I was driving through a spring snowstorm in the mountains Wednesday morning at 6:45. I was on my way to an implementation training session. I would be facing a superintendent, a principal, several teachers, a speech pathologist, a resource specialist, a parent and her advocate. I had been up late the night before preparing some copies of information on Internet sites, links to resources, talking book and braille subscription services, ideas for implementing the e-text for the group to look through (the blog posts I wrote here on the topic were used for a lot of it). We had been able to establish eligibility for the student with Bookshare and now were ready to look at the state service sanctioned by NIMAC and how to put this all together for the student.
Since we have been exploring e-text and print disability this week, I thought I might bring in this experience because it seems to add some relevency to the discussion. Because after all, when it comes down to it, if we can't successfully implement AT we feel is worthwhile, what good will it do the student? So...I will continue.
We split our 3 hour work session into 2 parts. The first section was spent reviewing 2 main objectives for the student, going over Oregon Special Education Law as it addresses access to printed materials and IDEA and access in a timely manner. We then took time to go over the services and tools I had outlined in their packets.
Here is where we began to see useful strategy planning for implementation:
We used a large pad and taped our brainstorming strategies on the wall. We had identified one main task/objective and set out to identify the strategies that would work, who would implement them, how often the teachers would meet to discuss the process and make adjustments, what training I would come back to do later and how often, etc. We left the meeting with a concrete training day next month, a list of things to learn, an in-service meeting before school next fall and a start to what looks like a promising action plan.
I left the meeting proud of the cooperation by the group, the postive way everyone contributed and the effort that was put out and seen by all as necessary in the coming year.
As I reflected on the processes of the morning and tried to sort out why it all clicked, I tried to pat myself on the back for being a great group leader, organized and ready to guide the group into a succesful inmplementation plan, but, even though I know those elements need to be there and were to a certain extent, they still could have meant nothing if... if what? ...if people couldn't have put their own differences aside and looked out for the best interests of the student.
I can have the best laid plans, but if the folks I am working with take sides and can't work together - well then, the only one truly hurt is the student. I know that there are probably things about my personality that help disarm hostitlity and help folks relax and see that we are a team, that no one is going to bite their head off because they tried something that didn't work, etc. but still, as I drove on, I kept coming back to that principle of being positive and being a part of a solution.
Supporting the team and being a contributing member is so important and it really made itself evident in the group process today. I believe that behind every positive and successful implementation of assistive technology, there is a collaborative, cooperative team willing to put out their best effort for a child.
I just have to say thank you to all those folks that worked so hard and were willing to give in - and also say thank you to everyone reading this who are doing the same in all your corners of the world. My hat goes off to you!
All the best!