Soon enough, the school year will be in full-swing, and if you're anything like me, you'll have days where you're struggling to keep up those promises you made to yourself over the summer about staying organizing and planning ahead. Today, we're discussing therapy planning vs. just wingin' it, and I've been known to do both!
Unlike some other SLPs (and all teachers) in my county, I'm not required to turn in lesson plans. This is great news for me, but others may prefer turning them in. The truth is, I do "concept planning," but very little "this is exactly what we're going to do today" planning. I enjoy the freedom of changing my mind last minute, asking the kids occasionally what they want to do, and my personal favorite, scratching everything I had planned for a more important "teachable moment" that arose on the way back to my room! (This is the case most of the time with the ASD population). Because many of my kids have Autism or Aspergers, I am frequently involved when there is a problem, even if they are not in my classroom at the time. I enjoy helping out, and it gives me a first-hand opportunity to encourage them to put into action some of those coping strategies or cool-down exercises we have been discussing for weeks in social group!
Anyway, my planning and the exactness of it, depends on lots of things: the group, the day, the goals, the kids' behavior, and my energy level! Let me say, though, that I always know ahead of time the goals we are going to address. Its just the WAY I address them is not always written down ahead of time. And this works for me. However, I know a lot of SLPs (I used to be one of them) that like to write everything down. And that's ok too. As SLPs, we have to be flexible when things come up, but I also know that we are Type A, organized planners, and you have to do what's most comfortable for you.
For Pre-K and K, I follow along with their themes. I lead circle times for Pre-K, and my book and activity matches the theme they are currently on. The Pre-K teachers and I collaborate on our plans, which makes it very easy. I tailor the activities to the goals my kiddos have. For the older grades, I still use a lot of literacy and language-based activities, even for artic and fluency. If a holiday is near, we focus on that, etc. And with Story Grammar Marker for my language kids, I pick a SGM book of the month (or several), and we stay on that lesson until they've all got it!
At the beginning of the school year, I go through our school calendar and plan out my themes for the year. Some themes take longer than others, so I spend 2-3 weeks on those. I plan my themes around holidays, special school-wide functions (Spirit week, for example, since South GA football is a BIG deal), and seasons. Then, I fill in empty weeks with other themes that go along with what the students are learning in the classroom.
Whether you like to plan everything out or not, the most important thing is that you are working on their goals, and tailoring the lessons to meet their needs and abilities. If everything doesn't go just as planned, I've learned its ok. The kids rarely notice!
Next week we're discussing Story Grammar Marker and Language Literacy. If you've already started school, I hope its off to a great start. If you're like me and you start soon, enjoy the last bit of your summer vacay!