Half the battle of lesson planning for therapy is actually knowing where your materials are located–right? I know when I have a specific home for my materials, it is easier to remember what my options are for therapy. Do you have a “put it in a pile” place in your speech room? Guilty as charged.
I do have a designated area for my “pile” so that when I don’t have time to organize, I can keep the chaos contained to one spot. Above is a picture of my “needs to be shredded pile”. However, I can only live in organized chaos for a short period of time. When my materials are organized, it reduces extra brain energy spent worrying about future lesson planning. If a lesson isn’t going as planned, I can easily grab different materials because I know where they are in my room. Today, I wanted to share some tips and supplies for organizing your speech materials. (Amazon Affiliate links are included in this blog post.)
Organize Your Speech Materials In Batched Chunks
In the real SLP world, you don’t have extra hours in the day just to organize. And, when you have a multitude of disorganized spaces, it is hard to know which one to tackle first. I have found some success with picking one thing I want to organize. Then, I work on that one task until it is finished. Best solution for getting it done? Blocking out time on my schedule for organizational tasks. My next best solution, stop trying to do 3 projects at once.
For example, I wanted to organize my craft materials so, I made a “to do” list and blocked out when I was going to tackle each task. First task: get the file bin (order on Amazon or schedule the day you are going to go to Target or Walmart to get the bin). Plan out when you are going to get any other supplies needed like page protectors, hanging file folders, etc. Then, I made a list of what I would want to keep in the bin. I wanted to store the craft template, have some card stock stored in there, and pre-prepped artic and language stimulus cards (I use my any craft companion printables), so I could have some things prepped if I want to do a last-minute craft.
Do One Organizational Project At A Time
The rest of the week, I schedule any small open chunks of time to devote to my organizing project. If you schedule something in all your open time spots, you will remember to do them. So, I schedule my day with everything I do, such when I have to attend an IEP meeting, progress monitor a student, call a parent, write therapy logs, do medicaid billing, make copies of data sheets, organize visual supports, etc.
Tips For Organizing Themed or Skill-Based Materials
For themed therapy, a lot of SLPs plan their lessons around a book or theme. I found that storing the materials all together helped me prevent losing them, and I knew exactly where I could access the resources. If you have lessons that target skill-based materials, you can keep them all together as well. I highly recommend labeling what is inside your bins/containers/folders. Your brain will thank you later!
Storage Solutions For Themed & Skilled Based Materials In One Place
Expanding file folders are perfect for the traveling SLP or the SLP that goes into the classroom a lot. Similar materials that you may need for a mixed group won’t get lost in a file folder. You can stick most books inside, along with all the extension activities you planned. My seasonal grammar and vocabulary activities easily fit in these file folders. I can fit most of my seasonal grammar and vocabulary activities in one folder, and store on my shelf. You will not lose all the task cards, lesson plan cheat sheets or visual supports that go with the lesson.
I also found plastic poly files on Amazon and some at the Dollar Tree that clip shut. If you have book companion materials or several speech or language activities that you transport for push-in language support, these folders help keep all the pieces together.
Some books even fit inside these folders. I put all my themed language lessons that I use for push-in and pull-out groups. When planning push-in lessons, I usually pick a book or theme. Then, I plan many different speech and language activities around the book or theme. So, in order to keep all the little parts together, I can put them in one folder.
If you have small task cards, jewelry boxes or scrapbook boxes can be great for storing materials. Small task cards or PECS icons work really well with these containers.
An Easy Organization Solution For The Busy SLP
If you have NO time to maintain an elaborate organizational system, or–let’s be real–no money right now to invest in organizational supplies, using a file crate to keep the month’s lessons organized is great solution.
I grab all the books I may want to use for the month and put them inside. Then, I out the materials I will be using to target goals for students during the month. Having this crate with file folders helps you to clean up your materials quickly at the end of the day. This method eliminates keeping things in piles or shoving it back in your therapy closet. After I am finished with the materials for the month, I put them back in my giant storage bins or in my therapy closet.
Put All Similar Themes Or Skills In The Same Bin
This large bin stores all of my sensory bin materials. I put everything in plastic bags or tiny containers. To make things easy, I keep my bin fillers, toy materials and companion materials in this bin. If you are looking for more sensory bin ideas, check out this page for sensory bin inspiration.
I have also used large bins for storing language, social skill and articulation materials. When I need some new materials, I take out what I need from my bin. This organization method will help you if you have a small space. It is also helpful for SLPs that need to see what materials they have available.
