Note to Self,
You did it! You survived another school year! Congratulations! You should be very proud of yourself! Every year you think “this was the hardest year ever”, but you are right this one was a real doozy. Right now you are likely feeling a combination of relief that it is over and some apprehension about signing next year’s contract. You may have even looked into other work settings like home health or private clinics, but slow your roll. Don’t forget one of the main reasons you selected this setting in the first place. One word - SUMMER! You have the next two months to relax, rejuvenate, and forget how hard this past year has been.
The best thing you can do for yourself right now is to use this time wisely! It is difficult to implement anything new or make changes once the school year has started, so take some time now to save you some sanity later. You will be glad you did! Here are a couple of ideas of things you should do before locking the door of your speech room and taking off for summer vacation:
Organize your materials - How many times this year did you think to yourself, “I know I have something that will target that skill” but you had no idea where to find it? Come up with a way to organize your materials that will work for you. Whether that is filing everything by content area, creating binders with thematic units, or organizing digital files on a thumb drive - develop a system so that you can easily find what it is you are looking for when you need it.
Clean out your desk and tidy up your room - You really don’t need 4 boxes of rubber bands in your desk drawer, and you definitely don’t want to leave those fishy crackers in there for the bugs to find. Purge anything you have extra of or no longer need and give away things you think other people can use. There is a quote that says: “when we clear things from our mind, we automatically move to clear things from our space.” At the end of the year, it’s very tempting to just finish those last IEPs and evaluations and want to hit the road. However, take some time to clear your room clutter which will, in turn, allow you to truly have the clarity to self-reflect and have a fresh start for the next school year.
Reflect on your professional growth - Think about some areas you want to grow in. They can be programs you want to learn (e.g. Social Thinking curriculum or the Expanding Expression Tool), streamlining ways to write IEPs and complete progress reports (e.g. SLP Toolkit), or specific content knowledge (e.g. one of Sarah Ward’s workshops on executive function skills). Download the free SLP Like a Boss Summer Planner created by Beautiful Speech Life to map these things out over the next couple of months.
Reflect on your school year - Jot down some notes about what worked well and what didn’t while it is still fresh in your mind. This way you can maintain and refine the hits and lose the misses. No sense in making the same mistakes again.
Pat yourself on the back - You are very hard on yourself. Was everything perfect? No. But will it ever be? No! You are amazing and your students need you. If you did nothing more than show them that someone cared about them than you have done your job. And remember you will just try harder to do better next year.
Now turn off your alarm and sleep in or wake up early - but either way, revel in the day. Spend time doing what you value most. Make up for lost time with your family, learn a new hobby, or perfect an old one. Heck, binge-watch a series on Netflix! Do what makes you happy, but don’t forget to squeeze in a few minutes each day to make the next school year the best one yet!
Sincerely, Your Awesome Self
P.S. Remember how you sent home summer homework with your students, you are about to get some too! You don’t want to get rusty over the break now…do ya? :)