1) Install Grammarly on your work computer.
Just google “Grammarly free”. It is the The World’s Best Grammar Checker. I’m an affiliate for this product because I use it every single day. Follow the directions to install the extension on your computer. Literally, this has saved me so much time in proofreading and so much embarrassment over typos. Apparently, I am very comma-happy! This app is WONDERFUL for busy teachers, parents, and therapists.
It is also a total GAME-CHANGER for children with dyslexia. It takes away all the worry and stress about spelling and punctuation, which is such a time-saver! Just a warning—you may need to have it approved in order to install it on a child’s school computer because it is considered an accommodation—which takes some of the work off of the child.
2) Copy and Paste is your best friend.
This year, it really hit me how often I write the same thing. In my evals, emails, reports, you name it. A long time ago, I started using a “template” for my OT evals. This way, I could use “find and replace” to change the name, the school, etc. But there was still a lot of re-typing.
As I was teaching my OT student to do the IEPS in our IEP management system, I realized that everything would be so much faster if I copied and pasted it in there too. So this year, when I wrote my student’s annual report and progress toward their goals, I copied and pasted the pertinent parts right into the IEP.
How did I not realize this earlier? First, it makes my work so much more consistent. I can document those goals, and report on those goals in the IEP.
It saved me a lot of time. If you’re not already doing this, I really recommend looking at your workload and seeing where you can cut corners with copy and paste.
3) So are “Find and Replace” and “Highlight”
When I started teaching my student how to write evals, I showed her one of my tried and true tricks for saving time and keeping track of myself. I have templates for different “types” of children. Kindergarten boy, kindergarten girl, etc. A child with significant disabilities, a child who doesn’t qualify, etc. When I go to write a new OT evaluation, I choose a template to start.
Then, I use “find and replace” (Shortcut keys: On a PC use Control+H, on a Mac use Command+H) to change the name throughout the report as well as the teacher’s name, the school, etc. Finally, I start to change the details of the report. When I finish a sentence or a section, I highlight it yellow.
I do this because I NEVER get to finish a report in one sitting. EVER. I thought it was me—and my multi-tasking tendencies, but as I taught my student, she continually got interrupted as well. It’s the nature of the job, apparently. This way, when I get back to my report, the stuff I need to work on is plain, and the parts I’ve already done are highlighted. Time saver!
4) Put your checklists and forms on Google Drive.
For years, my district has had “paper copies” of our teacher checklists and requests for requesting OT supplies, evals, consultations, etc. This year, I put a bunch of those types of checklists into Google Forms.
Here are the benefits:
1) I can update or edit the checklist anytime I want (add questions, delete options, etc.)
2) There’s no risk of my losing the paperwork as I run around servicing six (6) buildings.
3) I was able to set up the Google Form so that I get an Email when a teacher fills it out! Yahoo! Google Forms also keep all the responses in a spreadsheet. This allowed me to track which equipment I gave to which teacher, so I can make sure I get it all back in June!