Welcome to the third part of our discussion on classroom integration – check out part 1 and part 2, where we talked about the different models of integrating therapy services into the classroom, and the factors that can support more integrated services.
Now that we have talked about the factors supporting integration of related services into the classroom – how do we engineer these factors into our environment?
The first of the factors we identified is “collaborative consultation.” This model of consultative requires a give and take between two equals, as opposed to a more prescriptive form where the therapist is the “expert.” Both the therapist and the teacher can provide valid information about the student and their performance. Trust and communication are key to working together in this way. Also, this collaboration indicates that both individuals will be flexible in incorporating new ideas, accepting failures, and dealing with conflict or disagreements.
Collaborative consultation requires a time investment, for relationship building, planning, and follow up. This can be a challenge for school therapists, especially those who travel between schools and buildings. But there is evidence that creating this environment can result in similar changes in student progress, while improving teachers’ satisfaction with services (Sayers, 2008).
For more information about collaborating the the schools, check out the quarterly AOTA Special Interest Section on Early Intervention and School from March 2013. It’s titled, “Collaboration in Schools: Perspectives of Occupational Therapist and Teacher Dyads”.
Check out our newest Pinterest board for resources and ideas for fostering a collaborative relationship with classroom teachers!
Sayers, B. (2008). Collaboration in school settings: A critical examination of the topic. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention, 1(2), 170–179