In Pursuit of an Organized Life

. . . putting life in order

Work Organization

I am back on track to making an effort on cleaning and organizing. I organized a shelf of books at work. I loved the idea of taking everything off and adding in what I want versus getting rid of what I don’t want. Mentally it is so much easier. Now granted, I haven’t done anything with the maybe or “I might use” books, but they are at least in a pile. I’m hoping that eventually deciding what ones to get rid of will get easier. I love the fact that the books I love are within in reach and easier to find.

I’ve also improved my planner skills. I’ve been doing well at planning out my student days a few days at a time. Last week I had the whole week planned out and I loved going home and not having to think of work stuff especially with my daughter sick. I’m improving at making my to-do list meaningful. I start by looking at my previous weeks to do list and carrying over anything that wasn’t done. I’ve started to sort them into type of jobs—IEP, evaluations, phone calls, and other. I have been trying to pick 2-3 tasks per day that I would like to accomplish. It helps me to stay focused and prioritize and not feel overwhelmed (as much) because of my long to do list.

My next goal is to get my filing in order and writing it into my schedule. I’m good at (and honestly kind of enjoy) writing the IEP and evaluation reports. What I’m not as good at is getting it all printed out and in the master files and keeping those files organized with only the required documents in them.

We had a staff development day at work this week. It was nice to see the whole staff and not be seperated into who we see on a regular basis due to need. It was nice to small talk and have some of those larger discussions that are difficult to fit into an hour long staff meeting. I also got to connect with other SLPs. Its so nice to interact with other people that have the same training, priorities, and job descriptions. On the flip side, the training day got my head spinning. What should I be doing? What am I doing wrong? I had big dreams to do X at the beginning of the year, but haven’t yet. What do people think of me?

But its the weekend so I’m going to take a break from work stuff for now. I made a dent this morning and now need to focus on family and house.

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Home to Work

Well the menu planning is still going well. I made up the Oct calendar. Some of the same dishes, but some recipes I found during September. The planning for a month doesn’t take that much longer than planning for the week. The main part I am struggling with now is finding a way to cook the more complex meals before we want to eat. I just have to get better at doing parts of it ahead or saving the quick meals for evenings I work late.

Now I’m trying to apply the meal planning idea to my work. Partly because I’ve been wanting to get more organized at work, but motivated by the fact that I am going to be observed at work (unanounced) in the next 3 weeks. I have the bad habit of planning my sessions the day before or the day of. I’m hoping if I plan a week or so at a time that my lessons will be better and I will be less stressed. So far I am half way done making a summary cheat sheet of my students goals and I have Monday planned.

My goal for today is to finnish the summary sheet and plan through the end of the week. I’d also like to make applesauce/apple crisp, go to the Y, run, get groceries, make meatloaf, clean the floor, fold/put away laundry, clean the kitchen, play with my girls, and relax with my husband. The odds of me getting all of that done (especially now that I’m out of coffee) is slim. Wish me luck!

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I am trying to be more purposeful in planning my SLP sessions. I can often try to look for the perfect activity to do with a group, change my mind repeatedly on what I want to cover, or grab something at the last-minute.   None of these activities are an especially good use of my time.I’ve tried a variety of ways to organize activities I like.   The trick is sometimes to remember to look at and use them.

Previously my organization has focused on IEP goals (the skills I want students to learn with me).    Now I would like to try organizing it by unit.  That way if I have a group of students working with goals they are all doing a similar activity. I’m hoping to have a comparing, category, story telling, r, s, chart/graph, and listening comprehension activity for each unit. I think it will also help make my sessions more like school rather than having them work on an isolated skill without connecting it to anything else.  It may also help me from either grazing over vocabulary and skills without giving the students enough time to learn the material or stay too long on one topic or word list waiting until the list is “mastered”.   Another purpose is to avoid the habit of using the same game or book repeatedly throughout the year. While repeating materials or topics have some merits, it should be purposeful.

I have a ton of ideas for themes:  weather, geography, sports, famous people, space, human body, time/calendar, seasons, physics, etc.  Right now I’m focusing on food, animals, and sports.  That way I am not spread too thin and have a chance of getting a usable unit.  So far I’ve sorted through some of my picture books into these groups.  So far the animal unit is in the lead.  I’m hoping that it will also help me to become more purposeful with buying materials.  That way I don’t buy as much stuff that  I think I will use but sit on the shelf.

Off to relax with my husband before a hopefully  productive day.

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Textbook Reflection

The textbook I am reading is Language Intervention with School-Aged Children by Rita C Naremore with Ann E. Densmore and Deborah R Harman.  So far I am enjoying it.  I like the format of having the author’s perspective followed by some examples or scenarios.  The chapter related to classroom intervention had a lot to do with organization.  It discussed the value of spending more time working on curriculum based skills as well as spending more time in the classroom.    What I   liked is  that it showed how one speech language pathologist gradually spent more time in the classroom and more time collaborating with teachers over a 3 year period.  It acknowledges that it takes time and gave a variety of ideas.  I loved some of the ideas like having a day for collaboration or scheduling by week rather than by day.  Many of these ideas are difficult to implement the first year at a new school.

Scheduling is one of the hardest part of the jobs.  I look at the students and there needs and amount of service required.  Then I look at the students availability and teacher preference.  I try to get everyone scheduled so that they can work on the goals they need, are in a reasonably sized group, and at a time that works for them.  Needless to say it is difficult to make all of those factors work for every student.  Luckily it only needs to be done once a year, although it feels like the schedule is always in pencil.

I’d love to hear how people organize the scheduling process for either speech therapy scheduling or similar tasks.  I usually send out  a letter/email to teachers saying who I work with in their class and ask for several available times.  As the surveys trickle in, I keep track of the order I receive them so I can weigh that in my decision-making process.  Then I stare at the list and look at possible times to put each student and who might work well together.  This part usually involves writing several lists and chart trying to figure out how to make the most sense of all the data.  Eventually it gets done.

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Academic Texts

I was having an off day due to a variety of factors in life (kids, husband starting new job, day care). It was a case of stress and general blahs. Despite that, I did exercise and fold laundry (which I am pleased with). Not a huge amount of productivity, but much better than nothing.

Surprisingly, what got me out of my mood was reading an old textbook. The tv distracted me, but didn’t help after the fact. The lunch I ate was okay, but didn’t change my mood dramatically. So I was surprised when going downstairs and reading a text book helped.

Part of my goal of organization is to either use or get rid of items. I didn’t want to get rid of my old textbooks in case I “might need them someday,” so I decided to read it. Not only did it help me to shift my focus away from my problems and concerns, but it also re-energized me for my return to work.  It was amazing how something that was stressful and boring in grad school (reading textbooks) seems so much more relevant and relaxing now.  I didn’t have to take any quizes on it.  I could read at my own pace.  And I could skip the sections that I wasn’t interested in at the time or was review.  I got some good ideas about scheduling and therapy ideas that  I can try with my students at the new school.   I also have the life/job experience to understand what they are trying to say and have enough experience to be able to agree or disagree with their suggestions.   I’ll post more about the book in a later post.


Thanks for reading!

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