Rationale for Establishing a Collaborative Relationship between a Teacher and Parent
This reflective analysis of a video demonstration of my parent/teacher interview skills was my final assignment for Educ 639, “School-Based Teams, Consultants, and Families.” We were asked to practice and critically review our collaborative communication skills, along with providing a rationale for the approaches we used. In this artifact, I successfully reflected on what what went well, what I learned and how I can improve by sharing what I noticed when I watched a video of myself conducting a parent interview. This artifact demonstrates my ability to include evidence from the interview, cite readings from the course, and refer to additional scholars who have been influencing practice in the field of special education throughout my analysis of my performance.
The communication skills I developed through this assignment, alongside the conclusions I drew later from analyzing the data collected in this assignment have bolstered my resolve to build relationships with my learners’ caregivers so that together we can share each other’s experiences and perspectives, reciprocally correct misinformation, co-create understanding and make the best learning plans with our young people. My growing mastery of the collaborative communication skills applied in this artifact to the practice of fostering student self-advocacy and family input (Friend & Cook, 2013) was further validated by an email sent by a SPED colleague a few weeks ago. One of our school counsellors wrote, “I have been part of IEPs (IPPS in Alberta) for 11 years. Today, I witnessed the most beautiful meeting I have been part of in all my years, facilitated by Emily. I just wanted administration to know the outstanding work for kids done by Shoreline staff” (Moore, 2019). As I created this artifact and took this course prior to being hired in my current school and district, I would argue that the commitment I demonstrate towards respecting and incorporating the different perspectives of others in this artifact led to my success in facilitating a harmonious and productive meeting with two caregivers, a student and five other staff members with very diverse roles, despite the sensitive topics of conversation we needed to navigate.
While I am not so bold as to declare this artifact evidence of a “beautiful” interview, I do think that in it I demonstrate care and attention towards phenomena that can impact the receptivity, willingness and ability for others to connect with and trust me, which is critical when undertaking collaborative consultations and problem-solving processes. For example, my reflection on the balance needed in using prefatory statements, presupposition, and encouragers in order to create a relaxed atmosphere and build rapport (Friend & Cook, 2013) has helped me engage in “chatting” as opposed to subjecting parents to a “verbal landslide.”
I have subsequently noticed that I can still talk too much when I’m anxious and trying to convince someone of a particular course of action, such as trying to gain permission from a gatekeeper in a PAR research project (Creswell, 2015). Although it hasn’t yet come up for me personally, I will need to remember this reflection on my collaborative communication skills when working with guardians who may not want to give permission for their child to have an assessment that school staff believe are required to inform differentiated instruction or get a designation needed to justify an IEP. As I noted in this artifact, the appropriateness of the setting, channel and message (Friend & Cook, 2013) are equally important to consider. Awareness of one’s skills and the context of the communication event is key in order to collaborate successfully in making decisions in the best interest of our learners (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2014).
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