top of page

OTS 133: Engaging Students: The Role of a Student Involvement Committee


Banner stating the name of the OT Schoolhouse Podcast Episode - School-based benefits of aquatic therapy

Click on your preferred podcast player link to listen wherever you enjoy podcasts.

Listen on Apple Podcasts App
Listen on Spotify
Listen on Google Podcasts App


Welcome to the show notes for Episode 133 of the OT Schoolhouse Podcast.


In today's episode, Lisa Lodesky and Kate Schoen discuss their experiences and insights on helping students transition into vocational settings. They share stories, challenges, and successes from their own programs they have created.


Discover the importance of providing diverse options for students, learn about the ability to be inclusive within a therapeutic day school, and gain insights into the transitioning process after graduation. Also, find out about innovative solutions in preparing students for their vocational journeys.


Get ready to be inspired and educated as we explore innovative solutions to prepare students for their vocational journeys.



Listen now to learn the following objectives:


  • Learners will identify the importance of providing vocational opportunities for students to discover interests.


  • Learners will understand how to involve the students and teachers to create a more effective learning environment.


  • Learners will identify the benefits of creating realistic job environments, such as a library stand or post office, to foster pre-vocational skills and engagement among students.



Guest(s) Bio


Lisa Lodesky studied Occupational Therapy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has worked in a therapeutic day school setting for about two and a half years. Currently, she works with the middle school and transition classrooms. She is very passionate about incorporating functional and vocational skills into all of her OT sessions.


Kate Schoen graduated from Xavier University with a Masters in Occupational Therapy in 2019. She started her first job at a therapeutic day school for children with disabilities and has been there for 3 years now. She currently works with middle school and high school-aged students and is in the classrooms throughout the day. Her sessions typically focus on building functional and pre-vocational skills.



Quotes


"Our goal is to get students back to districts so they can be in a less restrictive environment."

— Lisa Lodesky


“We've really been trying to focus on getting those younger students involved so that they are better prepared by the time they get to transition.”

— Lisa Lodesky


“Having those opportunities to really expose them to all the different career paths and options out there is really important."

—Kate Schoen


“Providing opportunities for our students to experience different vocational opportunities to discover what they're interested in.”

— Kate Schoen


“These skills that we're working on through a post office, support academic skills, or these skills that we're working on support post-secondary transition, pre-vocational skills."

— Jayson Davies, MA, OTR/L



Resources




Episode Transcript

Expand to view the full episode transcript.

Amazing Narrator   

Hello and welcome to the OT schoolhouse podcast, your source for school based occupational therapy tips, interviews and professional development. Now to get the conversation started, here's your host Jayson Davies, class is officially in session. 

 

Jayson Davies   

Hey there and welcome back to Episode 133 of the OTs schoolhouse podcast. I'm your host Jayson Davies. And in today's episode, we have two incredible guests with us, Lisa, le dusky and Kate Schoen, hey and Lisa are here to share with us how they've incorporated a student involvement community at their school site to better understand the needs and desires of their students, and how they acted upon that knowledge to create programs for their students. This was the first time I had ever heard of a student involvement community. So that was really cool to learn about, and we'll talk more about that as we get going. Now, one of the reasons I'm excited to share this episode with you is that Kate and Lisa are not researchers or not academics, they don't have a podcast, a program or an article to promote. Instead, they are both practicing school based OTPs just like you. This means that the insights and the experiences that they're sharing today are born out of real world challenges and solutions that you face on a daily basis as well, as well here they are also relatively new practitioners. So you'll also be able to get to see how you can make changes in your school, even as a newer therapist if that's you. In this episode, we really dive into the topic of pre vocational OT programs and Kate and Lisa also share their observations on the transitioning process for students as they graduate or aged out of a transition program. We'll also touch on the complexity of writing transition goals as a school based OT practitioner and how being in different settings can inform the development of appropriate goals. They will also share their experiences in creating vocational opportunities, such as a library, a cafe and a post office on their school campus. So students have an opportunity to discover their interest and preferences while working on many real life skills that they'll need beyond the school environment. So whether you're a brand new OT practitioner just starting out in the schools, or maybe you have several years of experience, but want to do more for those middle schoolers, high schoolers and transition age students that you work with, this episode is for you. So sit back, relax and join us as we learn how Lisa and Kate brought their pre vocation program to life and support the students they serve beyond the classroom. Lisa and Kate, welcome to the OT school health podcast. How's everything over in Chicagoland for you?  

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Everything's going great. We just got off work a little bit ago. So we had a great day. We're excited for the podcast.  

 

Jayson Davies   

Awesome. Well, it's great to have you here. I'm excited. A lot of times on the podcast, you know, we have researchers, a lot of times we have, you know, people that you would go to and like attend a course with. But today we have Kate we have Lisa, we have you all here to share with us what it's like in a nonprofit, nonprofit school. And you're going to share a little bit about that in just a moment. But first, Lisa, I just want to give you an opportunity to share just kind of how you found yourself into this school based OT world that is a nonprofit facility.  

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Yeah, so I've been at OT now for about two and a half years. I graduated from UIC, the University of Illinois at Chicago. And I kind of followed in my cousin's footsteps, she was an OT. And I always wanted to do something in the healthcare realm and love that OT was so holistic. And at the time I found out about OT, I was working in ABA, so I was working with children on the spectrum. And I loved that with OT, I could continue working with that population and have an even bigger impact.  

