If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you’ve probably heard the news…my hubby and I are having a baby!!! We are beyond excited and due in July. Besides getting the nursery ready, reading everything baby under the sun,and going to baby classes that have my head spinning, I have had to start getting things in order for my maternity leave. This has been more stressful than I thought but I think I have found some good tips to help any of expecting SLPs out there, or just some speechies who want to start the year super organized!
First things first, take a breath. It will all be fine. I have repeated this phrase to myself several times and am starting to believe it. My leave may be a different than yours since while I am gone, my school will be getting a new special needs program that I will be providing services for. This means I have no background knowledge to pass onto the person ( or persons ) covering my position. Since my little guy is due in the summer, I will taking my leave at the start of the school year. This is where my first piece of advice comes in….
- Frontload As Much Info A Possible
I have made info sheets about all of my kids. They include a brief overview of their therapy targets, their minutes, and any helpful background info like: allergies, likes, dislikes, strategies that have worked, favorite games, personality traits,etc. When the year is done I will also be attaching a copy of their most recent IEP At A Glance and Goals. Yes, it will be a lot of paper, but I’m hoping it will be helpful to whomever will be working with them. Oh, another tip, when you are making your info sheet, be sure to put the student’s grade level for the next year on it, otherwise it could be confusing.
I use folders with my kids to take home practice work and act as a communication folder between home and school. I have pre-made all my kids folders and stocked them with weekly/monthly homework sheets. This means whoever will be covering me will just have to check to make sure things got done that week. You really can’t put too much information so don’t be afraid of ‘going overboard’.
2. Lists Are Your Friend
I am a list maker by nature and this is a time that it comes in handy. I have listed the IEP meetings that will need to be held while I’m gone as well as the kids that will need to be evaluated. When it came to my eval kids I also listed the assessments I wanted given to make things easier. Here is a tip, do not put the kids in order by name, go by who has the earliest due date. I also made a list of the important people in my building that the SLP should know like the principal, secretary, custodians, special ed teachers and the grade levels they covers, etc.
3. Be Detailed
I wrote out detailed bullets of all the little things that the SLP(s) will need to do while I am gone. Like screening my RtI kids from this year at the beginning of next year, going to my school’s problem solving team each week, etc. I described how I do my 5 min artic sessions with my kids and where they can find the necessary materials for it. Also, don’t forget your reinforcement system! I use brag tags in my speech room, but thought that may be easy for someone who is not familiar with them to forget about. So, I am in the process of making brag stickers! I am going to print out a bunch before I leave and have them at my kidney table. The SLP can put them on my kids’ folders instead remembering to have them put them on their loops.
I may not be in the same room next year but if you are, consider taking a ‘photo tour’ and including it, even if your space is small. Take pictures of which filing cabinets hold the important files, where can they find your crayons, glue, markers, TpT activities, etc. This will help to make things easier to find and hopefully save them time while keeping your room from getting torn apart while they search for post its.
I put together this Maternity and Extended Leave Binder ( it’s editable ) to make things quick and organized for my self. If you want to see what else is included and maybe to give yourself more ideas of what you may need to do, you can check it out HERE.
So if you are not going to be around for a bit for whatever your reason may be, don’t sweat it. Just remember it will all be fine!