Just a note before we get into it. This is a guest blog post from Amy, another SLP, all about virtual speech therapy organization! You can find Amy’s SLP Facebook page here.
WOW – It’s almost December of what is surely the most unusual (I’ll refrain from using 2020’s most overused word unprec…) year of our SLP careers. Maybe you are on a roll with virtual teaching and changing schedules, or maybe your hair is on fire and you’re perpetually counting down until the weekends. Either way, if you’re anything like me you have deemed this year Survival Therapy on most days, and an opportunity to learn something new on your very best.
My district, which is in a large suburban DC-Metro suburb, has been exclusively virtual since March. In the spring, like most, daycare was also closed so I was caring for my 1 year old while trying to virtually teach. It was a horrible experience and my mental health suffered immensely. It brought back anxiety that I hadn’t felt since my early days of being an SLP, and I had forgotten how to use any strategies I once regularly practiced. I was grasping at straws to maintain my sanity – coloring, listening to music, taking walks – but at the end of every day, I felt like a total and utter failure at being an SLP, even though I was wrapping up Year 10 with quite a lot of experience under my belt.
As they always do, the school year ended and I knew it was time to reset the way I approached my “new” job. I used the summer to convert some of my favorite physical materials into digital ones (thanks to the many TPT-creators who are now doing this!), and decided that I needed a thoughtful way to attack my virtual speech therapy organization this year. I have to admit, this idea didn’t help my anxiety because I’m one of those people who lives in “organized chaos” much to the dismay of my new office-mate (my husband).
This Survival Therapy will end and we will return to our schools with our students. Until then, be kind to yourself and trust in your skills. We SLPs are masters of multitasking and flexibility! Over the last 2.5 months, this is what I’ve come up with as a system that is keeping me moving forward:
This took me about a month to perfect and turn into exactly what I needed! I created a template for the entire week where I can organize my links to digital plans in Google Slides or other web-based activities. Also, I added a section to hold frequently used Zoom links, so I didn’t need to search for them every day. Now I open this document first thing in the morning and it helps me not have 400 tabs open throughout the day!
On this spreadsheet, I added everything all in one — it has due dates, important IEP information, and clerical information like parent contacts and home language.
YouTube saved me here! There are tons of teachers, SLPs, and other people who have made awesome videos for Google hacks. My time-saving hack is to use a general “template” for my lessons, which typically includes: greeting, schedule, introduction to vocabulary/topic, book/main activity, extension activity, and closing. Using this Google Slides template, I don’t have to start each lesson from scratch.
This couldn’t be easier! Save all the links you open each morning like your email, Weekly Plans Template, Zoom log in, etc. in one Bookmarks Folder. Right click on the folder, then choose “open all” – voila!
If you are virtual, or about to be virtual, I hope some of these therapy organization tips are helpful to transitioning or regaining your sanity! What is helping you stay sane during Survival Therapy?
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