Problem-centered Collaborative Consultation M.A.T. and School Psychology Programs

Problem-centered Collaborative Consultation
M.A.T. and School Psychology Programs
Consultation occurs on a daily basis in schools—between teachers, among teams, between
student support personnel and teachers, sometimes between school staff and parents. Often these
consultation experiences are informal and by their nature brief and “advice” oriented. A good idea, a
prior experience, a good-natured criticism are bandied about and offered to someone who is feeling
“stuck.” Then everyone is off to the next thing. We sometimes call this “15 minute” consultations,
although in truth they are often 5 minutes.
In ED 101, we framed the re-seeing of school by focusing on three habits of mind: engaging in
collegial discourse (i.e., conversation), making sense before making judgment, and always being mindful
of the “IT” of the wild triangle (i.e., the teacher, the student, and the curriculum)…what are we asking
students to do and think about? In ED 102, we have designed a consultation experience, which will
prepare you to consult with school psychologists. It will give you the chance to practice structured, formal
school-based consultations designed to be sustained through these stages: defining the problem, exploring
the factors that are contributing to the problem, developing a strategy for improving the situation, and
then monitoring whether the strategy is making a difference.
For this consultation experience, the M.A.T. candidates will meet with their school psychologist
(SP) colleagues (who are in their second year of preparation) to work collaboratively on a problem faced
by the pre-service teacher. Teams of M.A.T. students and SP students will be formed to focus on a single
elementary, middle, or high school student. It is recommended that M.A.T.s choose a student who has an
IEP or a 504 plan so that you can learn more about the following competencies for earning an
endorsement (i.e., additional license) in Mild and Moderate Special Needs:
2. Preparation, implementation, and evaluation of Individualized Education Programs (IEP)
3. Design or modification of curriculum, instructional materials, and general education classroom
environments for students with moderate disabilities.
Step 1 – Defining the problem: On February 28, M.A.T.(s)and S.P. students will meet for their seminar
session at Tufts. The MAT(s) will come prepared to describe a student who is struggling or posing a
challenge in their classroom(s). Together the M.A.T. and S.P. students will work to understand the
situation and develop a picture of the problem:
● What is the student doing or not doing?
● What expectation in the classroom is not being met?
● What strategies has the teacher already tried?
● What is known about the student’s learning?
If necessary, you will plan to gather more information to allow you to describe the problem as clearly as
possible (frequency, severity, gap between what is occurring and what is expected) and to analyze the
problem (why is it occurring?). The problems faced in the classroom are often complex and multi-layered.
For the purposes of this experience, the collaborators will choose a single, focused problem. (Research
indicates that making progress on a small, clearly defined problem often leads to progress in other areas
of importance the child’s life.) The goal of this stage is to note that there is a problem without coming to a
solution – to make sense, before making judgments about appropriate interventions; colleagues should
open up their thinking in new ways about how to respond to a student’s needs.
Step 2 – Understanding the problem and developing a strategy: By March 14, the M.A.T.(s) and S.P. will
confer, in person or on-line to define the problem you wish to work on and to formulate a tentative
understanding of why the problem is happening. You will set a goal, and develop one or more strategies
you, the teacher, can implement in the classroom. You will make a manageable plan for collecting data on
whether the strategy is working. (This step may involve more than one meeting/conversation.)
Step 3 – Analyzing strategy effectiveness: By March 28, the M.A.T.(s) and S.P. will have a final meeting.
For this final meeting, the collaborators will meet to review how well the strategy is working. You may
also discuss new information emerging about the student, the nature of the problem, and other resources
available to the teacher in the school setting.
Step 4 – Reflecting on the consultation: By April 4, teachers and school psychologists will write a brief
memo describing the consultation experience. (Guidelines to be provided.) This will be an opportunity to
demonstrate how the three habits of mind – collegial discourse, making sense before making judgment,
and awareness of the “IT” – can contribute to helping colleagues problem solve to improve a student’s
school experience.