 

Jayson Davies   

Awesome. And so did you have any role before you came to the setting? Or is this kind of your first first job out of school?  

 

Lisa Lodesky   

This has been my first job out of school, I graduated right during the height of the pandemic. So things got a little delayed because of that. But I knew I wanted to be in a school setting. So this just worked out that this was my first job.  

 

Jayson Davies   

Awesome. Great. Well, thanks for sharing. And Kate, what about you? How do you land here in this program? 

 

Kate Schoen   

So I guess when I first learned about occupational therapy, I was in high school, and one of my cousin's had a traumatic brain injury. So I would visit him a lot in the hospital with my family, and then when he got discharged back at home, so I got to see a lot of his recovery. And that's when I knew I wanted to be something from the healthcare field. And my aunt is a physical therapist. So she told me about OT and that's how I got interested. And then I graduated from Xavier University. And I actually also this is my first job. So I've been an OT for a little over three years. And it was interesting because when I started it was during the pandemic. So the first three months of working at the school was over zoom. So that was just a fun way to start my career.  

 

Jayson Davies   

Absolutely, you know, you started off different. And I know you both are kind of doing things a little bit differently than a lot of OTs out there might be doing. So I'm excited to dive into that. But first, I don't know who wants to take this question. But I'd love for you to share just a little bit about the type of setting you're in it is a school based setting, but also a very unique school based setting. So I want to give give you the opportunity to share about that. 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

So um, yeah, we're therapeutic day school. So we take students from all around the Chicagoland area. So we have students coming in from even like an hour away. And these are students who just need the extra support that their districts can offer. So in our program, they have speech therapists and OTs and behavior therapists embedded in the classroom. So they just are able to get a lot more support to be successful throughout their school day. All of our students, of course, have IEPs or anything, if there's anything else that's really unique that are setting. 

 

Kate Schoen   

Our school used to only take students with autism, but recently within the last year, we're now taking students with all different types of diagnoses. So we've had students who have Down syndrome or cerebral palsy ADHD, so we kind of opened up the door comes to our school. 

 

Jayson Davies   

Gotcha. Okay, and correct me if I'm wrong, but it's a nonprofit. I mean, from your perspective, does the idea that the nonprofit Does that change anything from where you are at as a practicing OT for the facility? 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Not from my perspective, no, I think the types of goals that we make would still be similar to an OT in a public school district, we're still focusing on the same things. But I think we in our setting, just have a little bit more freedom to work on those functional life skills, because we are embedded in the classroom and have so much extra time with our students throughout the day.  

 

Jayson Davies   

Yeah. So I want to dive into that. That process of how students might actually come to your school why it is that they're there. I think you mentioned a moment ago that they do come from the Chicagoland area all around. But do you find that there is a very specific reason that they might come to your program as opposed to either a another program or just to be served within their own district? 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

I think, from what I've seen, students coming in, a lot of them need sensory, or they have sensory needs that aren't able to be provided at the current school they're at. So we have sensory gyms here. And like Lisa said, we're able to be in the classrooms more, and we really train our staff on what to do. I also think behavior concerns have been a huge reason why students come to our school, if they may be a school and still having even with support behaviors that they're not able to, like handle at the school, they would come here where we have, we're trained in like a specific, thick, what is it called? It's called PCM. So they train all staff members, and how to intervene safely in instances where we might need to physically help out during behaviors. 

 

Kate Schoen   

And our classrooms are also smaller, most of our classes have only eight students. So I think if a student needs more support, and in that area, we're able to provide that here. 

 

Jayson Davies   

Perfect. Yeah. And you know, that's kind of where I was going with the next question was just to kind of ask you to describe what the school looks like. A lot of times when we think of a school where students leave their home district and go to a school, there can be different concepts of what that looks like. It could be like all special education, it could be all related to behavior. So I'd love just to hear a little bit about what your school looks like. You can talk about everything from class sizes, to dynamics to physical what it looks like. 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

So we all have smaller classes. Each room has eight students except for transition, they can have up to 10 but we have nine at the moment. So we definitely have smaller class sizes and a higher staff ratio than you would probably find in a typical school districts. 

 

Kate Schoen   

We are in the process of opening up an early childhood classroom which is ages three to five. Then we have four other elementary classrooms based on age we have two middle school classrooms, two high school and then the Transition Room. So once we are getting more students for the the L or the early childhood classroom, it'll be from ages three to 22 

 

Jayson Davies   

and And really quickly, you know, inclusion is a big part of everything right now, you know, trying to have students be able to be included with general education peers. And I know that can be potentially a hindrance by the physical environment. So I wanted to ask you, a is there any possibility for inclusion for these students? Is there another like a sister school or something where there's some inclusion or even interaction at all? Or is that not quite possible. So 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

at the time, because our students come from so many different districts, we don't really have a sister school or any opportunities for them to split their day with going back to district. But we have had students, our goal is to get students back to districts so they can be in a less restrictive environment. And we have had many students go back to their home schools. And during that process, we have had some students spend some time at their district school just so they can get used to that setting. So we kind of ease them back into that transition. But currently, for students who are still here at our school, we don't necessarily have that many opportunities for them to go back to a district school and see what that's like. So fair 

