Scheduling and the SLP

Feb 19, 2016 by

Scheduling and the SLP

This past week I participated in a chat on Facebook that focused on never leaving an empty space in your school schedule. I’ve know for years that when administrators see even a 15 minute block empty, they seem to think the SLP has a ton of time to spare. Not sure where this mind set comes from but I guarantee the school psychologist is not under the same scrutiny.

The fact that SLPs are having a discussion tells me there is something wrong with our situation. Either we are not respected as professionals or administrators really have no idea what we do. I’m going to go with the latter (because I can do something about that). I also know a lot of the squeezing we receive is because of budget. Administrators, especially those higher up the food chain are often not aware of our education, training and background. For some reason our profession has become aligned with teachers when we really should be aligned with the school psychologist. Many school systems are requiring our student goals to be in line with Common Core Standards when everything we we’ve ever been taught is based on child development. When and how did we let this happen? That’s an issue for another article but part of the underlying problem.

I don’t know about you but if I have a 15-30 minute block free I’m usually doing one or two of several things. I might be catching up on time because I’m running late with my sessions, I might have a report (or two), an IEP, medicaid paperwork or progress reports to work on. I might take that “extra time” to do an observation for RTI. I might do a make up session. I might find a teacher or other professional to consult with. I might test one of my students with a short attention span. I might take the time to prepare materials for my sessions. I might be responding to emails or contacting parents. I might even take the time to research or consult with another therapist on a puzzling case. You get where I’m going with this. First I really don’t believe our administrators know all the little things we do and that is our profession’s fault. Second, I don’t believe (some) administrators feel we can be independent without goofing off, that’s insulting. Third, I don’t believe administrators realize how much work we end up doing at home (teachers have the same problem).

When I complete my final schedule I always list all possible activities I might be doing during an empty block. One person in the Facebook chat mentioned that they put a question mark when scheduling their “lunch?” block because they never feel lunch is a guarantee. Reality is we have different paperwork responsibilities and need extra time in our schedules to at least get started on those activities. “Prep time” negotiated with or given to teachers does not fit our needs. We’re writing legal documents that have to hold up in court. It’s hard to write a coherent document in small blocks of time.

In the hopes of giving administrators a better idea of our role and all that we do, I wrote a book just for them. The School Speech Language Pathologist, An Administrators Guide to understanding the role of the SLP in schools along with strategies to aid staffing, workload management and student success. In this book I talk about all the little things we do, the time it takes to complete tasks, schedule solutions and so much more.

Several years back I wrote a somewhat related article called Proactive Scheduling. Using the process outlined in the article, the entire special education staff was scheduled in June for the following year. It was one of the my best professional experiences. Not only did it save massive amounts of time in September, we were able to start seeing students day one. My team facilitator initiated this scheduling process. Not only did it give her a clear picture of staffing needs she also understood our workloads. Since she took an interest in the process she never felt the need to question our time management.

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