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Lesson Planning in Speech Therapy

I know a lot of SLPs. Most are Type-A, “plan all the things” type people. I am not. I pride myself on being flexible and flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to therapy. I think it is important to be present and look at a session by what the student brings in that very moment in time. However, with that said, there are some very good reasons why lesson plans are beneficial in therapy and sometimes even necessary. When I think of typical lesson plans, I think of 4 page documents that illustrate EXACTLY how things are going to go and what I am going to say. That does not have to be the case. When I say lesson plans, I’m even talking about a mental map of how you plan for things to go down.

Why Lesson Plans?

      1)   Lesson plans can be an outlet of how we communicate our services to others. By others I mean, the special education director, paraprofessionals, teachers, or parents. This is important for not only our jobs, but helps us stay on the same page as the rest of the team.
      2)   It keeps us organized and on track as we set goals for services. We can set what our objective will be for each session. I love doing this because it makes each session meaningful.
      3)   It validates that we are providing quality services with our treatment delivery model that matches our style as a clinician. Yes, we each have our own style!
      4)   They promote problem solving when dealing with a challenging case. By simply writing it out, it can allow you to really look at what is working or not working and reevaluate.
      5)   Creates a ‘road map’ so to speak of ‘if this à then this’. When creating a visual ‘road map’ it allows us to follow a system that is consistent with the rest of the team. For example, IF a student avoids a task, THEN prompt for one successful trial and take a break.
      6)   It allows us to take a PROACTIVE approach rather than REACTIVE approach. Obviously, we want to be as proactive as possible but we will inevitably have to react in some situations. Lesson maps can actually allow for more flexibility in this case.
      7)   Allows us to be more intentional. This can be a struggle when we’re seeing kids back to back for 5 hours a day. If you’ve taken the time to think through a session, you will automatically become more intentional.
      8)   Lastly, if you ever supervise a CF, grad student, or SLPA, it allows them to see how you structure your sessions. It creates teachable moments of how and why you do certain techniques in your therapy room.
      There are so many different lesson plan templates and research that backs their efficacy. However, I believe a good general plan of your sessions can be sufficient for the majority of your caseload. When I take the time to plan my sessions at the beginning of the week I included a few basic ideas…

     1)   Intro – This includes what activity we’ll be doing and the goals that each student is working on specifically. 
     2)   Instruction – This is when I TEACH the skill we will be learning or probing for.
     3)   Production/Practice – This is when I take data on how the student does on their objective.
     4)   Closure – Provide the students feedback and ideas on how they can work on this goal in class or at home. Sometimes I give them a “challenge activity” depending on the students level.
   A few tips to keep in mind…
*Too detailed of a lesson plan runs the risk of making therapy too rigid.
*Make sure you hold the goals, skills, and needs of the student in higher regard than the materials. 

*Lesson plans drive documentation.

Marisha from SLP Now Membership has some great tips and tricks as well!

When I started planning for therapy, my sessions were more productive. But I know what you're thinking!
• "I don't have time for that!" There are ways to do this without having to invest hours and hours of your time every week.
• "Won't planning make me less flexible in therapy?" I don't stick to my plans 100%. But--by having a plan--I'm better able to problem solve in the moment. Having a plan allows me to be more flexible and to better adapt to students' needs.
Lacee shared some great planning ideas in this blog post! Even if we have a great system, we might still struggle to come up with fun, engaging activity ideas week after week. We also need time to find and prep those activities. That's why I created the SLP Now Membership. It includes a database of therapy activities for easy planning. From the themed activities (e.g., book guides, crafts, and open-ended activities) to the skill packs (to help you teach and scaffold new skills), the majority of planning is taken care of. You just have to pick which resources you want to use on any given week. Better yet, the membership includes an awesome community of SLPs who are there to offer encouragement and help you problem solve on "those days." I also share tutorials on how to work smarter (not harder!) and make the most of the membership resources.

Speech Me Maybe
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