Busy SLP? 5 Tips to Make Your Life Easier and Less Stressful

By | SLP Tips And Tools

Welcome to post #3 in my series, Tips and Tools to Make Your Life Easier and Less Stressful. I’m sharing tips and tools that help busy SLPs on a day-to-day basis. You can read about tool #1: SLP Toolkit HERE.

Today I’m sharing some tips from my SLP life that will hopefully help you in your busy SLP life. I work for a rural special ed co-op and serve 3 different school districts. Most days I travel to at least 2, if not all 3 of my schools. I have to manage my caseloads at each of the districts, juggle meetings, conferences, RTI, therapy, testing, and all that other fun SLP stuff with limited time on each campus. That means I need to be on top of things and stay as organized as I can. If I slack even a little, all of the plates I have spinning come crashing down and it is exhausting trying to get things back in order.
So here are my top 5 tips to make your busy SLP life easier and less stressful:
#1: I know this may seems impossible, but I do my very best to never take work home with me. Taking work home means you are also bringing the stress home with you. I always try to keep work at work so I can focus on my family and recharge for the next work day. Think about all those times you have brought work home and then you don’t get to it. Do you feel guilty for letting it sit? Do you forget about it and have to lug it back the next day still unfinished? Or maybe you actually get it done, but end up staying up late to do so…On days when I feel swamped and think I need to take my work home, I fight the urge and leave it. I think it’s better to go in early, stay a bit late, and work through lunch if necessary. You need time to escape the chaos of work and recharge. Keep the work at work. 🙂

#2: Find a planner or calendar that works for you and USE IT! Everybody has different ways of keeping track of important dates and deadlines. Are you a phone person? Does Siri remind you of your deadlines? Or maybe you are like me and love a good paper planner. Whatever it may be, find a way to keep track of deadlines and stick to it so it becomes a habit. I love my Happy Planner from Michael’s. I got it on sale and used my educator discount, so it wasn’t very expensive at all. I love that it has 3 rows for me to track my life. I use the top row for work related events, the middle row for family/life events, and the bottom row to help me track  my TPT Store and blog. This is the best way for me to stay on track and not forget meetings and deadlines. I look at my planner every morning so I know where I need to be that day…especially since it’s always different! If you need some help finding the perfect planner, you can check out this SLP Planner Roundup post.


 #3: Build reminders into your calendar. Yes, I write down meetings and deadlines, but I also write myself reminders into my calendar. If progress reports are due on March 24, I will write a reminder to myself on March 20 that I need to make sure I have good data for each student. If I have a meeting on April 17, I will write a reminder to myself in the margin of the week prior so it doesn’t sneak up on me. IEP meetings due in May? I’ll make a list in the margin of April to remind myself that I need to schedule and prep the meetings. These little reminders help me to stay on top of my schedule rather than being overwhelmed by it. 

#4: Take 5 minutes of your day to breathe and recharge. Use this time to do something that helps you to take your mind off your busy day…breathe, take a long restroom break, sip your coffee, check social media, read a page of a magazine or book, or just sit and enjoy the silence or a good song. Just make sure you set a timer so you don’t go over your time and end up more stressed. I like to sit in my car for 5 minutes before I get out at each school. I gather my thoughts and go over the game plan in my head before I go in. This time helps me to focus and prepare because once I get out of my car, it’s fast paced and go go go until I get back in my car. 
#5: Try using no print or no prep materials with your students. I have to admit, I am a speech therapy materials junkie. I love interactive books and cute themed games and activities…but I also have 3 schools I have to carry my materials to/from and very little time to laminate and prep. This year, I have developed a love for no print and print-and-go types of resources. With no print activities, all I need is my iPad and I’m ready to go. I use articulation apps in place of artic cards. I download no print resources from Teachers Pay Teachers into iBooks and have them on hand at all times. Print-and-go activities are great because it takes less than 5 minutes for me to access the file on my computer, print it, and set it down on the table ready to go. There are so many great no print and print-and-go resources on Teachers Pay Teachers and many are free! Just add NO PRINT or NO PREP to your search when you are looking for resources. I have several FREE print-and-go resources in my TPT Store, including activity booklets for /th/, activity booklets for /f,v/ (temporary freebie), articulation sudoku, a spring themed compound sentences packet, prefix & suffix worksheets, and a comprehension and sequencing freebie. Click on the links or the images at the end of this post to get these FREE NO PREP resources.
These are just a few things that I do to help me manage my busy SLP life, making it easier and less stressful. Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to hear from you. Share in the comments or feel free to send me an email. 🙂
Links to my FREE NO PREP resources on TPT. Click each image to be taken to the file. 
 FREE /th/ Activity Booklets

