Posted: March 30th, 2022
Establishing Consultation and Collaboration in a School
Calgary Public School Board has hired a resource teacher for an elementary/junior high school, which has 16 teachers and 325 students i.e. 150 and 175 students at elementary and junior high levels respectively. The school principal has indicated his desire to create some form of consultation and collaboration in the school. While the school has in the past referred students with special needs to special education placements in other schools, those with learning and behavioral difficulties have been removed from the resource room because they could not be placed in a district program. The former resource teacher did not work in collaboration with other teachers and stakeholders. As the new resource teacher, it’s important to establish suitable measures for consultation and collaboration to help address the needs of special education students. Such a platform will help in dealing with the different cases in the school including the case of William, a thirteen-year-old Grade 7 boy suffering from attention deficit disorder and undiagnosed learning difficulties as well as Janna, an eight-year Grade 3 girl with behavioral problems and learning difficulties.
Models of Consultation and Collaboration
Consultation and collaboration are important components in the educational setting, especially one that includes students with special needs. For this elementary/junior high school, consultation and collaboration are crucial towards ensuring teamwork among teachers in order to effectively deal with learning and behavioral difficulties experienced by some students, particularly those with special needs. As the resource teacher in this school, I will address this issue through identifying a suitable model of consultation and collaboration. The model I will utilize in this school is the resource/consulting teacher program model (R/CT), which has been replicated in rural and large urban schools since it was implemented at the University of Illinois (Dettmer, Thurston, Dyck, 2005).
Through this model, the resource/consulting teacher provides direct and indirect service to students through the numerous opportunities it provides for enhanced interactions between teachers, parents, and students. Direct service is provided using tutorials and small-group instruction whereas indirect service is offered through consultation with classroom teachers during schooling hours. This model will be utilized because it provides a platform for key stakeholders (teachers, parents and students) to interact towards meeting students’ needs. Additionally, it provides a mechanism for students in special education programs to be served alongside those in general classrooms as well as ensures that students are helped in the resource room and regular classroom setting. In some cases, the model will be combined with other suitable approaches for consultation and collaboration such as triadic model. However, the decision to combine approaches will be influenced by the specific issues in the case, available resources, and effectiveness of the approach in dealing with the student’s condition.
An example of a student in this school that could benefit from a suitable consultation and collaboration framework is Janna, an eight-year Grade 3 girl with behavioral problems and learning difficulties. Her behavior has become increasingly difficult to deal with as she has mood swings and attempts to dominate conversations with her peers and adults. While she performs well in subjects she’s interested in, Janna is generally not performing well in school. Her parents think that her learning and behavioral difficulties are due to the teacher’s inability to manage behavior and the fact that she is bullied.
The first step in the consultation process for Janna is scheduling a meeting with her parents and class teacher in attempts to understand the cause of her behavioral and learning difficulties. After this meeting, the next step will entail referring her to a school psychologist or any other relevant within the school or clinical setting (Feldman & Kratochwill, 2003). Following the referral, I (the resource teacher) will meet the consultant (school psychologist or other professional) several times for discussions regarding Janna and her problem. The objectives of these discussions will be to identify potential causes of the problem and identification of suitable, evidence-based interventions to deal with her problem. These interventions should be techniques that can be implemented in the school and home setting. The fourth step is receiving guidance from the consultant on how to implement these interventions in an effective manner. The next step will involve consulting the class teacher and/or parents regarding the proposed interventions. The sixth step is providing guidance to the class teacher and/or parents on how to implement the interventions in the school and home environment respectively. The seventh step is the implementation of these interventions by these stakeholders in collaboration and consultation with each other. The next step is reviewing Janna’s response to the intervention vis-a-vis the desired objectives. If the learning and behavioral difficulties are resolved, the next step in this consultation experience is creating necessary measures to sustain the new behaviors. The final step will involve reanalyzing the intervention and process and selecting a different one if the current one does not resolve the problems.
Communication Strategies and Interpersonal Skills
One of the important factors towards the success of this consultation and collaboration framework for the schools is identifying and utilizing suitable communication strategies and interpersonal skills. The communication strategies I will utilize include interactive communication with other teachers, school administrators, and parents. The interactive communication will be carried out on a regularly basis and focus on the issues being addressed. During this process, I will develop good relationships with parents and teachers by keeping discussions focused on the specific student or child. I will listen, summarize and respond to discussions with parents, teachers and the other professionals involved in the consultation process. I will respond to any teacher or parent resistance to my suggestions through problem-solving strategies, which are based on acceptance, listening, questioning, encouragement, and staying directed (Bos & Vaughn, 2000). I will also involve parents and teachers in planning and implementation of intervention techniques to help meet a student’s needs and deal with any learning or behavioral difficulties.