 

Jayson Davies   

enough. You know, it's one of those things where every IEP team has to make tough choices, right? Like, you have to decide what goals you're going to focus on this year, you have to decide what classroom for the student, there are so many things that it's hard to, you know, have the ultimate experience for every single possibility. And so that's fair, right? Like, the goal is to get them back to their district campus back to their home school, where they can do that, but they need that extra support. And so that's why they're there at the program. So thanks for sharing. Okay. Now, we talked a little bit about the Mac row of the school class sizes and whatnot. You also mentioned that, like the related service providers use speech or just kind of like, ingrained into the programs that kind of sounds like and we'll get into that in just a moment. But from the OT standpoint, what is the OT department look like? And I know this might make a few OTs out there listening, jealous, so share with us caseloads or whatnot. 

 

Kate Schoen   

Um, so currently, we have four OTs at our school, and each of us have, like two to three classrooms. So currently, my I have a middle school and the two high school classrooms. So my caseload is 20. But I think it could be up to 25 with the class sizes. 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

And then you also, 

 

Kate Schoen   

Yeah, I have middle school and transition. So right now I have about 17, but could have up to 18.  Gotcha. Yeah, so apparently, relatively small cases.  Yeah, they're definitely small case loads. We also run groups like multiple groups in our classrooms, too. So right now the whole school has been doing cooking groups and the OTs have been leading those along with the speech paths. And then we all have our own individual OT groups to where we have some freedom to do what we'd like with the students. We've also recently started a circles program, which goes over like different relationships and personal boundaries. And we've been co leading those groups with the behavior analysts at our school. But like we sort of thing in the beginning our days kind of, we split each day by classroom. So for instance, like Monday and Wednesdays, I'm in my middle school classroom. And then Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, I'm in the high school rooms. And then we see our students individually, we have the groups, we also have shifts with students at the Student Store and cafe or our different projects that we've created. So we make our own schedules, and were able to kind of plan our day around the different things that we've been doing here. 

 

Jayson Davies   

That's awesome. So let's kind of dive into some of those programs then. And I first want to start by it sounds like both of you have been there, you know, two and a half, three years, kind of relative, same amount of time. When you first got started with working where you're at now, did it look the same as the way it does now? Or has it really evolved? 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

It's changed quite a bit since we started. But again, also we started during the pandemic. So students at the time weren't able to socialize the students from other classrooms. And at the time, they weren't eating in the cafeteria. So things really opened up quite a bit. And we also started working on student projects and our committee once things opened up, and once we were able to so now we have a lot of opportunities for the students to interact with each other. So I'm sure we'll touch on it but we started post office library stand. We've done a walk clubs, we've done a lot to get the students interacting and moving throughout the school. 

 

Jayson Davies   

Yeah, Sounds like you kind of really were excited once COVID ended, because you did have that opportunity to start doing groups and whatnot. So let's, let's talk about that. Because I know that is that's really what we wanted to dive into today is talking about these groups that you've started these different interactions that you've been able to pull together to work not just on school skills, but also post secondary type of skills or whatnot. And so, let's start from the beginning, like, How did that start to develop? Because I don't think those were in place when you first got there, right? 

 

Kate Schoen   

No, um, I think I don't really know, I had an idea one day that we, we had different projects we wanted to do, and we're trying to think of how we can make it happen. So Lisa, and I decided to start a student involvement committee. And we talked to the director of our school to get permission, we made a proposal, why we wanted to do it, and our goal, and she accepted it. So then we had a meeting where we invited everyone at the school because one of our biggest hopes of the committee was to collaborate with teachers or teacher assistants, RBTs behavior of anyone to help make these events and projects happen for students. So that's kind of how we got it started. And then as a group, we would collaborate and come up with different events or projects that we wanted to make happen and meet a smaller groups to come up with exactly what we wanted to do, and then sign up for the different tasks that needed to be done. 

 

Jayson Davies   

Gotcha. And, I mean, the name itself begs the question student involvement committee. So I'm assuming that means that the students are really involved in this, like, it's not just the OT saying, Hey, I'm gonna do a post office this week. It sounds like the students are really involved. Is that true? 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Yeah, so I think that's what was so great about it is we had staff and students help out with everything. So some of the events we've done, like we did holiday caroling. So we had the students help pick out which songs we should sang. And they play instruments and sing songs each week, just to practice for that event. And event, just like we did a Valentine's exchange. So we've had students, they decorated little boxes and made valentines for each other and exchange them. So the students have been quite involved with all the projects that we have started here. 

 

Kate Schoen   

And we also wanted to get that or give them the opportunity that, you know, like our schools growing up, we had a holiday pageant, or we had a fall parade and costumes or whatever. And so we wanted to be able to get them involved in these activities as well. 

 

Jayson Davies   

That's a great point that I hadn't even considered yet. You know, just the social, economic and just the personal factors for the students that some of them are traveling. I don't know what you know, your students, What's the furthest? Some of them travel to get to?  

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Like an hour, at least an hour? Some a little bit more even? 

 

Jayson Davies   

And are they do all the students commute everyday? Or is it some commute some residential? 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

They actually so we have one student in transition, who does live in like a community house, through our nonprofit, but the rest of the students all commute, either by bus or they have a parent drop them off. 

