Creative Ways to Retain Your School Therapists
The challenge for many school administrators who are looking to retain school therapists is to lead in such a way that the many positives of working in school setting outweigh the potential negatives. Many of the factors that affect a school therapist’s morale are beyond the control of a school administrator. This means that school administrators must make use of the small, but important, things that they do have control over. As Stephen Covey so adeptly outlines in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, acts of kindness go along ways towards building trust and filling up another person’s emotional bank account. When someone has had a bad day, an act of kindness doesn’t fix everything, but it does help. And since “Acts of Kindness” are mostly accomplished by time and effort, they can be accomplished even when the budget doesn’t include a line item for employee appreciation.
10 FREE Acts of Kindness that can help school administrators retain school therapists.
- Invite your School Therapists to Teacher Socials.
Busy, hectic schedules, separate rooms, and constant activity make it easy for school colleagues to pass in the halls and never make significant contact. Therapists often split time between facilities, and may need a special invitation to be drawn into a teacher potluck or after school outing.
- Respond to Requests in 24 Hours.
Respond to a school therapist’s request for continuing education or to purchase order in 24 hours. Even if you have to say, “No” or “I have to gather more information,” an immediate response shows that you’ve made communicating with your staff a priority.
- Advocate for a Nice Therapy Room.
Yes, therapists only meet one on one, or in small groups, but where they meet does matter. Make a list of your therapist’s space preferences, and stick up for them the next time room assignments are handed out.
- Help your School Therapists Network with other School Therapists.
Set up a time for your therapists to meet with other therapists in your school district or state.
Host a coffee or a luncheon just for the school therapists in your area, so that they can meet in person.
- Offer to Sit in on Meetings with Difficult Parents or Students.
Be a buffer for unrealistic expectations and disappointment.
- Call your School Therapists by their Full Title.
Introduce your Speech Language Pathologist, Doctor of Physical Therapy, and Registered Occupational Therapist by their full title. Yes, it’s a mouthful, however, using the correct name for their degree demonstrates that you value all the hard work that they did to earn that title.
- Network to Help Find Coverage for Potential Absences.
Who provides coverage for your school therapists when they are sick? Address this issue with your therapists before coverage is needed.
- Celebrate Your Special Need Student Population’s Accomplishments.
Sometimes when progress is slow, it can be overlooked. How do you recognize the accomplishments of the students in your schools who participate in therapy? Make an effort to include this population in school assemblies and awards.
- Hand Write Notes of Appreciation.
The more our culture shifts towards electronic communication, the more precious hand written notes become. Order a FREE set of therapist appreciation cards at ilovemypt.com and use them to commemorate special events. These trendy business sized cards are pre-printed with therapy specific thank-you messages on one side.
- Praise Your Therapists in Front of their Family and Friends.
Send a note of thanks to your therapist’s family, spouse or significant other. Working as a therapist in a school setting often requires finishing up paperwork at home. Include specific examples of the great work your therapists are accomplishing at school, so that their families catch a glimpse of why this job is worthwhile, even though it’s time consuming.
If you are a school therapist reading this article, here’s your chance to speak up and share with administrators the little things that make a big difference in your day. Please share in the comment section below so that we can add to our list. Thanks!