Saturday, August 31, 2013

SLP 101: Getting Started in the Schools

I'm back with the third installment of SLP 101. We've already discussed Interviews and Salaries. If you're in a school based position it can sometimes be overwhelming once you get back into your office after those first professional development days.

Where do I start? What should I do first? What should I be doing that I'm not!

Since I'm in a new district this year some of those things that are usually automatic have taken a lot longer than usual! This is my personal to-do list. I put them in order for how I tackled them!
  • Inventory your materials
  • Find your caseload
  • Gather the student files for your caseload
  • Create a caseload list: I make 3 lists: alphabetical, by IEP date, by re-evaluation date.
  • Do file reviews: see included sheet below
  • Access to IEP Files
  • Set up meetings for any immediate needs (this might include transfers into the district - they often need to be done immediately before you can begin services).
  • Create a Welcome Letter and gather any other information to send home and make folders. 
  • Develop an attendance system
  • Develop a medicaid billing system
  • Check on FM systems
  • Check on 504 students
  • Create Data Sheets
  • Create Schedule
  • Develop lesson plans for the first week. 
Let's dig into a few of these to get started!

Inventory your materials: This is one thing you should really do when you move into a new space. You likely won't think about it until the end of the school year. At that time the administrator will probably ask you to turn in your inventory. If there is every a busted pipe or fire, the school needs to know what was in your office. I make an inventory in an excel sheet. That lets me email it to myself for safe keeping (an inventory stored in your room isn't much help in case of emergency!)This is also a great way to sit and take the time to really see what your building already has!

Caseload: Every school has a different system for keeping the caseloads listed. Generally speaking the special education clerks are the go-to people for this! I gather a caseload list and compare that to the actual files I have in my cabinet. Then take that list down the intervention specialists and have them identify which students they are the caseload manager for. I always ask them if they know of any move-in students that get special education services (sometimes those get left off the lists.)

Gather Files: Check for files for each student. Do you have to email other district SLPs to find current IEPs? Make sure you have a file for each student.

Create Caseload Lists: I use excel to create caseload lists. I use a different excel document for each of my buildings.  I enter my students' name, DOB, eligibility category, case manager, IEP due date, re-eval due date, grade, teacher, minutes per week and location of service. Once these are entered I copy/paste them into 3 different sheets. I sort them alphabetically, by IEP date and by re-evaluation due date.

Here is an example. I had to use myself as an example student but you can see the different sheets labeled at the bottom. Using excel makes it really easy to sort the sheets when we add kids to the caseload. If you don't know how to sort quickly in Excel, here is a quick explanation.

Next I sit and complete a File Review.

I use this sheet (available for free in my TpT store) to complete a file review. It helps me start to get to know the students. I find if I make myself write things out I remember them better. This becomes the first sheet that goes into my 'working folders' for each student. Grab the worksheet for free using this link. 

Access to IEP Forms: My district requires SLPs to have student sign off on Access to IEP forms. This sheet has teachers verify that teachers are aware that the specific student is on an IEP. I suggest you develop some type of system that has teachers verify that you have given them a copy of each student's IEP.

Transfer Meetings: In most districts transfer students need to have a meeting right away to begin receiving services for special education. Check to see if you have any students who moved-in over the summer and get those meetings schedule ASAP.

Are you hanging in? We made it through the first 7 bullets on my 'back to school' to-do list! My next post will delve into more of that list! Check back for the rest of the SLP 101 series!