/f,v/ Activity Booklets

 FREE Articulation Sudoku

 FREE Comprehension & Sequencing Practice

 FREE Compound Sentence Packet
 FREE Prefix & Suffix Worksheets

Busy SLP? Tool #1 to Make Your Life Easier

By | SLP Tips And Tools

We’ve all been there…a long list of students to test, reports to write, IEPs to prepare, and progress reports…oh the never ending progress reports. Springtime paperwork seems especially never ending and overwhelming. Unfortunately, the paperwork will always be there, but there are ways to make it easier and more manageable.

Today, I want to share one tool I have been using to help streamline my paperwork. It’s seriously one of the best tools for busy SLPs, and I can’t recommend it enough. SLP Toolkit!


SLP Toolkit is a web-based service designed to help SLPs be more efficient with their time and management of all that paperwork. It helps with data collection and documentation, progress tracking, writing present levels, IEPs and more!

I have been using SLP Toolkit regularly since right before Christmas Break.  It has reduced my stress level immensely. I want to share a few of my favorite features of SLP Toolkit and how it can help make your busy SLP life easier.

Present Level Assesments
My absolute favorite feature of the Toolkit is the Present Level Assessment library. I use these with every new evaluation or re-evaluation, when I get new transfer students, and before every annual IEP meeting. There are a variety of assessments available to help assess student strengths and areas of need. (Just a few are shown in the picture below. There are many more.)

Each assessment features questions and activities that thoroughly assess a child’s skills. I use the elementary and fluency assessments the most, but there are so many different ones available.

A few weeks ago, I needed to prep pretty quickly for an annual IEP meeting for a pretty tough student. I stressed about it for about a day before I remembered SLP Toolkit has some great functional communication assessments, too. I ended up with a very good list of the student’s strengths and weaknesses and was able to fully justify my new IEP goals with good solid data.

After you select and administer an assessment to your student, you can save the results in the Toolkit and print a summary. This is the fastest way to get a good picture of a students strengths and needs, and it’s paperless!!!

The Toolkit also gives you a list of suggested targets for goals based on the student’s needs.

You can then select areas to work on and a progress monitoring test will be created and linked to that student’s digital file instantly! It’s like magic!

Progress Monitoring
I use the progress monitoring tests to track student progress on specific goals. The Toolkit tests make it quick and easy to collect data and track progress. It even provides beautiful charts and graphs that you can print or snip and insert into your IEPs!

This is a great way to show growth and progress over time. It’s also a great visual for you to see improvement.

A third feature that I love in the Toolkit is the strategies library. In all of our IEPs and evaluation reports, we are required to provide strategies teachers/parents can use with the student. The strategies library in the Toolkit helps make that so much easier. All you have to do is select the area the student has needs in and a list will pop up with strategies that can be used for that particular skill.

There are many, many more features in SLP Toolkit, such as goal writing, printable data collection sheets, and more!I could go on and on about the features and tools. If you are interested in learning more, I suggest looking through their Facebook page or blog. You can also try it for free with up to 5 students.

Be sure to check back next week for more tips and tools to make your busy SLP life easier and less stressful. 

Busy SLP? Tips and Tools to Make Your SLP Life Easier and Less Stressful

By | SLP Tips And Tools

Busy? I am the queen of busy. Between my full-time job as an SLP in the schools, PRN work, my daughter’s gymnastics schedule, my Teachers Pay Teachers store, and all the miscellaneous things that go along with being a wife/mom, I always have something going on. Can you relate? Because I am so busy, I have to manage my time well or things get chaotic fast.

Part of my time management plan is making sure I don’t bring work (paperwork, planning, etc.) home with me. I have enough to do at home as it is (and that is where all the TPT magic happens), so I can’t allow myself to spend evenings and weekends doing paperwork, progress reports, etc. I keep it at school and that’s just how it is. Now, I’d be lying if I said I was always successful at that. There have been times when a deadline had to be met and the work had to come home, but I try to avoid that if at all possible.

