Patrick has been a paraprofessional in his local school district at the neighborhood school near his house for several years. He is not only someone whom kids rely on for support at school, but outside of school he connects to kids through various community organizations. Because of his understanding of the community and the services that are out there for helping children, parents often relied on Patrick’s perspective to help them gain perspective. Patrick has even been known to go so far as to make the connections for the parents, write down the information and then connect the dots between the family and the service agency. Patrick sees himself as someone who doesn’t just help a singular child but someone who can help across agencies in his community, and help the entire family find what they need.
We assume many different roles in our lives: child, parent, spouse, and, of course, worker. And we also play other roles such as driver, shopper, patient, and student. Understanding the different roles we all play provides a perspective on interagency collaboration.
Just as people have unique roles where they do things differently depending on that role, they also do things differently depending on what organization they are working for.
Things that can be different across organizations include how to behave, how to do something, what’s important, what rules need to be followed, and how specific roles relate to one another.
See the Chart below for some examples:
Church- more formal attire
Fridays at School- Jeans
Coaching a Learner
General Education Setting where you might roam the room and help a lot of kids.
Job Setting- where you work side by side one person and coach them through modeling.
After Care Setting: kids can lay around on the floor and rest
Girl Scouts Meeting: kids sit in circle and listen to the leader
Career Tech Assistant is the expert at the hands on job and the teacher is the expert at the academic learning
Modified Gym Class: The assistant helps gather the tools for the child, educator helps design and implement the use of the tools to support gym learning.
Planning for Communication with Parents
First, think about your own experience. Consider what your favorite “organizations” have been in the following categories:
- Place where you have
- Religious organization
- Grocery store
- Doctor’s office
- Community organization
Then think about the following questions:
- What made you like the organization?
- Why was it better than some of the others you’ve known?
- What made these good organizations different from one another?
- What made the good organizations similar?
- What might be the difficulties encountered when a person who is familiar with one organization has to interact with people who are familiar with a different organization?
If you are working with a group, you can pick a couple of these questions to consider together. If working alone, you might reach some conclusions and talk about them with a colleague.
Here are a couple of questions related to your work as a paraprofessional:
- Have you, in your paraprofessional role, already had interactions with outside organizations?
- What were the interactions like?
- How are the outside organization’s norms similar and different from those of your organization (e.g., school or district)?