Organize Your Speech Materials With Binders
Binders are an easy way to store materials. You can keep similar resources in one binder, have fun tabs on the outside so you can easily find the binder you need, and they fit nicely on bookshelves.
I also use binders to keep a lot of similar resources together using page protectors.
For resources that have stimulus items, lesson plan cheat sheets and visual supports, I will organize them by keeping them in binders. My Seasonal Sensory Bin Companions store well in binders. I can keep the lesson plan sheets, data collection sheets, and stimulus items for all the different goals in one place. I use tabs to separate the different seasons, so I can quickly flip to the season I need.
Organize Your Speech Materials In the Way That Works Best For You
The best place to get more organized is to identify the place in your office that always feels disorganized. The second thing you need to do is figure out what will work best for you. If you are a traveling SLP, expanding folders may be great for keeping multiple materials in one place. The expanding folders have a zipper, so materials can’t fly out. Or if you have great bookshelves in your room, using binders to keep your materials organized will help you. The crate is a great organization option for you if you just don’t have the time or energy to invest in re-vamping your material storage.
How Do You Organize Your Speech Materials?
Where are all of my SLP organizational ladies and gents? I would love to know your genius organizational hacks! Share an organizational tip in the comment. Or, send me a picture of your organizational system at email@example.com Of course, you can always share your organized speech room on instagram and tag me @thedabblingspeechie. I would love to see the amazing solutions you use to keep your speech room pile-free.
Want more ways to stay organized in your speech room? Check out more tips in this blog post HERE. Also, if those first few months back to school have you super overwhelmed, I have a FREE checklist and IEP monthly calendar to help keep you organized that you can access HERE. Check them out!
Managing your caseload IS overwhelming. Especially, if your caseload is over 65. SLP caseload organization is seriously a process–lol! Some of you SLPs have caseloads that I am sure 4 speech pathologists could be managing. That is crazy to me.
The Struggles I Faced With SLP Caseload Organization
About 6-7 years ago, I was managing two schools, with a very transient population. Kids were coming and going every month. I had, on average, 75-83 students on my caseload at any given time. In addition to this, I served two Mod-Severe Special Day Classrooms with students on the Autism spectrum. I also served a mild-mod Special Day Classroom for grades 3-5. It was too much for me to healthily manage. But at the time, I was stuck managing this caseload until something or someone stepped in to lighten my workload. During those few years, I learned ways to manage my caseload as best I could. It wasn’t always pretty and it definitely wasn’t perfect. You will probably hate me for writing this, but I am going to put it out there.
What I Learned From Managing A High Caseload
I struggled, and continue to struggle, with keeping my schedule organized, staying up to date with medicaid billing, managing incoming referrals, communicating with staff and parents, lesson planning and making sure to log my therapy notes. It is something that I do well with during certain times of the year and something that is a struggle when I have 10 or more IEPs in a month.
Once I had a more manageable caseload of 48-57, I realized how many organizational strategies I had learned and implemented with my large caseload. With my large caseload, I had developed systems to help me do things quicker and more efficiently. I talked with my SLP colleagues to see how they were doing things. I figured out what was going to give me the most organization for the least amount of upkeep.
SLP Caseload Organization Does Get Easier
Organizing my smaller caseload was much less overwhelming because by that time, I had 7 years in the field under my belt. And, I knew what systems worked for me. Let me just say, having a smaller caseload, doesn’t always make the caseload management piece less overwhelming. I was still overwhelmed those first few months back! Especially, whenever I transitioned to a new school assignment. I felt brand new all over again. Within a few months, my brain was no longer on fire from trying to remember everything. You know what I mean…..remembering staff member names, student names, passwords, copier codes, students goals, your schedule, lesson plans, etc.
So if you are new to the schools or just have a rough transition to the start of the year, I wanted to share some systems and forms that may help you with your SLP caseload organization.
What should I expect to do that first week back?
Show up – lol! You will probably go to professional development on the first and second days back at work. The professional development will be a lot of information. If you find your brain wandering, start writing down a list of things you want to go back to when you get time.
Get all the things – check out your computer, get your keys, check out an Ipad, copier codes, etc. If you are new to a site, I introduce myself to staff. I make a point to meet new teachers that I will be working with for the year.
Make sure everything works – check your passwords and print out something you need, like your caseload. If technology isn’t working, this is when you can submit IT ticket support. It is a pain, but better to get it fixed now.
