Thursday, January 14, 2016

My Favorite Organization Tips

Happy New Year, y'all!! 
Every year when I go shopping right after Christmas, it's always the same thing....stores like Walmart and Target pack the shelves with organizational totes and containers. I thought it was just ME, but apparently it's that time of year when we ALL want to get organized. I think it's part of feeling like we have a fresh start. So in the spirit of the fresh starts - along with the Frenzied SLPs - I'm bringing you some organization tips! 


Let me start by confessing that.....I'm really not that organized....at least not in a traditional way.  I really try to be, but my love of knick knacks and all things cute gets in the way sometimes.  

When I had a bigger therapy room, I did a better job. I mean, let's face it....the more space you have the easier it is to be organized.  

This was my lovely, organized life a couple of years ago when I had a full fledged room....


Ahhhhhh look at it.  It just makes me happy. Everything in it's place and a place for everything. Not to mention- everything was labeled!  It's easy to be organized when you have a ton of space.  In fact, you can read my post about how I organized my therapy materials (back when I was living the good life in the room pictured above) HERE

It's a lot harder when your "therapy room" was is actually a closet - which is what I worked in until very recently.  Yes, it is literally a closet between the teacher's lounge and bathroom. The only way I can describe it is dark, stuffy and dismal (hence the fan and lamp pictured below).  It didn't even have an electrical outlet so I had to run an extension cord into the teacher's lounge (where my desk was housed) to give me some power. 

As in my older post about organization, I'm all about bins and cans. They make me :)


So as you can see..... I'm thinking I am NOT the person to be giving anyone organization tips; however, I will  tell you that using wall space (vertical storage) is THE way to go in a small space.  Those white wall mounted paper trays are less that $20 from IKEA and I can't live without them! My speech world has revolved around bins, paper trays and plastic drawers- oh, and cute carousels that spin my pens, pencils, dry erase markers, and sharpies around like preschoolers on a merry go round.  

Then all the mess gets hidden behind the curtain - organized chaos at its finest. 

Before you call for my adminstrator's head, you should know that my principal didn't want to shove me into the closet.  Our school houses double the amount of children that it was built for, and we are just bursting at the seams. 

Sooooo if you noticed that I'm using some weird past tense in his post it's because...I moved out of this room in December! I moved out to take a new job (more on that soon on a future post!) 

One organization tip that I can share is that, like many SLPs,  I organize my materials by theme whenever possible.  I have a plastic container for each season and holiday that houses crafts, TpT packets, seasonal books and props I use with books for that season.  

For worksheets that I have accummulated over the years, I use a hanging file crate.  As I acquire new worksheets, I just file them away under the corresponding season or holiday.  It's not rocket science by any means, but I adore my seasonal files. 


Notice I'm not all anal about nice typed labels or continuity with tabs, colors, etc.  Does that drive you crazy?  As you can see, I don't sweat it.  (Remember I admitted I'm not that organized!) 

Oh, and since I'm confessing,  you may have notived that I don't know how to print on file folder labels or hanging file tab labels.  If any of YOU do, can you send me instructions?  I like to consider myself "techy," but for the life of me, I can't figure it out! 

What I DO like to keep organized is my computer desktop.  My friend, Laura, from All Y'all Need got me hooked on this idea when I downloaded her desktop organizer freebie (which I use on my work computer). You've GOT to check it out! It has changed my life. NO MORE random files on my desktop! 

She inspired me to design my own desktop organizer images, and this is the one I'm using on my personal laptop right now....


Now in my new job, I'm supporting SLPs all over our huge district, and I'm slammed on a daily basis  with various adminstrative tasks, emails, calls, trainings to plan and give, meetings to attend and schools to visit. I've gotten myself organized by 1) finally succombing to using a digital calendar and 2) splitting my To-DO list into  TWO lists: "To-do NOW" and "To-Do LATER." This has really helped me prioritize.  I kept two different note pads, but then I saw THIS at Office Depot and I almost fell to my knees in the aisle...



It's like it was made JUST for me!
It's from the See Jane Work line at Office Depot.
It's even magnetic! I seriously should have bought these in bulk.

For MORE (and likely much better) organization tips, click on the logos below and check out how these fabulous' SLPs get organized.  I'm pretty sure some of them have at least a mild form of OCD which makes their organization quite impressive! :)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Day in the Life of a School SLP

I was pumped to recently be featured on Speech to the Core to share a day in the life of ... me!  Thanks for the invite, Lyndsey!  If you didn't catch it there, here's what you missed....I'm a PreK-5th grade school SLP and so very proud to be one.  I have a hunch that my life closely resembles the lives of many SLP moms. 

4:45  The alarm starts torturing me.  I snooze for a solid hour.  My brain and body need time to accept that I actually have to get out of bed.  During this time my cat, Juni, and dog, Lola, typically climb all over me to help the process along. 

