Schools collaborate for a variety of reasons with a variety of organizations. For students with special needs, the most common reason for collaboration is to secure particular services, services the school cannot provide, from organizations that typically do provide the services. You may already know something about some of these organizations from your own life, or from experience as a paraprofessional. The point of this activity, though, is to give you a chance to deepen your knowledge about just one of them. The activity is really simple: visiting the organization.
Procedure: Organize the Visit
- Choose an organization, for example, a human service agency, hospital, clinic, or intermediate unit (in Ohio, an Educational Service Center) that you would like to learn more about.
- Get approval from your team to make a visit to the organization. If the team thinks the visit might be useful to its immediate work, perhaps more than one of you may want visit at the same time. Discuss the possibility with your team.
- Set up a visit.
Procedure: Make the Visit
- When visiting, be sure to use the “principles of effective communication”! You’re there mostly to listen.
- With your team or colleague make a short list of things you’d like to know more about. Five questions should be plenty.
- But you may find that your colleagues in the outside organization have some questions for you. Don’t be afraid to say “We’ll get back with you about that” if you don’t know the answer: but make sure you do get back with an answer. Lack of follow-through is a major failing in all sorts of collaboration!
- Debrief with the team. Report what you learned and report what new questions you might have as a result of the visit.
- Don’t forget to send a thank-you message, and to follow up on anything asked by your hosts.