School consultation is an instructional strategy in which one professional helps another one to solve an issue that concerns a third party. This is the method that is frequently used by psychologists, special education teachers, and therapists. It is characterized by the following features: triadic and direct relationship, voluntariness, expert and directional relationship, problem-solving process, shared but differentiated responsibilities, and accountability.
The first feature means that there are three parties involved in the process – the consultant, the consultee, and the client. The voluntary nature of consultation means that both the consultant and the consultee willingly participate in this relationship; they have an option to withdraw whenever they choose. Expert and directional relationships mean that the consultation is conducted for the reason to solve the consultee’s work-related issue. The consultee is not capable of solving the problem; thus, they need help from the consultant.
The process of problem-solving includes several steps. The first step is the beginning and the establishment of the relationship between the parties. The second step is determining the problem and goals of the consultation. The third step is figuring out the actions that will help to reach the intended purpose. The fourth step is implementing these actions after that; then, parties must evaluate the success of their decisions and how they affected the problem. The final step is the termination of the consulting relationship since the problem has been solved.
Every party of the consulting relationship has a set of responsibilities. For example, the consultant is accountable for offering assistance according to the needs of the consultee. Moreover, the specialist must control this process to ensure that it is properly followed. However, they cannot be held responsible for the unsuccessful outcomes of the consultation if they performed their part according to the agreement with the consultee. Regarding the benefits of the consultation, it must be noted that it can be used for educating students with special needs.
There are also different types of consultation, including behavioral and clinical. The behavioral type is concerned with behavioral challenges and strategies, where “the problem-solving foundation of behavioral consultation is constructed with conflict resolution in mind” (Luiselli, 2018, p. 2). The clinical type, on the other hand, is concerned with diagnosing a client’s problem.
The similar process is called collaboration; however, the distinctive feature of consultation is that the consultant guides the consultee. In cases of collaboration, however, both the consultant and the consultee work together to provide service for the client.
Coaching is another instructional method, in which an education professional employs their knowledge and skills to support their less qualified colleagues to increase the efficiency of their work. The main benefit of this approach is that in this partnership, teachers are more likely to remember and employ new knowledge. Moreover, a coach can help teachers to reflect on their practices. There are two types of coaching: technical and reform. Technical training introduces teachers to new practices, while reform education helps to analyze and change an already existing teaching routine.
Mentoring is the third instructional method that provides personal guidance to new teachers by experienced professionals. There are several components that are vital to this process. To begin with, mentors must be matched with novice teachers; the second component is that they should be prepared with the help of professional development activities. Another component is the administrative support of mentoring, which means that mentors and mentees have benefits such as release time and stipends. The final component is the contact between mentors and mentees must be frequent.
In conclusion, it would appear that some factors should be considered while implementing all approaches that were described above. First of all, the efficiency of consultation, coaching, and mentoring is determined by the level of involvement of all parties. It is also vital that teachers that participate in any of those methods should have the time assigned in their schedules, so they could take part in these activities without disrupting their teaching responsibilities.
Luiselli, J. K. (2018). Conducting Behavioral Consultation in Educational and Treatment Settings. Academic Press.