 

Jayson Davies   

Gotcha. So that's a really big transition. And you know, some of these students, whether it was 10 days ago, or a few years ago, they haven't been at their home school around their peers and some time and, you know, maybe they get to see some of their peers on the weekends, because it's not a residential program. But that's a big transition, I would imagine for them. 

 

Kate Schoen   

Yeah, and I can remember, when, after the holiday pageants, one of the students in middle school her mom was saying how she had like a solo on stage in front of everybody. And she was just saying how special it was to be able to see her, like, be part of a pageants, and she's never had that opportunity at a school before. 

 

Jayson Davies   

Yeah, yeah. And, you know, that's, that's interesting, because, you know, we kind of started this conversation I had, I asked you about inclusion. And it's interesting because no, these students aren't necessarily included with General Education periods at their home school. But in a way through the programs that you have developed there, and the entire program is developed. You're getting some of those aspects of inclusion that are so important, like a pageant, like being able to just participate in things that sometimes you just don't get in a secluded classroom, even if it is at a homeschool in one classroom of 25 general education programs. So that's really cool, even though it's not your typical thought of inclusion. It is definitely I don't even know how to word it. Like just, it looks more similar to what we think of when we think of school as opposed to Sometimes a secluded type of classroom. So that's really cool. All right. One more question. Before we dive into some of the individual programs, did you when you started this program, when you when you pitched it to the director? Did you base this off of any previous type of program that you had heard about? Or was this just kind of something, you know what we're just gonna put together a two page three page document about what we want to do, or just even a mini slide, I don't know what you did, but what their inspiration for this or where to come from? 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

I think it was just us being so excited to start these projects and get our students involved. Like we both had ideas that we had been wanting to do, but just hadn't started sending once we got the chance, we just kept going. thinking of new ideas, we had a Google document, we just kept adding ideas on to it. We definitely like took on a lot at first. And then we kind of realized that we should just focus on like one or two things. Instead of doing three or four projects, like we started off doing. 

 

Jayson Davies   

That's always a good idea to start slow. 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Yeah, that's the thing. 

 

Jayson Davies   

So then, let's walk through the that first, like, you know, first project, like, what a What did you decide to start with? Um, 

 

Kate Schoen   

so we started off strong, we started off with a library stand a post office, and at the same time, we planned an event, which was our Fall Fest, I can talk a little about the library stand. So we used to have a library at our school, but it wasn't being used, and they needed the space for different offices and things. So we saved a lot of the books from the library. And we decided that every Monday students would be able to come and check out books. So we made a library card for each classroom. And we made a whole book inventory with different themes. And then we created a student job to work at the library stand and help students check out books. So every Monday they get to come and we changed the themes every month. And then we also created another student job to go and collect the books on Friday, and check them back in. And so that that's our library, Stan. And it's been a it's been a lot of fun. It's cool. A lot of the kids love coming up and checking out books, and then they get them for the whole week where they get to read them. And it's been a really cool experience. For the most part, I would say. 

 

Jayson Davies   

Really quickly, before you jump in, I just want to ask you about the jobs is do the jobs rotate randomly? Do you choose specific students for jobs based upon their needs? Or how does that work? 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

So we've been rotating them monthly. So students will get more than one opportunity to practice that job and see how they like it, and if it's a good fit for them. And we pick the students collaboratively. So we'll talk to their team. And then we'll also look at their goals. So some students may have specific vocational goals. So we'll choose students for different jobs based off of that. 

 

Jayson Davies   

That's awesome. I was just talking, actually, one of my professional development that I spoke about, I was talking about how like a tier two intervention for MTSS could be, you know, the student needs sensory input, let's give them a job that helps get that sensory input. So that just kind of lines up perfectly. I love that. All right. So we had the library, 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

the post office, that was their other big project that we started off with, and that we had a lot of help with other staff making materials. So somebody made this really cool mailbox that looks just like a real mailbox. And we laminated return stamps, we made address labels for each student for their classroom. And then we had a binder of pictures too, just for students who have trouble reading that way, they can still look at the picture and they want to send a letter to and then we had different letter templates, too. So we had letter templates for writers and then we had some with packs. So then the students could either use a dot marker or Velcro on the pack onto the template that they wanted to send to a peer to a staff member. And again, for the student jobs, we have a student deliver mail every Friday, so they'll check the mailbox and sort the letters. We have all the classrooms color coded so they'll sort them by color and then deliver them around the building. 

 

Jayson Davies   

Wow, that's really well thought of like you thought of students who can read out of students who can't read students who can write into can't write students who need support with some of the physical skills and some that don't. That's really awesome. And I'm just like, keep going back to this idea of you pitching those to your director. Like yeah, it's one thing I feel like to pitch something that's highly specific to academics, especially in those All right, like I'm in a pitch to my director or my principal handwriting program, a math program. You know, Sel is big right now social emotional learning, so I'm going to pitch them that type of program. But what you're pitching is definitely not like super specific to academics, I library as a post office not quite as much. So it sounds like your director is awesome. She was probably fully on board with everything. But I just want to ask, you know, for the people listening that might need to, or be interested in pitching something like this, like, how did you kind of sell that that this would be good for your students, even though maybe it's not quite related to reading, writing math? SEO? 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Yes, I think we were very fortunate to have such a great director. She has a Terapeak background. So she gets all the projects that we're doing and how important they are. But when we were pitching ideas, we also broke it down by some of the skills. So writing socialization, we had a list of the different things that the projects would target and really tried to highlight those.  

