My consulting practice embraces a diverse range of topics and issues. Very often these topics are as individualized as the students, families and educators whose needs they address. Broadly speaking, most of my consulting work falls under the following categories:
Inclusive Education Consulting:
This service is designed for those who strive to become more inclusive in their service delivery to all students with disabilities. I assess your current program, recommend an action plan that highlights best practices within inclusive education, and offer tailored technical assistance and training based on the needs of your school system. Typically, I visit classrooms and observe, provide feedback and undertake job-embedded coaching of successful strategies and practices with members of your team. In essence, I become an external partner and active team member, acting as a resource for your systems change. We work together to create the program you need to succeed, designing content that supports students’ full engagement in grade-level academics regardless of how complex their learning supports may be.
Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE):
I provide Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) services to schools, and families. Typically, an IEE is composed of four steps: an evaluation of individual student needs and relevant planning considerations using the COACH assessment (Giangreco, M. et. al., 2011); a full-day observation of the individual; a written report that highlights what is working and offers recommendations for future planning; and a feedback meeting to share information with the team. This consulting service addresses two important topics: it creates an opportunity to revisit the issues that led to the initial consideration of an IEE; and provides a forum to discuss possible strategies and solutions. An IEE is a valuable piece of information, especially when used for making significant program changes, or when used as a part of the three year re-evaluation process.
Areas of evaluation and constructs are individually created and negotiated based on the purpose and needs of the individual, as well as the needs of the team.
Individualized Observation, Feedback and Coaching
Less formal than an IEE, individualized observation, feedback and coaching delivers an abundance of ideas and strategies for creating individual student programs, but without a formal evaluation. This consultation allows me to take the “balcony view” of a school context as well as of a student’s day, and offer ideas of logical next steps, best practice ideas, and individualized adaptations specific to the student within their academic settings to engage in grade-level content completely. This service is often requested by schools as well as families, and acts as a logical first step to creating more successful programming for individual students or entire school populations. Observations and feedback meetings can be ongoing, with coaching that allows for a job-embedded style of professional learning for the service providers, inclusive of paraprofessionals and families.
IEP and 504 Meetings:
IEP and 504 plans can make or break a students’ educational experience, as well as create a platform for teachers to succeed or fail in their support of these students. My work with school teams creates IEP and 504 plans that are central to the success of a student with unique learning needs in the least restrictive environment – general education classrooms and communities. I am able to participate on IEP or 504 teams as a non-adversarial resource, facilitator, mediator, and/or professional developer. I encourage teams to focus on what the student does well, and help them develop meaningful goals and objectives that can be fully supported and realized by general and special education providers throughout the student’s day.
I also offer staff development and technical assistance as a separate consulting service for teachers and service providers to help them prepare and write student-centered, positive and useful IEPs and 504s, as well as coach parents through the legalities and process of writing and being a fully participating member of an IEP or 504 team. My approach has been called revolutionary and in this consultation I share those techniques with you and your team.
Virtual platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, etc. allows me to participate as an IEP or 504 team member long-distance. I currently consult in this fashion nation-wide.
Person-Centered Planning Tools:
Creating schools that support diverse learning needs often requires tools to assist in the thinking and planning for individual students. This becomes especially important when teams of professionals and parents come up against barriers to working together in a positive manner. As a part of this consult, I employ strategies drawn from proven methodologies such as Making Action Plans (MAPS), Circle of Friends, and Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope (PATH), and Choosing Outcomes and Accommodations for Children (COACH) to help remove barriers and enable the team to move forward to develop solutions that are based on students’ valued life outcomes.
For example, I have used MAP and PATH to successfully:
- Transition plan from one grade to another, one school to another, and from school to life post-graduation
- Create IEPs for students whom the team could not agree on delivery of services and were in mediation or due process procedures
- Craft person-centered IEPs and long-term plans for students with especially complex learning and behavioral support needs
- Develop plans for long-term organizational and systemic changes. For example, I employed PATH to assist a large, urban district leadership team plan and implement a district-wide, highly contested policy around desegregation issues.
Examples of the use of Circles of Friends:
- Problem-solve and plan around peer supports and development of friends for individual students with disabilities
- Create school and district-wide initiatives that focus on positive friendships, anti-bullying, and positive school cultures
Examples of the use of the COACH process:
- Create IEPs that capitalize and prioritize the most important learning priorities from the family’s perspective, narrowing down the thousands of teachable opportunities to a workable and agreed upon number of goals.
- Use as a part of a three year re-evaluation to better understand the post-secondary vision and learning priorities of individuals and families, creating more efficient and effective IEP planning. Revisiting the COACH for re-evaluations following the initial assessment are useful and recommended.
My consulting can involve facilitating the actual process and use of these tools, and/or training personnel in the use of these processes and tools (using a train the trainer model).