Sometimes the life of an educational consultant is like the Willie Nelson classic, “On the Road Again” When one figures I’ve been to 200 schools and programs over the last 5 years (a good number of the twice, or even three times), 25 IECA and 10 NATSAP National conferences, countless lunches, one day meetings or outings with colleagues and who knows how many trips to see clients at programs or schools, I am shocked that they don’t simply roll out the red carpet for me at the airport, or at the very least always reserve an exit row seat for me! Granted many of the travels I go on are to wonderful and beautiful places; I rarely complain when my travels bring me to the Wasatch mountains of Utah in winter (funny how I always time it that way) or to the beautiful Arizona desert in March, and I’ll confess I’m often looking for an excuse to travel to the southeast in late fall.
Visiting programs is a crucial part of what we do as consultants. Not only do we need to do program visits to keep up our membership in IECA, but we also tour for professional development reasons. So yes, we have to tour, but for many of us touring is an exciting and fulfilling part of our job. Most of us work in small offices, or alone, so visiting programs allows us to get out and see what exciting things our colleagues are doing at their programs. It is important for us to get our hands dirty as it were, so yes, we ride the horses, bust the fire, and even, occasionally, muck the stalls. It is imperative that we roll up our sleeves and get to know not only the staff but also the students at these programs; because when we refer our clients to them, many times it’s because we know the people and we can, for lack of a better word, see our kid at the school. Of course we need to do our due diligence when it comes to reviewing testing, speaking to therapists, parents and other professionals, etc. but we cannot lose sight that many times our gut tells us if a place is a good match or not, and, well, you can’t rely on your gut if you’ve never been there!
So for us, often times it is indeed life on the road, and for many of us, we wouldn’t have it any other way.