Meet With Your SPED Staff
Start scheduling for the year – Those that are new to a site, find out from your IEP team how you need to schedule IEPs. I recommend getting staff together and scheduling IEPs for the year. Things will change during the year, but it is nice knowing a rough outline. If your team doesn’t schedule out the whole year, I would recommend scheduling all your IEPs that you are the case manager. Typically, I do at least 3 months out, so I can plan “To Do” tasks accordingly each week.
Get comfortable with processes at your site – If you are brand new to your site, I recommend learning about the Student Study Team (SST) or general ed Response To Intervention (RTI) process at your site. This is the time to make yourself a GUIDE for how staff will refer students to you all year. Check out my speech referral process HERE (it has links & tips for making an organizational binder).
Here is a checklist of what SLPs should do the first week back
Having a checklist of responsibilities helps reduce anxiety when trying to manage your caseload. There are a lot of things that need to be set up before you see kids. Make a list or ask an SLP for their list to help you feel less overwhelmed. Here are some things on my checklist:
Organize the therapy/data binder. Review goals and services for your students. I put all of this information on my therapy log forms using SLPtoolkit. You can read my blog post on this caseload management system HERE.
Once school starts, review your caseload on SEIS and verify students attending your schools. Put in requests to remove students from your caseload that are not attending your school. Put in requests to add students that transferred in that are not on your caseload.
For any new students who do not have a working file, contact the SLP from his or her previous school or put in a records request to obtain information.
Review IEPs of students. Document accommodations/modifications, services and goals. Communicate services and accommodations with the classroom teachers.
Make your speech schedule. This may take A LOT of drafts, but it will get made, I promise!
Verify your student’s attendance and make note of his classroom teacher.
Collect all schedules you may need: PE schedule, RSP schedule, OT schedule, Bell Schedule (need lunch and recess times), ELD schedule, Music schedule and Intervention Schedule
Create a draft speech schedule and send out to teachers. Make changes as you get feedback from staff.
More “To Do” Tasks for The Start of the Year
Print and put contact logs for each student in your therapy binder or in their folders. During the year, you will have easy access to the log when contacting parents. I use contact logs from The Speech Bubble SLP.
Organize your IEP calendar by figuring out your annuals and tri’s for the year. You can print your caseload from your IEP database and put them in your calendar or on an IEP monthly tracking form. HERE is a google sheet I created to keep track. You can keep digitally or fill out for your caseload, and print. Then, you can manually check off what you need to do if you are more a paper/pencil SLP. Schedule out IEPs at least 3 months out or for the whole year.
Set up your behavior management system. Prep any forms, sticker charts, rules, etc. for your speech room.
Contact students’ parents. Check in with them and introduce yourself. A letter of introduction is recommended. Review it with your Principal prior to sending home. There is a link to a FREE letter below.
Set up your medicaid billing system with your students, so you can easily bill during the year.
Print parent rights copies for IEP meetings and store in a file folder.
Put any monthly staff meetings or Professional Learning Community meetings on your calendar.
Inventory materials and assessment tools (if you have time).
HERE is a checklist of all these things you need to do those first weeks back.
Facebook LIVE Tips for SLP Caseload Management Those First Weeks Back
Watch my Facebook LIVE replay to see what I do my first weeks back if you are more of an auditory/visual learner.
Helpful SLP Caseload Organization Forms
Need lesson plan templates for sensory bins, push-in language lessons, themed lessons, social skills or weekly lessons? Click the button below to get your FREE lesson plan guides.
There you have it! That is what you need to do to be successful with organizing your caseload. If you take the list of “to dos” and take on one task at a time, you will get through. How do you make setting up your caseload at the beginning of the year work? Your tips may help an SLP feel less frazzled at the start of the year. Share your expertise in the comments!
There are certain office supplies SLPs need to rock the school year. I like office supplies that help me do my job better or reduce stress. Today, I am going to share office supplies that SLPs will use to feel prepared for therapy because you will be more organized. In turn, when you are more organized, you will use less energy stressing and more positive energy focused on your students. Amazon affiliate links are provided for your convenience.
Here is my ultimate speech therapy office supplies must-have list.
Office Supplies SLPs Need To Keep Them Organized
10 Drawer Organizer Cart (Amazon affiliate link) – For this type B+ SLP, I like office supplies that let me shove, I mean–place, my stuff, so my room looks more organized.