5:45  I give in to the alarm clock, take a sec to thank God for another day, and kick off the covers.  I'm out of bed but disgruntled.  I am not a morning person, y'all.  I'm a night owl.  I dream of the day when school starts opening later or my district starts hiring part-time SLPs.  I would love to only work the latter part of the day.  A girl can dream, right?  The first thing I do is march right the mirror to access the status of my unruly hair and determine if I can possibly get by without shampooing.  If I shampoo that means I have to shower, and if I have to shower, my water obsessed Siamese cat will act berserk the whole time.  (It's the whole If you Give a Mouse a Cookie predicament.)  Bath and makeup commence along with the feeding of the animals and outfit decision making.  Thankfully during this time, my husband gets my teenage son, who is also anti-morning, in motion.

7:00   We are out the door, squishing our bags and a trombone into my teeny VW Beetle.  As I back out I typically recall what I left behind (my lunch, my ID, my iPhone) and my husband fetches the item of the day for me.  Basically, we are just one big hot mess. 

7:40  After dropping off my son (who does not drive yet/don't get me started) at high school 10 miles away, I head to Central Primary School.  I've been on the faculty there 19 years; we were once a middle school as well.  It's like my second home, and that staff is my extended family.  We have seen each other through marriages, births, divorces, tragedies and celebrations. Both of my sons attended my school as well.  Upon arrival, I head right to the coffee pot!



Our secretary knows I require coffee to function and if the pot is empty she has been known to make emergency coffee deliveries to me on duty.  Ahhhhh duty....the D word.... I'm at hallway duty everyday from 8:00-8:30.  


8:30  It's on!!! Let the games begin! Therapy time! I service several students with autism and intellectual disabilities. Technology programming, making social stories, prepping individualized lessons and adapting materials consumes a good chunk of time, but sometimes it just has to happen after hours at home. 


My other students run the gamut from developmental delays and language delays/disorders to cleft palate, articulation disorders and phonological disorders.  This is the first year in my career that I don't have a hearing impaired student.  Our district has a large population of deaf students, and I love aural rehabilitation.  For years families came from far and wide to participate in our deaf education program which included the use of Cued Speech.  Because of that I cue everything in my head.  It's like my second language, and my students who grew up cueing are all such proficient communicators. 

Our school was built for 500 students, but we currently have nearly 1,000.  As a result, here is my current teeny tiny room...



  Sometimes it feel cozy and other times it just feels suffocating.  


I have a desk right outside of this room in a shared room where another SLP does therapy.  Thankfully, we also have a locked storage closet next door for our materials. 


With some articulation students I implement 5 minute speech (especially those with short attention spans) multiple days per week while with others, I use traditional individual or group therapy.  Likewise, I provide a mix of inclusive language therapy or pullout language therapy depending on each child's needs.  Since my daily therapy has to meet the needs of every child ranging from age 3 to 12 and address a hodge podge of goals based on their unique needs, the planning for it can be brutal. You know what I'm talking about! On Fridays, I write down my plans for the entire next week of therapy.  You can read about that here at my blog and even grab the document I use! 

I love my students; they're definitely the best part of my job.  This semester I'm also loving my graduate student! I have a local graduate student doing an off campus practicum with me, and she has been a huge help with managing my caseload.  I've had many over the years, many of whom are now my friends, and I love that part of my job, too! 

LUNCH:  There were days when I had a social lunchtime.  Sadly, those days are long gone. Now it's just me wolfing down lunch at my computer while I work.  Nothing glamorous there.  

3:16  Back to duty! At dismissal, I have another daily hallway duty...but at least this one is short.

I usually stay after school to clean up, prep for the next day and catch up on paperwork (of course).  

4:30  It's off to pick up Riley at band practice and then finally head home.  Being that we live in one of the fastest growing suburbs in the country (between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, LA) it takes us almost an hours to drive the 15 miles required to pick him up and get home. Traffic is my nemesis. 

5:30  You never know what afternoons and evenings will bring us.  My husband works shifts so some days he is off and some days he gets home at 8:00.  I just love the days he is off; those days I come home to a clean house and something yummy - like maybe a gumbo - bubbling on the stove.  My husband even cooks outside to keep the kitchen clean!  If you ever swing by our house, you'll hear Cajun music playing on the back patio. It's true what they say about is Louisianians- we let the good times roll. 

8:00ish  I sit with my pup in the living room with my remote, a blanket, and my laptop and get busy  creating materials; they all come about based on what my students need. If I'm not doing that, I'm knee deep in laundry, bills or trying to sneak in some reading or crocheting. OH, and of course there is social media squeezed in there. We do the family dinner and DVR time (Once Upon a Time, Blacklist, Survivor, Project Runway, and HGTV) while I keep working.  Occasionally there are school projects to help with and essays to edit - you know- the usual stuff.  On the rough days, there are serious naps :) 

10:30   Being a night owl, I begrudgingly head off to bed about 10:30 only because I know if I don't I will pay dearly the next day.  We pile in bed with the animals and call it quits, and then we do it all again tomorrow! 

I'd love it if you would follow me here, there and everywhere to find out more about my SLP life and therapy. Thanks for reading! 

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XO
-Mia

Jasper Roberts Consulting - Widget