March 23, 2017

Busy SLP? 5 Tips to Make Your Life Easier and Less Stressful

Welcome to post #3 in my series, Tips and Tools to Make Your Life Easier and Less Stressful. I'm sharing tips and tools that help busy SLPs on a day-to-day basis. You can read about tool #1: SLP Toolkit HERE.


Today I'm sharing some tips from my SLP life that will hopefully help you in your busy SLP life. I work for a rural special ed co-op and serve 3 different school districts. Most days I travel to at least 2, if not all 3 of my schools. I have to manage my caseloads at each of the districts, juggle meetings, conferences, RTI, therapy, testing, and all that other fun SLP stuff with limited time on each campus. That means I need to be on top of things and stay as organized as I can. If I slack even a little, all of the plates I have spinning come crashing down and it is exhausting trying to get things back in order.

So here are my top 5 tips to make your busy SLP life easier and less stressful:

#1: I know this may seems impossible, but I do my very best to never take work home with me. Taking work home means you are also bringing the stress home with you. I always try to keep work at work so I can focus on my family and recharge for the next work day. Think about all those times you have brought work home and then you don't get to it. Do you feel guilty for letting it sit? Do you forget about it and have to lug it back the next day still unfinished? Or maybe you actually get it done, but end up staying up late to do so...On days when I feel swamped and think I need to take my work home, I fight the urge and leave it. I think it's better to go in early, stay a bit late, and work through lunch if necessary. You need time to escape the chaos of work and recharge. Keep the work at work. :-)


#2: Find a planner or calendar that works for you and USE IT! Everybody has different ways of keeping track of important dates and deadlines. Are you a phone person? Does Siri remind you of your deadlines? Or maybe you are like me and love a good paper planner. Whatever it may be, find a way to keep track of deadlines and stick to it so it becomes a habit. I love my Happy Planner from Michael's. I got it on sale and used my educator discount, so it wasn't very expensive at all. I love that it has 3 rows for me to track my life. I use the top row for work related events, the middle row for family/life events, and the bottom row to help me track  my TPT Store and blog. This is the best way for me to stay on track and not forget meetings and deadlines. I look at my planner every morning so I know where I need to be that day...especially since it's always different! If you need some help finding the perfect planner, you can check out this SLP Planner Roundup post.

http://www.talkinwithtwang.com/2016/07/slp-planner-roundup.html

 #3: Build reminders into your calendar. Yes, I write down meetings and deadlines, but I also write myself reminders into my calendar. If progress reports are due on March 24, I will write a reminder to myself on March 20 that I need to make sure I have good data for each student. If I have a meeting on April 17, I will write a reminder to myself in the margin of the week prior so it doesn't sneak up on me. IEP meetings due in May? I'll make a list in the margin of April to remind myself that I need to schedule and prep the meetings. These little reminders help me to stay on top of my schedule rather than being overwhelmed by it. 

#4: Take 5 minutes of your day to breathe and recharge. Use this time to do something that helps you to take your mind off your busy day...breathe, take a long restroom break, sip your coffee, check social media, read a page of a magazine or book, or just sit and enjoy the silence or a good song. Just make sure you set a timer so you don't go over your time and end up more stressed. I like to sit in my car for 5 minutes before I get out at each school. I gather my thoughts and go over the game plan in my head before I go in. This time helps me to focus and prepare because once I get out of my car, it's fast paced and go go go until I get back in my car. 

#5: Try using no print or no prep materials with your students. I have to admit, I am a speech therapy materials junkie. I love interactive books and cute themed games and activities...but I also have 3 schools I have to carry my materials to/from and very little time to laminate and prep. This year, I have developed a love for no print and print-and-go types of resources. With no print activities, all I need is my iPad and I'm ready to go. I use articulation apps in place of artic cards. I download no print resources from Teachers Pay Teachers into iBooks and have them on hand at all times. Print-and-go activities are great because it takes less than 5 minutes for me to access the file on my computer, print it, and set it down on the table ready to go. There are so many great no print and print-and-go resources on Teachers Pay Teachers and many are free! Just add NO PRINT or NO PREP to your search when you are looking for resources. I have several FREE print-and-go resources in my TPT Store, including activity booklets for /th/, activity booklets for /f,v/ (temporary freebie), articulation sudoku, a spring themed compound sentences packet, prefix & suffix worksheets, and a comprehension and sequencing freebie. Click on the links or the images at the end of this post to get these FREE NO PREP resources.

