Pina, Resource Consultant from CISS interviewed Brenda Fick-Kahler, Program Supervisor, Bernie Seville and Darren Walker, educators at the Children’s Village at Stoneway. The purpose for this interview was for them to share their process in contributing to Team Service Plans.
Resource Consultant: How do you prepare for a Team Service Plan?
Brenda: It’s a collaborative on-going process within our program blending the Early Learning for Every Child Today (ELECT) with Emerging Curriculum. The team has weekly meetings where they evaluate the program and discuss the children’s needs. From the time the child enters the program, the educators begin taking notes and developing profiles for all the children. When CISS is involved, the team meets with the Resource Consultant on a regular basis. With our process, we are able to deal with issues, resolve challenges and try different approaches. This style of programming lends to the children being successful.
Resource Consultant: Do you prepare a profile for each child in the program? How often do you revise it? Do you use what you’ve prepared in the profile towards the TSP?
Darren: Once we’ve done the observation on a child supported by CISS, the observation is added to the child’s communication binder. I know I have two children identified with special needs and I interact with them, using the suggestions from the Resource Consultant. I take photographs of the children during activities, share a copy with the parents and another copy placed put in the binder. I try to keep the binder up to date.
Resource Consultant: Are you actively doing a child profile?
Brenda: Not on every child. We have progress notes. If there is a child or family raising some concerns, we jot them down and keep an eye. The children’s skills are visible through the Documentation Panels (Doc Panels) so when we have red flags about their development, we set up additional activities. When children are supported by CISS, the educator, through the Doc Panels, wants to highlight the inclusivity of the activity and demonstrate to the parents their child’s success in the program.
Bernie: And we also let the parents know about their child’s progress, concerns and successes. These conversations keep the parents informed so there are never any surprises.
Darren: When you are talking with a parent daily, it’s easier to pass the information back and forth.
Bernie: If we have some challenges, we discuss, brainstorm in our meetings and keep in touch with our Resource Consultant. That way we are on the same page and know what strategy we are going to use.
Resource Consultant: I find those phone calls very helpful. You call or send me an e-mail right away. This keeps me in the loop and I can keep track of what is happening.
Brenda: The team really tries to be pro-active. Everybody’s teaching style is different regarding their interaction and relationship with the children but with open communication, educators can tweak their style so that it creates a flowing environment.
Resource Consultant: Why is it important for you to be well prepared for the TSP?
Bernie: When you have all the information needed then you can come up with a more intelligent decision.
Darren: I think it’s very important to be prepared because you want the children to be able to move forward.
Brenda: We value the resources that CISS offers which makes our job a little bit easier. The team comes prepared for the benefit of the child, the family and themselves. It’s just a win/win.
Resource Consultant: Do you prepare the TSP as a team or is it just the main educator?
Darren: For me, I prepare it individually.
Resource Consultant: Brenda, as the supervisor of the program, why do you feel it is important for you to attend each TSP?
Brenda: I want to be supportive to the staff, the family and the child. I like to be informed of what the needs of the child and my staff are. I want to offer my suggestions and strategies to support the team’s success.
Darren: Plus, if we have a question for Brenda, we don’t have to go through all the background history. She’s up to date.
Brenda: I especially like attending the first one, to build that relationship with the parents. I don’t work front line all the time with the child and the family. I meet them usually end of day and during registration at intake, so it helps strengthen that relationship.
Darren: It’s like a family get together.
Bernie: It’s a collaboration.
Resource Consultant: What do you feel are the benefits of the TSP for your program, the child and the family?
Darren: Well, to make sure we’re on the right path and that everything is working. If it’s not working, then we have to review and come up with new strategies.
Bernie: It’s always beneficial to have something written out. Everybody’s on the same page and knows what strategies to use. You can assess the child’s progress and evaluate the success of the team service plan. If you are not seeing that, you go back to the drawing board and say what did we do right and what can we do better?
Darren: And knowing the individual. Every person succeeds differently. Every person progresses at a different pace. So to know the child is to know if they are succeeding. One child may take 2 months and another may only take 2 weeks to learn a skill.
Brenda: It’s important for the staff to have something in writing. I think that they can go back to the team service plan to regain their focus. It’s a really great tool and support to the team.
Bernie: And when a new educator comes in you can say, “here’s the binder.”
Resource Consultant: Do you feel the strategies in the TSP help other children in your program?
Bernie: It’s a really good resource for us.
Brenda: If you have a child with similar behaviours, it’s worth trying. If you have a child with special needs successfully included in the program, all children benefit and the group moves forward.
Darren: No one is singled out. It’s just a strategy that we use on everyone.
Bernie: It’s true. When you look at the TSP you’re not only thinking of one child, you’re also thinking of other children. In the TSP I’m currently working on, I’m reminded to use positive words and apply this strategy to all the children.
Brenda: The strategies in the TSP can support challenging behaviours. For example, if a child is having a meltdown day, the agreed upon strategies help decrease the duration and intensity of the behaviour. The TSP supports the educators skill set as they are continually renewing their skills and keeping them up to date.
Resource Consultant: How do you link the TSP with your daily programming?
Darren: By implementing it as a regular routine.
Bernie: What do we do in order to reach this goal? How can I use my programming and my interactions to help this child succeed? You plan your activities with the goals you have.
Brenda: I think by keeping ELECT and the developmental milestones in the back of our minds. That’s our programing style and blending it with the Emergent Curriculum. It’s a balance between a child’s interests and skill sets.
Bernie: We always go back to the children’s interests through webbing and as educator’s we link it to the developmental milestones and to the goals we’re trying to achieve.
Resource Consultant: Describe your partnerships with CISS; the family; the school and with your staff.
Brenda: It’s a partnership, it’s our philosophy that you are here to help us. The staff welcomes all resources to support themselves and the children. If parents have private resources that they want to tap into to benefit their child, why would you put up a barrier?
Communicating with the school – we’re not going to be successful if we don’t have open communication.
Darren: Open communication and relationships with parents are key. Parents are resources and I often say to them, if you’re in early come on in and join us for a little bit.
Brenda: The overall philosophy of the program and the agency is we want the family to feel welcomed and valued; and we want them to appreciate the services we offer and I think they do.
Bernie: We are all in this together. We want them to feel that we respect and value their input. “It takes a village to raise a child.”
Brenda: We spend a lot of time with our kids. We’re the first face they see at the end of their school day and if something has happened during their day – often they are bursting to tell someone. It doesn’t matter what the message is. It’s that we want to be there for them and if needed share their message with their parents.
Resource Consultant: Thank you. I want to thank all three of you for taking the time to talk to me and sharing your story.