The Secrets to Successful Speech Therapy Scheduling
Scheduling speech services for your students can be overwhelming and stressful when you’re a busy school SLP. Additionally, new developments due to COVID-19 may make scheduling and delivering speech services exceedingly challenging this school year.
Not to worry! With some special considerations, useful tools, and strategic solutions, you’ll be well on your way to a smoother scheduling experience this school year.
SLP Scheduling – Special Considerations
Each situation is different, so consider the following variables as you schedule SLP services for your kids.
- Individual or small group – When scheduling individual sessions, avoid interrupting academic instruction wherever possible. When scheduling small group sessions, ensure the children have similar goals and the group is manageable so therapy can be effective. You may schedule a group, only to discover it is simply not working due to interfering behaviors, scheduling conflicts, and more.
- Push-in or pull-out – Consider the style of therapy you will be implementing. Some speech therapists prefer quick, 10-minute pull-out sessions several times a week when targeting articulation or push-in intervention when targeting social skills goals such as peer interactions. On occasion, teachers are unwilling to allow their students to attend their speech sessions or be pulled during important class lessons and activities. Additionally, children are typically not allowed to be pulled during recess, physical education, art, computers, etc.
- Virtual or face-to-face – Depending on your school district’s COVID-19 policy, you may be scheduling sessions virtually or face-to-face (or both). Consider the child’s goals and the school’s parameters as you schedule these sessions.
Working around speed bumps when you have a caseload of 50-80 children can prove to be quite challenging. However, if you can be patient and flexible, you’ll be much more successful at speech scheduling. In addition to being flexible, designing a strategic plan for scheduling can really help.
SLP Scheduling – Strategic Solutions
With the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, scheduling has become even more challenging. School SLPs use a variety of schedule strategies. You may prefer the traditional way of scheduling, in which you use a daily schedule template and plug in your students. Or you may opt for technology-based scheduling solutions.
Traditional SLP Scheduling Strategies – The Sticky Note Method
One traditional strategy is to include teachers in a sticky note scheduling session. Here are the steps for setting up a sticky note schedule.
1. Send an email to teachers of students on your caseload, notifying them that you are formulating your schedule. Invite them to come in and schedule their students for speech sessions. Alternatively, set up a time for the teachers to communicate with you over video conference, phone, or email. Be sure to set a deadline for responding. Consider using a free tool like SignUpGenius to set up times for the teachers to come in and select the ideal schedules for their kids.
2. Post a blank schedule on either a board, an extra-large piece of paper, or an excel spreadsheet (depending on how you will be interacting with teachers for scheduling purposes).
3. Write each student’s name on a sticky note with the timeframe of the session (e.g., 15 or 30 minutes). If the child attends more than one session per week, make sure to post a sticky note for each session.
4. Denote special considerations on the sticky notes. If the child is designated for group sessions, write this on the note and indicate the maximum size of the group. You can also use different colors to represent each classroom. If you’re setting up your schedule in person, place the sticky notes on a table, and when the teachers come to your office, invite them to post the sticky notes in the slots that work best for them. If coordinating virtually, invite the teachers to choose the time slots via email and adjust the sticky notes on your end on the schedule.
5. Consider having treats available for the teachers when they arrive, making it a warm and inviting environment. If you are coordinating virtually, you can take the 15-minute timeframe to schedule as well as quickly catch up.
SLP Scheduling – Strategic Solutions
There are also online tools for SLP scheduling. Be sure to confirm whether your district allows you to use them first, however. Here are two useful SLP scheduling resources:
SLP Toolkit – SLP Toolkit not only helps you formulate your schedule; it also provides a comprehensive and systematic way to collect information on communication and present levels of performance and assists with writing individualized and quality IEPs for students in your district. A nice feature (especially for the beginning of the school year) is a Google add-on called Email scheduler. This allows you to automatically send morning emails to remind teachers that you will be seeing their students that day. SLP Toolkit has positive feedback and reviews and costs $19.00 per month (billed annually).
SLP Scheduler –SLP Scheduler was created by a husband and wife team. He, a computer engineer, and she, a speech-language pathologist, combined forces to create an innovative program to help SLPs just like you schedule your caseload in a more effective, time-saving way. SLP Scheduler allows you to optimize your schedule to match your selected preferences. The scheduler costs $27.00 annually and offers a 7-day free trial, so you can try before you buy.
With these tips and tools and a bit of forethought, you’ll be well on your way to a successful schedule to start off this school year.
We have confidence in you, Speechies. You’ve got this. Happy scheduling!