Starting at a new school? I have the questions you should ask!
A new school year, a new school, that can be scary! Over the years, I have had the experience to start at new schools and new districts. I sometimes asked the right questions and sometimes I did not. I gathered questions based upon my previous experience so you do not make the same mistakes that I made and so you can have the very best year ever.
Who can I go to if I need assistance?
It is so important to know who to go to for help! Is there another SLP in the building or district? Do they want you to go to the principal or a director of special ed or both? It is so important to know who to go to for each aspect of your job if you have questions. You may need to go to a principal for questions about your space but the special education director about questions if a student should be discharged. Are you the only SLP on staff? Who can you go to for SLP things? (just note, you can always come to me!). Is there a classroom teacher you can go to if you have questions about faculty meetings or assemblies (yes, they effect us because we may or may not be able to take our kids because of them). When you start in a new school or district, it is so important to know who to go to for the various questions you may have throughout the year.
What is the culture of the building or district?
It is important to know what the building or district expects from you. You may not be able to ask this one outright, you may have to sit back and observe. Do they want you to step up and do your own thing or ask questions and do things like everyone else?
What are my roles and responsibilities?
Do you need to do lesson plans? Bus duty? I may not ask these specific questions but asking about roles and responsibilities, that can give an administrator the opportunity to let you know about these roles. You cannot assume that because you are an SLP that you don't have to do these things. Many times, these roles are covered at a beginning of school faculty meeting or professional development. In my district, every year, we get a welcome folder with our assignments.
Do I have restrictions with scheduling?
You don't want to get administrators angry! You also don't want to have to do your schedule more often than you have to! By asking right away about restrictions, you can avoid a lot of headache! Can you pull from specials? Only from specials? Only specific specials or subjects? You need to know!
What professional development opportunities will I have?
Will the building/district provide? Will they reimburse you if you find your own? You may want to wait a few weeks/months before you ask this question. But, it is still important for you to know! As SLPs, we are required to always learn. You should know if your job will provide you with these opportunities.
What important phone numbers or emails should you have?
You should have in a easily accessible place, information about your director, principal, the IT support, custodians, nurse, and if you need a support person for any AAC or FM device. Those are the important ones that I keep nearby. I also have colleagues that I can go to at a moment's notice. Need someone to cover you for a bathroom emergency? Know who to call!
Think you have the questions necessary to have an amazing school year?
You are ready! You have your back to school outfit, your adorable therapy room all set up (or at least the stuff ready to set it up), and now the questions to ask. You are going to be the best SLP this school has ever seen! Need more help for back to school? Visit all my back to school blog posts by clicking HERE! Need back to school activities? Check out my TpT store! If you are new to schools in general, you may want to consider looking at Speech Room New's course.