 

Jayson Davies   

Yeah. 

 

Kate Schoen   

Oh, sorry. I also think that we wanted to create more pre vocational activities for our students, which we kind of didn't have, especially since the pandemic, so especially from like an OT background, we are able to say, with the library staff and the post office are able to create a lot of these job opportunities for our students that will also align with a lot of their OT goals. 

 

Jayson Davies   

Yeah, that's great. And, you know, when I ask a question like that, you know, you can almost see the gears turning, I know everyone listening can't see it, but like, I can see you both. And sometimes, not just with YouTube, but with other people. When I ask a tough question like that, you know, you really see the gears grind, and you try to come up with like a really fascinating answer. But sometimes it really is that simple, right? That these skills that we're working on through post office support academic skills, are these skills that we're working on support secondary, Post Secondary Transition, pre vocational skills. And I'm just kind of this isn't a question. I'm just totally talking to everybody. They you know, like, sometimes it's that simple. And if we can just relay that to our department head to whoever it is that we have to relay it to a principal, whatever it might be. If we can articulate that, well. It can be that simple. It isn't always, but it can be so that's really cool. Thanks for sharing. All right, I used it. I think you said you started with reprograms. And we've gone over library and we went over. I just blanked postdoc. Yeah, yeah. Was there one more? 

 

Kate Schoen   

Um, yes, this was an event that we did. It was our first one called Fall Fest. And we, we have a gym and we had five different stations. It was like yoga, sensory bins, a craft, making a trail mix, pumpkin painting, and we just had opportunities for classes to come. They each had a time during the day for like 20 minutes to come and go through all the different stations and just have a fun fall party, that kind of what we were saying earlier, some classrooms, depending on the teacher would have like a fall party. And I remember growing up in school, that was something I really liked classroom parties for different holidays or things. So it was cool to be able to give our whole school that experience.  

 

Jayson Davies   

That's really cool. And so for this one were their jobs, or was everyone kind of just, they got to have fun. 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

They just got to have fun. We had staff volunteer to like work, the different stations and the students just had fun. 

 

Jayson Davies   

That's awesome. That's great. And again, that kind of goes back to a lot of the experiences that kids who have an IEP often miss, for several, one of several reasons, some of these kids just don't have those opportunities. So that's great that you're providing those opportunities. All right. Before we dive into I know you have you have the coffee shop, I want to get into that. I don't know if there's any other new ones and blogs that we talked but I want to ask, because I know there's going to be people that have this question is, how do you fit these into IEP'S? How do these programs like these sounds fun and all? But how do you work this into an IEP? So maybe we can kind of start with goals per se? Like do you think about the program when you're writing goals? Or do you create the goals and then think about which program would fit or kind of how does that work? 

 

Kate Schoen   

Um, I think for the most part, when we're writing goals, we like a pre vocational goal. We keep it more general so that we can work on more than one activity and these days, like the store or the library stand, the post office all these job opportunities we're able to explore with our students and have work on similar pre vocational skills, but at the same time, like get to know different specific jobs. 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Yeah, and I think like as he created more job opportunities around the school, it's been easier to think when writing IEP goals of if there is a specific skill that we want them to work on. So for the cafe, we have some students working on warming up food, or like doing a warm meal prep or cold meal craft more specific for some of those goals. 

 

Jayson Davies   

That's a good point, actually, you know, sorry to cut off again really quickly. But when it comes to writing those transition type of goals, it can be tough for a school based it because we're so used to being in mostly in elementary school and middle school, some of us are in high school. And so when you're in those settings, you don't think about all those things that happen outside of school, warming up food, mailing a letter, because those are things that we just don't see every day. And our job is Kobe's OT and teachers don't see it, speech therapists don't see it. But once you create it, some of these programs are settings. Every day you are doing a task analysis of what would happen in that kitchen, what would happen in that coffee shop, that library and so forth. And so like you said, it starts to get a little bit easier over time, because you're in that environment. And so you start to think of Oh, a goal can apply to this somehow. So that's really, again, just just an idea out there. Like once you're, once you're in it, right, you start to know it better, and you start to be able to develop goals around it better. 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

And I think too, obviously, we focus our sessions on their IEP goals. But for some students, too, there's some chunks of time throughout the day where we are not seeing students. So I have a couple of middle schoolers who really liked doing all the functional skills, so I'll take them to the cafe, so they can start learning some of those skills earlier. So it's just taking a little bit of extra time to just to supplement our OT minutes.  

 

Jayson Davies   

Perfect. And that's a perfect segue to this 30 minutes, right. So on your IEP is, what does that look like? Is it one time a week? 30 minutes? Or is it kind of as needed as a console? What is it what does it look like? 

