School Matters: How to Make Collaboration Click We all want to work in partnership with our fellow service providers. Consider these pointers to get teamwork going in the classroom. School Matters
School Matters  |   February 01, 2014
School Matters: How to Make Collaboration Click
Author Notes
  • Deborah Dixon, MA, CCC-SLP, is ASHA director of school services. ·
    Deborah Dixon, MA, CCC-SLP, is ASHA director of school services. ·×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / School Matters
School Matters   |   February 01, 2014
School Matters: How to Make Collaboration Click
The ASHA Leader, February 2014, Vol. 19, 32-33. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.19022014.32
The ASHA Leader, February 2014, Vol. 19, 32-33. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.19022014.32
Collaboration is a process we use every day, yet hearing the term within the context of service delivery seems to strike fear in the hearts of many speech-language pathologists.
First of all, do we really collaborate in our daily lives? Of course we do. Do you consult your significant other about decisions affecting your family? Do you work with others to organize car pools, play dates or social events with friends and family? Do you serve on committees, boards or community groups that work together for a specific purpose? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, then you are already a collaborator—and collaboration probably makes your life easier and produces better outcomes!
The same can happen when you collaborate in service delivery in a school setting. Collaboration takes many forms and is a dynamic, changing process.
What does collaboration look like?
There’s no one right way to collaborate, but there are some approaches that you can adapt to fit the needs of your students and team members. Collaboration usually involves taking turns assuming the lead. Here are a few common paradigms adapted from an article that appeared in Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. These proven models continue to be effective today:
  • One teaches, one “drifts”: The SLP or teacher assumes primary instructional responsibility while the other assists students with their work, monitors behavior and corrects assignments.

  • Station teaching: The SLP and teacher divide instructional content into two parts (for example, vocabulary and content; new concepts and review). Groups switch so that all students receive instruction from each teacher.

  • Parallel teaching: The SLP and teacher each instruct half the group, addressing the same instructional objectives.

  • Remedial teaching: The SLP or teacher instructs students who have mastered the material while the other reteaches those students who have not.

  • Supplemental teaching: The SLP or teacher presents the lesson using a standard format. The other adapts the lesson for those students who cannot master the material.

  • Team teaching: Both the SLP and teacher present the lesson to all students. They may share the presentation or have one teacher begin the lesson with the other taking over when appropriate.

What’s the point of collaboration?
So why collaborate? Does it really help? Yes. SLPs learn more about classroom expectations, pacing, communication styles and content when they collaborate in the classroom.
In a clinical forum, school-based SLPs reported that classroom-based treatment allows an SLP to interpret the functionality of the targeted language skills and to observe their carryover into classroom work. Additionally, a recent article in LSHSS showed how a collaborative model resulted in students’ higher scores on subtests of listening and writing.
On the flip side, classroom teachers learn more about the speech and language needs of students and also may learn ways to facilitate and support improved communication. When teachers gain these skills, the SLP is not the only one teaching, reinforcing and generalizing communication goals—the whole team is helping. With the adoption of Common Core State Standards, classroom teachers will focus on the communication skills necessary to achieve these standards, and SLPs can be instrumental in helping students reach those goals.
Where to begin?
First, think through the process. Who are your collaboration partners? Kyomi Gregory, an SLP who has collaborative experience in the New York Public Schools, reports that “the teacher that I collaborated with just graduated with her master’s and was brand new to the school. She had lots of innovative ideas and saw the benefits of collaboration.” Many SLPs report success when they start small, and choose a team member who is interested in collaborating and sees the benefits. It’s important for teachers to understand your role, and for you to understand theirs.
Also secure some support. Successful collaboration may require, for example, additional training, more materials or access to more technology. Determine what you need. Consider what the goals of collaboration are, how you will communicate with administrators initially, and how the schedule and roles and responsibilities will be laid out.
Finally, determine how to measure progress, how to develop and deliver accommodations and adaptations, and the best communication strategies to use between the collaborators.
Share your success
If you hit on something that works, share the results with others. You can conduct an inservice program for the building faculty or the special education or SLP teams, or even post a message on the ASHA Community, propose a blog post for ASHAsphere, or post a Facebook or Twitter message. Celebrate and acknowledge your efforts and success! The more others see collaboration working, the more they will want to try it, too.
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February 2014
Volume 19, Issue 2