The Consultation Team increases the school’s capacity to successfully educate children who are impacted by social, emotional, behavioral, developmental, and/or neurological conditions, by further developing the schools’ ability to create practical and sustainable interventions that can be carried out in the classroom, by providing embedded professional development for all staff who work with these children, by creating programs for children that become a permanent part of the school, and by establishing building-based consultation teams with existing school staff that can develop their own interventions.
Consultation Team Approach:
1) Consultation is conducted in a collaborative fashion by establishing informal building-based consultation teams that are comprised of existing building personnel who have something to offer as well as something to learn. Service providers, teaching staff, and sometimes parents meet regularly to collaborate on intervention strategies and share expertise. Everyone is part of a problem solving team. All members of the team are expected to learn from each other and to teach each other, and to incorporate multiple specialty areas into one intervention effort.
2) Resources are further developed within the current school staff through embedded training. Professional development is provided onsite and it is embedded in the process of solving a problem, answering a question, sharing an observation, explaining or demonstrating a strategy, or helping to create a new intervention. Embedded training is effective because it is relevant to the current need, it focuses on practical everyday experiences in the classroom, it is tailored to a specific staff concern or knowledge gap, and it is a two-way process allowing for clarification and fine tuning on the spot. Members of the consultation team learn new skills, techniques, and approaches to solving difficult student problems, and they develop their own consultation expertise.
3) Programs, interventions, and approaches are developed for teachers that become a permanent part of the classroom and school rather than an “add on” service that ends when the consultant leaves. Strategies further develop the teacher’s expertise, they are applied to other students, shared with other teachers, and they are used the following year.
- Help schools make better use of their existing resources and create an effective team problem solving process
- Increase staff expertise by providing immediately relevant professional development
- Provide students with more responsive, specifically targeted, less stigmatizing help in less restrictive environments
- Enable staff to help similar students
- Share new and more effective methods across classrooms, schools, and districts
- Foster a culture of hope and optimism and reduce job stress, job-related frustration, and staff “burnout” by supporting staff with a team that can create solutions
- Solve problems before they become overwhelming, and empower the school staff to feel more effective
- Make the most out of the student’s current placement and reduce the number of needless evaluations and unnecessary placement changes
- Help schools become more independent of ongoing consultation by working toward school staff self-sufficiency regarding all interventions.
When the Consultation Team works well, the consultant leaves behind a successful student, a well-designed program, a trained staff, and a smoother functioning school. Consultation services are activated when a different problem emerges, new staff are involved, or when support of an old program is required.
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