Welcome to OPEPP​
Ohio Partnership for Excellence in Paraprofessional Preparation



This module delves into various aspects of communication, encompassing overarching principles, interactions with diverse groups (students, multilingual speakers, parents, teachers, teams, and agency staff), and addressing concerns specific to special education paraprofessionals (confidentiality, data handling). Despite the diversity of topics, they all tie back to fundamental principles, which are reiterated below:

  • Beware of assumptions: Be open to changing your perspective.
  • Listen more than talk: Prioritize active and careful listening.
  • Listen carefully to help the team: Understand and contribute to addressing team issues.
  • Think before speaking: Engage in thoughtful communication that is confidential.
  • Prepare well with objective observations: Gather information that is factual and organized.
  • Effective communication is difficult: Tackle challenges collaboratively with the team in mind

The Essence of Circumspect Thinking (a broader perspective)

This module’s core focus is to encourage circumspect thinking about your actions and words in the professional context. “Circumspectly” relates to the word “circumference,” denoting the length around a circle, or “circumnavigate,” referring to navigation by circling the globe. “Circumspection” entails looking or seeing all around the circle, encouraging a broader perspective.


Schools are complex and often difficult places.
There is a lot to see.

Recognizing that schools are complex and often challenging environments, this module emphasizes the multifaceted role of a paraprofessional as a helper. As a paraprofessional, your duty involves following directions and aiding in implementing plans made by supervising teachers, instructional teams, principals, or a combination. These plans define the instructional mission which is aimed at helping students learn.

You bring all of your best qualities to the work you perform. And by thinking circumspectly you can figure out how, when, and where to make use of your best qualities. In fact, by thinking more circumspectly about what you say and do with others in this work, you can become better at it. Every time you say or do something, for instance, it influences something else. This is why care and attention—listening more than talking, thinking before speaking—are so important.  When you are circumspect, your words and actions will produce more benefits and fewer difficulties. 

Embracing the Challenge of Effective Communication

For those unaccustomed to circumspect thinking, the challenge of effective communication may initially seem daunting. However, it is an integral part of the educator’s role. Communicating with students, colleagues, and supervisors is just part of the educational process. Luckily,  improving communication is a continuous process and no one expects you to be great it at automatically.  It takes concentration and practice.  

It’s reassuring to realize, though, that getting better at communicating is a process. We just start where we are and try to get better.  Being an effective communicator is what being an educator is all about!



Assess where you are in the process right now.
What do you need or want to work on next in your process of becoming more effective as a communicator?

Module: Communication and Collaboration

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