One area a lot of school SLPs struggle with is speech therapy caseload management. When there’s no caseload cap and the expectations put on us are out of control, it’s no wonder we struggle.
Speech therapy caseload management can refer to several areas. Today we’re going to focus on the paperwork aspect. Not only do we as school SLPs have to manage therapy for sometimes 50+ students, but we’re also responsible for all the paper trails that accompany them.
A lot of times we end up having to choose between the two…effective therapy or up-to-date paperwork. I hate that. I hate it for my students and I hate it for me.
While we’re advocating for smaller caseloads and fewer school duties, let’s talk about a few tips to help us in the meantime. First, some of us need to learn some skills to be more productive in general. This isn’t exclusive to SLPs.
Here are 3 things that, when I actually use them, help me to be more productive during my work day. Maybe they’ll help you too.
- Accountability – If I have a buddy working hard alongside me, I’m much more inclined to focus and finish my work. This can look like coworking sessions, setting timers together to just work, or simply asking each other how many things you checked off your list at the end of the day.
- Time management apps – There are some great apps out there that help you track how you are using your time. Check out this post for several great ones. I’ve used Todoist for a while. It’s nice for tracking both personal and work stuff all in one spot.
- Taking breaks – Did you know that studies have shown that you are more productive when you take breaks? Don’t burn yourself out. Set a timer and get up and move every so often.
Next, here are my top 5 tips specific to educators for tackling their to-do lists. This works especially well at the end of the year when things start to get ca-razy!
1. Brain dump
I’m a fan of the brain dump. It’s when you sit and write down ALL of the tasks that you have to do and will have to do. At the end of the year, things snowball. If you keep a running list, you’ll have a much better idea of what needs to be done.
2. Chunk your big tasks
When you have a BIG task, it can seem overwhelming and you don’t want to get started. Maybe you put off your Medicaid billing, and it’s piled up high. Maybe you need to put all the data that you wrote on sticky notes on actual data sheets.
These tasks are much less overwhelming if broken into smaller chunks. This is especially helpful for things that affect your whole speech therapy caseload. Break the big task apart then assign each smaller task to be done on different days. See what I mean below.
3. Do easy tasks first?
This is contrary to what the professionals will tell you. However, when I’m not motivated, I need to just get started. If I look at my long to-do list and complete something easy, I can scratch it off and feel accomplished. This motivates me to keep going!
If motivation isn’t your issue, then diving right into the hard stuff may work better for you. 😉
4. Set boundaries
Sometimes when you work in the schools and do a job well, you’ll get sucked into doing other activities that aren’t really in the scope of your responsibilities. They may want you to be on the PBIS team, sponsor a club, or head up family night.
If your regular to-do list is out of control, I’m going to encourage you not to be “principal’s pet.” Only volunteer for activities that you genuinely want to do and have time for. While you want to be involved and build community in your school, it’s super important to set boundaries on your time.
5. Delegate what you can
Are there really things that SLPs can delegate to someone else? I say, yes! It might not be doable for everyone but it’s worth a try! If you have an SLPA or a paraprofessional you can turn over a few things to, it would be a big help for you.
Whether it’s filing or prepping activities, any little thing can help, especially during the end-of-year madness. I’ve gotten paras to do several things for me in the past. If you do delegate something though, be sure to write them a thank you note or put a treat in their box!
P.S. If you need help with streamlining your lesson planning and prepping part, be sure and check out this blog post.
You may not be able to implement all of these tips, but look through them and give one or two a try. Hopefully, it’ll make your speech therapy caseload management more bearable. AND, if you need some extra support and accountability from your online friends, be sure to check out our free Tackle Your To-Do List 5-Day Challenge!
By signing up, you’ll get a free 5-Day Challenge workbook and mini planner as well as 5 days of tips and accountability in a pop-up Facebook group!