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Ask Dr. BKW - Effective communication-collaboration strategies with therapists

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Question: As a pre-k classroom teacher with a diagnosed student with disability, what are effective means of communication and/or collaboration strategies with therapist for high-quality learning environment? Thanks.

Answer: A higher number of students at younger ages are entering classroom settings with diagnosed disabilities that teachers need to provide an inclusive learning environment for their success. Here are strategies to build positive communicative relationships between teacher and therapist(s).

  1. During the initial individual education program (IEP) or individual family service program (IFSP) meetings, discuss in detail the communicative methods that will be used between teacher and therapist (e.g., face-to-face conversation, email, text, telephone) to stay on target of the student’s goals outlined,
  2. Encourage the therapist(s) to observe the student in the classroom setting prior to first one-on-on session that will assist in seeing student’s interactions with peers and/or individually in different areas. After observation, discuss what student as doing and retrieve teacher’s observational notes (e.g., anecdotal, time sampling) to have more in-depth conversation,
  3. Once on-site days and timeframes have been set, encourage the therapist(s) to conduct planned activities in classroom. If not, secure space where s/he can go to conduct skill activities,
  4. At end of therapist(s) session, have him/her discuss face-to-face or summarized notes (e.g., handwritten, electronically) of what was worked on, follow-up for classroom and an extension of activities for home, and
  5. The teacher will need to collect work samples with observational notes that will be shared with therapist(s) at next scheduled student session or prior to send electronically so all are staying updated on skill accomplishments and/or modifications as needed.

The IEP/IFSP outlined goals set for student takes all stakeholders (e.g., parents, teachers, therapists) for him/her to achieve skills through communicating strategies to meet the outcomes. Remember it takes a village to raise – educate a child; therefore, theses communicative suggestions are a start ensuring high-quality education is present for the student.

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