The process of consultation and collaboration is likely to be characterized by some ethical issues that could hinder its effectiveness. Some of the potential ethical issues in this process include parental involvement and consent during student screening, maintaining confidentiality and privacy of the students’ information, and engaging the student in selecting treatment or interventions. I will follow the principles of ethical behavior through adhering to the school’s professional code of ethics, upholding laws, and ensuring that every step in the process is carried out based on policies that govern professional practice.
Consultation for Emotional/Behavioral Problems
Based on the resource/consulting teacher program model (R/CT) that will be utilized for collaboration, consultation for Janna’s emotional/behavioral problems will entail referring his condition to a school psychologist or another professional in the clinical setting. The resource teacher will work with the clinical professional or psychologist to identify the root cause of Janna’s emotional/behavioral problems. Some of the factors that will be examined during the consultation process include biological, family, school, and community factors that contribute to Janna’s behavioral difficulties. After the analysis and identification of the root cause of her behavioral difficulties, suitable interventions will be developed. The resource teacher will then work in collaboration with other teachers and her parents to implement these interventions and conduct regular review of their effectiveness.
Consultation for Academic Difficulties
Since William is suffering from undiagnosed learning difficulties and attention deficit disorder, the consultation process will begin with referring him to a clinical setting within or outside the school. This will be geared towards examining what could be the cause of his learning difficulties and the effectiveness of the current medication he takes to address his condition. The medical practitioner will be required to provide a diagnosis of William’s situation and suitable medical and non-medical interventions to deal with this condition. The resource teacher will then work in collaboration with William’s parents and other teachers to implement recommended interventions. William will be assessed on a regular basis to monitor his progress and determine any other needs that should be addressed.
The transition planning that I will engage for William would include counseling, determining vocational interests, academic and vocational planning, academic support, and links to specific programs and services since he is suffering from undiagnosed learning difficulties. This will be part of providing concrete action steps that will prepare him for life in college or for independent living given his condition (Stanberry, 2016). The agreed upon steps will then be included or documented in his individualized education plan (IEP).
Assistive technology will be used to communicate, enhance motivation, and in professional development of these students. The use of technology is an assistive manner will entail providing computer-assisted instruction through which the student will engage in non-judgmental drills and practice during learning. This form of instruction will also provide instant and dynamic feedback to the student while enabling him to develop a positive attitude towards learning and across different subjects. In this case, classroom instruction will not only be provided through lectures but will entail the use of technological devices that support learning, especially for students with learning difficulties.
Consultation and Collaboration with Parents
Since this collaboration and consultation process relied on a model that requires interaction between teachers, parents and students, parental involvement is an important success factor (Quinn et al., 2000). In Janna’s case, parental involvement is crucial towards identifying what is causing emotional/behavioral problems that in turn affect learning and academic performance. Janna’s parents will be involved through creating a framework for constant, interactive communication with them. Regular meetings will be scheduled and conducted in a respectful manner that establishes and maintains positive relationships with them. Reports on Janna’s progress and effectiveness of utilized interventions will be shared on a regular basis.
For this consultation and collaboration to be effective, the school needs to establish a framework through which parents, teachers, and students can interact on a regular basis. The school administrators need to ensure that regular meetings between staffs and meetings with parents are included as part of the school program. Additionally, the school administrators need to establish a system through which students with learning and behavioral problems can be helped in the resource room and regular classroom.
Bos, C.S. & Vaughn, S. (2000). Strategies for teaching students with learning and behavior problems (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Dettmer, P., Thurston, L.P. & Dyck, N.J. (2005). Foundations and Frameworks for Collaborative School Consultation. In Consultation, collaboration, and teamwork for students with special needs (5th ed., chap. 2, pp.35-66). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Feldman, E.S. & Kratochwill, T.R. (2003). Problem Solving Consultation in Schools: Past, Present, and Future Directions. The Behavior Analyst Today, 4(3), 318-330.
Stanberry, K. (2016, December 19). Transition Planning for Students with IEPs. Retrieved February 17, 2017, from http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/transition-planning-for-students-with-ieps/
Quinn, M.M., Osher, D., Warger, C.L., Hanley, T.V., Bader, B.D. & Hoffman, C.C. (2000). Teaching and working with children who have emotional and behavioral challenges. Retrieved from U.S. Government Publishing Office website: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/ERIC-ED466076/pdf/ERIC-ED466076.pdf
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