Starting in a New School
Are you new to a school building this year? There are, of course, the obvious tasks:
• Make friends with the secretaries and custodial staff
• Connect with administration and share how happy you are to be at the school
• Complete a monthly calendar for annual IEP and re-evaluation due dates
• Access or create a caseload spreadsheet with student names, grades, service minutes, communication domains (articulation, language, fluency, etc.), and additional special education services
• Begin the on-going process of scheduling students (magically triangulating student needs, school/class schedules, special activities, additional services, teacher feedback, etc.)
• Start a data collection and attendance system to document services
There are a few more activities that might be beneficial:
• Clean-out the space
• Look at the room from a child’s perspective
• Thank the prior clinician
Clean out the space: Colleagues have recently spent hours cleaning out neglected speech rooms. There were file cabinets with materials from the 1980’s, including moldy felt board storybooks, and mimeograph worksheets for an old paper-duplicating machine that was discontinued with the invention of the photocopier. There were two nonfunctioning Language Master Systems (early recording and audio systems that used magnetic tape) and prior editions of standardized tests that are no longer valid. As tempting as it is to just close the file cabinet drawers and leave the mess for another 10 years, don't do it. By leaving piles of already worthless materials untouched, you may be subjecting a newly hired clinician, who just graduated from college, to start the year completing an archeological exploration into the history of Speech Language Pathology. Recycle, donate, discard, or repurpose materials!
Child’s Perspective: Adults are not the same height as children. Sit on the floor. Sit on your knees. Change your height and look all around the room. Think about what you notice, what you can and can’t see, and what you can and can’t access. Design the room from the point of view of the child.
Thank the Prior Clinician: Every child can make a card for the prior clinician.
• Use blank cards or construction paper and art supplies to have students make cards
• Provide a model of the typical layout and format of a card with the correct spelling of the clinician’s name and common words
• Provide a choice of three different writing prompts:
o Thank you: “Let’s think about speech class last year. What kinds of things did you do? What kinds of things did you learn? This is a thank you note. What’s one thing that you want to say thank you for?”
o Advice: “Your speech teacher from last year has a new job. What is some great advice that you want to give your speech teacher for their new job?”
o Summer news: “You might have done some interesting things this summer. Let’s think about what fun/interesting/funny things happened this summer. What summer thing do you want to share with your old speech teacher?”
• When all the cards are completed, you can send them as a packet to the prior clinician
We can start the year with closure, with gratitude, and with an organized fresh start!