One thing I’ve learned in my fourteen years as a music therapist is that it is better when we work together.

Cue Jack Johnson singing “it’s always better when we’re together.”

One of my favorite parts about working in a school setting is co-treating with other professionals.

I have learned a tremendous amount from co-treating with other therapists and working closely with teachers and paraprofessionals.

Today and next week, I’ll be sharing some simple tips to ensure a smooth collaboration with other professionals so your clients can receive the maximum benefit from your sessions.

To start, here are some simple tips when working with teachers and paraprofessionals:

1. Meet with them before your sessions begin

If possible, try to visit teachers in the morning before students arrive. You can chat with them about what they’re working on in their classroom and how you could potentially target some of those concepts in your sessions. For a few examples:

Watch this video to see how I worked on math concepts with a student in individual music therapy.

Watch this video to see how I worked on mixing colors using a singable story during group music therapy.

(All the Academic Concept videos are HERE.)

2. During your group sessions, ask and encourage them to participate

Some teachers and paraprofessionals may not want to “step on your toes” since you’re the group leader. If you want their participation, be sure to ask for and encourage it. From experience I’ll tell you it’s a lot more fun and motivating for the students if they see the teachers singing and waving their scarves too!

3. Be specific about the kind of help you need

In group sessions, some students require hand over hand assistance to participate. Ask the teacher to assist the student during a movement activity by moving their arms up and down to the music.

Some students need support to stay in the group during the session. You can ask the teacher to sit next to that student and ensure he or she doesn’t try to run away.

4. Get their feedback

After the session, ask if the teacher has any feedback or suggestions for ways to make the session more effective. I’ve been a music therapist working in various settings for what seems like a long time. To this day, I still ask for feedback and ideas from teachers and I believe we should all continue to do this so our students can receive the best service we can offer.

What suggestions do you have for working with teachers and paraprofessionals?

Stay tuned next week when I share ideas for co-treating with other therapists (one of my favorite things to do!)