 

Kate Schoen   

I range from around like 15 to 45 minutes per week individually. And all the students in my classrooms receive OT I on it, I've actually put a couple students back on to OT who were on just console OT minutes, when I've found like the older students, when I've talked to their parents, when we've been going over the transition plans, and seeing what they are wanting for their child in the future. Some of them have said different jobs or being able to do certain things. And I've realized that they're not able to do that right now. And with all the programs and different things at our school, I can help them practice and hopefully prepare them for when they graduate out of our school. 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

I think for my students, I'm about the same range of minutes, some have 15, some have up to 60. Again, that kind of depends too on parent concerns and just different areas of need. I don't have any students that are specifically on console, however, to the transition students have graduated OT so they don't have direct minutes, but they still participate in groups. And I'm in the classroom. So if there's certain things that I want to try with them or working with them, I will still take the time to do that. Like one of the students. We do some zones regulation, social emotional work, but it's not technically direct IEP minutes. 

 

Jayson Davies   

Yeah. And that's where I wanted to kind of go next to is like, if I do the math in my head, right? If you have, let's just say 22 Kids, that's the kind of stuff like that could be in the range for you. You figure 30 minutes times, once a week, I think Lisa or Kate, one of you said, you know, 15 to 45 minutes per kid per week. So 30 minutes per week, that's 11 hours of treatment time per week. There's like about 25 to 30 Sometimes a little bit more of hours of school in a week. So that gives you a lot of free time, which I know other kids are listening to this are very mad at you right now. But like, I it sounds like your IEP minutes are individual and everything else is kind of extra. Does that sound right?  

 

Kate Schoen   

Yeah, yeah,  

 

Lisa Lodesky   

yeah, our students get a lot of extra minutes just where they're, you know, usually during lunch, so we'll help out with students who have utensils if we're there like we're always just trying to find those opportunities to help them throughout the school day. 

 

Kate Schoen   

And in our group minutes don't count towards their individual minutes. So we're also doing groups which takes up time and it's been Cool, because with the extra time we have throughout the day, we're able to train staff on, we have like our teacher assistants run our OT goals, my classrooms, do it like twice a week when I'm not in the room. So I'm able to like coach them in person or students with like certain sensory needs, might need more sensory brakes. And it takes time, you know, to train all the different staff that work with those students. So during my free time, I'll do that as well. 

 

Jayson Davies   

Gotcha. just fascinated, I this is like, I'm just thinking in my mind that it would be awesome, if it may not be possible, but it'd be awesome if more schools use their occupational therapy practitioners, similar to this, where the OT is in the classroom, every single day for a large part of the day, and being able to help those teacher assistants and the teachers to better understand the task analysis breakdown for a student and, and building up those skills so that we can build out the task analysis basically. So yeah, that's just really cool. 

 

Kate Schoen   

Oh, and it's been cool. Sorry, I just thought of something else. Um, when teachers are leading like the academic groups, it's been cool to be able to sit in and you know, the teacher assistants who are working with the students, or even the teacher, like help one of my students with his handwriting, he needs like a wiki stick or visual dots of where to start his letters. And when I've sat there and kind of coach them in the moment, they've been able to see how his handwriting is much more legible and kind of showing them how to adapt different things for our students. So we've all been saying it, but in the moment training, you have a lot of opportunities for that. 

 

Jayson Davies   

That's awesome. And I can go back to the training that I gave just a few weeks ago, at the back to school conference, one of the research articles I got outside of the world of OT and I went into education research, and teachers who collaborated with OTs. They said, like, the biggest, most important thing for them was that OTs and other related service providers demonstrate what they are doing with the students not just tell a teacher about Magic City or you know, up in tall letters, small letters, but to actually be in the classroom, demonstrate it, show them so that they can carry it over later. So that that's just awesome. So one of the questions that I often get on social media email everywhere is how do I decide what goals to work on. And one of the things that I like to say is to better understand the teacher's goals for the students, you know, not just curriculum, but just in general, what the teacher is interested in having all of their students due by the end of the school year, per se. And it sounds like you are all very collaborative. If someone came to you and asked, you know, an occupational therapist asking how do I determine what goals to work on? How might you respond to that? 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Well, as any OT, we do testing, so we're able to see where the students need the most support. So at least at our school, we do April's I don't know if you've ever heard of it. I hadn't heard of it until I started here. We also do the April's and then we have the typical session and like the print tool, sensory profile, there's more to but, 

 

Kate Schoen   

those are the main ones sent home the real the role evaluation. I can't  

 

Jayson Davies   

I never remember. But I know what you're talking about. Yeah,  

 

Kate Schoen   

I never remember the acronyms. But I think we look at those assessments. And we that helps us see like the student may need more support with writing or with cutting, it breaks it down by numbers, letters. So that helps us kind of see what we need to focus on with the handwriting aspect and fine motor. But I think especially for our age groups, the real assessment has been really helpful because we send that home to parents and they are able to fill out if their student needs help with their hygiene skills, like which specific skills they need the most help with or with other, like shore household or household chores, meal prep activities. 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Yeah, and I was just gonna say we're very collaborative as a team, but also with the parents. So we try to meet with all of the parents before the IEP meetings to collaborate with them on you know, what would be important for their child to work on and see how we can make that possible. Because it's also cool at our school that and I don't know where else what it would be like but, you know, we have our handwriting, our technology goals and everything. But also we were kind of talking like pre vocational or functional goals like we have an ADL room so students can work on making a bed or doing laundry. Some of my students have meal prep goals, so I'm making my grilled cheese with them in our kitchen or mac and cheese and different things. So talking to the parents really has given us a good idea of what we focus on as well. 

