Speech Therapy Materials Organization (& A Cautionary Tale)

First, a cautionary tale. When I was in graduate school, I discovered Teachers Pay Teachers and quickly became addicted. I invested in speech therapy materials that I still use five years later, and I downloaded ALL of the freebies. This was far too many materials to store on my little baby laptop, so I stored everything on an external hard drive, which I remember being very expensive.

Flash forward to the end of my graduate experience, I am beginning to study for my comprehensive exams and preparing to begin my career within the next six months. I plug in my external hard drive on a cold January morning only to discover it is empty. EMPTY. Everything…EVERYTHING…was gone! All of those materials I had discovered and carefully organized. I was upset about the materials, but the hard drive also had all of my pictures and every study guide I had made during my graduate career (Reminder: I was beginning to study for my comprehensive exams and those were the study guides I had planned to rely on).

I frantically took my hard drive to Geek Squad only to learn that, sometimes hard drives just implode. It had to do with it being jostled, temperature, and age. It cost a LOT of money to retrieve the data on the hard drive. Somethings were unfortunately lost, like every photograph I took in 2010…but, I learned an important lesson and leaned on my friends for their notes to study.

These days, I store everything in two places. I pay for upgraded storage on Google Drive and I have a backup of everything on two different external hard drives.

Now let’s discuss how I keep all of my materials organized. During my Clinical Fellowship, I quickly learned the importance of having organizational systems in place. This lesson came after I (a) tried to purchase something I already owned… and (b) purchased an identical product to something I already owned. I’d being lying if these things only happened one time. Anyone else experience this problem?

I currently have four integrated organizational systems that have been working for me!

1. All of my digital files are stored on Google Drive (and on a back-up hard drive) by skill and/or theme.

I like having the digital materials stored on Google Drive. First, I can easily search key words and find materials that meet my needs. Second, I can access all of my materials on any computer, which improves my work flow.

2. My prepped skill-based materials are displayed on the wall of my therapy room for easy access.

This display has expanded. When I am finally allowed back into my therapy room I will take an updated photo. I use command strips and hanging file folder displays to store my most-used, prepped skill-based materials. For example, all of the Grab n’ Go decks by Live. Love. Speech (pictured below), the WH-Curriculum by the Speech Bubble, Interactive Vocabulary Books by Speech Room News, and skill binders I have assembled from materials on the SLP Now membership.

Originally, I stored these items in a file cabinet and I quickly forgot about them or left them in an unorganized pile on my desk, because I used them too frequently to put away in a creaky file cabinet. Being able to quickly see all of my materials is very helpful!

3. Paper copies and prepped thematic materials are organized into seasonal file boxes.

This is by far my favorite organizational tool. Just look at those adorable labels, they make me want to be organized. The labels are by The Type B SLP, check them out here.

I store these bins away on a metal shelf situation in the back of my therapy room. When a new season comes, I place the appropriate box beside my therapy table for easy access. I store all of my seasonal prepped materials, plus extra copies of paper activities in the boxes. Yes, I do have two Fall boxes. I love Fall!

This system also helps me with purging materials regularly, because the boxes can only hold so much. Plus, it is easy to make copies in advance. A few weeks before the new season I carry the box into the copy room and replenish any activities that are looking low.

A peek inside the seasonal storage boxes. I stand a regular piece of paper upright to serve as dividers between themes.

4. Finally, I keep a written log of all materials by skill and/or theme in inventory binder.

I purchased the Ultimate Organization Labels & Planner by Texas Speech Mom and it makes my Type A, organization heart smile. I use the inventory pages to keep track of all of my materials both digital, hard copy, and prepped. I use this binder when I am planning sessions.

Below is a screenshot from my personal inventory binder. Template is from the Texas Speech Mom Ultimate Organization Kit. (Check it out here).

And that is how I organize my therapy materials. Do you have a similar system? Do you have a better system that you would like to share?

Thanks for reading!