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EFFECTIVE PARTNERSHIPS BETWEEN TEACHER AND CHILD AND YOUTH CARE WORKER: EXPERIENCES AT STOREFRONT SCHOOL, BRITISH COLUMBIA.

Kathi Hughes and Vivien Lougheed

Abstract

This paper explains the foundation of effective partnerships between youth and family counsellor and teacher and then examines how the partnership can be implemented within the delivery of an affective curriculum. Throughout, the word team" refers to the partnership between the teacher and youth worker within the program.

I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized. (Ginott, 1990)

Implementation of an Effective Curriculum through Partnership
The quality of the partnership between the youth and family counsellor (or child and youth care worker) and teacher is key to the effectiveness of the affective curriculum. Based on program goals and objectives, student assessment and Individual Educational Plans (IEPs), external factors such as physical space, hours of operation and availability of physical education facilities and integrative individual student timetables (If applicable), team members usually organize a time-table in June or early September. As a team, the members allocate responsibilities according to the expertise and interest of the various members in response to student needs so that all are working together In a supportive manner.

To be effective, the concepts and skills learned by the student through specific affective curriculum should be modelled, practiced and reinforced by all students and team members. For example, students learn a communication model in their peer-counselling course; they and the team members are expected to use the communication model throughout the day (Including academic time and noon hours). As well, students may identify and practice one of the skills in the communication model as their behavioral goal for that week (see Hughes and Lougheed, 1990b). For programs with continuous intake and group instruction, students are generally provided with tutorial assistance to help them "catch-up" on the key concepts of the affective curricula.

For community-based or segregated school-based programs with continuous intake, academic instruction usually occurs in the morning and life skills or specific affective Instruction occurs in the afternoon. In an integrated school-based setting, the implementation of specific affective curriculum is more challenging because of timetable demands. Hopefully, the students’ program will allow involvement in some of the affective Instruction and strategies. Teachers need to be informed, through consultation and the Individual Educational Plan (IEP), of specific student expectations and the overall goals of the affective curriculum.

Responsibilities of Team Members at Storefront Alternative School, Prince George, British Columbia

Teachers  Youth and Family Counsellors
 
Ministry of Education

 Ministry of Social Services & Housing

 

Design and teach academic and elective subjects Facilitate lifeskills and social skills
Provide individual, group and family support
Liaison and refer to outside agencies
Emphasis on students’ academic development Emphasis on students’ social and emotional
development
 
Responsible for academic goals/strategies/timelines  Responsible for social-emotional goals,
strategies, timelines

 

Joint responsibilities
Vocational development
Tracking students’ progress and attendance
Design, plan and evaluate IEPs for each student
Organize recreational activities, out-trips, guest speakers, etc.
Facilitate transition and integration
Participate in reporting procedures

Participate as an equitable, supportive team member

Involvement in professional development

In an effective partnership there Is an equitable distribution of responsibilities. As indicated In Table 1, the youth and family counsellor is primarily responsible for the social and emotional development of the student and the teacher is primarily responsible for the academic development; however, as indicated, both work in close proximity and in support of each other. For example, the youth and family counsellor may assist during math and the teacher may assist in group counselling sessions. Students’ weekly social and emotional goals are prepared in consultation with the youth and family counsellor and academic goals are designed in consultation with the teacher. Each week (and each day, if needed), the student shares both sets of goals with all team members. As well, team members attempt to support the desired student behaviours and learnings.

Storefront Alternate in Prince George is a community-based program with 24 full-time students aged 15 to 18. It is separated into two classes (Alternate I and II), and a specific affective curricula and strategies have been developed over the past several years. The timetable indicates the divided staff responsibilities based on student need, external factors and expertise. For example, the youth and family counsellors have training in peer counselling and present the course to both classes and supervise a goal attainment scaling format. The teachers teach a skill for adolescence course on the basis of previous training. In Alternate I, the teacher facilitates the class meetings: in Alternate II, the youth and family counsellor facilitates the class meeting. An adapted course in human development was prepared by one of the teachers and delivered by the youth and family counsellor. In order to coordinate this type of shared relationship, daily, weekly and monthly team meetings allow time for evaluation, changes In responsibility and support.

