As school based therapists a big part of the job is collaborating with students, parents, classroom teachers, physical educators, art teachers, music teachers, computer lab, administration, teaching assistants, other therapists and probably a few more! At times this can be very difficult due to packed schedules or multiple schools. Here are a few tips for successful collaboration –
Build relationships. Take the time to get to know all the people that will interact with the students on your caseload. First and foremost build a relationship with the student. Find out about their likes/dislikes, goals, aspirations and dreams. Tell them a little bit about yourself so they will feel connected. For staff members, it could be as simple as always saying hello or taking some time to schedule lunch with someone. Once you build relationships, you will be able to inspire each other to do better.
Ask questions. Learn from others. Ask questions. What worked in the past for a student? What has worked with other students? We are not in the classrooms all the time gaining valuable observational expereinces. Tap into everyone else’s knowledge to get a clearer picture.
Be prepared. When you do find time to meet, be prepared. Have a list of questions or suggestions of what you would like to accomplish. Bring visual examples of what is working with the student. Communicate effectively and try not to use any jargon that other team members will not understand.
Establish general guidelines. When you are able to meet, try and establish roles, goals and responsibilities for each person. Maybe even make a list of who will be doing what. This creates accountability and teamwork. Success in completing your role will establish trust that you can get the job done. Action speaks louder than words.
Be flexible and respectful. Remember you are one part of a large team that can help the students. Exchange ideas. You may think you have the best idea/suggestion ever but if the team does not agree that it will work you may need to rethink the idea. Take the time to listen to other ideas and if you do not agree speak your opinion but with respect.