Successful Strategies for a Collaborative Team Part 2
Earlier this week I discussed the seminar I taught designed to help transition therapists from a medical to educational model. To continue with my ten tips for becoming a successful member of the educational team let's look at the last recommendations:
6. Introduce classroom concepts slowly. Compliance is better for both student and teacher if a single strategy is introduced for a period of several weeks. If a child may benefit from both a weighted vest and a ball chair or seat cushion, prioritize the sensory need and put only one of these solutions to work. This may help you determine if the strategy is effective and keeps the teachers and students from being overwhelmed with too many accommodations at once. When I lecture to teachers, I ask them to be open to new ideas and methods to problem solving for issues such as attention and behavior.
7. As a continuation of #6 above, please respect the teacher's environment. The classroom is their domain and we as a related service provider are helpful guests, but not owners! I once insulted a pre-school teacher by coming in with my blazing sensory makeover ideas for her classroom. In my enthusiasm I was not respectful enough of her considerations in her environment. The same holds true with classroom schedules. It is a fine art to adjust your workload so that you are seeing a student in an inclusion setting while respecting the teacher's itinerary as well. Again, when I in-service teachers, I ask them to understand and work with the inclusion model for therapy services.
8. Understand the roles and responsibilities of other disciplines/professionals. I have gained heaps of knowledge and insight from school psychologists, adapted PE teachers, the O&M (Orientation and Mobility) specialist etc. Even our therapy roles may differ in various school systems, such as SLP's doing more work with feeding skills in some settings, while in other places it is an OT role. To have a good interdisciplinary team, each member must be clear on what other team members bring to the table to help best serve the student.
9. Respect confidentiality. This should be a given, with our health care background and HIPAA, but I do find breaches when I overhear professionals discussing a student in the hallway or in a busy teacher's lounge. Just be mindful of when, where and to whom you are speaking about a child and of course follow all procedures for documentation and sharing of information.
10. Provide positive feedback. I have already blogged on how I use affirmations with my students to help promote self-esteem, but teachers need this feedback just as much as the kids! A team works better when we can encourage each other and celebrate small victories.
So there's my best list of suggestions. I hope they are helpful and as new and/or seasoned therapist in the schools please share your tips as well.