Introductory Challenge

We assume many different roles in our lives: child, parent, wife or husband, and, of course, worker.  And we also play other roles such as driver, shopper, patient, and student. Understanding the different roles we play provides a foundation that makes it possible to understand “inter-agency collaboration.”

Think about the many things that make these roles different. For instance, as parents part of our role requires that we take charge. Curiously, though, when we interact with our own parents, we may feel like we are no longer in a position to take charge. The ways we interact with our parents may be a holdover from our own childhood when it was our parents who took charge. Similar differences characterize how we might act when we’re in the “worker” role in contrast to the “student” role.

What’s required by some roles comes from cultural understandings in general (e.g., how parents are supposed to act in our culture), but some are specific to particular organizations. In fact, just as people do things differently in different cultures, they also learn to do things differently in different organizations: how to behave, what’s important, what rules need to be followed, and how specific roles relate to one another.

Think about your own experience. Consider what your favorite “organizations” have been in the following categories:

  • place where you have worked
  • religious organization
  • grocery story
  • doctor’s office
  • community organization
  • school

Then think about the following questions:

  1. What made you like the organization?
  2. Why was it better than some of the others you’ve known?
  3. What made these good organizations different from one another?
  4. What made the good organizations similar?
  5. 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:

  1. Have you, in your paraprofessional role, already had interactions with outside organizations?
  2. What were the interactions like?