit of planning, then we can waste time getting lost, trying to figure out where to go and when, and missing out on interesting sights.
That’s the same with our therapy sessions. Whether you spend 10 minutes a week and jot down your thoughts on a sticky note or use the SLP Now Membership to streamline your planning, the goal is to be intentional about the goals you need to achieve for each student and how you plan to get there.
Are you thinking, “Isn’t the IEP the plan?”
Just like curriculum tells a teacher WHAT needs to be learned, an IEP gives SLPs the target goals to achieve but not how to get there. Your training, experience and activity planning is what determines HOW you will help each student reach their goals.
Once I was deliberate about planning my therapy sessions, I found I actually saved MORE time and was even more productive. Here are just a few of the benefits to planning:
• Effective materials: Instead of determining on the fly what materials are best to support your student during therapy sessions, planning gives you space and time to prepare the most effective materials for your students’ goals.
• Maximize time in therapy sessions: Planning ensures every valuable minute is used effectively when you are with students.
• Fewer behavior issues: When there’s a plan to execute, there’s less “down time” and less opportunity for students to get distracted.
• Data-based decisions: Determining your therapy plan allows you to review each student’s data and make therapy decisions based on what’s best for their particular needs.
• Provide flexibility: The pre-work that is done when planning therapy sessions helps you become more innovative when you need to come up with contingency plans in a moment.
• Professional improvement: When you schedule time to plan, you give yourself the gift of reflection and can consider how to improve your SLP skills.
That sounds pretty great, but the next question you might have is, “How do I create a plan?”
You can certainly create your own system, but why not piggyback on the expertise of other SLPs? That’s what I love about the SLP Now Membership! You can use our materials library and tools to put together amazing therapy plans in a matter of minutes. You can access these plans on any device (even your phone!), and they will save you so much time!
Want to hear more time-saving tips? Join me and register for the SLP Summit, a free online conference with lots of evidence-based strategies to help you improve your practice (plus, save time and headaches).