Alternative Learning Team shows its work to MHPSD board

The Alternative Learning Team gave a presentation to the board at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Medicine Hat Public School Division on Tuesday.

Since September, the team has had 31 referrals, 18 for coaching and 13 consultations. They’ve gone into 15 schools, predominately K-6, this year. Additionally, the team has delivered 15 presentations, workshops or training throughout the school division.

Each year, the team asks for feedback from staff so they can continue to grow their model. This year, they took it one step further and got several testimonials from staff, administration, students and teachers with some inserted into the presentation to the board.

When the team goes into a school, they meet staff and students where they are at, spending time beforehand making connections and getting to know those involved.

Their goal is to support and empower, working together to come up with strategies. Sitting down with people and having a collaborative conversation about what is required rather than walking in and making assumptions. When working with students, particularly those who aren’t neurotypical, the team doesn’t want to extinguish their unique gifts.

Therapeutic interventions include what the student’s basic needs are, providing visual schedules, a structured teaching system, and specialized interventions. While they don’t work directly with parents, the team keeps in mind the importance of the school-home connection and parents find their reports and suggested strategies valuable.

Even if the team is only working with one student in a school, they are also working with multiple staff members. Each of the staff receive the information from the team while also putting it into practice.

One of the interventions with some students is to give them a special spot in the classroom and/or gymnasium where they have their own mat and can go there to feel safe until they are ready to engage.

A question that is often asked is what other students think. Not everyone needs it, but the student who does will find it in some other way if it isn’t provided.

SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News