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The Teacher Wants You to Pull Mason Out of the Classroom…What Do You Do?

You are visiting Mason at his child care center for the first time today. When you arrive, you find the classroom to be super busy, shutterstock_130240289with eight toddlers and two adults. After introducing yourself to the lead teacher and the assistant, you explain how EI visits usually work and ask how you can help. You try to join the art activity and talk with the teacher more, but the teacher answers in short sentences as if it’s hard for her to concentrate on the children and on your questions. Eventually, the teacher mentions that the classroom next door is empty and asks you if you’d like to go work with Mason in there.

What do you do?

Strategies for Working with the Child Care Provider & Child IN the Classroom

So what do you do when you walk in the classroom and are told to walk right out? Asking you to pull the child out into another room could indicate several things about what the child care provider may be thinking. Here are some strategies for dealing with the possibilities:

Possibility #1 – She doesn’t understand the purpose of your visit. 

The child care provider may think that you are there to provide therapy to Mason. She may not want to get in the way or have the other children distract you or him. Take the time to reiterate your roll as a support to her. Tell her that you are there to work together with her and her assistant to find ways to encourage Mason’s development during the activities that they do everyday. Let her know that you’d like to explore what they’ve already tried and what they’d like to do with Mason. Explain that if you pull Mason out of the classroom for therapy for one hour a week, then he’s not really getting much intervention. However, if you work with her and she’s able to implement intervention strategies throughout the week, he’ll get much more intervention, which is ultimately the goal of your visit. Don’t forget to ask how this sounds to her, if it is “doable.” What she thinks really matters.

Possibility #2 – She doesn’t know what to do with you.

This is just as likely in a child care center as it is in a home. Caregivers often don’t know their role in the collaborative partnership. Describe how you can work together. Ask her if she is okay with the first few visits focusing on getting to know her classroom and how Mason behaves there. Let her know that you will spend a lot of time talking with her and helping her and her assistant try out strategies with Mason during the activities in the classroom. You’ll help her come up with ideas, try them out, then reflect on them and problem-solve so she feels confident using them when you’re not there.

Possibility #3 – She doesn’t think there is any real reason for you to be there.

Sometimes, child care providers disagree with families about the child’s development. Maybe she thinks Mason will talk when he’s ready. Maybe he talks more at school than he does at home. Before you jump into strategies, find out her thoughts on his development. Tap into her expertise. If she doesn’t think he needs intervention, then ask how his communication (or motor development, or social skills, etc.) compares to other children in the room. Ask about what goes well for Mason and what challenges him – and what challenges her during the day with Mason. Maybe she doesn’t think Mason needs to talk yet, but the fact that he drops into a tantrum ten times a day is a big challenge. Find out about her day and determine how you can help – same as you would with a parent. After that, if you still don’t have her “buy in,” talk to the service coordinator and the parent about what to do next.

Possibility #4 – This is just not a good time for your visit.

It could be as simple as art time is usually chaos with eight toddlers so is not a great time for a visitor. Ask the question. Maybe another time of day would be better. Outside play time is often a great time to see the child move about, interact with others, and still be able to snag the teacher’s attention. If she needs you to come at a certain time of day and you don’t have that available in your schedule, you may need to contact the service coordinator to discuss changing providers. Working in child care requires a great deal of flexibility – even being flexible enough to realize that you may not be the best match for the situation, and that’s okay too.

Hopefully, after you’ve explored the possibilities with the teacher and helped her understand why you are there, you’ll all be on the same page and ready to work together. The collaboration between you and the child care staff is what will keep you IN the classroom!

What are your best strategies for dealing with these possibilities? What have you done when asked to pull the child out of the child care classroom?

Share your experiences and ideas in the comments below!

 

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12 Comments to “The Teacher Wants You to Pull Mason Out of the Classroom…What Do You Do?”

  1. Hopefully, this will not be the first interaction between you and the instructor. During email or phone chats you can explain the rationale and goals of your visits; co-plan a good day/time; talk through what a visit might look like; make arrangements for how subsequent communication and planning can take place without interfering with classroom time.

    Once those parameters have been established, become useful!
    -Add another child or two into your interactions.
    -Use simple narration of your interactions and child’s responses to educate ‘on the fly’.
    -Compliment interactions and strategies that you see already in place so the teacher and staff are encouraged to maintain their efforts. Make sure these positive thoughts are shared with administrators and families, as well.
    -Follow-up easy visit with a concise written overview of the visit/activity/outcome and plan for next visit. This allows for review at the teacher’s convenience. This will also allow the teacher time to formulate questions.
    -Make sue you have consulted with teacher so that you know her plans/routines and they are honored and reflected in yours.

