So I am waiting to hear from the wannabe pedagogue as to his ideas for Pearlsky on “vocational training” day and how they fit into his “modality” thing. If you don’t know what “modality” means, especially in the way he is using it, don’t fret, neither does he. You know, big words, small mind kind of thing.
I get an email with a Word doc attached, not sure why he did it that way, but here is the document (note: “MC” is a teacher who barely knows Pearlsky):
I believe in a collaborative approach to education. Due to the fact that I have only known your daughter for five days, I prefer to make decisions regarding her ESY programming only after consulting and collaborating with the professionals who have instructed/observed her over a much longer period of time. After the students left today, I sat down with MC to discuss how we can most appropriately utilize Wednesday’s “vocational training” as an engaging modality to address Pearlsky’s IEP goals. After collaborating with M we decided on the following:
Goal number to be addressed: #1
Specific Goal Focus: Communication
Measurable Annual Goal: Pearlsky will use a variety of communication techniques to request activities or the recurrence of activities and/or objects to initiate interactions with peers and adults.
Vocational Training Environment: Copy Center
Description of Task: With staff assistance Pearlsky will deliver a completed copy job to its proper recipient. After completing one delivery Pearlsky will be asked if she wants to make another delivery. When presented with this choice she will respond by independently hitting a switch that says “yes” to indicate that she would like to deliver the next completed copy job.
Goal number to be addresses: #4
Specific Goal Focus: Vision
Measurable Annual Goal: Given several visual stimuli, in varying fields, Pearlsky will fixate and track specific visual stimulus.
Vocational Training Environment: Table outside of school store
Description of Task: Different colored and textured sponges will be put on top of a black background. Pearlsky will be encouraged to choose a sponge to clean a table. Given these visual stimuli (colored sponges) Pearlsky will maintain fixation at near point in 3 out of 4 trails. Once she has focused on a particular sponge a staff member will point to the sponge she is focused on and ask if she would like to use/touch that sponge. She will reply by utilizing a switch that says “yes” to indicate that she would like to use that particular sponge. With staff assistance (hand-over-hand) she will use the sponge to wipe off a table*. This physical hand movement will address range of motion and purposeful movement (Goal #2 – Motor).
*The table Pearlsky will assist in wiping clean will be labeled peanut and sesame free and monitored by staff to assure these signs have been complied with.
In the coming weeks I will collaborate with Pearlsky’s PT,OT, Speech, and Vision specialists to utilize the “vocational training” modality to design engaging lessons to address Pearlsky’s specific IEP goals.
Seems like he put me in my place, no?
Subject: Collaboration is moot with the wrong collaborators, no?
Your belief in “a collaborative approach to education” (as you appear to define it meaning collaboration among educators) is a good pedagogical goal, but the OT and Pearlsky’s teacher for the past year are no longer available as far as I know, and they were the some of the most knowledgeable in this particular area. M has not had the one on one with Pearlsky, nor many of the discussions, to be of great value, and you have had none. A “collaborative approach” can only be as strong as those collaborating, no?
For the goal of “Communication” you offer this as “vocational training”:
“With staff assistance Pearlsky will deliver a completed copy job to its proper recipient. After completing one delivery Pearlsky will be asked if she wants to make another delivery. When presented with this choice she will respond by independently hitting a switch that says “yes” to indicate that she would like to deliver the next completed copy job.”
As has been discussed repeatedly with teachers and therapists, Pearlsky has no communication skills. There is no known way to know what Pearlsky wants, although extreme basics such as hunger and exhaustion can usually be correctly inferred. Your situation has Pearlsky being asked if she “wants” something, in this case it is to do another delivery. No matter how she responds, the response can be considered correct. She may “want” yes, another delivery, or no, no more. You have no way of knowing; however she acts, either intentionally or randomly, the entire exercise is moot. Unless you know what her intent is, what is the point of offering something where all choices are acceptable? Additionally, we know from years of experience that she does not repeatedly, intentionally make a choice, but many also believe that she has a level of understanding of what is going on around her and more. So by asking her a question, and the odds are she understands the question, but yet she is not capable of giving the answer she would want to, is that not mean to her? This is the basis of how and why she got out of NCLB testing (of any form) … [link to our website removed]
For vision, you want to have her choose a sponge and then indicate that “yes” she wants that one. Again, how will you differentiate from random? Or from her giving you a hard time intentionally? And then what is the point of “hand over hand” movements?
Offering Pearlsky choices, either unary as you appear to be doing with just a “yes” option, or binary, or any other type, where all choices or actions are acceptable, is futile and potentially very frustrating to Pearlsky. None of what you are offering as vocational training will enhance Pearlsky’s abilities in any way, which I understand is a lofty goal in its own right, but neither will these activities show what Pearlsky may or may not be capable of. And I do not see how they will in any way encourage Pearlsky to work on her IEP goals (your definition of vocational training), in fact, they may frustrate her completely.
There has been no success with switches over the 18 or so years they have been tried, why assume there will be some now especially when other behaviors show more promise?
Personally, I believe the idea of “vocational training,” under any definition, is not appropriate for Pearlsky, especially if it consists of actions that at best will prove nothing and at worse will frustrate her. I would rather see that particular time spent either on more appropriate exercises in communication skills (as discussed at length over the past 12 years), or in socialization. But then, my opinions and suggestions were not solicited, as I am not part of the collaboration you speak of, so this too may be moot. You specify “… after consulting and collaborating with the professionals who have instructed/observed her over a much longer period of time” specifically leaving out those who may actually know her best.
Thank you for your clarifications.
And this is what I get back …
I agree with you that “A collaborative approach can only be as strong as those collaborating.” I wish those who you feel have had the most success and knowledge about Pearlsky were present to collaborate with me and the ESY staff (especially since I am new) but I have no choice but to work and seek the advice of those professionals who are present. I would like to get your opinions and suggestions so please let me know a good time/day we could talk on the phone (evenings after 7 work best for me).
In regards to the use of switches your stated, “There has been no success with switches over the 18 or so years or so that they have been tried, why assume there will be some now especially when other behaviors show more promise?” Can you please describe the other behaviors that have shown more promise?
I look forward to speaking with you soon.
Maybe there’s hope.