Collaborating for the challenge of the future : strategic directions for supporting students with special needs

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Harvie, May
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 1994
The education of students with special needs requires the knowledge of professionals from many disciplines. Traditionally, School Boards have hired Psychologists, Speech Language Pathologists, Social Workers and sometimes Occupational and Physiotherapists. While these professionals have worked for the same organization, they have operated in isolation resulting in fragmented services to children and their families. The study traces the efforts of the Student Services Department of one School District to become a unified interdisciplinary team with a vision for the future which would give them the ability to foster collaboration with the school personnel and with other agencies. After an initial review of the literature in leadership, team processing, strategic planning and interdisciplinary collaboration, five specific tasks were identified as desirable outcomes (a) the Student Services Department would work as a team; (b) Student Services Personnel would collaborate with each other in solving problems related to children; (c) Student Services personnel would identify ways to collaborate with each other and support school staff; (d) Student Services personnel would employ the team problem solving method at Case Conferences with school staff and parents; and (e) Student Services personnel would collaborate with other agencies. In order to build the team concept, Student Services staff undertook Strategic Planning which was a unifying force in allowing the vision, mission and objectives to be determined by consensus. A Needs Assessment was conducted with school staff to determine how the team at Student Services could best collaborate with them in providing services to students with special needs. Information was also gleaned from an audit of the Instructional Support Department of which Student Services is a branch. The Team facilitates Case Conferences in a collaborative processing model as opposed to the expert model. Although there are beginnings of interagency collaboration, many barriers still have to be overcome. The results are promising in the area of interdisciplinary collaboration within the same organization. Further research is necessary into making interagency collaboration successful.
viii, 132 leaves ; 29 cm.
Children with disabilities -- Education -- Alberta -- Case studies , Teaching teams -- Alberta -- Case studies , Group decision making -- Alberta -- Case studies