    • These are fantastic strategies, Mary! Thanks for sharing and being so specific. I’m curious…what does the “concise written overview” look like? Do you write this before you leave the classroom? Is this part of your joint plan?

      • I usually have a pre-printed form that I can personalize with the child’s name/date of visit/goals. If I know the activities planned ahead of time (through prior consultation with the teacher) I fill those in. That leaves me free to fill in the child’s participation and responses as they are pertinent to the outcomes desired.

        I can also add any strategies that might be able to be implemented in the classroom to enhance participation/language/socialization/etc.

        I leave this with teacher and email a family-version home (usually try to include a pic of child engaged in activity). I follow up with the teacher by email in-between visits to coordinate her activity plans and confirm schedule. This email gives me a chance to see if she has any questions about the overview before too much time has passed.

        While the process sounds cumbersome, it takes less than 5 minutes to “fill in the blanks” on both paper and e-files and get them to teacher/family. Time well spent in enhancing the team approach to EI services!
        Mary

        • Great idea, Mary! You are really supporting the child care provider’s ability to use the strategies between visits, when it really matters. Thanks for sharing that the process really only takes a few minutes too. We are all so time-bound and have so much to do, but I agree that this process would be time well-spent!

  2. I like number #1: Explaining the reason and purpose of your visit is key. Many of these providers are not even aware of why the child is receiving EI services. I like when we include them in the IFSP process even if it is just for a review. I have been able to schedule a few IFSP review with the parents, service coordinator and the child care provider all together…Usually with Early Head Start providers I get to see this. If I know a review is coming and the child care provider is not able to attend the meeting, I get her feedback or current concerns. Some of them even share ideas of goals they would like to include in the plan for me to discuss it with the parents.
    One of the first things I always do is to make a connection with them and start building trust and a relationship with the child care provider. I learn and praise all the great things they already are doing not only with the child I am seeing, but with the entire group of kids. When I am in the room I assist in little things like helping to get all the kids in line to go outside or helping in getting all into the circle time routine. I want them to feel comfortable around me and trust me.

    • You’ve added some great strategies here, Millie! I really like how you involve the child care provider in the IFSP reviews by sharing his/her feedback and concerns. I think building the relationship with the child care provider using the strategies you described is really what makes all the difference. If the teacher sees you as an ally and a helpful resource, then you’ll have the foundation there for coaching!

  3. What a great post!! This is a challenge we see often in our everyday practice in Australia as well.
    The expectations of the educator can be quite different from our perspective as ECI workers. Sometimes the expectations of the educators are set by a previous experience, such as a private therapist removing the child. We find that trying to find out the expectations of the teachers and educators first is invaluable, Because then you can discuss how the visit will look.
    The other very positive practice is to identify yourself as a resource to the teacher, the ” How can I help you” approach.

    I totally agree with Mary’s strategies too. Recognizing the strengths of the teachers and the room is critical to establishing a productive working relationship
    Thank you so much for this post. Lou

    • I’m so glad you found the post useful, Lou! It’s sort of comforting to know that all of us are in the same boat – no matter what country we work in! I really like how you suggest finding out the teacher’s expectations first. That’s such a good way to show the teacher that you value his/her knowledge and experience. Makes your job easier too because it helps you know how to relate intervention to what’s happening in the classroom. Starting off the relationship with respect is always a good idea. Thanks!

  4. Great topic! What I like to do after services have ended for a child in the classroom, I will send a thank you card to the teacher for their hard work and working with me for the success of the child.

    • Thanks Michelle, what a thoughtful suggestion! Great way to build a good, long-term relationship. I bet that teacher will remember you the next time you work with her with another child!

  5. This is a very relevant topic for us here as so many of our military children are seen in the Child Development Center (CDC) on base. I agree that prepping the teacher ahead of time about the EI philosophy as well as finding a less chaotic time for the teacher can go a long way in opening the space to do what we do by coaching the interactions with the children. Mary, I really like your ideas! I use a similar form for home visits, but it had not occurred to me to use in the CDC as well. Excellent ideas that I will certainly pass along to others as well. Thank you for this relevant post, Dana!

    • Thanks for joining the conversation, Jeff! I really like the words you used” “opening the space to do what we do…” – this is a great way to think about it. How we approach the situation and how we take time to build the relationship DOES go a long way to opening that space. I’m glad you got some good ideas from your colleagues here too!

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