I provide a range of system level services to schools to assist them in developing and delivering the best possible educational programs to students with special educational needs.
I work with school personnel to analyze the needs of a school from an organizational perspective. I then assist the school to design and develop a service delivery model that will meet commonly accepted standards in special education.
Accreditation support for International schools
I offer support to schools preparing for accreditation by CIS and WASC to assist them to meet the standards expected in the education of students with special educational needs.
For schools seeking preliminary accreditation, I provide support after the initial visit and work with the school’s special education department (or lone special educator) to ensure that the school addresses the items identified for action.
Services provided include:
- Review of admissions policies to ensure the school only enrolls students for whom they can provide services
- Examination of:
- Internal referral, assessment and intervention procedures
- Individualized program planning process
- Effectiveness of monitoring of student progress and reporting to parents
- Preparation of documents:
- Policy and procedures guidelines
- Handbook of procedures
- Service delivery model
- Assessment protocols for different disabilities
I also offer support to schools that are in the self-study phase of the re-accreditation process.
- Advice and guidance to self-study committees
- Design and analyses of self-study data collection
Assistance with the preparation or review of draft reports
I design systems for school-wide and system-wide assessment of learning and behavioural problems. I develop pre-referral intervention approaches that schools can utilize to prioritize cases for referral to specialists. I also provide professional development for special education teachers in assessment including the administration of both formal and informal tests.
Sometimes schools are aware of the need to make changes in various parts of their service delivery but are unsure of the best way to proceed.
In some cases, more information may be the deciding factor in the changes they decide to implement. At other times, there is a need to determine the receptivity of the system to change and to judge the most productive way to proceed.
A needs assessment is a non-threatening way to acquire information and to judge the receptivity of those individuals most likely to be impacted by any change. Examples of needs assessments I have conducted include:
- Teacher knowledge about student assessment (for a school division)
- School counseling program
- Needs assessment and action plan to provide services to Intellectually Able (gifted and talented) students
- Special education department (referral process and service delivery)
I work with school divisions, schools and social service organizations to develop programs to accommodate children and adolescents with special educational needs. I have developed specialized programs for school-age students, especially those with social-emotional and behavioural difficulties.
As part of my approach to program development, I adhere to three major principles: the need for a philosophical basis to the program, a focus on accountability, and clarity in terms of program structure and organization.
A clearly articulated philosophy for the program focuses the attention of program staff and others on what the program is intended to accomplish. Program goals arise naturally from a statement of philosophy. A philosophy and goals are fundamental in building and maintaining a strong team. I consider my work with program staff at this deep level of values and attitudes to be absolutely critical in terms of the more mundane aspects of program development.
In terms of my own philosophical orientation, I am strongly committed to a positive approach to the management of difficult behaviour and I favour the selection of the least intrusive approach to intervention. For children and youth with serious behaviour disorders or challenging mental health issues, I focus on assisting program staff to create a therapeutic environment that is conducive to growth and development for both participants and staff. I believe that social relationships and interpersonal interactions can be structured to be therapeutic.
For program serving clients with intellectual impairments, I strongly believe that quality of life, both during the developmental period and in adult life, should be a major guiding principle. Quality of life is improved by assisting individuals to move towards greater independence by increasing their skill level in self-help domains, in the productive use of leisure time, and in community integration.
Programs must be accountable both fiscally and in terms of goal attainment in order to maintain their integrity. I operate according to a databased approach where decisions about program participants are made by reference to carefully collected data. Participant progress is monitored through ongoing data collection and through an individualized learning plan (also known as an IEP or an IPP). Careful documentation of the progress of participants towards the goals outlined in their individualized plan safeguards the interests of the participants and provides protection for program staff and the organization under which they operate. I assist program staff to set up data collection methods appropriate to the needs of the participants and develop a system to plan and monitor individualized learning plans.
Program structure and organization
I design an appropriate structure for the operation of a program and develop organizational tools suitable to the program. Examples include:
- Referral and program entry and exit procedures
- Monitoring and reporting procedures
- Planning process for individualized learning plans (IEP or IPP)
- Guidelines for the operation of teams
- Safety protocols, including the use of a time-out room and physical restraint
Formal evaluation of a program is often undertaken to demonstrate fiscal responsibility. It is reasonable to want to know if the costs of a program really do deliver the intended benefits and to what extent this is done efficiently. But program evaluation can serve other, equally worthy, ends.
Program evaluation is an appropriate way to judge to what extent the program is meeting the needs for which it was originally intended. It can be an opportunity to revisit the original goals of the program and to renew the original commitment. Equally, program evaluation can lead naturally into program renewal and to the development of a new vision and mandate.
Program evaluation need not be threatening if the staff of the program is involved in the development and conduct of the evaluation. This can provide an opportunity for program staff to be intimately involved in the regeneration of a program or in the development of a new vision.
Strategic planning and policy development
I assist organizations to align (or develop) policies and practices in special education with their overall mission statement or vision. Examples of activities I have undertaken include:
- Development of policies and procedures and an accompanying manual to direct the work of the special education department
- Development of a within-school referral and intervention system to ensure student learning support needs are identified efficiently and effectively
- Design and implementation of a case management system to deliver more effective services to special needs students
- Design and implementation of an information management system (including a computerized database of special needs students)
- Analysis of faculty skill level and development of PD plans
- Identification of specialized skills needed to serve particular student populations (such as ASD, ADD, Dyslexia etc.)
- Review and development of admissions policies and procedures
Key benefits of a comprehensive PD program
- Identification of an area for training enables a school to focus energy in that direction
- Impact of targeted PD is more pronounced
- Teachers are aware of the PD initiative and goals and understand the need to demonstrate the benefits of training in the everyday performance of their duties
- Targeted training focuses on increasing the knowledge and skills of teachers and other staff to a functional level so transfer to daily activities is enhanced
- Follow-up and consultation with participants individually enhances their confidence in utilizing new skills.
Topics of interest to administrators
- Challenges facing international schools in special education
- Developing services for students with exceptional needs
- Instituting a School Based Learning Support Team
- Professional development for teachers