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Finding and Preparing for School Year Assignments Over the Summer

June 27, 2024

Summer is a great time for education professionals to relax and soak up the sun. It's also an important time for contract workers—like school nurses, therapists, paraprofessionals, and others—to start planning for their new roles in the fall. Taking a proactive approach will help you feel confident and prepared, allowing you to fully unwind and make the most of your well-deserved break, knowing you're set for the school year ahead.   

 

Finding the Right Placement for Fall 

When the time comes for you to search for new school year opportunities, make sure to take these steps to make the most out of the process:  

1. Define Your Career Goals

Setting career goals will help you focus on opportunities that can contribute to your long-term professional growth. For instance, if you're a school nurse aiming to specialize in adolescent health, you might seek a placement that offers exposure to this age group and related health issues. If you're a speech-language pathologist (SLP) interested in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), you might prioritize placements where you can work with diverse AAC technologies. This clarity will guide your search and help you target positions aligned with your skills and interests. 

2. Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile

 Your resume and LinkedIn presence are critical tools when it comes time to search for jobs. Tailor your resume to highlight relevant experience, certifications, and specialized skills such as IEP management or specific therapeutic techniques. Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date with a professional photo and a compelling summary showcasing your achievements. Using keywords and quantifying achievements whenever possible can also strengthen your portfolio. Optimizing your profile will enhance visibility and attract potential employers. 

3. Partner with a Specialized Staffing Agency 

Working with a staffing agency specializing in school placements, like GHR, can expedite your job search. These agencies have established longstanding relationships with schools, ensuring your unique skills align with ideal job openings. They streamline the application process and provide unwavering support through every stage, from resume refinement to interview preparation to post-hire.  

This collaborative approach accelerates your job search and gives you access to great opportunities you may not have known about otherwise. By leveraging their expertise, you open doors to a range of exclusive placements that propel your career forward in education.  

 

Preparing for the School Year Ahead 

Once you’ve secured your placement for the school year, thorough preparation is key: 

1. Self-Care 

As school nurses, physical therapists (PTs), occupational therapists (OTs), SLPs, paraprofessionals, and personal care assistants (PCAs) prepare for the upcoming school year, prioritizing self-care is crucial to maintaining physical and emotional resilience.  

Good sleep and hydration are vital to sustaining energy levels and well-being throughout busy days. Incorporating physical movement into daily routines can also have a significant impact. For PTs and OTs, who often engage in physically demanding tasks, regular exercise helps maintain strength and endurance, preventing occupational strain. For school nurses and PCAs, stretching or walking between tasks can alleviate physical tension and improve focus.  

Mental health is equally important as physical health. Having hobbies is one way to help you maintain a healthy work-life balance and prevent burnout. Whether it be reading, spending time with family or friends, doing yoga, etc., having an activity you can turn to outside of work can help you unwind and recharge.  

By prioritizing self-care practices like getting sufficient sleep, staying hydrated, moving your body, and engaging in hobbies you enjoy, you can enhance your personal well-being and, in turn, the well-being of the students you support.  

2. Professional Development and Training

Summer offers valuable opportunities for continuing education. Attend workshops or enroll in courses to improve your skills and stay current on changes in your field. Here are some continuing education opportunities you may want to take advantage of this summer: 

  • School Nurses: Attending workshops on pediatric health, updating CPR certifications, or learning about health protocols relevant to school environments 
  • PTs: Focusing on the latest rehabilitation techniques, specialized certifications in areas like sports therapy or geriatrics, or workshops on injury prevention strategies 
  • OTs: Deepening knowledge in areas such as sensory integration therapy, assistive technology, or ergonomic assessments through specialized training programs or conferences 
  • SLPs: Enrolling in courses covering advances in communication disorders, workshops on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), or seminars exploring innovative therapy techniques 
  • Paraprofessionals: Attending training sessions on behavior management strategies, inclusive education practices, or specific learning interventions  
  • PCAs: Attending workshops on caregiving techniques, specialized health conditions, or courses in medication administration and patient safety 

Professionals in these roles can get connected to these kinds of opportunities through professional associations, like the American Nurses Association (ANA) for school nurses, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) for PTs, or the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) for OTs, which provide access to conferences, workshops, and online courses tailored to their specialties.  

Opportunities can also be found via social media, industry-specific newsletters, or other online platforms like Coursera or LinkedIn Learning. Some employers may also offer funding or resources for professional development, so it may be worth investigating!  

 

3. Preparing Resources and Collaborating with School Teams 

Preparing resources and materials for the upcoming school year involves a dual approach of readiness and collaboration for school nurses, PTs, OTs, SLPs, paraprofessionals, and PCAs.  

If you're a school nurse, prioritize updating health records, emergency response plans, and medication protocols. Collaborate closely with administrators to ensure all medical supplies are stocked and that staff are proficient in handling emergencies effectively. This preparation will ensure that the school health office is fully equipped to manage various health scenarios and deliver prompt assistance to students in need.   

Physical Therapists can focus on organizing therapy equipment and strategizing with educators to create optimal spaces that meet students' physical therapy requirements. This collaborative approach aims to enhance students' physical well-being and active participation in school activities, promoting their overall health and development. 

As Occupational Therapists, dedicating your efforts to preparing sensory tools and educational materials tailored to students' academic and daily living needs will help foster an environment that supports students' independence and engagement throughout their school day.  

Speech-Language Pathologists should concentrate on preparing assessment tools and communication aids that align with students' academic goals. Collaborative efforts with educators ensure that therapy objectives are closely integrated with educational needs, enhancing students' communication skills and overall academic success. 

Paraprofessionals and Personal Care Assistants can focus on preparing educational resources and personal care supplies, actively collaborating with teachers and healthcare providers to meet students' diverse needs. This proactive coordination will support an inclusive learning environment and contribute to students' educational growth, personal well-being, and social development. 

Together, these efforts ensure comprehensive support for students' academic, physical, and social development within a cohesive and thriving school environment. This collaborative approach among healthcare and education professionals promotes a supportive atmosphere where all students can thrive and reach their full potential. 

4. Setting Goals  

Summer is the perfect time to set goals for the upcoming school year. Setting clear objectives fosters professional growth and teamwork, ensuring a cohesive approach to student care. Goals for school nurses may include expanding expertise in managing specific student health needs or enhancing leadership skills to advocate effectively for health initiatives within the school community. For PTs, goals may involve adopting innovative techniques to improve mobility and functional outcomes for students with diverse needs. 

5. Mentoring

Summer also provides a chance to mentor new team members. Mentoring for school nurses may involve sharing insights on managing student health needs with new nurses. PTs might guide new therapists in designing tailored rehabilitation plans, conducting assessments, or integrating therapy into students' daily routines. These mentoring relationships help new team members develop skills and confidence, ultimately improving the care students receive and supporting their overall well-being.   

 


 

With summer finally here and the new school year on the horizon, now is the time for school nurses, PTs, OTs, SLPs, paraprofessionals, and PCAs to strategically prepare for what’s to come. For those navigating new placements, clarifying career goals, optimizing resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and collaborating with specialized staffing agencies like GHR can help streamline the journey. Meanwhile, those securing positions should focus on comprehensive preparation, from prioritizing self-care and professional development to fostering collaborative relationships within school teams and mentoring peers. This proactive approach will help you enhance your work experience and cultivate a supportive environment where every student's academic, physical, and emotional needs are met with diligence and expertise, ensuring a year of growth and achievement for you and those you care for.  

 

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