My post today is about getting to know your little school babies and surviving the chaos of the first few weeks. Anyone who has worked in a school before knows that the first few weeks can be crazy. I don't know about you guys, but SLPs are pretty much at the bottom of the totem pole as far as scheduling goes, and when the master schedule changes (as it does about 14 times in the first 2 weeks), we have to basically re-do our entire schedule. We also spend time doing lots of things that we don't normally do the first few weeks, such as tagging kids backpacks for which bus they ride, comforting crying kids, dealing with bad weather changes, etc. Call me crazy, but I love it and can't wait for it to start! My advice for the first few weeks is to stay calm, laugh instead of cry, and if you're like me, pray...a lot!
Even though scheduling can be difficult, we still need to start seeing students as quickly as possible. I'm blessed to have a Special Ed team that works wonderfully together. We do a lot of scheduling sitting side by side, collaboratively. We are all important, and we all have to fit the kids in, so even though its not easy, we work together to figure out the best solutions. (More on teamwork coming on Thursday!) In addition, we try our hardest to think of whats best for the kids when scheduling-I've found that waking a Kindergartener up half-way through nap time does not lend to much talking!). I've often said that scheduling is the hardest part of my job. And even though it is very frustrating, getting upset and freaking out doesn't help!
As chaotic as the first few weeks are for us, they are also crazy for the kids. Some of these poor little Pre-K and Kindergarteners have never been away from their parents before, and a 800+ student school with all new faces is terrifying. Though therapy drilling is important, it can wait. The most important part of our jobs over the first few weeks is to get to know our kids, make them feel comfortable, and establish rapport. If your lovies are not comfortable in the therapy setting, they are not going to make the progress they should. Below you'll see some examples of getting-to-know-you activities I use for the first few weeks.
- The Let's Talk Vocabulary Box (from Lakeshore Learning) is filled with question cards that work great for getting to know your students, as well as assessing their language skills.
- The question cubes have questions on them for the students to answer-and the students go crazy over rolling the soft dice!
- The All About Me questions deck from Super Duper are also super fun!
- Finally, the worksheets are from my "Getting To Know You" freebie! You can download it below!