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5 Tips to End Your School Year Strong: A Guide for Special Education Professionals

By Lisa Kathman

As the school year draws to a close, special education professionals are trying to wrap up all of the things before heading off for a well deserved summer break! There are a few steps you can take now to not only minimize stress but also set the stage for your future self (e.g., your rested, relaxed self who will be returning next school year). This end of year prep is also important for maintaining continuity and quality of care for the students you support.

 Here are our top 5 tips for ending the school year strong.

 

1. Document Progress and Update IEPs

Ensure that all of your students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) are completed with progress reports and any new observations. This is critical for providing a clear picture of each student’s achievements and areas needing attention. If you are using software like Kit to track student data, ensure that the data is documented in your Medicaid billing software (for therapists) or attached to the end of year progress report (data averages, graphs, etc).

 

2. Schedule Transition Meetings

If students will be transitioning to new teachers or therapists, arrange a way to pass on valuable insights and strategies that support each student’s learning journey. This could be a quick phone call or Zoom meeting, but also could be an email with a screen record attached showing documents and giving a summary of the student in your own words. We love Loom, a free tool, that allows you to screen record with or without showing yourself in the video.

 

3. Prep for Summer Programs

For students participating in summer programs, such as ESY or private therapy, prepare instructions that will help summer educators pick up right where you left off. 

 

4. Plan Professional Development

Students are great at showing you what you don’t know. Did you identify any blind spots where you could enhance your professional skills? Summer is a great time to attend workshops or courses that can be beneficial for next school year. Our parent company, SLP Toolkit, sponsors SLP Summit each summer, which is a free conference designed with school speech-language pathologists in mind (but often has relevant content for all IEP professionals!) This summer, two of our Kit team members, Lisa Kathman (SLP) and Trish Geraghty (special education teacher/director), will be presenting on collaboration hacks, so stay tuned for registration info in the next couple of months!

 

5. Reflect and Relax

Finally, take time while it is fresh to reflect on your personal and professional growth over the past year and set intentions for the upcoming one. But most importantly, give yourself permission to relax and recharge. You work hard and give a lot of yourself to your students and teammates throughout the school year. Take time this summer for YOU.

The goal is to end the year with as little stress as possible and start the new one ready for success. As you implement the above steps, remember that your efforts create a nurturing and effective learning environment, not just for your students but also for yourself!

Are you a special education professional looking for more resources and support? Check out our software, Kit, designed to help you succeed in your important role. It is free to set up an account – no credit card is required!

Lisa Kathman
Lisa has been a speech-language pathologist since 1997. As an SLP, Lisa has worked exclusively with pediatrics in home health, clinics and in schools. She was formerly the lead SLP in the largest school district in Arizona, and is passionate about mentoring other SLPs, graduate students and clinical fellows. Lisa is the co-founder of SLP Toolkit (www.slptoolkit.com) and Bright Ideas Media (www.bethebrightest.com), an ASHA approved continuing education provider. Lisa currently serves as a member of the ASHA Continuing Education Board.

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