Even though it is summer break, I feel like I am constantly thinking about organization. Organizing is my favorite part of the beginning the school year!
Over the past few years, I have slowly tweaked my organization systems. I am sharing with you the system that I used all of last year and am going to continue using this year since I think it's perfect for me.
I have explored multiple different systems to organize my caseload. I needed a solid way to list my students, know their annual IEP date, their re-evaluation date, their goals, birthdays, etc. What I have discovered works best for me is a working caseload list. This means my caseload list is ever-changing, but this allows me to stay updated on current IEP dates, current IEP goals, and even requires LESS work in the fall as the list is practically updated for fall by the end of the school year.
Take a look at my caseload excel spreadsheet (this is a small sample of my caseload - I typically have at a minimum of 55 students each year):
As you can see, I organize students by their last name and first name, include each student's grade level (and once I know classroom teachers I will add teacher names), birthday, annual IEP due date, 3-year re-evaluation due date, and current student goals.
The students can be listed alphabetically, by birthdays, goals, or IEP due dates. I prefer to list my students by IEP due date with the latest IEP date coming up so that I can look at this quickly before each month and know what IEPs are coming due. This helps be figure out when I should schedule the IEPs, and I typically make notes (after the goal section portion) on when I send home invitations/call parents/receive parent input/etc. so that I have documentation on this process.
I highlight in light orange the IEPs that must be completed before Christmas break. The IEPs highlighted in purple are IEPs that need to be completed after Christmas break. The re-evaluation dates highlighted in green means that I must complete a REED, an evaluation, and write a report that year for that student.
As student IEPs are completed, I update this excel spreadsheet with the newest IEP date and newest IEP goals. So, as you can see, my caseload list is ever-changing, but this allows me to be kept up to date on each individual student, and there's so much less paperwork for me to go through at the beginning of the year since most of my students and their goals are already listed on this spreadsheet!
I also keep track of student evaluations on this page. It's nice to do it this way as I can keep track of their IEP due dates from when the REED was signed, put in the new IEP initial date, and then fill in their IEP goals. Simply select to organize the sheet by IEP due date, and there you go! The excel sheet is updated.
How to organize by IEP due date? Does this mean you have to re-type everything to organize it in that format? Absolutely not. This process will differ depending on different formats of Microsoft Office, but this is what I do: simply highlight the IEP Date section, go up to Data, select Sort, select expand the selection (this means you want the rest of the information to follow specific students), and then select order oldest to newest. You want the oldest dates shown first so that you know what IEPs are due first.
Once the end of the year comes, all of the boxes are white (no highlighted colors), goals are updated for summer services or for the fall, and the evaluation box is empty (ideally).
Since I came into this position, I have used working folders with my students. Each student would have a color-coded pocket folder with his/her name on it which would house their data sheets, attendance forms, and other misc. items needed for individualized speech therapy sessions. I hated organizing my data sheets in a binder because A. I am left handed, and I hate writing where there is a huge silver binder clip in my way, and B. the constant opening and closing of binders really wore them down, and I found myself having to replace expensive binders. I also hated using those plastic page covers because it would take forever for me to put pages in and take them out for each session.
This year I think I am going to keep the process of working folders, but change them from pocket folders to file folders. Pocket folders are nice, but the pockets always end up ripped by the end of the year, and I usually just shove the data sheets in the folder without putting them in the pockets anyway.
I like the working folders to be minimal and require the least amount of paperwork as possible, so I usually have these working file folders house their data and attendance sheets, and I have separate speech folders to house their IEPs, past data sheets, etc.
This year I am planning on using color-coded file folders. As you can see on my caseload list, student placements (grades) are color-coded, and I use these colors for my file folders as well. Thus, I know if I needed to grab Peter Pan's folder really quickly, I would be looking for a yellow folder.
I also like to organize these folders by groups so that I can grab them really quickly and start the session. I typically use binder clips to group folders together and stand them vertically (name labels sticking out of the side) at the beginning of the day. Once I complete a therapy session, I binder clip the folders back together as a group and lay them horizontally (name labels sticking out of the top) so that I know that session is complete.
I hope this makes sense to you! If you have questions about this process, please feel free to leave comments and ask your questions!
I know scheduling can be really hard in the schools. It usually takes me about a week or two at the beginning of the year to get my schedule figured out, and even then it is never finalized.
The process: I provide each teacher with a list of their students who receive speech and language services and ask them to give me two days of the week and three ideal times to pull students from their classroom for services. I also communicate that these times are limited and are on a first come-first served basis; therefore, teachers who return this information to me quickly are more likely to get their preferred times for scheduling. For difficult teachers (because there's always one or two!), I will complete my schedule as much as possible, leave a copy in their mailbox (or talk to them in person), and ask them to pick a time from the times I have left available for their students. I've found that this shows them how busy I am and how limited my schedule is at times.
Like everything else, my schedule is color-coded based on grades. Take a look. Btw - my schedule has never been this empty! Imagine if it was! How much more could we accomplish?!
You can see that my students are grouped by grade as much as possible (and once I know classroom teachers, I try and group by classroom teacher as much as possible for easier scheduling). The colors are the same as their working speech folders and as their listing on my caseload list.
I typically schedule based on a classroom teacher rather than goals. I've found that students with varying goals within a group can often model good articulation or language skills to other students in the group. This makes students feel successful and will (typically) motivate them to work harder on their own goals because they feel like they are good at something. So while it's easier to schedule all /k/ students together because it's easier to plan lessons for those students, they typically do not have an opportunity to hear good modeling of the /k/ in the therapy session. When I schedule speech and language students together in groups, I often pick one general game for all of them to play and change various aspects of the game to meet individualized goals.
So while this process works for me, as always, it may not work for you! I would love to hear what you are doing to keep yourself organized in your therapy room. How do you keep data, schedule students, and keep track of IEP due dates? How do you keep track of student goals?
I am planning on posting a copy of my speech and language therapy data sheets in another post, so stay tuned for that post.
Thanks for stopping by!