Hey there School Psychologists! Feeling ready to save time and energy with getting 1Million things done?
If you are a newer school psych and struggling to figure out how to get it all done, I’m here for you! I’ve been a School Psychologist for 16 years, so I’d like to think that I know a few things, especially about getting it all done…MAGICALLY.
If you’d like to know some of my personal “hacks” for organization, saving time, counseling, report writing, and keeping your head on straight during your school-day, please read on. Hopefully some of these tips and tricks from this old lady can help you!
Use ONE Fancy Notebook for ALL of your notes
As a School Psychologist, you are constantly in motion during your day and have 20 things that you likely do during just one day. I use my one notebook to keep track of all of my classroom observations, SST meetings, phone conversations, teacher consults, and any other to-do items. If it’s not written down, I may, or will, definitely forget!
I bring my notebook almost everywhere I go, but definitely to all of my meetings. This is especially helpful if you have more than one school, like me! It helps me keep my head on straight and have something to refer back to when teachers ask me about my follow-up with something that I said that I would do.
Use Voice to Text for Outside Observations
The one time that I don’t take my notebook with me on campus is usually when I am doing an outside observation. I use my voice recorder instead. Yes, I look a little weird talking to my phone, but its better than trying to write in my notebook standing up in the middle of the playground. That’s how you get hit in the head with a ball! Also, I’m able to capture some real-time conversations with the teachers or staff doing yard supervision. This is helpful for students who you are evaluating for Autism or Social Skill deficits.
Use Videos for Counseling
My favorite topic…Counseling! I use videos often for my counseling sessions. This is because kids like watching videos and respond well to discussions when watching or after watching a video related to their area of need.
For example, I used a social skills video with a student that focused on Conflict resolution yesterday. She had just had an argument with a peer that led to her eloping from PE. When she came to my office, we watched a video that taught her some conflict resolution skills. During (just pause the video) and after, I facilitated discussions about the choice that she made, and what conflict resolution strategy she could use next time after watching the video. Easy peazy.
If you need help with finding videos that are good for counseling, check out these different video-link products that might make your counseling easier!
Have snacks, soft-drinks or sparkling water and COFFEE pods
If you are having trouble finding the time to eat your lunch before 3 O’clock, then you need….SNACKS!!! It’s not rocket science. But, making sure that you are providing yourself with nourishment during your day will help keep your mood and your energy somewhat stable.
Sometimes we have to respond to a crisis that might take up to, or more than an hour. By snacking a little in your morning, you will hopefully avoid feeling “hangry” when your students need you the most…in a crisis. Personally, I love a mini-diet coke or piece of chocolate in the afternoon before a long IEP meeting. I also NEED to keep coffee pods in case I run out the door with making my coffee. Do you see a caffeine trend here? Just avoid snacks that are too carby, or you’ll be napping at your desk.
Have extra computer charging chord at each school site and home
This one is easy. If you are traveling between schools, or writing reports in the evenings, you may want to have an extra charging chord…or two! There’s been more times that I can count where I was working at home and then forgot to bring back my charging chord to work…where I needed it the most!
Use Sticky Notes!
Regular square sticky notes are good… bigger note-pad style ones (with lines on them) is better! I started using sticky notes my first year as a psych. They’re great for leaving yourself a note on what to do for the next day before leaving the office. I’ll also use these notes to make a list of the students that I need to finish reports for and I will tape it to the back-side of my laptop. This way, I’m always on track with what to do, and when to do it.
Just be sure to not get too crazy with the notes. Once the task is done, throw it away. Too many notes may lead to confusion and a messy desk!
Use systems for organization of testing and your reports!
Here’s a link to my past article about all of my report writing-specific tips and tricks. Just click on the link! 6 Tools for Conducting Your Psycho-educational Assessments
Use an extra monitor to help with report writing!
Are you using one screen to look at on-line scoring results while typing those results into your reports? That’s fine for home report-writing on occasion, but at your school site you should definitely be utilizing an additional monitor. It makes life so much easy when you are able to look at scores on a computer, or even IEP or Report card records that are digital. When I first became a school psych, a long-long time ago, most records and tests were all paper. Now that things are digital, you can look up most information and even score rating scales and tests on the computer. Printing is not needed. But, an additional monitor is a must! Try to ask your district first, but if you have to buy your own, you will feel that it is money well spent…on your eyes, your time, and your sanity!
Use pre-made Counseling Curriculums
If you haven’t figured it out by now, counseling students with disabilities is no easy task. While some kids can open up, talk, and learn through discussion, most students require a novel and fun activity to keep them engaged and wanting to come to their counseling sessions. This is especially true of students with IEPs who may have weekly counseling with you for an ENTIRE YEAR! And many students with disabilities do not have the language skills to engage in discussions.
This is why I began creating my counseling games and activities that are fun, easy, and engaging. I just couldn’t afford to keep buying counseling games off Amazon and other websites that would help my students learn, while keeping them engaged! As my game and worksheet collection grew, I began to combine them into themed curriculums. By using the curriculums, I always know that I have an activity that is ready to go that I haven’t done for the 10th time with the same students.
Pre-made curriculums can save time. Digital curriculums also save money! This is because the gameboards and other games are all printable. Once printed, just laminate for use year after year.
Below are some of the curriculums that I use and have available for other counselors to buy and use with their students. If one sounds like it would help save you time and money, just click on the picture to learn more about the curriculum!
Bonus Tip! Speech to Text!!!
Do you get achy wrists after hours and hours, and weeks and weeks of typing reports? I do. I definitely suffer from carpal tunnel when the report writing season is here…usually in the Spring. So last year I finally tried using the speech to text in my Word template and found it really helpful with some sections of my reports. Google Docs has this too, but Word works a little better.
Yes, I have to turn off any music that I might have been playing while report writing, but it’s worth it to save myself a little, or a lot, of pain. So, if you haven’t given it a try yet, go for it! You might save both pain and time once you master it.