Over the 14 years I have been a special education teacher I have worked in multiple settings. I worked in a small self-contained setting for more than half of my career. I became a resource teacher 5 years ago and managed a caseload of 29 kids in a high school setting. I was unprepared to take on the challenge of keeping up with the organization needed to manage 29 students along with their 29 IEP meetings. I needed a system to provide me with information quickly. With the help of my compliance specialist and my technology coach, I designed a way to organize caseloads using Google Sheets. We did a presentation in the district and received a tremendous amount of positive feedback. Years later, I still run into teachers who thank me for helping them learn how to quickly and simply organize their complex caseloads.
This year I became a TVI and planned to implement a similar strategy. I was not sure how to organize my Google Sheet so I sat down with the other TVI in the district and asked her what is the most important information that I need to know quickly about my students. Based on the list, we created a Google Sheet template and made a copy for each of us. Then we shared with each other so we could have access to each other’s caseload in case administration had specific questions about all students who have vision services.
The next part was to figure out was how to document my students’ IEP progress. Since I’m new and finished my program 8 years ago, I really felt lost when it came to understanding how to implement the goals and objectives on the students’ IEPs. I realized I needed a visual with the actual goals and objectives. I tried putting a binder together, but I found myself leaving it in the car and it was something extra to carry around. I then came up with the solution to add new tabs to my Google Sheet for logging my student’s progress. It was easy and I can write down lots of information quickly. I can then copy and paste the progress into progress reports. I also use the information to guide me in conversations that I have with my mentor. I can answer questions for my mentor by referring back to my progress sheet and explaining what I have been doing with the student and how they were progressing. My mentor can then answer my questions quickly because my data is organized and provides many details. I showed my Google Sheet to a TVI who was sitting next to me at a conference, and she really liked how I was organizing my progress. She asked me to share the information. When I did, other people wanted to know more details about how it could be effective for them.
I hope the template and steps in this post will help you create your own way of organizing your caseload. I have found the outlined method very useful and depend on it everyday. I also just recently realized how easily I can use the Google Sheets iPad app to view and edit my Google Sheet. This will really help because I won’t have to boot up my computer; I can just use the ipad which I use frequently in my lessons with students. Collecting and organizing is quick and easy and it provides detailed information that can be accessed within minutes. I highly suggest this for anyone who struggles with organization or for new TVIs.
To get started, you will need a Google account. If you don’t have one, click here to get a Google account. Next, click here to make a copy of the Google Sheets template to make a copy of the template. (Editor's Note: Click the blue make a copy button and be sure to allow time for the template to load.) Follow the steps and use the videos to learn how to use the sheet to get organized.
- Create Your Caseload Quick Reference video
Use the “Caseload” tab to unpack your caseload. This will allow you to get the most essential info that you will refer to and will be updated regularly. You can add or remove columns to fit your needs. You can also use data validation to add drop down menus to streamline your entry.
2. Get to Know Students
When meeting the case manager to learn about each student, use the “IEP Notes” tab to take notes, and copy and paste important information from the IEP. Add more columns as needed. Use the paint bucket tool to color code as you wish.
3. Make Your Schedule
Once you have all the students’ schedules, use the “Current Schedule” tab to hash out where you will go and when to verify you are meeting each student’s service minutes. This may not be ready on the first day of school and could actually take a few weeks to develop as you set your schedule. Use the merge feature to create longer blocks of time. Use hold and drag to move blocks around.
4. Document and Share
Use the individual student tabs to take anecdotal note and monitor progress. Goals (frozen) and notes, you can scroll over to see how they are progressing. This info can be pasted into the IEP later. The notes let you document other details.
A Few Bonus Tips:
by Jeanie Silver and Estee Williams