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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Service Mapping: Teaching Students Better

At the start of the school year, teachers are usually scrambling to unpack boxes, complete needed forms, set-up classrooms, prepare early school year paperwork, and meet with colleagues to create teaching/learning schedules. In this rush of activity sometimes students' services don't get the deep attention they deserve, and when this happens schedules of service delivery may not be ideal. How can we do this better?

As I think about this today, I have a few thoughts.

First, carve time out at the start of the year to read students service-delivery plans. The plans are usually thick and not easy to read, but nevertheless, read through them and turn them into a simpler document that tells how many minutes a week a child receives services and what services that child receives.

Similarly look at special program lists too. Which children take instrumental lessons, and what children may have other special programming such as affinity group, guidance lunches, special school jobs, and other programs.

Then listen carefully to student exchange sessions. Hear who each child is and what he/she needs. Mark that on the same chart. So in the end you have a chart of all students with their many, many specific and special programming needs and services.

Once you have that chart, begin to think about the scheduling in place, and as you think and consider that scheduling, make sure that the scheduling does the following:
  • Allow students to get their most important services and programming at optimal times for teaching and learning.
  • Make sure that students are not missing one valuable lesson or activity due to programming requirements.
  • Prioritize most important teaching/learning for each child and all children and learning/teaching that is less important.
  • Reach out to request extra supports when needed in the schedule.
  • Make sure each child has the supplies and supports they need to meet the program requirements--materials such as at-home technology, at-home study materials, in-school study materials and resources.
Once you have a good teaching/learning map and schedule, make a copy and put it in a place in your room so that you can make sure there is fidelity to services. Sometimes at schools, fidelity to schedules is a problem, and this can really stand in the way of a students' success. 

Ideally you will carve out planning time each week to coordinate services and teaching/learning collaboration and efforts. Use that time wisely to make sure students are receiving the scheduled services and that the services overall are meeting students needs and interests. Assess well often so that you may rethink the services delivery time and schedule related to students who may not be making good progress. 

What we do at the start of the school year is essential to success throughout the year. The more that we can target our time in ways that matter, the better we are able to support each and every student.