Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Closing the Gap - Off to a Rocking Start - Preconference

Today was the first day of pre-conferences at Closing the Gap. I had mix emotions about attending the conference because of my back and family concerns. I knew once I arrived in Minnesota all those concerns would wash away. Ok the back is still an issue but they have great beds. So let me tell you about a great workshop that I attended.

The workshop was presented by Keri Huddleston, Teru Langsdale and Moria Soulia who are from the Washoe County School District in Reno, NV. It was called Making a difference with your consultative services. The presentation was straightforward, well throughout and very laid back. It was the perfect workshop for me. I needed a workshop that would ease me into Closing the Gap mode.

As an Assistive technology consultant, I am often viewed as the “hitman” coming to tell the “team” what they could do to improve their services to a specific student. So without all the nice jargon – what you are not doing that you should be doing. This presentation had you looking at your process of delivering services. The first thing is that you need to make sure you at the “teams” to serve them. You might be shaking your head but keep reading. I often think of an AT consultant as a bridge builder. It is important to listen to what everyone on the team thinks and validate what they believe or think. If you do not listen and understand their feeling, then you will get nowhere quick. That bridge just became a frail vine. The first step in the process is the information gathering. Decide on what information is important to you to do a good service and secondly make sure the process is not overwhelming. You have to make sure you can document your intake and information you are gathering.

The next piece would be the decision making process. Again, this is a meeting and it is important to DOCUMENT the meeting. The notes should be shared with everyone that are present and absent. No volunteering another member for something if they cannot or didn’t make the meeting. Make sure there is nothing that can be lost in transition. Always make sure that you give timelines, follow through with how something is or aren’t working.

This was the eye opener for me. We all can make a laundry list of the things the staff members need to do or could be doing for the student but really we need to be asking, what laundry list we can create to about the staff and their needs. What is making the individual or team not to buy into the technology for a student? What are they strong at and what skills are they lacking? This is what I walked about thinking. We need to really think about SETT framework in relation to the staff. If the staff does not feel supported, does not feel validated and does not feel their needs are being met then how can we expect the staff to support the student?

Documentation about training and support is a must. Document every move you make. As a consultant you need your paperwork to talk for you. It needs to outline what you have done or haven’t done. The process needs to be see-through to everyone on and off the team. A person walking in off the street should be able to read the information and just pick up where you left off.

I really liked the concept that the building principal should sign off that they know about the assistive technology services. I know this is something that is lacking in my referral process. The building principal is going to be the on-site person to help you get things done if things aren’t working the way it is planned.

I also walked away from this presentation with the feeling that we will always be in the process. It is a give and take. We need to treat AT consultation in the district as we would a business. Make the plan, create your mission, Outline how it will happen and make sure the procedures are in writing.

If you get a chance, I recommend seeing the presentation. I know I did not give the props it should have. Any questions, please feel free to ask. I will do my best to answer.

1 comment:

Elastic Waistland said...

Thank you, Jeannette!

I wish I could have gone to CTG this year. I am a new member of a AT consult team and I found this review very valuable. I think it reinforces what I have been trying to do this year as well as gives me some ideas of what I can be doing better. I totally agree about the paperwork being vital for everyone to know what is being done, has been done or still needs to be done. It is a huge piece of the communication that needs to happen for a consultant to be successful because we are not there 5 days a week all year and those who are need to know the plan and what is being done.

I have your site bookmarked and check in every so often - I always find something of value here!