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Slide 1: Welcome to the first webinar in the module on communication and collaboration. My name is Renee Mattson. I am working on behalf of the Ohio Partnership for Excellence in Paraprofessional Preparation at the University of Cincinnati’s Systems Development & Improvement Center.  

Slide 2: There is more to communicating than engaging in casual conversation.  There are concepts that we need to have a good grasp on before we engage in collaboration when working in inclusive settings.  There are specific communication and collaboration skills that need to be taught, modeled and practiced if we want to shift our ability to learn. And there dispositions that support communication and collaboration and these need to be practiced and demonstrated as part of training.   

Slide 3: Not only do we have to learn to communicate with our professional peers and lead teachers, paraprofessionals need to communicate with other varied professionals, related service providers, and agencies.  This means we have to be able to have successful team oriented discussions with each other. This unit deals with forms of communicating that help instructional teams work well, accomplish their goals, and strive through positive interactions to create positive outcomes for kids.  

Slide 4: When teams work together they run into a few challenges.   #1. Consensus building despite conflicting ideas. When they plan instruction,  Different team members (you and your teacher, for instance) will have different views of what should happen within the school situation or lesson and what should not happen.  As a paraprofessional, you might have conflicting philosophies with your teacher, conflicting perspectives of what is going with a child and conflicting training methods and approaches to supporting the child.  

Together you will need to use your consensus building skills and your conflict resolution skills to help come to a resolution that reflects all experts on the team.  These skills can be taught, modeled and practiced and should be something you learn so that you can help your team come to a conclusion that everyone can agree with. 

Slide 5:  #2.  Time is short, use your time wisely.  Teams need to maintain focus. There’s so much to talk about  and somewhere in the midst of our interactions with other we need to take time to genuinely connect.  It is best if the team has a set plan or structure to how they run their meetings.  They could even have  a shared document where they put ideas together prior to meeting and then zero in on the important topics when they meet. As the para, how could you help the meetings run smoothly and on a timely schedule? 

Slide 6: #3.  Come to the table with common terms used to describe the situation and the support tools around the situation.  When we use a word or a phrase, we tend to believe that any listener will understand what that word or phrase means in exactly the way we intend it to be understood. But communicating is never that simple. It is important to determine the exact name for a tool, system, or approach and make sure that others on the team know that team so that when you use it everyone knows what it means. As a paraprofessional, if you hear other professionals using terms that you are not sure what they mean, it is best if the team makes you feel like it is okay not to know and important to ask what everyone is talking about.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions and speak up if you don’t know something.  

Slide 7: Working through these communication and collaboration situations can help the team to make decisions about how to instruct a student, handle a difficult behavior issue, share information with a parent, consult the principal about a policy, or accomplish whatever else they need to accomplish when making a child’s school experience positive and consistent across providers.  

Slide 8:  Collaboration takes a concerted effort and it is ongoing in that we continually have to connect and make things work out between the adults that support children.  Having some specific skills in this area can help make your work environment more positive and a child’s school experience more successful. This module hopes to give you some of the knowledge, skills and dispositions that can make your interactions better.  

Slide 14: Communication is not just talk; more often it’s listening. Communication is an interchange. For that interchange to do any good, all those involved need to have a turn at explaining how they see things and turn to listen carefully.  This is often called active listening and it is a priority skill for educational team members.  

Slide 15: What is active listening? Careful listening involves thinking while listening.  It also involves repeating what you hear from your colleague back to them to clarify you heard them correctly.  By way of active listening, you can ask good questions that can further help the speaker explain his or her perspective to the team. Active listening means we end up learning from each other rather than teaching or talking to each other. This learning leads to better problem solving by the team and can help everyone on the team begin to understand the perspectives of everyone at the table.  

Slide 17:Active listeners are willing to and open to changing their mind and try to think before they speak.  As an active listener you might do more than listen you might also observe the situation of the collaboration, get a feel for what others are thinking or feeling, read the expressions on their faces and the body language for cues to what people are thinking or feeling and then use those observations to gauge the next steps.  

Slide 18: For example, some studies show that body language and tone of voice communicate more than words. When the words and the body language (or tone of voice) line up, there’s no problem. But when the body language and the words communicate different messages, we tend to believe the body language and discount the words. Good communication involves understanding the words in the context of what we think is really going on—what we observe. 

Slide 20: The watching and waiting is part of what we need in order to be as objective as possible in the conversation and use less emotion and opinion to guide our responses.   

Slide 21: Part of what we do to prepare for an objective discussion with a team is to have factual information that is based on data we have collected in our work with a child.  Sticking to the facts helps us to weed out the emotion or the opinion and just go by what the numbers and patterns are showing us. Your team members might ask you to take note, gather data and assess what you see from a child.  This data collection becomes a key part of collaborative meet ups.  

Slide 22:TEAMs usually work together for extended periods of time and so it is important to build positive interactive practices into the work we do so that we make our conversations and collaborations as positive and successful as possible. The meeting topics are important but equally as important are the collaborative approaches we use to sustain those team meeting’s.   

Slide 23- Being a professional part of a team means being smart about how and what you discuss outside of that team.  This means being confidential and understanding the privacy rights that are important to your job.  

 Slide 24- the work you do with adults on communication and collaboration can be used to also support your students.  With students you should actively listen, come a consensus or work withrough conflict, and use facts to support the challenges and important conversations about their learning that comes up.  You will learn in this module about responsive interactions, feedback sharing, building connections and talking and communicating through the learning experience.  

 

Module: Communication and Collaboration

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