Once again, Plural Publishing provided me with the opportunity to review one of their publications.
As we all know, the incidence of Autism is increasing. When I first started in special education, I believe, it was thought that 1: 250 or so students would be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Then it dropped to 1:110. Now, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s 1:68 (with a rate of 1:42 in boys, and 1:189 in girls). It’s fairly safe to say that if you don’t have someone on your caseload with autism yet, you most likely will within the next year. The new text from Plural deals with the idea of coaching individuals with autism.
Plural Publishing: 2015
Authors: Joshua K. Harrower, Louis G. Denti, Marcia Weber-Olsen
Total pages: 245, Illustrated (b/w), nice size for reading without being daunting.
I will say, this book addresses a concept I had never considered before. It is designed to provide teachers and other service providers with a way to support their collaborative efforts and teach individuals with ASD in a meaningful way. With the increase in the number of students identified with ASD, it is an increasing challenge for schools to educate their teachers (SpEd and General Ed) and their other services providers (OT, SLP, etc.) in how to support their learning. The book suggests school districts should provide a “Coach” to help newer students learn from an experienced individual.
The book has three sections. Section 1: High-Quality Coaching has 5 chapters. The discussion flows from an introduction to the educational coaching, to what effective coaches and teachers need to know, through a review of models and methods, and building a framework. The purpose of this section is to explain the idea of how to coach and why it’s important.
Section 2 (3 chapters) flows through using coaching to support collaborative teaming, using coaching to support the assessment of student need and planning, and using coaching to support the selection of skills for instruction and monitoring student progress. This section provides an outline of different coaching strategies and how to create a team-based, collaborative coaching model.
Section 3 (5 chapters) includes using coaching to support delivery of instruction, social communication skills, supporting teachers in addressing behavioral issues, using a life course outcome mapping approach, and ends with establishing a network of coaches at the district level. This section finishes the book with strategies and how to avoid potential difficulties in the coaching and collaboration experience.
Each chapter contains “Vignettes” or short stories that highlight what the chapter is really discussing and provides that “real” piece to help the reader understand. For instance, in Chapter 4 (Key Attributes of Effective Coaching), one of the vignettes discusses the interaction between the teacher and an instructional aide and what to do when there is a disagreement. I really like how the vignettes often showcase a typical (yet negative) interaction and then counteract it with a “what if” situation (e.g., what if they reacted like this instead?).
Throughout the book there are bits of wonderful information. An item I really liked is in Chapter 5, where the authors provided an intensive coaching checklist I think would be very helpful. In Chapter 6, there’s a breakdown of how to set up the coaching team including a breakdown of roles and responsibilities, ways to run the meetings, and establishing ground rules. Included Chapter 11, there are several sample lesson plans that show how to teach many things – such as following rules, being respectful, and transitioning to circle.
At the end of every chapter are questions to help guide understanding and check for comprehension. Also at the end of each chapter is a list of the references used for the chapter. I particularly like having the references available for each chapter as it helps when I go to double check my information or follow-up on additional information.
Bottom line: This was a very different book from many that I’ve reviewed. It was challenging to read simply because educational coaching is an unfamiliar concept to me and I didn’t have a lot of scaffolding to apply it to. However, it is a concept I can see more schools adapting as time goes on and educationally impacting behaviors increase.