You can get a 10 Drawer Organizer Cart from Amazon, Michael’s or Walmart. Sometimes Michael’s has a really good deal on them. I like these rolling carts because it is light weight (which means it is easy to transport when your room gets moved). There are 10 trays which allow you to organize by group, treatment area, or types of “to do”s. For example, you could have a tray for “needs to laminate”, “need to cut out”, etc.
Binder Rings (Amazon affiliate link) – These binder rings help me stay organized with visuals. I have a binder ring filled with visuals that I keep on my lanyard, so I have access to those visuals wherever I go on campus. I also like having binder rings to keep similar task cards, visuals or activities all in one place.
You can keep all your visuals and resources on binder rings. Then, you can hang them near your therapy desk on the wall with push pins or hooks, so you can easily grab them. I noticed that when I had my materials near me in sight, I remembered to grab them when needed.
My Visual Sentence Starter Strips hang on the side of my cabinet with these amazing magnetic hooks. These hooks help organize my most used materials. You can easily grab them on the spot or put them away quickly. If you have metal cabinets in your room, then I highly recommend them.
Page Protectors (Amazon affiliate link) -These have saved me a ton of time for prepping lessons. I don’t have to go to the copier as often because I place worksheets inside and use with a dry erase marker.
Thinking Bubble Post Its (Amazon affiliate link) – These are great when I want to work on social inferencing and perspective taking. Use these with photos or put them in books as a visual cue that the person is having a thought. If you want to work on conversation skills or what the person may say next, the talking bubble post its are awesome too.
Electronic Digital Tally Counters (Amazon affiliate link) – These are amazing for getting kids to do more repetitions for articulation. You can also use them for collecting data during instruction. I originally learned about this tool from SLP Talk With Desiree and found that I love them! You can also use them to track dysfluencies, correct vs incorrect responses (see Desiree’s post for her tips), counting artic reps and for tracking on task/off task behaviors.
An Office Supply That Will Save You Time When Prepping Materials & Communication Books
Velcro dots (Amazon affiliate link) – Velcro dots have saved me hours! I no longer have to cut the velcro strips into tiny pieces. It has also saved my scissors from getting that sticky goop build up. You know what I’m talking about!
Any time I want to turn something into a sorting activity, I can use the velcro dots to make the activity reusable. Communication books, interactive books and file folder activities need velcro, so these dots are worth the investment for the time you save.
Speech Therapy Office Supplies To Preserve Your Materials
Laminator and laminating sheets – I have been moving away from laminating EVERYTHING in my speech room. It just takes too much time. I tend to laminate items that I know I will use over and over again and want to preserve them.
The rest, I just use without that plastic protective layer. Check out my blog post HERE for laminating deals that I have found.
What Office Supplies Help You Rock The School Year?
If you need more functional ways to organize your materials, you can read my blog post HERE. What office supplies do you think SLPs need to rock the school year? Share in the comments. I would love to add more resources that help me stay organized and do a good job. When I feel organized, I know my positive energy will be focused on my students.
Are you surrounded by piles of THINGS in your speech room? Between doing therapy, writing assessment reports, and IEPs, having time to organize feels nonexistent. In my SLP world, there can never be too many speech therapy organization tips. I feel like a hot mess most of the time when it comes to staying organized. Anyone else out there feeling the same?
Over the years, I have just accepted the reality of organized chaos. Keeping your materials and paperwork systems organized really depends on your style. Plus, I have found that unless you are given an adequate workload, you are always going to feel unorganized.
What Is The Point Of Speech Therapy Organization?
Getting organized is to help you reduce stress, be more productive (work smarter, not harder), be on time, meet deadlines and to be able to find the resources you need to do your job. You will never be 100% organized (we are humans). The majority of SLPs out in the school setting have bigger workloads than they can complete in their contracted time. But….when you invest some time to streamline systems, you will find that you can get things done more efficiently. Which means, all the great things listed above!
Quick Speech Therapy Organization Tips That Work For Me
True story…I seriously have a junk drawer where all the piles go (can’t lose anything if it is all in one place, right?). In all honesty, you need a spot in your room where you can dump your stuff until you actually have time to organize it. That’s why drawers, bins, cabinets and anything that hide materials really helps to store the clutter until further notice.
If you are sitting here thinking, “Felice, I am ready to get my SLP space more organized. Help me.” Let me just say, I still can’t believe that I have tips for you, LOL. There are days when I feel completely unorganized.
2. Make copies of all those IEP forms, checklists, Health and Developmental, etc. so you have a copy handy when you need to quickly put together a packet for a family. Have extra copies of homework sheets, graphic organizers you use often, or parent handouts.
