September 19, 2012

Speech Scheduling Made (relatively) Easy


As a student, the beginning of each school year comes with lots of exciting things. Shopping for a new outfit to wear on the first day of school, checking off the supplies on the classroom supply list, etc. Picking out folders was my favorite - what other children of the 90s out there can remember Lisa Frank school supplies?! I secretly was excited at the end of each summer when the class lists were posted. Summer always seemed to last too long, and I was always excited for school to start again. I was a huge nerd.

As a school employee, the beginning of each school year has a bit of a different feel. Yes, all the newness and excitement radiating from the students is a bit contagious, but mostly we long for summer break to start all over again. And as a school-based speech-language pathologist, the beginning of school means scheduling. Bleh. I am somewhat fortunate this year as I only (only!) have 44 students and two buildings to worry about. I know some SLPs whose caseloads are pushing 70 students or have 3-4 buildings to schedule in the same 5-day school week.

Last year was my first year working in the school setting, and scheduling my 53 students at 2 different buildings was such a big source of stress last year. I had at least two different excel spreadsheets, class lists, a list of how I was going to group the students together, and a 5-day calendar all on my desk at once. I think it took me a whole work week just to get the schedule to fit. It was a nightmare! 

I was determined to complete my schedule differently this year. Somewhere over the summer I read the idea of using Post-It notes for scheduling, and I thought it was genius! So here is how I completed my scheduling this year...

A couple weeks ago I gave each teacher a slip of paper that listed the students in their classroom who have speech services along with the minutes required each week for services, and asked them to attach a copy of their class schedule or list the times that will NOT work to pull students.


Click here to download your own copy of these forms. I had more of my personal information on the slips I gave to teachers, but modified the document for general use for the purposes of this upload.

Once most of the teacher slips had been returned, I was ready to get scheduling! First, I organized my Post-Its by grade: preschoolers off campus got orange, preschoolers on campus got blue, Kindergarten got green, and 1st grade got pink. I wrote administrative/lunch/regular meetings on purple notes. Each student got a Post-It with their name/grade/teacher, how many minutes of therapy they were required each week, and the times the teacher had said were okay to pull the student. If a student was to be seen twice a week, they got two Post-Its with their name.


Then I made a giant 5-day schedule, divided into 20-minute increments (mostly for a guideline - it would be unrealistic to be able to fit my students perfectly into the designated time slots). A white board would work really well too, but I don't have one in my room.


From there, I went to town sticking Post-Its into time slots that worked based on the times teachers had given me. I didn't need to keep referring to an excel spreadsheet to see teacher times or look back at old emails - everything I needed was right on the Post It. If a time didn't work, or if I needed to move a student to a different time, I could just pull off the Post It and move it to a different spot.


Scheduling was still a bit tedious since these students are all new to me, but it only took me one day to finalize my schedule this year. Woohoo! Of course, I just know it's not actually final, and that conflicts and additions are bound to arise. But I think this was a pretty great system to use this year and I will more than likely tackle the project the same way in the future.

Leave a Comment: What tips do you have for making scheduling easier?

11 comments:

  1. I love it, Abby! Scheduling is such a NIGHTMARE, but I can see how this system could work really well! I had a para help create my schedule this year... but somehow, despite the fact that she had the luxury of having a couple of weeks to do it... it still didn't get done (along with A LOT of other organizational tasks that I found myself staying after school for!). So I've had to take over some of the duties. I will definitely remember this in case changes arise (and like you said... they always do!) and for my next place of work. Love the blog, Abby! I'll be following and passing your blog on :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Maureen! I'm glad you found this helpful. I have had your blog on my Google Reader for a few months now. I love getting card ideas from you! Hope you are well and enjoying the new job :)

      Delete
  2. I have done something almost exactly the same (but on a big piece of butcher paper!) every year until this year. This year I was told I can ONLY see kids during this certain block of the day. Made things easier (and harder!). I love the great title of your blog!
    http://ifonlyihadsuperpowers.blogspot.com/2010/10/scheduing-for-speech.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by! Scheduling can be SUCH a pain. It's always a great feeling when it's finished. Although I view my schedule as a 'living document' because it is always changing...

      Delete
  3. I love this system! We've been in school for 7 weeks now, and my schedule is still not "set". Just yesterday, I was notified 2 students will be switched to different teachers and the new teachers' "good speech times" don't coincide with when I have been seeing them (Shocking!). I will definitely tuck your ideas away for future reference. Thanks again!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course their new times don't work out! Sometimes you just need to laugh when tackling a schedule. Mine is still ever-changing too. Dismissed a student yesterday, but got a new referral too! Also, this system is great because it's easy to switch students around for make-up sessions. My school had teacher inservice on Monday and Tuesday this week, so I was able to move those students around to other times the rest of the week and make up most of the missed sessions. When I was done, I simply moved their post-it back to the original spot.

      Delete
  4. I do this too! We ARE geniuses :)I use the different colors to represent different goal areas (artic., language, fluency, pragmatics), so it is easier to group kids, especially when they are new to you and you're not sure who would work well together! I'm excited to explore your other posts, as we seem to think the same and I'm sure I'll find something I love!

    ReplyDelete
  5. At my school, each grade level has certain subject bands which special education cannot pull students from. I also work around the schedules of other special educators who are even more constricted than I am with service time options. What I do is create a time sheet, like you have, and I choose a color for each grade and then mark out the options for when I CAN pull students from that grade. After doing that for each grade, then I look at the times that my colleagues are pulling shared students and I write their names onto the schedule to show that I canNOT pull that student at that time. From there I do stickies or the white board.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I carry my schedule in a "go book" throughout the year - which I try to have on me at all times. It's on a grid similar to the time slots above. When teachers stop me to discuss preferring a different time, I show them the master schedule and tell them I'll look at the options available. Once they see how complicated the schedule is - - and that time slots are by grade level and/or group type ...they often back down their demands for change. Of course, changes do have to be made - constantly, but - carrying my schedule for them to see has helped a lot!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I LOVE this idea of having your schedule on you to refer back and share with staff at any time. Many staff members I've tried to schedule with don't realize what a daunting task it can be! Thanks for reading!

      Delete