Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back to School Week: Getting Organized!

As an SLP working in a public school, sometimes I feel like there is SO much information to organize...caseload information, attendance, scheduling, meeting dates, screenings, RTI, IEP due dates...I could go on.  There are endless ways to organize all of the information as well.  In fact, I bet if you ask 10 SLPs how they do it, you may get 10 different answers!  I've read a few posts and Facebook comments on organizing information and figured I'd share my organizational methods here.

1.  Caseload and attendance
This is probably the most important data that we need to keep. Personally, my caseload fluctuates
throughout any given school year. Kids move out of district. New preschool students turn three and transition from early intervention to the public schools. Kids are dismissed from speech. Kids are evaluated and speech is added. Whatever the reason, my caseload is not even close to static. For this reason, I choose to use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of my caseload. Since I already have a list of kiddos in one place, I also use this for attendance. Here's an example:

I group the students by teacher/session, then by last name (as you can see, I did not alphabetize my "students" here). On this list, I include IEP information (frequency/duration of service, service delivery type, etc.). Once I have my student list complete, I upload to Google Docs and I can keep my attendance using my iPad quickly and easily!

For attendance, I use the following codes:

                   X = present (easier than searching for a check mark)
                   A = Absent
                   D = Dismissed
                   L = Late
                   T = TEAM meeting
                   TA = Teacher Absent
                   SNA = Student Not Available
                   TNA = Teacher Not Available
                   FT = Field Trip
                   SD = Snow Day

2.  Schedule
Here's another very important piece of the puzzle...and another thing that is frequently changing! Again, I use an Excel file to type up schedule. I usually group kids by needs/classroom on scrap paper first, then add the groups to the schedule. I also usually give teachers a copy of the schedule with their kids highlighted. This way, if anyone is looking for me, they know where to find me. This is what my blank schedule looks like:

3.  Lesson Planning

I wish I could say that I had a perfect system for planning my lessons. But, I don't! I've tried numerous systems throughout the years and still haven't found a system that I love . With that said, here are some of the things that I've tried (maybe you will find something that you love!).  For a while I used Excel files for planning (are you sensing a theme here?). I would plug in my groups, then write, copy, and paste activities into the group slots. I tried it this way at first. I would just keep the file open on my computer and refer to it throughout the day as needed. There are 2 tabs along the bottom (AM & PM):

Lesson Plan Excel Doc - Morning

Then I tried printing the pages and putting them into a binder. Since I needed 2 pages (1 for the morning, 1 for the afternoon), I ended up doing cutting and stapling so that I ended up unfolding the planning pages. It seemed cumbersome, so I tried changing it to this:
(hole punch here to add to binder)

This way, I could add both pages to a binder, open it up, and see my whole schedule.  I still wasn't 100% thrilled.  So, this is my most recent method...I always use a bound calendar with weekly and monthly views (see below for pictures).  I used the Name Tag template in Word (6 squares).  I added my groups for each day (M-F) to 5 of the squares, then "TO DO" on the 6th.  I could plan in advance and add upcoming IEPs to the To Do list.  The Friday before a given week, I would print the labels and stick them into my planner: 

*Last school year, I worked at multiple schools.  I assigned each of them a different color highlighter for visual purposes.

This is the calendar I got at Target for the upcoming school year:

4.  Meetings, Screenings, RTI.

Believe it or not, I do not love the calendar function on my iPad for organizing school info.  I tried it at the beginning of the year and it just wasn't for me.  I may try Google calendar this year, but we shall see! Typically, I just add meeting info to the monthly calendar of my bound calendar (see above).

I don't have helpful info for Screenings and RTI.  Sorry!  I just keep a file folder for each and add my hand written notes to the folders.  We're not supposed to write up reports on anything unless we have written consent, so I make do with informal notes.

If you see anything you like, I've made some of the forms available on Google Docs.

Excel Files:

PDF Files:

Hope that helps!  Let us know:  how do you organize all of your info?

Come back tomorrow for an apple themed open ended activity!


  1. Great ideas! May have to try some excel out, I am a big user of Google so placing it in google after appeals to me :) I used Google calendar to log my school meeting, and CalenGoo app on my iphone to log home schedules, and then synced them. I like the CalenGoo app as you can see whole month, weekly or daily. I absolutely need to see the whole month so I don't get behind on paperwork!

    1. I tried CalenGoo at the end of the year, but couldn't get it to sync to my iPad if I typed it into Google Calendar from my computer. That may be because my old school didn't have WiFi, but it still wouldn't sync when I got home. So, I've been using the Google app so I can see the Calendar, Gmail, Docs, and Blogger all in one place!

  2. Thanks for sharing all your hard work! I do not like Excel, but I may have to give it another chance. And I love the Target calendar! All of our meetings have to go on our Outlook calendars.

  3. I sync my google calendar with my iPad and love it. I can easily keep track of school and home functions. You should try the google calendar out with your iPad (and when you do, I hope you love it as much as I do.)

    Thanks for all of your "organizational" ideas!

  4. I do everything you do except I have it all in Google docs. I share my schedule and lesson plans with the teachers I work with easily, and take attendance using a Google form (which puts it all into a spreadsheet). Our school system uses Google calendars, so our program facilitator (who schedules IEP meetings) has us all on a shared calendar.

    You seem very organized. It's the only way to maintain sanity in a school setting! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I think if my school had more than just spotty WiFi, I would definitely use Google calendar and Google Docs more often. If you check out the pictures I put of my room on my Facebook page, you'll see my computer and it'll be fairly obvious that I don't work in the most tech-forward district, lol! (One exception: most SLPs were given iPads!)

  6. Most of the time I can't seem to get into my Google Docs at work.... it keeps saying trying to reach google.com. I was able to more in the past so I wonder if we are being blocked now... Melissa

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