Planning Made Easier- Quick Tips for SLPs
Planning. Is that stressful for you? Many SLPs and SPED teachers think that is one of the biggest job problems, right after all of the paperwork. In fact, most of them say they’d like to leave the school system as soon as they reach full retirement age and then work somewhere else. They don’t know what specific kind of job they want, but they all agree that it has to be one that does not require planning!
Of course, we can all plan for the week, but what can be done to make the process quicker and easier? My time spent planning has gotten easier over the years, so here are my tips in case they are helpful for you. If you are just starting out, you might as well face the fact that planning will take considerable time. However, there are ways that can make it quicker for next year!
Organize Your Caseload
First, I start with a master list of my students and goal areas that I made when determining groups at the beginning of the year. Click here if you want to see how I use it. While I do this on paper to keep a copy at home, a photo of it will work as well. I’m sure there must be some app out there that will do this, too. If so, please share!
I keep my thematic materials in page protectors in a binder. Label the binders by theme or skill with this freebie! Organizing by theme is a great way to go when working with preschoolers or lower elementary. By middle school age, you are more likely to be searching for materials by the goals they address.
If you work with students of all ages, keep your materials organized both ways. It is unlikely that you would be using the same pages for all of your students anyway. And the time you save not searching for loose pages over the years adds up to way more time than you you will spend organizing from the start.
Plan for the Month
When I need to plan for the month ahead, I look in the binder as the first step, pulling out any materials I have already made that can be adapted for the current year’s students and goals. I also pull out a few open-ended materials that are just plain fun.
Try hanging up fun thematic activities on a bulletin board so your students can see them, too! Often I will switch my planned activity around when a student requests one of these activities, as long as I can still accomplish the goal since students learn better when they are invested.
Of course, your daily and weekly plans will be more detailed. But having a monthly idea can help you out when you need a backup plan or have a make-up group that doesn’t jive. For younger students, that can be as easy as changing out printable game boards. The free section of the blog makes that super easy!
With middle school and older students, you could consider ‘fun’ printables that build social interaction skills. The ones I’ve used included
- pages for thinking outside the box.
- conversation starter activities.
- would you rather? lists.
- deductive reasoning puzzles.
One of the tips that really helps me is to jot down notes if I have figured out an especially creative or fun way to adapt materials to meet two wildly different goals. Do you have some groups that are like that? I have some groups where the kids actually have no goals in common! They just are available at the same time and can be at the same table together.
These kinds of groups make for some creative planning. Meeting 4-6 different goals in one hour a week with no overlaps gets you thinking about different ways to use the materials. Try keeping the original page in a page protector inside your binder. Put a quick sticky note on the page so that you remember next year how you adapted it for your crazy group. This builds your skills in adapting for mixed groups.
Search TpT the Quick Way!
Once I’ve pulled out the materials that I think will work for my current caseload and goals, I’m off to TpT to check out what freebies or paid products are available to fill in my other needs. Having this wonderful resource is amazing! Before TpT, I had to spend so many more hours planning and making materials. I didn’t have the money to buy commercially available materials, and they just needed to be modified tremendously, anyway.
It is very easy to refine your search on TpT, making it quick and easy! First, enter your skill or theme, in this case, Thanksgiving. Then choose your subject. If you click ‘specialty,’ you have the choice of speech therapy. Then enter your price range.
If you want to look at freebies first, go under the member-sponsored ads and click on ‘sort by’ to get ‘most recently.’ This will let you start your search with the most recently posted freebies and work your way back in time, saving you from seeing sets that you may have already downloaded. Quick and easy!
Do your friends share TPT freebies with you? Of course! That is what friends are for! You can be a friend to the TPT SLP who spent time making that freebie. Go to the store to download your own copy and give some kind feedback.
The benefits for you are that you
- have a place to redownload easily.
- say thank you to person who made the freebie.
- get notified if the freebie is updated.
- may find some other materials you’ve been searching for.
- are doing it the right way!
Be sure to visit the free section of the LLL TPT store to see if there are more helpful materials you need. And sign up for the newsletter to get access to the FREE page on the blog. It’s easy to do!