Upon reflection, the foundations of this type of partnership between all the team members, has been seen to include all of the following:

  • consensus on a shared philosophy;

  • commitment to advocacy for the student;

  • clarification of roles and responsibilities (See Appendix I and II);

  • mutual respect for the importance of each role;

  • equality— of responsibility, of the role, of setting and enforcing expectations, of routines, of limits, of planning;

  • teamwork and mutual support and appreciation;

  • inclusion of all team members on Interview panels for new members.

Furthermore, the attainment of this partnership within our program has depended on the willingness of all team members to:

  • work as a team member;

  • develop trust with other team members by communicating, sharing feelings and perceptions, being sensitive to others, and offering support;

  • have job descriptions which clarify requisite skills and role descriptions;

  • discuss and agree on the consensus of philosophy prior to joining the team;

  • work toward equality of work assignments;

  • respect mutual professionalism;

  • attend weekly meetings to plan events, ‘process" feelings, and review students;

  • communicate daily to Identify priorities so that the team supports one another;

  • role-model the behaviours expected from students: willingness to give support and feedback, being positive, having a sense of humor, demonstrating commitment through hard work, punctuality and attendance, demonstrating empathy and sensitivity, setting high expectations, demonstrating effective communication skills;

  • participate In regular meetings with the assigned administration, the school-based team or program committee;

  • have frequent team reviews of IEPs;

  • regularly evaluate the structure and organization of the program to monitor and adjust responsibilities;

  • establish clear expectations and consequences for student behaviour so that all team members are consistent and supportive of each other.

Nine Factors of Effective Schooling
The following section explains how nine key factors can be successfully implemented In this type of education environment once the foundation for the partnership has been established.

1. Strong leadership = "strong partnership." Within "alternative"’ education, team members can "be strong" through the sharing of a common philosophy , commitment, advocacy and sensitivity. Elements of strength include consistency, control, energy, humour, structure, support, limits, initiative, patience, empathy, flexibility, and shared decision making. A shared philosophy of alternative education is generally that the student will develop a sense of self-esteem and personal worth through experiencing success by working with caring, knowledgeable, student-centered staff in a positive, supportive environment.

2. Positive climate. Students who have experienced rejection and failure will only attend an environment which is positive, supportive and encouraging. Ways to achieve a positive climate include such things as: ensuring that team members focus on the positives; establishing a tone of "win-win" ensuring basic needs are met; recognizing and building on Individual strengths; supporting the student from entry to transition; helping develop appropriate social skills; establishing clear expectations; developing the students’ sense of responsibility through class meetings, chores, calendars, videos, volunteer work, newsletters, newspaper coverage, and ensuring academic and social-emotional growth through appropriate IEPs.

3. High expectations. If appropriate behavioral and academic expectations are established and support is provided, the students will usually meet the expectations (deBlois, 1989; Kauffman, Pullen, & Akers, 1986; Murphy, Weil, Hallinger, & Mitman, 1982). Ways to achieve high expectations include: the use of mastery learning; establishing group "expectations," rather than "rules"; rewarding the positive; working cooperatively, not competitively; and Insuring assigned work Is completed at the expected level.

4. Recognition of achievement. Typically, students and parents involved with alternative education are not accustomed to positive recognition. Ways to recognize achievement Include: provide rewards, e.g., monthly donuts for perfect attendance, awards for academic excellence, most improved, and citizenship (if appropriate, students should vote for the recipients); write a bi-monthly newsletter to parents, support services and other community members emphasizing program and individual strengths; and send frequent positive reports home or phone parents with positive news.