So, how do I do this? How can a busy SLP get it all done at work? Therapy, RTI, teacher consults, IEPs, evaluations, report writing, progress reports, observations, and all that other stuff we do…how is there time for it all?

I have some “tricks” up my sleeve…okay, not really tricks, but they are pretty awesome tools I use to make my life as a busy SLP more manageable. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing some of these tools with you.  These are some great resources available specifically for busy SLPs who just need help getting it all done, and getting it done well. It’s not just about meeting deadlines and getting the work done…we also have to be able to stand behind our work and ensure that it is our best.

So, stay tuned. The first post will be coming up Thursday. I’ll be sharing how I use a great web-based app to help me collect and organize data and write killer IEPs.  Can you guess what it is??? Check back Thursday to find out…

In the meantime, comment below with your biggest challenge as a busy SLP. Completing paperwork? Planning therapy? Data collection? Time management? What gives you the most stress at work?

The SLP Commute – 5 Tips for Productive Drive Time

By | SLP Tips And Tools

1300 miles.  That’s how much work related driving I did last month.  Roughly 20 hours spent in the car.  That’s almost a full day!  This can easily be wasted time, or I can choose to make it more productive.  Here are 5 tips for making your drive time more productive.

We spend a lot of time driving.  Commuting to/from work, traveling between schools/therapy sessions, and all the other day-to-day driving we do can really add up.  I work for a rural special education co-op in Central Texas.  The two school districts I serve are 35 miles away from each other.  I do my best to work out a schedule that minimizes travel time, but I still clock anywhere from 1000-1300 miles every month, and that only accounts for work related travel.  My personal driving easily doubles that number.  To give you a better perspective: I bought my vehicle BRAND NEW in August.  It’s the beginning of April and I already have 19,000 miles on it.  That’s a lot of driving.

As I drive I often think about how I can make more efficient use of my time.  Today I’m sharing 5 tips for making the most of drive time.

1. Brainstorm/Plan
I do my best thinking when I’m driving.  This also means that I have no way of writing down all of the fabulous ideas I come up with.  Solution: Voice recorded memos.  I will often use my voice recorder app to record my ideas while I am behind the wheel.  I have also used Siri to send myself a text message reminder about something I need to do right away.  Using the Bluetooth in my car and Siri allows me to remain hands free and safe, while still getting my ideas recorded while they are fresh.  Don’t have or don’t like Siri?  Try the Dragon Dictation speech to text app.

2. Read
Wait…what? Yes, read! Audio books are becoming more and more popular and are a great way to read on the go.  Audible is one way to listen while you drive.  The selection of books is large and they have an app, which makes listening on the go simple.  SYNC is another great and FREE way to get audio books.  This is a summer program in which audio books are available for FREE download throughout the summer.  You can download the books this summer, and have them to listen to when school starts back up in the fall.  Their target audience is teens ages 13+, but check out their 2016 list and you may see something that interests you.

3. Learn a New Language
Who wouldn’t like to be bilingual?  I am currently working on learning Spanish.  I bought Rosetta Stone, but have also been looking at Duolingo because I was told it’s free and easier to use on the go.

4. Listen to Podcasts/Audio Courses
There are a ton of great speech and education related podcasts to listen to.  Erik Raj has a post with great SLP podcasts.  You can read it HERE. Listening to podcasts while you drive can be a great way to grow as a clinician.  SpeechPathology.com also has some great audio courses available to their members that would be great to listen to while driving. Only drawback…no way to take notes while driving!

5. Rest and Recharge
Being productive during your drive time can also be as simple as taking some “me” time.  Sometimes I just want to listen to music and take a break from the chaos of my day.  My work commutes are really the only time I am alone in my car and have full control over the radio.  I can listen to any music I want to, or even just sit in silence.  It can be a great time to give myself pep talk or just dream about my next Disney cruise.  We need time to ourselves.  While it’s not a massage or pedicure, your commute can still be relaxing if you allow it to be.  

Driving a lot can be exhausting and stressful.  I hope these tips help you to embrace your time in the car and begin to think of it as productive time, rather than wasted time.

Have any other suggestions for how to make the most of driving time or know of any great SLP podcasts to check out? Share in the comments below!

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