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 experience as a paraprofessional. The point of this activity is to give you a chance to deepen your knowledge about just one of them. The one way to do that is to go out and make a vist!
Organize the visit
- Choose an organization, for example, a human service agency, hospital, clinic, or intermediate unit (like 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.
Make the Visit
- When visiting, be sure to use the “principles of effective communication”!
- With your team or colleague make a short list of things you’d like to know more about.
- Be prepared that the organization staff migth ask you questions. 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.
- Be sure to follow up on anything that gets brought forward while you are there.
- Debrief with your school team members. Report what you learned and report what new questions you might have as a result of the visit.
- Hopefully you learned things that can help you as you support your students in your role.
- Don’t forget to send a thank-you message, and to follow up on anything asked by your hosts.