 

Jayson Davies   

That's a great idea. Yeah. I think talking to both parents talking to the teachers, you can't go wrong when you're involving all the team members. So that's awesome. All right. I do want to ask you about the coffee shop. Let's dive into this. Explain. 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Yeah, so that was actually established before we started here. 

 

Kate Schoen   

it was, it was during Yeah, they kind of revamped it, the transition teacher and the previous transition OT kind of started at all. 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Yeah, so because pandemic it was on hold, they restarted it in we have a variety of items, there we have chips, drinks, they can warm up in the microwave in the airfryer. We have iced coffees or hot beverages. And there's visual recipes for every item. So it's easy for the students to follow along and be more independent, because they have that visual recipe in front of them. 

 

Kate Schoen   

So we have like a store that's off of the transition classroom with different visuals. And when the store is open, and a student is working at it, people can come in and take a visual off of the wall and show it to the student and they can go find it on the shelves, like Lisa said chips and everything. And then we also have people can make orders online for like the coffee drinks or the hot food. So if during their shift, someone who wanted warmed chicken nuggets and an iced coffee, we would go to the kitchen, and the student would make it and then deliver it to wherever they are in a classroom or an office. 

 

Jayson Davies   

That's really cool. Like it just has me thinking about so much. For instance, Ida states that, you know, kids with an IEP at 16 have to have a transition plan. But best practices evidence are coming out basically saying to start sooner than that, and some states have moved it up to 14. But some evidence says start even earlier than that. And so I want to ask like when do you actually start? Is there a certain age level USA or grade level where you're starting to provide these students with that opportunity to have a job to do these things? I mean, a lot of these may sound like they're for older students, but don't ask like does it go down for some of the younger students do?  

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Yeah, it does. So the cafe originally was just for the transition students. But we have opened it up so that some of the high school and middle school students come in, we've opened it up to elementary, too, there's been a couple of students who have helped out with those jobs. But that's something we've really been trying to focus on is getting those younger students involved so that they are better prepared by the time they get to transition and so that they'll have more opportunities in skills by that age.  

 

Jayson Davies   

Gotcha. All right. Cool. And now let's you were talking about transition. So I kind of want to dive there, we've been kind of going all over the gamut. But focusing specifically on transition age 18 to 22. Is that correct? For you as well. Just want to double check. How would you say? I know we've kind of talked about, you know, how you determine goals, right, talking to the parents talking to the teacher a little bit. But is there a lot of that also talking to the student as well, when you're coming up with with goals for them? 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Yeah, I think student interest and looking at their strengths, and what they would like to do that definitely plays a role with many of the students. So it's definitely something that we consider. There's some students who really love the cafe, and they get so excited for every time it's their shift their turn to work. So I'm really just trying to support those students who are enthusiastic about it and like to do it. 

 

Kate Schoen   

We also just kind of like jumping ahead, we haven't done this yet. But something we've really been trying to focus on is providing opportunities for students to experience different vocational opportunities to discover what they're interested in. Because a lot of I mean, our students abilities are on this huge range at our school. And some of our students are verbal, some music communication device, it's kind of hard sometimes to see what they like or whatnot. And I know there's different in the transition plan, there's different tests or whatever that show, the student chooses different things and it shows like what they are interested in. But I think actually experiencing different jobs would be more beneficial and, you know, even us growing, I keep talking about me growing up, but like I didn't know what OT was and I didn't know that I would love OT until I observed and started school. So we've talked about creating vocational opportunities. So we want to have a vocational room where we have done different jobs that would be realistic for students where we could do in a contrived setting with them to help them kind of get experience with all the different employment opportunities and kind of see if they have a specific interest. Because I mean, even doing what we have right now, one of my students really does not like working at the cafe. So I stopped signing him on for shifts, but he loves the library stand. So it's cool to see him explore his opportunities and express what he's interested in. 

 

Jayson Davies   

Yeah, just digesting that a little bit. Because it's interesting, if you would have started to the cafe was originally in place, it got revamped a little bit, but that was originally in place. And just thinking about this one student, right? Like, he would almost be forced to continue to go to the cafe, because that's the one program we have. But because there's other options, he's finding something that he actually prefers more. And you're right, like we people tend to go into jobs that they're familiar with, because their parents or friends, family, friends, work in those jobs, or whatever, and very few people know about it. But you know, that, that ability to experience that, that you're giving them, that's definitely meaningful. People can say they want to be a baseball player, they want to be a basketball player all day long. But they have no idea what it actually means to be one of those positions or any other position until they've had a little bit of experience to be in there. So that's really cool that that you want to open that up for them. Now, unfortunately, all kids have to graduate or certificated out or move on, because they're 22. And so I want just want to ask you all, because you've experienced this a little bit. What happens at that point with your students? What do you see happening? What is or maybe what isn't happening at students that are transitioning out of the transition program? 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Do you think it's very dependent on the student and their family. So we have some parents who just want their children to live back at home with them. And they're not interested in a day program, we have other people who really want their children and day programs. And we also have some who are looking more towards a residential placement for them to live out full time. It's really just dependent on the family and again on the student, and if they do have some behaviors that could impede if they're able to get into an adult program. So that is another factor too. There's just so many factors like finances and transportation. I know we had a couple of recent graduates that are back home, and their parents are interested in the day program, but it only offers like limited transportation. So that was one of the reasons they couldn't go. So it really is dependent on the student. 

