katherine zagotsis
Highly Accomplished Teacher. AAC Communication Partner & Advocate. Mum of one. Accidental Leader. Reflectionist, Mentor and life-long learner.

Engaging Now! 7.4

Demonstrating 4.5

NEP Meeting: An Interpretation

March 31, 2018 | Focus Areas: | | | | | | | | | | 0 COMMENTS
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Interpreting Request Form sourced from Intranet Department for Education is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Last Tuesday, I had a Negotiated Education Plan (NEP) meeting with a parent*. This is an opportunity for both parents and me as the teacher to discuss their child, what we hope to achieve this year, in an academic, sensory, behavioural and social sense. It’s also a perfect opportunity to bring up any concerns and to gain some additional information from the family. This particular meeting happened to require an interpreter. This is my 4th year working in a classroom teacher role and it’s the first time I’ve had to complete this process, so I was a little uncertain about what to do.

My colleague suggested that I search on the DECD Intranet, which I did and was pleasantly surprised to find a page of instructions. My first step was to print off an ‘Interpreting Request’ form and fill in the details (I haven’t redacted the form as all of the information is available on the school’s website). I paused when I came to the language required. I was pretty certain that it was Mandarin, but wanted to check the student’s file to be sure. It was. The next thing I needed to do was select which agency I wanted to use. I printed off a list, determining at least that I didn’t need to use Deaf Can Do. However, there were still several other options available, which all seemed viable to me. Frustrated, I went and asked our Acting Junior Primary Coordinator whether we had a preferred provider. “Not really, but I’ve used this one,” pointing to ABC International Services Trust Translating and Interpreting Services, “and you can request a man or a woman if you want to.” Thanking her, I walked back to the conference room. I filled in the details of the agency on the form and then called them to obtain a booking number. Writing this down as well, the next thing I needed to do was get the request signed off by the principal. I couldn’t find him, so instead asked our Acting Deputy Principal. The final step I needed to complete was to fax the form through to the agency, which I didn’t know how to do. Back to the office to ask a favour. “Can you please send this for me because I don’t know how to?” One of the Receptionists smiled patiently and then showed me step by step, explaining as she was doing it. All of this was completed a week prior to the meeting, as this is how much notice the interpreting services need. I received no confirmation that my request had been approved or denied, which I found very odd.

Creative Commons License
List of interpreters sourced from Intranet Department for Education is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The day of the meeting, I waited in the office for the interpreter and the student’s parent. A smartly-dressed man soon arrived and introduced himself, the parent arrived soon after. They greeted each other in Mandarin. I apologised that it was very busy this morning with meetings and we’d be using a different room, which was translated quickly and efficiently. Feeling incredibly monolingual, I led them through. I had 3 pieces of paperwork to get through in an hour, the NEP itself, which would be written in part by the parent, a Positive Behaviour Support Plan which I’d written and needed signed off as well as all of the academic goals I’d written. The NEP and the support plan we got through without too much trouble translating. As we were talking however, the subject of how the child mouths objects constantly, often leading to an overproduction of saliva. I commented that I had training in the Oral Motor program, which might help. Parent asked “Oral Motor?” I turned to the interpreter, laughed and said “Are you ready? I think this is going to be hard to translate.” To which he responded by clapping his hands on his legs “No come on, let’s go!”

“Oral motor involves brushing of the arms and legs, some massage and the use of something called a Nuk brush. This is used on both sides of the mouth and the tongue, which can make the child aware of where their mouth is. It can also help with speech development. Is this something you would be interested in?”

He must have translated well, because I received a positive response from the parent.

Target: Ask for permission forms from leadership for the oral motor program to send home to families, so that I can start doing it this year with students that I feel it’s appropriate.

We finally came to the academic goals. I write an average of 30 goals for each student for the year, so I asked before I began reading if I should read the whole document. A nod from the parent. I positioned the paper so they could view it at the same time as I was reading as I knew they could understand some written English. This proceeded quite quickly, with the parent just clarifying a few things with the translator every now and then. I read the final goal when unexpectedly, the translator turned directly to me and said “Wow! You do an amazing job.” To which I responded, “Thank you, so do you.” I concluded the meeting and led them both through to the office, where I signed off on the interpreter’s time sheet.

Later that week, I was thinking about the other students in my class and how many of them would have English as an additional language. I know already that 3 are of Asian descent (however I’m not going to assume that this makes their home environment multilingual). I think that working in a special school, the focus is almost automatically on disability. But I need to keep in mind that this is not the only issue that my students have to face and consequently, what I need to help them with.

Target: Identify all of the languages spoken at home within my class and learn the basic greeting of each so I can use it in the mornings.

*I’ve used parent in place of Mum or Dad in this post to protect student identity.

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