Looking for tips and strategies to avoid burnout this IEP season? We’ve got you covered!
We made it! The first half of the school year is complete and we are well on our way into the race to June. For most of us school-based therapists, that means that we are focused on the countdown to spring break which marks the last breath before the impending IEP season!
Do you have a spring “IEP season” in your school district? Or are they spread out throughout the school year? Recently, I’ve noticed our IEPs becoming more split with some at the beginning of the year and some at the end of the year. But I’m not sure it’s any better to come off a long, leisurely summer break and be hammered by meeting invites in the fall!
Regardless of your district calendar, we thought it might be helpful to list some of our favorite ways to survive your busy IEP season – one of the toughest times for school based therapists!
How to Survive IEP Season
1 || Grab your favorite beverage — a Starbucks latte, a can of Diet Coke (🙋♀️) or something a little “spicier” (wink, wink) — and find your favorite place to work. Sometimes a change of scenery is also a great idea if you’re staring at hours of staring at a computer screen. Head to a local cafe, restaurant, or coffee shop and get started!
2 || Plan ahead! Pull out that therapy planner (if you need one, check out our printable planner made just for therapists!) and write down all of the important dates that you have coming up. Do you have a district that separates their MFEs and IEPs? Record both and prioritize based on the timeline!
3 || Make a task list. This is my favorite way to stay organized as the pile of work gets bigger and bigger. Make lists of smaller tasks that need to be done to finalize each larger task. That way, things don’t seem quite so daunting! For instance: Observe Johnny in PE, speak with Johnny’s classroom teacher, observe Johnny on the playground, calculate data from progress notes, etc.=
4 || Take a break! Eat some chocolate. Yep, that’s right. Eat the chocolate. We all deserve a little treat to keep us motivated. Not into desserts? Take a walk, meditate, call a friend, vent with coworkers, get outside, whatever does it for you. You’ll get more done if you step away from the grind for a bit and take a breath.
5 || Manage your time. I feel like we are really, really good at this as therapists in the schools. It’s how we get through the grind of every school day, right? Sometimes, when I am faced with mounds of paperwork, my time management skills tend to fly right out the window.
In these moments, I find it helpful to go back to step 2…my planner…and highlight due dates so that I can see them coming. I will set a completion date for myself, usually a week before that due date, so that all of my information is in and ready for the team before anyone even thinks of having to come find me and ask for it!
6 || Practice a little gratitude. Positivity goes a long way and sometimes reframing a tough season in your work life makes all of the difference in your productivity. Make a list of the 10 things you are most grateful for right inside your planner so that you can refer to them as a sweet reminder when the going gets tough.
7 || BREATHE. You’ve got this! You’ve done it before and you have survived. Take a walk and take some deep breaths. It will be over before you know it and those lazy, paperwork free days will feel amazing!
Do you have any of your favorite tips and tricks to add to this list? What is your favorite tool for organization (digital or paper)? We would love to hear. Leave us a comment below!