Speech and language skills are vital in the general education classroom. These skills can have an impact on how well students can access their education, express their needs, and interact with their teachers and peers.
Effective collaboration between teachers and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) is vital for the success of the students in your related services program. By collaborating, students can receive even stronger supports, which helps to ensure that their educational needs are being met.
In addition to providing schools with qualified SLPs, Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) Clinical Directors provide ongoing day-to-day program support. We can help your teachers and therapists collaborate more effectively—which in turn supports the responsibilities of busy administrators.
Here are some of our top tips for how teachers and SLPs can effectively collaborate.
Make Sure that Teachers Understand the Role of SLPs in the General Education Classroom
It’s important that teachers fully understand the role of an SLP in the classroom so that they know where and how to collaborate most effectively. As you know, SLPs can help students to:
- Understand classroom instruction
- Develop and maintain relationships with others
- Express their needs in the classroom
- Understand classroom rules and expectations
SLPs can also identify at-risk students, perform communication skills assessments, develop and implement IEPs, and implement classroom accommodations as necessary for the student.
Foster Regular Collaboration with an MTSS Model
Adopting a multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) approach to related services is a natural way to encourage regular collaboration between your teachers and therapists. It’s likely that an MTSS model isn’t new to you. You may even implement it for students who need additional supports in subjects like reading and math.
At PTS, we also encourage MTSS programming for related services. Doing so allows teachers and therapists like SLPs to work together to provide tiered levels of supports for students who aren’t yet on caseload. This ensures only the right students get on caseload, while also maximizing the supports offered to all students.
The results? You’ll likely see less students on your therapists’ caseload and a decrease in overidentification, all while enhancing support for students. They’ll benefit, as will teachers and therapists–and ultimately, your budget can benefit, too!
We offer in-service trainings to our partnering schools to help them adopt an MTSS model. These trainings help to empower teachers to offer general education-level supports as a part of regular classroom instruction.
Our SLPs lead trainings and design group interventions that teachers can use in the classroom. They can also provide general education-level interventions as a part of a push-in or co-taught classroom model.
Learn more about MTSS here.
Choose a Classroom-Based Delivery Model that Works for You
As you know, each student’s needs are unique, and many may benefit from a pull-out delivery model or a combination of pull-out and various classroom-based delivery models. Teachers and SLPs can collaborate to determine the right model for them and the student. Make sure to adjust these models regularly throughout the year based on results.
When determining your model, make sure that the teacher, SLP, and any aids who may be in the classroom understand their roles. For example:
- Will the SLP and teacher teach the lesson together?
- Will one teach and the other observe?
Push-in or co-taught models provide more natural opportunities for teachers and SLPs to collaborate, communicate, and keep everyone on the same page. Keeping a student in the general education classroom also allows students to learn in their least restrictive environment, while giving all students the opportunity to benefit from Tier 1 supports offered by the SLP.
Encourage your teachers and SLPs to take time at the beginning of every year to go over their students’ speech and language goals. Administrators can facilitate these meetings to keep everyone on the same page.
The SLP can inform teachers how their students’ goals can impact them in the classroom and what kinds of supports they’ll need. They can also go over any testing accommodations the student may require, as well as any other accommodations that are required to follow the student’s IEP.
Conversely, teachers can provide previews of the materials they’ll be using in the classroom for the coming year so that SLPs can incorporate some of this material into their program during pull-out sessions.
This is also a good opportunity for SLPs to provide resources that teachers can implement in the classroom to help the student reach their IEP goals. These classroom-based interventions—when used as part of an MTSS model—can support all students, not just the ones with an IEP.
According to a 2014 study from Bowling Green State University, a lack of time is often the most-cited barrier to collaboration between teachers and SLPs.* Acknowledge this barrier by allowing teachers and therapists to build collaboration time into their schedules.
If your teachers and SLPs are meeting regularly, meetings don’t need to be long. Set a standing weekly check-in of at least 10 minutes. A little can go a long way. Use virtual communication methods if schedules are too difficult to sync up, or if teachers and SLPs are on different campuses or in different buildings.
PTS Can Help Improve Collaboration between SLPs and Teachers
PTS takes a 360-degree view of therapeutic services that we can help you apply in your school to allow for more effective collaboration between teachers and SLPs. We also provide qualified therapists, like speech-language pathologists, that you can add to your team of related services providers.
Contact PTS today to find out how we can help improve collaboration between your teachers and therapists today!
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