As a school-based SLP for over 10 years, that attended countless IEP meetings and crafted so many individualised and personalised goals that suited the specific needs of my students. I’ve learned ways to make this process easier. In fact, over the years my colleagues have called upon me to help with goal writing and IEP writing in general. They always wondered how I did it so quickly and efficiently. While part of it is due to my natural connection with writing and I also always tried to create mental goal banks. Learn more about documenting goals and progress efficiently with some tips below.
Here are some tips that have helped me along the way
- Save your goals
After some time when you work with similar but diverse students, you may have a memory bank that is held in your head (guilty as charged), but a running google doc organised by speech and language goals according to the different areas of our speech world will avoid reinventing the wheel.
- Look at goal banks online
This is where you can get stuck but some of my favourites that I have suggested to interns and students in graduate school have been IEP databases with goals as well as goal banks that have specific speech and language content that can be modified based on their goals.
- Create goals that match what you intend
This means thinking about what your student needs, which is a mindset that reflects functional communication. Think about what your student needs in order to succeed in their life both inside and outside of school. Conversations must be had with the school based support team, and a review of records is critical. Progress monitoring can shed light on whether or not a previous goal needs to be modified. Remember that you don’t have to revamp an entire goal. You can think about fading cues as the individual progresses while keeping the main content
- Remember goals are ever evolving
What you write today can change tomorrow and progress monitoring, even informally, will let you in on that! Don’t forget to change up the goal (for some it is a quarterly review, for others it is monthly), if you see that another goal is needed as you get to know the student and their CURRENT needs. Individual needs can also change based on circumstances, and let’s not forget a pandemic that rocked our world and can sometimes demand a need for changing goals.
- Last but not least: Formulating the Goal!
Let’s get back to basics with SMART goals! Once you know that you are comfortable with smart goals, it’s time to start writing. A classroom observation can help shed light on what the client needs especially in regards to academics. We are always making sure our goals are geared towards the curriculum. This is why it is common that goals can get wrapped in with ELA goals – especially when the goals are related to expressive and receptive language skills. In fact, I’ve seen the words from my goals absorbed in its entirety into an ELA goal. Once you get into the groove of things, you can develop a bank of goals, but I am firm believer in crafting goals that are individualised. For example, take any goal from an online goal bank that falls under the area of need for communication and academic success – ie. “following directions,” and then modify it based on the specific needs of the student. We all have different skill sets, and there will always be a second or third or even fourth pair of eyes helping you through this! Ask:)
As a postscript to this:
You may see goals that were established and written prior to working with your student that upon formal and informal observation forces you to revisit and consequently revise the goals. Once again – as mentioned in the previous blog post – trust your gut and collaborate (remember those classroom observations!), in order to accommodate your client’s current needs v.s. letting your perception of mismatched goals drive your work. You are the current clinician and you have the autonomy to adapt the session to the current needs of your students.
Happy Goal Writing!
By Sharon Baum, MA, CCC-SLP, NYC Noala Clinical Director