 

Jayson Davies   

Gotcha. And, you know, it could be a really tough transition for kids, you know, when the family is when they're moving on from a program that they've been in for likely years. I mean, they've been in a some sort of school since you know, kindergarten. So at this point when they're 22, or maybe they are getting a graduated at 18. And moving on. What is that like for the parents? And do the parents understand even what exists out there? Or what what resources available to help them move their child or help the child to move on to that next step? 

 

Kate Schoen   

I would say the teachers a lot of the times are the ones that are you know, telling them about Illinois, I don't know how this is everywhere, but the puns list, they will tell parents about getting their students, which is just like helpful resources.  

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Yeah, there's different programs that I think are state specific, Illinois has a specific program that can help. I believe 16 or older students, your six year older, get job opportunities and supported work placements. But again, a lot of it comes down to the teacher sharing these resources, with the parents and a lot of times the IEP meetings to that something that they'll touch on with parents. 

 

Jayson Davies   

Yeah, it's definitely something that I think you just kind of, it may not be your job to learn about. But when you go through enough IEP, you start to learn about all these different resources that are available and, and sharing that and I know there are a lot of resources out there for for people with disabilities and their families. And it's not a it's not necessarily our role. It's very helpful when we are able to help in that in that role. But at the school based occupational therapy practitioner, it's not always our specific role to understand. And a lot of times, like you said, the teacher is a really good resource for that. And we don't have to know all the answers, but if we have a general direction to point them and like you know about the Illinois program, or whatever it might be, that can be sometimes just enough help that the parent needs to go find it online. So thanks for sharing Sure. All right. Well, I think that is going to kind of bring us to our wrap up today. We talked a lot this afternoon, I think it was about just in general, I know we wanted to really dive into transition. And I don't think we got into it nearly as much as maybe we initially planned. But I'm glad that we went the way that we did. Because this is a very unique program that you are both a part of within this nonprofit school. And it just shows like, I know, this isn't realistic for every school based OT out there. And I think you know that as well. But it just shows that there's a wide variety of what school based occupational therapy can look like. And it may look like what you Kate and Lisa have, or it may look like, you know what everyone that are some people that are listening right now, where they're inundated with a caseload of 50. And they're just trying to get their IEP mandate a minute 10 as opposed to only having the 11 hours, up mandated minutes and doing a lot of other stuff. But yeah, I just want to thank you both for coming on so much, really appreciate it, and sharing a little bit about your current situation and experience. So thank you for being here. 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Thank you for having us. Thank you so much. This has been great. 

 

Jayson Davies   

Yeah, and one more thing before I let you go, where can anyone who's interested in learning more about some of the programs you've developed? Where can they go? 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

That's we recently started a blog. It's project dash OT.com. And here, we just have some resources that we use to create some of our projects like the post office or library, and some pictures of the materials that we have to hopefully inspire other people to do similar projects. 

 

Jayson Davies   

That's awesome. Well, thank you, Lisa. Thank you, Kate, so much, really appreciate having you on. And we'll definitely have to keep in touch over at Project ots.com. Thanks again.  

 

Kate Schoen   

Thank you. 

 

Lisa Lodesky   

Thank you. 

 

Jayson Davies   

All right, that is going to wrap up episode number 133. With Kate and Lisa, I want to give them a big thank you for coming on. This was the first podcast that they've ever been on. And they just did an amazing job. You know, they are relatively new school based OT practitioners. But I think because of that, you know, they just have this ambition to make their program better. And so they developed that student involvement committee, they started to develop these programs that, you know, there might have already been a little bit of a foundation before they got there. But they've really built that up to support the students that they no need that support. Obviously, you know, your school system may look a little bit different than theirs, their case loads are lowered, they kind of come from kind of a community based type of setting in a sense. But that doesn't mean that what you learned today can apply to your situation. Of course, it's gonna look a little bit different, it might take a little bit longer, you might have to start smaller, rather than starting with three projects like they kind of shared. But you can do that you can start with one small project and expand from there. If you'd like some additional help with maybe starting that program, check out their website project. Oh t.com. That's project dash OT.com. They just started a blog. Nothing is paid over there. They just have a free resource to share with you how to get started with creating a program for your students. All right, so I will see you next time in Episode 134 of the OTs schoolhouse podcast. Until then, I hope you're having a great start to your school year. And yeah, we'll see you next time. Take care. Bye. 

 

Amazing Narrator   

Thank you for listening to the OT schoolhouse podcast. For more ways to help you and your students succeed right now. Head on over to OT schoolhouse.com Until next time, class is dismissed. 


Click on the file below to download the transcript to your device.


Ep 133 - engaging students the role of a student involvement committee
.pdf
Download PDF • 166KB



Be sure to subscribe to the OT Schoolhouse email list & get access to our free downloads of Gray-Space paper and the Occupational Profile for school-based OTs. Subscribe now!




Thanks for visiting the podcast show notes! If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts




OT Schoolhouse Logo


Commentaires


Single post: Blog_Single_Post_Widget
bottom of page