These are just a few things that I do to help me manage my busy SLP life, making it easier and less stressful. Do you have any tips to share? I'd love to hear from you. Share in the comments or feel free to send me an email. :-)

Links to my FREE NO PREP resources on TPT. Click each image to be taken to the file. 

 FREE /th/ Activity Booklets

/f,v/ Activity Booklets

 FREE Articulation Sudoku

 FREE Comprehension & Sequencing Practice

 FREE Compound Sentence Packet

 FREE Prefix & Suffix Worksheets

March 16, 2017

Busy SLP? Tool #1 to Make Your Life Easier

We've all been there...a long list of students to test, reports to write, IEPs to prepare, and progress reports...oh the never ending progress reports. Springtime paperwork seems especially never ending and overwhelming. Unfortunately, the paperwork will always be there, but there are ways to make it easier and more manageable.

Today, I want to share one tool I have been using to help streamline my paperwork. It's seriously one of the best tools for busy SLPs, and I can't recommend it enough. SLP Toolkit!

slptoolkit.com

SLP Toolkit is a web-based service designed to help SLPs be more efficient with their time and management of all that paperwork. It helps with data collection and documentation, progress tracking, writing present levels, IEPs and more!

I have been using SLP Toolkit regularly since right before Christmas Break.  It has reduced my stress level immensely. I want to share a few of my favorite features of SLP Toolkit and how it can help make your busy SLP life easier.

Present Level Assesments
My absolute favorite feature of the Toolkit is the Present Level Assessment library. I use these with every new evaluation or re-evaluation, when I get new transfer students, and before every annual IEP meeting. There are a variety of assessments available to help assess student strengths and areas of need. (Just a few are shown in the picture below. There are many more.)


Each assessment features questions and activities that thoroughly assess a child's skills. I use the elementary and fluency assessments the most, but there are so many different ones available.


A few weeks ago, I needed to prep pretty quickly for an annual IEP meeting for a pretty tough student. I stressed about it for about a day before I remembered SLP Toolkit has some great functional communication assessments, too. I ended up with a very good list of the student's strengths and weaknesses and was able to fully justify my new IEP goals with good solid data.

After you select and administer an assessment to your student, you can save the results in the Toolkit and print a summary. This is the fastest way to get a good picture of a students strengths and needs, and it's paperless!!!

The Toolkit also gives you a list of suggested targets for goals based on the student's needs.

You can then select areas to work on and a progress monitoring test will be created and linked to that student's digital file instantly! It's like magic!

Progress Monitoring
I use the progress monitoring tests to track student progress on specific goals. The Toolkit tests make it quick and easy to collect data and track progress. It even provides beautiful charts and graphs that you can print or snip and insert into your IEPs!


This is a great way to show growth and progress over time. It's also a great visual for you to see improvement.

Strategies
A third feature that I love in the Toolkit is the strategies library. In all of our IEPs and evaluation reports, we are required to provide strategies teachers/parents can use with the student. The strategies library in the Toolkit helps make that so much easier. All you have to do is select the area the student has needs in and a list will pop up with strategies that can be used for that particular skill.

There are many, many more features in SLP Toolkit, such as goal writing, printable data collection sheets, and more!I could go on and on about the features and tools. If you are interested in learning more, I suggest looking through their Facebook page or blog. You can also try it for free with up to 5 students.

Be sure to check back next week for more tips and tools to make your busy SLP life easier and less stressful. 

March 14, 2017

Busy SLP? Tips and Tools to Make Your SLP Life Easier and Less Stressful

Busy? I am the queen of busy. Between my full-time job as an SLP in the schools, PRN work, my daughter's gymnastics schedule, my Teachers Pay Teachers store, and all the miscellaneous things that go along with being a wife/mom, I always have something going on. Can you relate? Because I am so busy, I have to manage my time well or things get chaotic fast.


Part of my time management plan is making sure I don't bring work (paperwork, planning, etc.) home with me. I have enough to do at home as it is (and that is where all the TPT magic happens), so I can't allow myself to spend evenings and weekends doing paperwork, progress reports, etc. I keep it at school and that's just how it is. Now, I'd be lying if I said I was always successful at that. There have been times when a deadline had to be met and the work had to come home, but I try to avoid that if at all possible.


So, how do I do this? How can a busy SLP get it all done at work? Therapy, RTI, teacher consults, IEPs, evaluations, report writing, progress reports, observations, and all that other stuff we do...how is there time for it all?


