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Helpful Tips for New School-Based Occupational Therapists August 17, by christiekiley 44 Comments New school-based occupational therapists have a steep learning curve. To be honest, the experience of being a first-year school-based OT can be very similar to being a first-year teacher. Though you may be an excellent therapist and know how to do a great job when it comes to actually working with the students themselves, there is just so much extra stuff to learn and figure out when you are first starting in the schools.
Nicole Mays via Flickr CC Personally, this is my third year working in the schools and my fourth year as an OTwhere I serve a high-income, high-profile school district in California.
I have learned many helpful tips during this time and want to pass them along to those of you who are becoming new school-based occupational therapists! To be honest, there are so many tips I could include in a post like this. I could include specific tips and information about topics like assessments, screenings, treatment notes, report-writing, email etiquette, IEPs, etc.
This posts contains affiliate links, which means if you click over and wind up making a purchase, Mama OT will receive a small commission to help keep this blog running, at no extra cost to you thank you for your support! It will be extremely difficult to work with students, teachers, aides, therapists, principals and, oh yeah, parents, if you do not first develop trust and rapport with them.
It is the foundation upon which the rest of your success and credibility as a school-based occupational therapist is built. So do everyone a favor — please be nice and smile! Do your best to build positive relationships with the aides who work with your students.
This is especially true when it comes to implementing sensory diets for students with intense sensory needs. Get to know them. Be friendly with the administrative assistants at each school. They are the gateway to the school, the keeper of much of the information you need.
You need to be on good terms with them. Be friendly and do your best to develop a positive relationship with the principal of each school. Same with your Director of Special Education. You NEED to have their respect and support so that when issues come up and they willyour director will trust you and back you up.
And same with the teachers and your fellow therapists! We all have tough jobs being in the schools and we all need to support each other. If you all share a student on your caseload, then that means you are all on a team together and you need to act like it!
I have been in situations where a teacher or therapist has backed me up in an email response to a parent or in an IEP meeting because they know me, trust me, believe in me, and are willing to stand up for my perspective or recommendation.
A positive relationship with teachers and fellow service providers not only goes a long way, but it is also such a rewarding thing and it actually makes going to work FUN!
It will never work! More than likely, you will be able to spend your first few days or even your first week or more putting together a skeleton of your weekly schedule.
You will not be able to figure it all out the first day!
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