Making a Difference

Making a Difference for Educators

The Partnering for Change (P4C) model of service was implemented in 40 elementary schools. Educators contributed to the evaluation of the service through completion of knowledge, skills and beliefs questionnaires. Increased capacity was built through job-embedded learning, and the educators identified feeling satisfied and valued as result of the collaboration with the P4C occupational therapists (OTs).

  • Knowledge sharing and close collaboration between OTs and educators resulted in positive change in educators’ knowledge, skills and confidence.
  • Educators and principals were very supportive of the model and requested its continuation.
  • Change happened gradually over the two years.
  • By working in context, P4C OTs learned what types of accommodations were feasible in the classroom.

Building Educator Capacity

Educator Satisfaction with the Service

All of the educators at the 40 Partnering for Change (P4C) schools receiving the service were asked to complete an Educator Knowledge, Skill and Experience Questionnaire at four time points to determine if capacity was built for educators, and within the school board. Questionnaires were completed in the:

  • fall of 2013; at the start of Year 1 (T1)
  • spring of 2014; at the end of Year 1 (T2)
  • fall of 2014; at the start of Year 2 (T3)
  • spring of 2015; at the end of Year 2 (T4)

Educators were asked to respond to questions about their knowledge, skills and experience with the P4C OT using a five-point scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. Figure 1 shows the results of the School Wide Educator Questionnaire.

School Wide Educator Knowledge, Skills, and Beliefs Questionnaire

Graph 1: School Wide Educator Knowledge, Skills, and Beliefs Questionnaire
Figure 1

Seven hundred and seventy-three educators completed the School Wide Educator Questionnaire at least once during the two years of the study. Though differing numbers of educators completed the questionnaire at each time point, all of the 773 educators were at the same P4C school for the duration of the study.

The mean overall capacity score increased at almost every time point over the two years; the score stayed virtually the same in the summer between the first and second year, as would be expected when the educators were not in school nor collaborating with the OT. A consistent increase was noted between the start and the end of the study which shows that the entire knowledge of the school communities increased over the two years of the study. This change demonstrates increased educator capacity.

This incremental increase in capacity is consistent with what the OTs reported in interviews and focus groups about working in this model — change happens in small steps and takes time.

Educators of the children who were in the study were also asked about their Knowledge, Skill and Experience, using the same questionnaire. It was important to determine if capacity increased for these educators who had more contact with the P4C OTs. Educators completed the Educator Knowledge, Skills and Beliefs questionnaire at three time points:

  • when the child was referred into the study in Year 1 (T1)
  • the fall of Year 2 when the child was in the next grade (T2)
  • the spring of Year 2, (T3)

The results for the educators of children participating in the research study are shown in Figure 2. Questionnaires were matched to show increased capacity occurred for the educator who collaborated with the P4C OT in support of the child receiving the P4C OT service.

Matched Educator Knowledge, Skills, and Beliefs Questionnaire

Graph 2: Matched Educator Package Knowledge, Skills, and Beliefs Questionnaire
Figure 2

Consistent with the results for the “school wide” educator questionnaire, these findings also show that educator capacity increased over time.

There were additional questions added to the Educator Knowledge, Skills and Beliefs questionnaire administered at the end of the second year of the project. All of the educators who completed a questionnaire at Time 4 were asked these questions to enable learning about the collaboration between the educator and OT and the extent to which the information shared by the OT facilitated positive social interactions and academic engagement. The majority of the educators who completed the questionnaire at the end of the study strongly agreed with the following statements:

  • My knowledge and skills were valued.
  • I was an equal partner in the decisions that were made.
  • Materials and information were freely shared.
  • My time was used productively when the OT was in my classroom.
  • I was satisfied with the way the OT and I communicated with each other.
  • I was satisfied with the way the OT and I worked together to problem solve.
  • The strategies and information shared in my collaborations with the OT helped create more positive academic engagement for students.

The majority of those same educators also moderately agreed with the following statements:

  • Having an OT accessible in my school on a regular basis increased my ability to differentiate instruction.
  • The strategies and information shared in my collaborations with the OT helped create more positive social interactions for students.
  • The strategies and information shared in my collaborations with the OT helped create more positive interactions between myself and students.

Lastly, the educators provided numerous comments in support of the P4C service at the conclusion of the questionnaires. This feedback has been grouped and summarized below.

Quotes from educator questionnaires about capacity building:

I look forward to working together to support my students and to gain skills that will help me support future students.

Thank you for helping me to recognize strategies and ideas to help build my students' skills in a positive way. Working as a whole class or small group is much more preferable to the withdrawal of a single student.

This has been a terrific experience. I have learned a lot about the challenges some of our students face and I feel better about finding ways to help them. I especially value the ability to consult face to face with an OT each week if necessary.

An amazing program, has helped a lot of students be successful at graphomotor tasks in class as well as in equipping them with alternative strategies. I have learned a lot from our OT and feel more confident in identifying students who face OT challenges.

I think this program has certainly helped enhance the delivery of my lessons to students. Having such a fabulous OT offer advice and suggestions has helped better my teaching practice.

Feedback about the P4C service and hope for service to continue from Educator Questionnaires:

I have found working with our OT to be a very positive and productive relationship. We have problem-solved a variety of issues collaboratively and I hope to continue working with her.

An excellent program that is providing much needed support to teachers and students. Our OT is very knowledgeable and understanding. She is personable and approachable and I have seen a lot of growth in my three students who have been following suggestions of our OT. The program is worth continuing!

Having access to an OT has been invaluable. I would love to have greater access to an OT on a permanent basis.

The P4C OT was amazing. She provided great tools and resources to support students. She was very patient and consistently concerned about their progress. She communicated with parents on a need-to-know basis and provided strategies for the home. We were very lucky to have her in our school for support!

Principals also cited high satisfaction with this model of service and offered strong support for the collaborative learning that occurred. Many principals offered unsolicited praise in support of the P4C service and indicated how helpful it was to have an OT as part of the school team to enable problem solving quickly without formal referral or the constraint of student diagnoses. One principal said:

…instead of waiting for suggestions for 18 months or whatever, we can get answers and we can get assistance with that right away…and the child feels better with their self-esteem because they are getting help to fix something before it becomes a much bigger problem.

Lastly, an educator speaks highly about her experiences with the P4C service.

Her experience is echoed by the comment from a school board representative:

As the teachers got more comfortable with her [OT], they would talk to their colleagues or there would be an understanding that ‘oh this person actually isn’t making more work for you…she is actually coming into your classroom with a different lens and maybe there is actually a lot that she can do to help you’.

— School board representative