I have some "tricks" up my sleeve...okay, not really tricks, but they are pretty awesome tools I use to make my life as a busy SLP more manageable. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing some of these tools with you.  These are some great resources available specifically for busy SLPs who just need help getting it all done, and getting it done well. It's not just about meeting deadlines and getting the work done...we also have to be able to stand behind our work and ensure that it is our best.

So, stay tuned. The first post will be coming up Thursday. I'll be sharing how I use a great web-based app to help me collect and organize data and write killer IEPs.  Can you guess what it is??? Check back Thursday to find out...

In the meantime, comment below with your biggest challenge as a busy SLP. Completing paperwork? Planning therapy? Data collection? Time management? What gives you the most stress at work?

February 18, 2017

Celebrating 2,000 with Brinca into Bilingual (Mrs. Nicolau)




Today I am helping a blog buddy celebrate something exciting!!! Mrs. Nicolau has reached 2,000 followers. She has some fun giveaways for you to celebrate! 


GIVEAWAY TIME!!!
ALL GIVEAWAYS WILL RUN FROM SATURDAY 18TH (6AM CT) UNTIL TUESDAY 21ST (12AM CT)


Mrs. Nicolau is giving away TWO RAE DUNN MUGS!
These cute mugs are very hard to find (depending where you live) and everyone is going CRAZY for these!









Let's giveaway a gift card!! Enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a $25 TPT Giftcard! Remember the more entries you have, the more changes you have to win!!!








Who does not LOVE TARGET?! We ALL do!!  So let's do a giveaway for a $25 Target giftcard!






Since we are going crazy with prices, why don't we get even crazier?!... Let's also celebrate with a $21.00 gift card from the AMAZING Melonheadz!




Last, but definitely not least! I have many blog friends that have joined me to celebrate this amazing event! They have all joined me to giveaway bundles by grades!!!

The first bundle is for our Bilingual K-1 teachers!


Next is the 2-3 Bilingual Bundle!

Last is our K-2 Grades Bundle in English!



Are you excited enough?! We sure hope so! Stop by Mrs. Nicolau's blog to enter on all these great prizes!!!
While you are there, drop a note to her. She LOVES hearing from her readers! :)





February 5, 2017

SLPs Sharing Kindness (with a Freebie)

Do you love freebies? The Frenzied SLPs sure do, and we have a special treat for you! In the spirit of spreading love and kindness throughout our lives, we have linked up to share a variety of kindness themed resources for you to use with your students. To gather all of your goodies, just use the link below to hop to the next blog. Each blog has a kindness themed resource for you to download for FREE. You could have the next few weeks of therapy covered with all of the fabulous materials you gather!  How amazing is that?!

One of the ways I think people can demonstrate kindness is by helping in their communities. No matter where you live...big city or small town...there is always work to be done. Our communities thrive when we take care of each other and our towns. From helping neighbors with yard work to picking up trash, there is something for everyone to do to pitch in.

My free resource focuses on this idea of being a community helper. Your students will love reading about how Martha spent a day showering her community with extra kindness. Your download will include a short narrative with sequencing, context clues, and comprehension activities. This 2-page no prep product is great for older students to work on reading for details, sequencing, vocabulary and more. 

You can download this special freebie in my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking HERE.

For your next freebie, click on the image below to hop to the next blog, All Y'all Need.
http://www.allyallneed.com/.../sharing-kindness-slp-way.html

November 20, 2016

My SLP Story {A Frenzied SLPs Linky}

Do you ever wonder what led your SLP friends to become SLPs? We all have our own story, but often do not know each other’s. This week, the Frenzied SLPs are hosting a linky to share our SLP stories. Sharing your story can be a great way to remind yourself why you chose this field, and relive some of the passion and excitement that can often fade over the years. I encourage you to read our SLP stories and reflect back on your personal story. Feel free to link up with your own blog post, or share in the comments.


My personal SLP story begins around 2009. I was a 4th grade classroom teacher who knew very little about what went on in the speech therapy room. I had very few students who received speech therapy services and really never knew what they did while they were out of my room. I didn’t think much about it…until my own daughter began stuttering. Taiylor was 2 and struggled a lot as she began learning to speak. Our family doctor wasn’t concerned about it, but I was. I finally pushed for a speech evaluation after her third birthday. She began attending private speech therapy in 2010. I was able to watch every speech session via video in a parent viewing room. I was so impressed with her SLP, and my curiosity about the field began to grow.

