Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Seeing Success? Think Your Job is Done? Think Again!

With summer around the corner, I am beginning to get the sense that folks are starting to wrap up and wind down already. Not me! I am seeing great things happen and I want to squeeze every last drop out of it all as long as I can. My thoughts go to some of the successes I am seeing after a long year of observing, setting up trials and implementation.

I have a second grader who has his new laptop, Clicker 5 and a trackball. His staff has bought in and he is gaining computer skills. It has taken all year to get the staff and student trained and he is starting to turn in his written work along with the class - a success in the making!
There is the high school girl I see that has myriads of words and ideas cascading through her brain and converging all at once until her syntax and conversation is a broken jumble. You can imagine what that does to her writing! With Xmind Mind Mapping and DSpeech, she has been able to map out her thoughts, write out her sentences in DSpeech and hear them in a cohesive orderly form - you should have seen her face the first time she heard what she wrote come out with text to speech and say and mean what she really wanted. I have shown her teachers the strategy and they are using it with her to self-accommodate her writing - AND - the programs will be on EVERY computer in the building this next year for all the students to use.
One of my more severely health impaired students in an outlying rural community has had a laptop speech device and Kurzwewil 3000 on it, but has not really tapped my services to help implement accessible instructional materials plans. Out of desperation, the school finally pulled me in to consult with the team and get them thinking and building a protocol for getting lesson plans, handouts, worksheets, etc. collected early and identify terxtbooks and literature to access from Bookshare. They have collected all he needs for the first 3 months of next year so we can get things scanned and downloaded and ready to go next week. Wow! Another success in its' formative stages.
I could go on with other stories of great kids who are seeing assistive technology integration that is working and supporting them - and I could be tempted to sit back and go "Whew! That was a long haul and now it is in place. I can rest on the accomplishments and move on to somene else." But that would be the biggest mistake I could make!
There is the aftermath of a big push, after all the equipment has been acquired, folks have bought in, and you think the staff has got it. That is when we think as assistive technology specialists that it is OK for us to fade into the background and busy ourselves with the next big push and move on.
That is when you need to roll up your sleeves and make sure the implementation is ongoing and plan out your roles with staff and know who is doing what, how, when and where. Make sure there is accountability and be the team's best cheering section.
Implementation will make or break the assistive technology plan put in place. With summer around the corner take every effort to get pieces in place so you have something to build on next fall.

All the best to you!