A Culture of Collaboration Among Teachers, Therapists, and Parents?

I often find myself amazed at how difficult it can be to get parents, teachers, and therapists to engage in conversation with each other on topics of mutual interest. I wonder whether lack of collaboration is about not having time; or whether it is a reflection of the belief that working on “my own goals” as a professional is the expected practice within schools?

If we believe that collaborating with others is the way to solve problems within the school context, would we not make time to do it? Do therapists and teachers really think that “getting on with what I do in my own profession” is more important than getting each other and parents on board to buy-in on mutual goals? Clearly this is not an either–or scenario. We need to fulfill our professional goals; however, the sustainability of what we do is seriously impacted by our ability to join efforts with others during this process.

Every time I engage in discussions about the challenges schools experience when staff changes, I marvel at how strange it is that we do not have better mechanisms in place to deal with these staff changes (which happens with some regularity). For example, a student using an AAC intervention strategy in one class moves to another class. The new teacher and para-professionals have very little if any background on how to deal with the child’s communication system.

To complicate this, there also seems to be very little of any school- or district- level infrastructure to assist them with the transition. Can we really expect a speech–language therapist (with a case load of up to 80 students) to take primary responsibility for these transitional processes? Is an SLP even the person with the best understanding of how these transitions can most effectively be implemented?

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