The school based-Occupational Therapist is getting ready to head back into the school year this Fall. Getting organized can be one of the hardest parts of school-based OT. These tips and tricks are some that I’ve used during my years as an Occupational Therapist working in the schools.
One of the tell-tale signs of a school based OT is the suitcase on wheels that is pulled around from school to school. Some school-based OTs pull a bin or carry a large bag, but whatever the means of dragging around that bag of OT tricks, it needs to be organized and it needs to be all in one place.
The OT who works in schools might see kids from Kindergarten on up through high school age in the same day. They could be travelling from school to school within a single school day and have a work day that includes visits to classrooms, scheduled IEP meetings, make parent phone calls, and complete annual reports.
In order to avoid feelings of overwhelming disorganization, the school-based OT needs to be organized!
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School-Based Occupational Therapy Organization Tips
These are some of the ways that I maintained order while working as an Occupational Therapist in the schools:
- A great travel bag: A bag on wheels is perfect for pulling fine motor tools, visual motor integration exercises, various types of scissors, and creative treatment activities. You’ll want a bag on wheels because sometimes an OT working in schools has to set up shop in storage areas, stairwell hallways, or backstage extra rooms. Being a therapist who only visits a particular school one day a week, most Occupational Therapists don’t get a special work area. They might need to find a desk area where they can and that can mean a lot of walking inside the school. You’ll also want to use a durable bag with a lot of pockets for holding treatment materials.
- Paper organization: An accordion-style file folder is great for organizing different types of writing paper, several thicknesses of paper for teaching scissor skills, and therapist-parent communication forms or home recommendation sheets.
- Binder: Keep all of your documentation sheets, schedules, calendars, note pages, and treatment planning templates in one place. A portable three hole punch is perfect for filing away and organizing sheets of paper while on-the-go.
More School-based Occupational Therapy organization ideas:
- Take time to observe students in their natural environment. Plan on “pushing in” to the classroom with treatment occurring right at the student’s work space. Making adaptations and accommodations can happen with the tasks the student is working on at that moment.
- I love the tips shared by fellow OT blogger, Mama OT.
- Make time to get to know the “helpers” and staff in your school. The school principal, secretary, custodian, and teacher’s assistants can be a great help.
- Keep extra pens, post-it notes, and highlighters in your bag.
I am hopeful that these tips will help with organizing a successful start to the school year. An organization system can be so helpful in improving productivity, maximizing time management, and reducing feelings of overwhelming stress due to paperwork and disorganization.