By Aubrey Schieuer
School therapists of all kinds usually spend part of their summer getting ready for the next school year. As a contract school psychologist, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, or physical therapist, you don’t usually go back to the same school or students in the new year. While having a fresh experience every time is exciting, it can also be a bit daunting. Here are four ways to prepare for a fantastic school year:
A welcome letter is a great way to start the new school year right. Use the letter to introduce yourself, especially if you’re starting a new assignment where your students and their parents don’t know you yet. Put parents at ease with a little bit about your educational background and experience, and say why you’re looking forward to teaching in their particular school. You can also let parents know how to reach you with your phone number and email.
When you’ve got new students, paperwork can actually be a good thing! The nice thing about IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) is that they’re detailed and goal-oriented. Whoever previously filled your role put a lot of thought and had input from other staff, parents, and the students to create achievable, measurable goals for each student. Take some time to review each of your students’ files, especially their IEPs. They’ll help you get a grasp on the situation before you step foot in the building.
Now is a great time to go through your inventory and see what you’re missing. While your kids will bring a lot of the school supplies themselves, there are some essentials that are nice to have on hand: think tissues, hand sanitizer, extra pens and pencils, a clock, and stickers. As a school-based instructor, you might be able to snag some great discounts at major retailers. Check out this article from USA Today to see special deals for teachers.
While planning every lesson for the entire year in advance is a little extreme, having a solid plan will go a long way toward making you feel prepared and confident when the first day begins. For starters, you’ll want some great icebreaker activities to help the students get to know you and each other. You can also have a few ideas for activities, based on the students’ goals from their IEPs.