Linda, I know where you are coming from. In the beginning of my VI career I was an 'itinerant Nazi'. You WOULD do it my way and you WILL meet with me. I've mellowed with experience and age. Now, I try to meet them for lunch so we can eat and talk. Food gives opportunities to shove something in your mouth to think of a better response! I've also found if I support their assignments/projects, they will be more acceptable to the change I am requesting. This activity at first blush seemed meaningless for me as well, but after talking to an OT, I learned this is a prewriting activity designed to help learn how to make the letters. That is why I like the collaboration model the best. I see more than two sides (the teacher's and mine) this way. And, Linda, you ARE AMAZING and I have learned so much from you. Keep doing those amazing things!!
I really grapple with this issue --consulting is essential, yet it is something we are never trained to do. It's especially hard for me when I'm in an itinerant role working in multiple schools or multiple districts and don't really feel like I'm part of the culture of a school. Your example struck a chord--I was immediately struck with the question "Why is this particular worksheet/ skill so important for my student?" I am interested that you accept what the teacher is teaching (much more than I often do), and JUST ADAPT it, without asking questions. I have a hard time with this, because our kids don't have time to waste on assignments that might be meaningless for them, or that may not transfer to reading, writing or communicating. Yet, I see the value in validating the teacher's work,the curriculum she is using, and the assignments she is giving to the rest of the class. I tend to want to reinvent the wheel, and know this alienates teachers sometimes.
I also have difficulty with this meeting time issue, though I know it's important. Teachers don't want to give up their planning time for "just one student" (yes, I know it helps all the kids in the class), and I sometimes don't allow enough time for this myself. I can tell you're a great consultant, Liz--and this post really helped me think about it a little more positively.
"When the question is not the question"
As TVI/COMS consultants, I think that it’s so important that we listen for times when “the question is not the question.” Deeper concerns of teachers/IEP teams may be that they see us asking for more control or vulnerability than they can comfortably risk at first. The book "Flawless Consulting," by Peter Block, is a terrific resource on this, and I use his work a lot in the training that I do on this topic.
I appreciate your suggesting further vehicles for this training, but I think it may be too complex to summarize on Paths and too interactive to develop as a Webinar. If you want to talk with me further about it, though, send an email to our Paths guide (Charlotte.Cushman@Perkins.org) and she will forward it along to me."
Can you offer your session via webinar? Those of us in the most southern part of Alabama would greatly appreciate being able to take advantage of an opportunity like that!
Laurie, would you be agreeable to post information from your session on Paths? What you have to share can help many of us in the field.
What an important post, Liz. As consultants, we need to be strong in three areas: our technical skills, our general people skills, and our awareness of strategies of effective consulting. It's this last area where we rarely receive training or even have discussion. And yet, as I've been reading recently, people we consult to want us to affirm that they're perfect, but at the same time to fix their problems. There's no way we can do both! I think you're spot on with slowly building a relationship with this teacher and frequently checking to be sure that she's buying in, every step of the way.
(For those of you who live in New England, I'll be running a full morning pre-conference session on consulting as a TVI/COMS at NEAER in Falmouth, MA in early November. I wish all our Paths readers could join us!)
I agree, and I don't understand how a classroom teacher can flat out refuse, oh but they do! This is definitely an area in need of support articles and education. Thanks for posting
RE: This is by far the most
I whole heartedly agree, Maureen! I must say the beginning of the year is my busiest as I am spending countless hours (yes hours) trying to help the teachers see that the students we share can do and can succeed in their room. I try to build on their strengths, send supportive emails that focus on something they did in their room that was good, observing in their rooms, doing collaborative lessons so that they can see me modeling how to do some lessons that they struggle with the concept of, and so much more. I try to ensure that I add service time for consults or collaborative time to the classroom. If I do the collaborative wording (which I do most of the time!) I define it to the committee as it includes observations, material adaptations, meeting with educational team...including the parent, and whatever needs arise that I can assist with. I try to remain positive...even when frustrated beyond belief!
This is by far the most difficult part of our jobs as TVIs. As our students progress through the academic years, it gets harder to convince teachers that the child belongs in their class, based on ABILITY, not on sight or lack of it. Lots of diplomacy is needed, yet we have to be able to convince teachers this can work for everyone's benefit in the class. Pointing out to the teacher that they are not verbalizing their visuals (instead, using words such as this, that, there, here,) is awkward, but most teachers realize that they need to alter their presentation. When they have been told, and will not change: things can get very awkward indeed.