AT Consultation Model Stage 3: Planning

Author-Avatar Chris Gibbons

10/14/2019 8:42 PM

Our five stage AT consultation model at PROVAIL includes:

1. Method
2. Intake
3. Planning

4. Implementation
5. Analysis

“A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

After working through the Method and Intake stages detailed in the previous post it is time to engage in stage three, Planning. As it sits in the middle of our five stage model, Planning acts as the lynch pin stage holding all five stages together. Relying on a solid agreement of Method with concise and comprehensive Intake data, the Planning stage is the pivot point upon which successful Implementation and Analysis depends.  

Planning does not have to be complicated. In fact, it should make perfect sense to every single member of the team since they will be involved in the process to some degree. Remember, our role as consultant at this point is still to act primarily as the point person, organizer, convener, and as process guide to keep efforts focused and moving the right direction. After completing Method and Intake we have enough information to meet with the team to present the bones of a plan upon which the team collaboratively will add meaty details.

Our Planning process includes the following guiding principles:

-Well-organized, time-managed meeting
-Rational scaffolding based on Method and Intake to guide Planning
-Collaborative process start to finish
-Creative problem solving
-Energized discussion and debate
-Mutual agreement on outcomes

Specific results of Planning include:

-Define training and Implementation goals
-Define and disseminate Implementation roadmap
-Fully define targeted consultant role
-Assign duties/responsibilities to all team members
-Note targeted milestones
-Assure there is no confusion for any team member

We use a variety of tools to help manage information, time, and the attention of the AT team depending on the focus of the consulting contract. For instance, let’s use the often-encountered case of a student and AT team struggling to successfully implement an AAC system. We may have discovered during Intake that there were few points of agreement on what specific ways the student is already communicating successfully, and therefore confusion on how best to focus energy, modeling, and providing communicative structure for success.

We frequently use the Communication Matrix as a way for AT Team members to independently generate a matrix we can efficiently compare and discuss to find areas of alignment. As has been suggested in previous posts on this forum, the Communication Matrix is assigned as homework for team members between Intake and Planning and provides common vocabulary and imposes structure on how we envision the student’s areas of strength and need. We have also found that it single handedly lifts the vocabulary and communication behavior awareness of all team members (AT specialists, teachers, SLPs, paraprofessionals, parents, etc.) more efficiently than bringing everyone together for an in-service, which is rarely as participatory or student focused.

We also often use “shorthand” matrices during facilitated discussion to provide an informed and focused view of the student’s communication methods and skills. I have attached a few examples below, including a worksheet to better show the spontaneous, creative process engaged while we are meeting as a team to formulate a plan.

After efficiently determining areas of agreement and potential intervention strategies, the single most important outcome of the Planning stage is the development of a roadmap detailing the specific path of Implementation. This roadmap provides clear definition of where implementation will happen, how it will occur, who will take responsibility, expected outcomes, and how progress will be measured. All team members need to agree that the roadmap addresses the appropriate goals, makes sense, passes the “doable” test, and be bought in to the process.

A planning roadmap is rarely narrative, usually a well organized to-do list in the form of a matrix listing goals, how that goal is achieved, and who is responsible for tracking progress. It should include all the expected Planning outcomes bullet-point listed above and, like any good plan, should paint a clear picture of forward motion from point A to B to C for anyone who looks at it. If someone new to the AT team needs an in-service to understand the AT roadmap it is far too complicated and needs to be rethought.

At the point a plan is agreed upon it is time to hit the go button and engage the final two stages, Implementation and Analysis, which I’ll discuss in the next post. Thanks for reading!

This post is part of the collection

The Communication Matrix is a service of Design to Learn at Oregon Health & Science University
© 2020 Charity Rowland, Ph.D.

Site by State33 and Smith & Connors