This was also around the time that I was beginning to think about leaving the classroom. I had taught for several years and just knew I didn’t want to be a classroom teacher for 20 more years. I knew I wanted to stay involved in education, but just didn’t know what I wanted to do. I changed schools hoping new scenery might change my opinion of teaching, but it did not. Every day I prayed and researched about what other careers might be a good fit for me…and everything kept pointing back to speech-language pathology.


At this point, my daughter was no longer in speech. After a few months of therapy without a lot of progress, she woke up from a long nap one day with no more stutter. She actually walked up to me after her nap and said, “Mommy. I don’t have to think when I talk anymore.” We went back for a few more speech sessions, just to be sure she really no longer needed it and it never started again. Some say this was purely developmental stuttering and she outgrew it. I say it was God’s way of leading me to what would become my new career.

After many prayers and discussions with my husband about speech-language pathology and needing to go back to grad school (I already had a master’s degree in teaching), I took the leap and enrolled in a leveling program.

I completed my leveling courses while I finished my 7th year of teaching. After being accepted into my graduate program, I found a job as an SLP assistant and the intense journey to becoming an SLP began.

Grad school was amazingly difficult. Working as a full-time SLP Assistant, being a mom, and pulling off projects and late night study sessions was a challenge. However, my husband instantly saw a difference in my happiness level and passion for my new field. I knew in my heart I had made the right choice.

Graduation 2015

I graduated from grad school in August 2015. I knew I wanted to work in the schools, and that is where I am today, but I also discovered I love working with adults. My clinicals in the SNF and hospital settings were life changing experiences. One of the things I love about this career are all the different options. Every setting is different. Every patient is different. Every school is different. Every SLP is different.

I love helping others improve their lives. I love being able to help a child learn their first words, produce that tricky /r/ sound for the first time, and experience success in the classroom or in a group setting. I love helping my stroke patients improve their communication skills or improve their swallowing so they can eat the food they want to eat. Being an SLP has changed my life in more ways than just where I go for work. I am inspired and passionate and thankful for this field every day.

I am still a new SLP. I actually just got my CCC in July 2016. The passion and excitement that led me to becoming an SLP is fresh in my mind and heart. By writing down my story, I know I will be able to read it on those difficult days in the future when I need encouragement. I hope sharing my story helps inspire others who may not be feeling the passion anymore. I encourage each and every one of you to think about what led you to this field. Think about the new graduate excitement you had and dreams of improving the world and the lives of your clients. Write your story down and share it with others. You never know who you may inspire…including yourself.

To read more SLP stories, click through The Frenzied SLPs linky below.

October 23, 2016

Tips for Effective and Efficient Teamwork

Teamwork - the combined actions of a group of people, especially when effective and efficient (Google definition)



This week, The Frenzied SLPs are all about teamwork. Working as part of a team can be tricky, and may not always be easy. Sometimes it takes great effort to make the team work.  Many SLPs (like myself) travel between schools, which can make the "team" concept even more challenging.  I would like to share some tips with you that I have found to be helpful in making it all work.

I shared the google definition of teamwork above because it paints a great picture of what working together as a team really is.  It's more than just "working together."  It's working together AND being effective and efficient.  That's what makes a great team. The following tips are my suggestions to help build effective and efficient teams. 

1. Remember whose team we're all on in the first place.  Teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, SLPs, counselors, custodians, office staff...everyone is on the same team.  We are here for our students.  It can be easy to get lost in the "us vs. them" rut, especially in times of disagreement.  If we can remember that we are all here for the good of the students, it will help us get through those difficult times.

2. Be willing to learn from others. Experienced SLP or newbie does not matter.  We can all learn from each other.  I have learned a TON from my supervising SLPs and more experienced colleagues, but I think they have also learned from me.  We each have our own unique experiences and knowledge we can share with our colleagues. SLPs can learn from teachers, and teachers can learn from SLPs. Be open and accepting of what your teammates have to share.  You never when you'll learn something new!

3. Make an effort to mingle. A lot of days I am behind on paperwork or stressed out about deadlines and difficult sessions, and I just want to sit in my room and eat lunch with my door closed.  However, I try to eat with the teachers at my schools as often as I am able to. It's not every day, but I am for at least once a week at each of my three schools. This is so important because it allows you to get to know each other better, outside of IEP meetings and conferences where it's all student talk. I enjoy these times and it helps me to feel more like we are a team when we can relax a little together. 

Those are my teamwork tips.  What great teamwork tips do you have to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.

For more teamwork talk, click through the rest of The Frenzied SLPs linky below.