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An educational company providing resources for teachers, therapists, and other support staff focusing on collaboration and intervention strategies for preschool and school age students.

Collaboration: A Twist on the I SPY Game

Staff Chat

Brief, informative lessons to share with staff and students.

Collaboration: A Twist on the I SPY Game

Debra Em

As S’cool Moves morphs and grows in its mission, a key element is understanding collaboration and figuring out ways to bring together the unique skill sets and wisdom of multidisciplinary team members.

When I completed my doctorate research, the aim was to unearth the successful attributes of collaboration between occupational therapists and general education teachers. What I learned expanded far beyond the borders of OTs and gen ed to include all members of multidisciplinary teams.

The video I’m sharing with you came from the University of Southern Queensland’s Alumni Newsletter. It’s only five minutes but sums up beautifully the keys to building staff engagement and collaboration.

For teams to engage with one another requires authentic conversation. Authentic conversation means that the administration and members of the collaborative community trust one another, respect each other’s unique skill sets, and avoid blame. This provides the confidence to share with one another.

Often knowledge stays within a department due to the department having meetings that only include their staff. This creates a stickiness where valuable information doesn’t get transferred out of the group to other multidisciplinary staff members who may be able to use that knowledge to grow their own skill sets.

For instance, as a reading specialist, I read Reading Research Quarterly; however, I also read material published by the field of occupational therapy because their field leads the way in best practices in collaboration. Unfortunately, other multidisciplinary staff members probably don’t read literature from the field of occupational therapy. The information stays “stuck” in the OT field.

During S’cool Moves workshops, there is usually a diverse group that includes members from many different teams. I try to share strategies that cross over disciplinary boundaries. When this happens, department teams start talking with one another about how they might use the strategy to reach the collective goals of the entire staff. This is exciting to observe when it comes alive right before my eyes in a workshop setting.

I think of this as “Same Page Interventions” (SPI). What is it that workshop attendees can leave with that helps multidisciplinary teams get on the same page? This is the key to expanding collaboration and creating fulfilling, engaging work environments where everyone pulls together to achieve goals they could not achieve individually.

When I was at a low point in my life—single, broke, laid off from work, with two small children—we were on a long drive playing I SPY. My son, only three years old at the time, was buckled in his car seat. I could see him in my rear view mirror. When it was his turn he said, “I spy a cute little mommy who loves her children.” In that moment, I knew everything was going to be okay.

I SPY wonderful staff members who love their children. Working together and sharing one another’s unique skill sets is a great way to play the I SPY game and get on the same page with using interventions everyone can agree on. Get started even if it’s risky. Everything is going to be okay.

What makes your collaboration successful? What SPI techniques do you use to get everyone on the same page?