The program I teach in utilizes an interdisciplinary team to provide comprehensive diagnostic evaluation to children under the age of 18 who present with a wide range of complex psychiatric symptoms. Unit 39 at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre is an 8-bed facility with 2 beds for crisis stabilization and 6 beds for elective admissions. Staff work together closely to provide a structured, therapeutic environment that incorporates developmentally appropriate assessment approaches and activities.
The purpose of the school portion of this program has typically acted as an extension of the children's regular classroom. Students are required to bring a collection of work from their regular teacher and spend the school day completing this work.
Can you imagine the kind of school work a teacher might send for a student that is in the hospital for 3-4 weeks?
I'll be brutally honest, the kind of work the kids show up with tends to be worksheet, busy work. Not all the time, but this is the case a lot of the time. I'll be honest again, if this busy work is actually the kind of learning these kids would experience had they not been admitted to the hospital, then they aren't missing much.
Asking me to replicate each child's regular classroom experiences at the hospital seems to me to be an exercise in futility. Even if it were possible (and it's not) to clone their regular classroom and transplant it at the hospital, in the context of these children's lives, this would still be developmentally inappropriate. I guess what I'm really trying to say is this: You don't go to the hospital to get caught up on your homework.
If staying caught up with academics was the primary problem plaguing these children, they wouldn't need to be admitted to the hospital.
All this has led me to significantly rethink the purpose of the school portion of this program. Here is a description I wrote up as a part of the pre-admission package to introduce parents to the purpose of the school portion of this program:
Patients attend school on the unit with a teacher as a part of their assessment. During school, patients will engage in a balance between continuing their regular academics and activities that will help them to effectively change and improve their thinking, feelings and behavior. While patients may spend time working on traditional academics, a priority will be placed on providing support and resources to help them make positive changes and/or informed choices in their lives.I am posting this here as a first draft so that I can get feedback from you. What do you think about all this? Based on the context of my teaching assignment, am I right to refocus this school's purpose to see academics play a secondary role to the well-being of the students? Am I missing something?
I'm looking forward to your feedback via comments.