Mrs A's Blog

My Rambling Thoughts on Teaching and Learning

Rationale for Consultation and Collaboration

            Teachers are constantly aiming to improve their pedagogy, ultimately to improve student outcomes (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2012). In an attempt to improve student outcomes, schools have engaged in school-based consultation. School-based consultation focuses on assisting consultees (usually teachers) to improve knowledge and skills through the use of a consultant (an internal or external specialist) in order to be more effective with their clients (usually students) (Brown et al., 2011a; Erchul & Martens, 2010; Warren, 2018). Within education, it is necessary to develop a rationale for consultation to support educators to build their capacity to employ instructional and behavioural interventions that are effective and sustainable (Truscott et al., 2012). This rationale will discuss solution-focused consultee centred (SFCC) approaches to consultation within an independent K-12 co-educational college on the southside of Brisbane. Section one will analyse the context and need for consultation, along with current trends and initiatives that impact the environment and the nature of the triadic relationship within consultation. Section two will critically review the SFCC model of consultation and finally section three will justify the need for collaborative consultation, potential barriers for implementation and possible solutions to these barrier.

Section 1 Contextual Analysis

Contextual Description

            The Year 9 Heath and Physical Education (HPE) subject coordinator (consultee) is an experienced teacher who is new to the college. The teacher works in the secondary school within the HPE and Science faculties. They had attended multiple professional learning (PL) sessions provided by the Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Expert on staff. After reviewing the Year 9 HPE course in line with the Australian Curriculum, it was believed that the General Capabilities were not incorporated to the extent that they should be, especially the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2021). As a result, the consultee approached the MIE Expert (consultant) about improving the safe partying unit. The focus of the improvement was to change the assessment piece from an essay to a multimedia response which would align with what students (client) might use outside of their school environment. The consultee had gathered many ideas from the various PL sessions they had attended on infographics, movie making, social media, digital inking, rotoscoping, web design, and problem-based learning. The main reason for the collaboration was that the HPE teacher had the subject area knowledge while the MIE Expert had the technological knowledge and skills. The nature of the triadic relationship was to provide the consultee with the knowledge, skills and confidence to determine the best course of action to incorporate ICT into the unit (Truscott et al., 2012).

Current Trends and Influences

            Legislation, policies, and current trends in technology, teaching and learning impact the use of consultation in this context. As a Queensland school, teaching and learning programs must be prepared using the Australian Curriculum and the P-12 curriculum, assessment and reporting framework (CARF) (Education Queensland, 2020; Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority, 2021). This includes embedding general capabilities, cross-curricular priorities, and 21st-century skills (Education Queensland, 2020). For this consultation, the need to include the ICT capability into health and wellbeing education is a priority to meet the legislative requirements. Likewise, the school’s policies outline that the Australian curriculum and the Queensland CARF influence its curriculum, incorporating student interest and abilities while preparing them to be socially capable and globally mindful citizens (John Paul College, 2021). Over the last ten years, many trends have influenced technology use in education. The main trends include personalisation, learners as creators and authentic learning experiences (Adams Becker et al., 2016; Consortium for School Networking, 2019, 2020, 2021; Dahlstrom et al., 2017; International Society for Technology in Education, 2021; Johnson et al., 2014, 2015). The impact of authentic assessment was a focus for this consultation as the consultee wanted to improve students’ higher-order thinking while offering choice, personalisation and real-world experience using technology (Dahlstrom et al., 2017; Koh, 2017; Koh et al., 2012). The other area of focus for the consultee was that students would construct their knowledge and create an artifact that was meaningful for themselves and their peers while ensuring learning was active and improved knowledge retention (Adams Becker et al., 2016; Consortium for School Networking, 2019).

Section 2 Theoretical Model for Integrated Service Delivery

Service Delivery Assumptions and Approach

            The model for integrated service delivery being utilised in this scenario is SFCC. SFCC is a consultee centred, solution-based approach to consultation where the consultant acts more like a coach or facilitator to help the consultee achieve their goal (Brown et al., 2011c; Lloyd et al., 2016). It is an economical, time-sensitive, practical and rational technique to solving the problem a consultee has identified (Simmonds, 2019). In this case, the HPE teacher identified that the problem was in meeting the curriculum requirements for the Year 9 unit. Characterised as a short term, interactional intervention with the aim to improve a consultee’s knowledge, skills and ability to work with a client by utilising the strengths, abilities and successes the consultee already possesses (Bond et al., 2013; Lloyd et al., 2016). The consultant supports the consultee by encouraging them to explore the ideal future using the miracle question, scaling, and looking for exceptions tools (Lutz, 2014; Simmonds, 2019; Visser, 2013). The HPE teacher already possessed the knowledge to devise the assessment and required the consultant to improve their skills and confidence. The problem-solving process involves five main steps (Scott et al., 2015). The process begins with the consultee explaining the issue, including what has been tried so far to solve the problem and the consultant determining if there is a motivation for change by the consultee (Scott et al., 2015; Simmonds, 2019; Visser, 2013). This leads to goal setting and exploration of perspectives, exceptions and potential solutions (Brown et al., 2011c; Scott et al., 2015). Step four is an opportunity for the consultant to provide feedback, praise, and ideas about the next steps (Brown et al., 2011c; Scott et al., 2015). The last step in the process is for the consultee to evaluate their progress using a rating scale and identify their next step (Scott et al., 2015). The consultation continues until the consultee has achieved their goals (Brown et al., 2011c). For SFCC to be successful, it relies on several assumptions. As there is no one way to solve any problem, the central assumption is that the consultee is the expert and has the capacity and resources to solve the issue (Simmonds, 2019; Wheeler & Vinnicombe, 2011). SFCC also assumes that the client will be enriched due to the consultee advancing their skills, knowledge and abilities (Brown et al., 2011c).