3. Make a binder for something you have to reference often like your speech referrals. When everything is in one place, it is easier to put speech referrals or give forms to parents and teachers.
Include parent consent forms, a log to list when you screened a student, developmental norms, and whatever else you might need. You can see my Facebook LIVE on my own referral process. I turned to Google docs and forms for keeping track of referrals and information that I need from teachers that you can read about on my BLOG POST (it has a link to my referral form that you can make a copy of and use!). I put helpful developmental milestones, parent permission slips and anything else I need to store a hard copy of for teachers and parents. Here are some links to organizational forms that have helped me or I stick in my binder for reference:
Data Binder Forms that include parent permission slips for RTI intervention from The Speech Bubble SLP (My district has their own template, so if you don’t have a template, I recommend using these).
Make a binder or therapy resource box filled with all the materials you need for a certain skill. You have those students/groups where you have a plan in mind for therapy, but prepping items for them each week is time consuming. So, I have made an /r/ and /s,z/ carryover binder filled with all the resources that I need to treat that sound at the sentence, reading and conversation level. It has books, reading passages, homework sheets, conversation starters, etc. Here is a blog post with some of the items I put in this binder resource.
4. Block out time in your week that is devoted to preparing materials that will help reduce lesson planning time all year long. If you don’t dedicate and schedule in that time, it will either never get done or you will stress doing it at home after a long day. Only prep those materials you need right now, or will be grab n’ go materials for future sessions. If you are limited on time, don’t prep the WHOLE resource if you only need part of it for the week.
5. Make cheat sheets for books, sensory bins or toys that you use all the time! This will help you remember what vocabulary words you want to use or words that have your students speech words. You will have wh-questions handy and won’t have to think on the spot. Speech Time Fun has a blog post about making cheat sheets. My Ultimate Sensory Bin Guide has cheat sheets for mapping out skills for your sensory bins, which you can grab by clicking that button below.
6. Organize your materials by theme for the whole year like Crazy Speech World did. When SLPs have a place for materials, you will be able to easily access them as you change themes. I have a bin that is filled with all my sensory bin materials. Each month, I pull out all my themed resources and keep by my therapy table to grab as I need.
7. Organize your Google calendar for at least the next three months. Take time to look at upcoming assessments and IEPs you have. It is important for SLPs to schedule in when you are going to test those students on your calendar. When you have your day/week scheduled out, you will know how to plan better for the week. Schedule all your IEP meetings on the calendar, so you can start preparing those documents weeks ahead of time. You can also make a month at a glance calendar to see all the meetings/IEPs you need. That way each day, you can write down the top three items you need to do for that day or week.
What speech therapy organizational tips and tricks do you have for other SLPs? Any organizational projects you have done that really helped you this year? Comment below and share! I need all the help I can get….just sayin’.
This year, I am trying to streamline some caseload management processes into a digital format. What I love about using Google Docs for speech referrals is that you can view and share information digitally. This means fewer piles of paper to organize, and that I can store the info digitally and then can print out the referral information if needed.
Why I love using google docs for speech referrals
There are some tasks for which I prefer to use pen and paper, but sing Google Docs for speech referrals is one tool I am very glad to have in my belt. Here are a few reasons why I love using Google Docs:
Once you’ve created your Google Doc with your speech referral process, you can email it to your entire staff with one quick click!
Sometimes my staff need a reminder about my process. Instead of writing out new emails with the same answers, I have been able to automate this process. I can just re-send the referral process to teachers.
I have fewer piles of paper. I can store information digitally and print referrals only when I need to (or not at all)!
I can access the information at no matter where I am. If I need to access the information to help me plan for the week, I always can.
Teachers can send me their referrals for students using Google Forms. They can easily check off sound errors and answer questions about their student’s communication.
I have a paper trail for when someone sent me a referral. I don’t have to worry about losing the referral form because it is all digitally stored.
How to access and use my Google Docs for speech referrals
One of the great features of google docs and forms is that you can share them with people! So, you can access the google docs and forms that I have already created.
This will show in view only, so you’ll need to save it to your drive first. To do this, go to File –> Make a Copy –> then save it to your drive! This will allow you to edit the file as you need for your own caseload.
If you hit request access, it will send me an email and I will not be able to respond to requests. If you follow the method above, you will get access and be able to edit for your own use.
Have you made any speech therapy Google Doc forms? I would love to add some digital forms and docs to my stash. It’s saved me so much time and helps me communicate effectively while completing all my necessary tasks.