5. Quality Instruction. For both the teacher and the youth and family counsellor, "quality" Is a key concept. Professional development for both should be ongoing. In order to be successful, alternative students require quality team members with a variety of expertise and training. Youth and family counsellors and teachers should consider taking a range of courses In Reality Therapy, Skills for Adolescence, peer counseling, peer coaching, and cooperative learning.2

6. Quality curriculum and programs. Relevancy and suitability of the curriculum to the learner are required for quality. To ensure suitability, a thorough assessment of the student by both the youth and family counsellor and teacher should be completed.

7. Supportive organization and management. Frequent liaison by team members with the administrative school and staff, the society (If youth and family counsellors are employed by a society rather than the school district) and the school district, Is imperative for ongoing support. In addition, continual relationship-building and communication with community services (Social Services and Housing, Corrections, Mental Health, Native Services,) is essential. In British Columbia, the program committee or school-based team and the local advisory committee are also important support mechanisms.

8. Assessment/revision. Ongoing assessment and revision of a student’s program by the team members is part of the IEP process. Assessment and revision of the Alternative Education service can include: (a) internal or external assessment as part of the British Columbia Ministry of Education secondary school accreditation process: this typically occurs at approximately five year intervals (although the internal process is very lengthy, the external feedback is generally directed to the entire school and may not specifically apply to alternative education); (b) Internal or external assessment as a separate process: this is generally motivated from within the district or program and is very specific to alternative education; (c) an annual report to the school-based team screening committee. Each of the three different forms of assessment has strengths; however, to be effective, there must be advocacy and support from all levels (program, school, district) for the implementation of recommendations.

9. Supportive community. The following activities may help in building a supportive relationship within the community: have students engage in volunteer work in hospitals, extended care facilities and schools; volunteer time with service clubs (e.g., trail clearing); take pride in the external appearance of the building and volunteer to shovel snow and clean-up for neighbours; have newspaper coverage; circulate a newsletter; have a work experience program; and have an annual Open House for parents, support services and neighbours.

Summary
The ultimate responsibility for the success of special programs designed to meet the needs of students whose primary disability is in the social-emotional realm, lies with Its most critical distinguishing characteristic: the successful partnership of the youth and family counsellor and the teacher. Building a solid foundation for the partnership will enable the successful implementation both an effective and affective curriculum and educational experience.

NOTES
1. See Denholm, C. (1987). Beyond the three R’s: Child care in educational settings. In C. Denhoirn, A. Pence, & R Ferguson (Eds.), The scope of professional child care in British Columbia (pp. 59-72) Victoria, BC: University of Victoria.

2. See Diekmeier, this edition, for other instructional strategies.

References:
deBlois, R (1989,Aprll). Keep at-risk students in school: Toward a curriculum for potential drop-outs. National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), 1904 Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091.

Ginott, H. (1990). Presentation at British Columbia Alternate Education Association (BCAEA) Conference, North Vancouver.

Hughes, K., & Lougheed, V. (1990a). Effective alternative education: Critical factors. Vancouver: BCTF BCAEA Lesson Aids Bulletin #1. Hughes, K. & Lougheed, V. (1990b). Effective alternative education: Specific affective curricula and strategies. Vancouver: BCTF BCAEA Lesson Aids Bulletin #3.

Kauffman, J. M., Pullen, P.L., & Akers, E. (1986). Classroom management: Teacher-child-peer relationships. Focus on Exceptional Children, 19(1), 1—10.

Murphy, J.P.; Weil, M.; Hallinger, P. & Mitman, A. (1982). Academic press: Translating high expectations into school policies and classroom practices. Educational Leadership, 40(3), 22-26.


Appendix 1
Position Description
Position Title: Youth and Family Counsellor
Role Description
The youth and family counsellor works in partnership with the teacher in developing and implementing individualized educational programs for students in the areas of intellectual, social-emotional and vocational development.

