Are you struggling to stay connected?
Do you have a crazy caseload like mine and work with tons of teachers? Do you lack common prep time to stay connected and touch base? Here are some ways that I try (keyword is try, not all teachers are completely receptive to all of these! Disclaimer: I do struggle constantly but at least I try!)
1. Email: It is just a quick and easy way to send a message to let teachers know how their students are doing in your room. They can read it when they are free and available, can reread it if they need to grab information for themselves, you can easily attach copies of graphic organizers or visuals that are effective with your mutual students. I try to send an email monthly with updates on progress. I prefer email most because it gives you a record that you contacted them. You can prove it if they claim that they “didn't hear that before.”
2. Photocopy machine meet ups: OK so this isn't the best method but sometimes you bump into a colleague at the photocopy machine and while you are there waiting for things to copy, why not chat about a student.
3. Mailboxes: I like to keep a generic memo template that I can easily fill out about a student or group of students in that teacher's class. I can remind them to send me copies of vocabulary lists they are working on in the classroom so that I can carry it over in my therapy room.
4. Picking up your students: Sometimes those brief moments of going to the students' classrooms can remind the teachers to tell you something about that child's behavior or progress. Everyone is busy and stressed and sometimes just being forced to see your face can remind them to touch base. You can also easy grab any handouts being used in the classroom.
5. Leave your door open! You will be surprised how many teachers will pop in while they are passing by from dropping off students at specials and will stop in quickly to tell you something. They also like to see what kind of things you do in your therapy room. The more I leave my door open, the more looks of “wow, I thought she only worked on the /r/ sound all day..who knew she also worked on ___” I get.
6. Send your students back with memos! It is a great way to easily just pass along a message. The message could even just say “ask me what I learned in speech today.”
7. Encourage your teachers to view the speech notebooks. Remind them that it isn't private and just for the parents. They can read what you worked on and what you assigned for home practice. They can easily see what prompts and strategies you are using and are hoping to carryover.
8. Hold workshops!! In my district we are forced to attend a certain amount of districtwide workshops and some can be run by teachers and others that are not administrators. I have held workshops to explain what I do, share strategies, and had a forum for teachers to come and speak with me about their students and get credit hours for doing so.
9. Bulletin boards: If you have a display outside your therapy room, hang up visuals and strategies for teachers to view in passing. It is a quick way for them to view what goes on in your therapy room, even if they don't intend to ask.
10. Team meetings: try to organize them if they don't already exist. It is great for all providers and educators working with a particular student to be on board and addressing the same needs. The worst is when you show up to a parent meeting and the team has not met prior!
Overall…it is important to remember we are all busy and stressed. But it is always good to make the effort and to keep teachers in the loop. We do all have the same common goal, our students' success!
Are any of the schools you work in struggling with communication issues? Perhaps teachers are finding it difficult to get in touch with parents or vice versa? It might be worth looking into a data analytics platform for teachers and parents like School Status that can make contacting parents a little easier.
Looking for more tips on collaborating with teachers? Here's a post about collaborating with the art teacher!