Direct and Indirect Services

            Within the SFCC model, the triadic relationship is evident as the consultant provides indirect services to the client through the consultee (Brown et al., 2011a). The needs of all stakeholders are met by improving the teacher’s skills, thus benefiting the students (Scott et al., 2015; Truscott et al., 2012). In this scenario, both direct and indirect services are provided; however, the focus is on indirect services. The indirect services include the PL sessions provided by the MIE Expert (consultant), which the consultee attended, along with the consultation sessions where the consultant and the subject coordinator collaborated to improve the unit assessment piece utilising the information they had learnt in the PL sessions (Scott et al., 2015). Followup sessions were also utilised to upskill and ensure the comfort of the consultee to present the assessment task to the Year 9 cohort. During the SFCC process, the consultee identified that they were unsure how to explicitly teach the assessment task’s technology component. As such, the consultant offered direct services to the students (client) by modelling the correct pedagogy and language in a co-teaching scenario and providing in-class support to troubleshoot where the consultee was missing the skill set (Brown et al., 2011a).

Section 3 Justification of Professional Practice

Professional Standards and Expectations

            No teacher has the knowledge or skill to serve all students they teach (King-Sears et al., 2015). However, according to AITSL (2011), teachers have the most significant influence on student learning than any other program or policy. As a result, all Australian governments, universities, schools, and teachers are responsible for working together to support high-quality teaching (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2011). Collaborative consultation encourages and empowers all stakeholders to work together in an interactive process to utilise the diverse expertise to find and generate creative solutions to support students (King-Sears et al., 2015; Simmonds, 2019). The professional standards for teachers encourages collaborative consultation through the Professional Engagement domain, which looks at the interactions between colleagues, parents/carers and the community (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2011). In this scenario, both subject and technological expertise were pooled, benefiting students by bringing the expertise to them (Brown et al., 2011a; King-Sears et al., 2015). The benefits of this collaborative consultation include the new assessment piece being more successful than if only the consultee had developed it, leading to long term sustainability (King-Sears et al., 2015). All team members advocated for the client’s needs, leading to ownership of student learning (King-Sears et al., 2015; Scott et al., 2015). As there was a willingness by all stakeholders to participate, teacher confidence and skill improved, leading to the client’s overall success (King-Sears et al., 2015; Scott et al., 2015).

Barriers to Implementation

            There are three main barriers to implementing collaborative consultation within SFCC in this scenario. The first is a lack of knowledge by the consultee (Brown et al., 2011b; Erchul & Martens, 2010). Essentially, the HPE teacher does not know what they do not know; the solution is for the MIE Expert to supply the missing knowledge (Brown et al., 2011b). Another is a lack of self-confidence; this can be resolved through the provision of support, assurance and, if required finding other colleagues who can support the consultee as required (Brown et al., 2011b; Erchul & Martens, 2010). The last barrier is the additional responsibilities for the consultee due to the consultation (Erchul & Martens, 2010). Teachers have limited time in their day to find time for lengthy collaborative consultation; with SFCC, the solution can be a 15-minute consultation which is followed up with an email conversation so the ideas can be fleshed out and the consultee has time to process the ideas (Erchul & Martens, 2010). Additionally, the consultant can assist by actively finding resources or offering peer coaching (Erchul & Martens, 2010).


            If teachers are to continue to improve their skills, knowledge and student outcomes, they need to embrace school-based consultation. Within the context of the HPE teacher needing to improve a Year 9 unit to meet the national curriculum requirements, SFCC was the best model for integrated service delivery. The consultee knew what they needed to do and required the consultant’s expertise to improve their skills and confidence. Though there were three barriers to implementing collaborative consultation, the consultant offered solutions, including offering support, resourcing and peer coaching. By undertaking collaborative consultation, the HPE teacher has met the requirements of the professional standards for teachers.


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