Specific Responsibilities
1. To work in partnership with the teacher and other team members to provide a positive, supportive, success-oriented classroom environment.
2. To work with the teacher in the development, implementation and review of IEPs for each student with particular focus on social-emotional and behavioral needs based on team consultation and program committee recommendations.
3. To provide individual, group and family support.
4. To demonstrate initiative, flexibility, responsibility and commitment to the staff, students and program.
5. To help ensure an acceptable level of student behaviour in the school and community environment.
6. To maintain and report student progress in the social-emotional and behavioral areas.
7. To participate in meetings or discussions regarding individual students and the program.
8. To communicate with parents, guardians, school officials and community services.
9. To assist in the delivery of academic instruction and help conduct group sessions.
10. To share general program duties such as budget planning, liaison with community agencies, maintaining and ordering supplies, preparing study materials, planning community explorations, record keeping, ensuring consistent routines, and completing daily reports.
11. To help plan and implement student transition and integration.
12. To assist in the preparation and supervision of work experience in coordination with the Job Education Officer and teacher.
13. To advocate for alternative education students.
14. To respond to changes in ministerial policy.
15. To participate as a member of the program committee.
16. To assist in developing and maintaining a written policy governing all aspects of the program.

Qualifications
Minimum requirements:
1. A minimum of two years post-secondary education; preferably a BA in child and youth care or a three-year certificate in child and youth care.
2. Ability to work as a team member.
3. Knowledge of Human Development.
4. Empathy for alternative education students.
5. Effective communication and inter-personal skills.
6. Positive, non-confrontational attitude.
7. Ability to show initiative.
8. Training in working with students with social-emotional and behavioral difficulties.
9. Ability to act as a positive role model and an approachable figure of authority.

Desirable qualifications:
1. Computer literacy.
2. Knowledge of audio-visual resources.
3. Special interests which would enhance the offerings of the program: photography, crafts, art, recreation, cooking, etc.
4. First aid certificate.
5. Class lV license.


Appendix 2
Position Description
Position Title: Alternative Education Teacher (School-based)
Role Description
The teacher works in partnership with the youth and family in developing and implementing individualized educational plans for selected students In the areas of intellectual, social-emotional and vocational development. The teacher is directly responsible to the supervising principal.

Specific Responsibilities
1. To work in partnership with the youth and family worker to provide a positive, supportive, success-oriented classroom environment.
2. To demonstrate initiative, flexibility, responsibility and commitment to students and program.
3. To develop an IEP including the academic, social-emotional and vocational needs of each student based on assessment results and school-based team recommendations.
4. To provide individual and group instruction.
5. To provide remedial instruction based on diagnostic assessment for students with specific learning problems.
6. To ensure personal, social, educational and vocational counseling.
7. To maintain and document students’ programs (progress charts, weekly contract review and goal setting, monthly report home.
8. To frequently communicate with parents or guardians.
9. To communicate constantly with Integrative teachers, counsellors and administrators.
10. To advocate with parents, agencies, teachers and other services for alternative education students.
11. To plan and implement student transition.
12. To ensure an acceptable level of student behaviour.
13. To plan and implement recreational activities.
14. To maintain communication with the supervising principal and appropriate district support personnel.
15. To order materials and supplies.
16. To organize, implement and supervise work experience placements in coordination with the Job Education Officer.
17. To respond to changes in educational policy.
18. To participate as a member of the program committee and/or school-based team.
19. To assist in developing and maintaining a written policy governing all aspects of the program.
20. To prepare regular annual program reviews.
21. To develop and teach new units.
22. To perform other duties as directed by the principal in accordance with the
School Act

Qualifications
Minimum Requirements:
1. A valid British Columbia teaching certificate.
2. Experience in a regular classroom.
3. Knowledge of student characteristics.
4. Empathy for alternate education students.
5. Good communication and inter-personal skills.
6. Educational background in assessment, Learning Assistance and/or remedial teaching.
7. Positive mental attitude.
8. Training in working with students with social-emotional difficulties.
9. Initiative, motivation and flexibility.

Desirable Qualifications:
1. Computer literacy.
2. Interest and ability to provide leadership for cultural and recreational activities.
3. Willingness to participate with other District Alternate Teachers’ committees.
4. Degree in Special Ed/Psychology.

This article is reprinted from The Journal of Child and Youth Care Worker, Vol.6 No.2 1991, pages 47-56

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