Welcome to Communication and Collaborating in the Early Childhood Field! Over the next eight weeks, we will learn and explore the topic of communication together, sharing both personal and professional experiences. Before I get started, let me first extend a thank you for embarking on this journey with me and allowing me to partake in your learning experience. I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to work with talented and inspiring colleagues.
With that being said, allow me to begin our journey together by sharing with you about an individual who I believe had competent communication skills within an educational context. This is how my story goes …
I work in a multiple-disabilities classroom with two amazing colleagues. We support and collaborate with each other to physically assist and academically support our students. Since our classroom involves multiple disabilities, we are faced with additional challenges that other classrooms may not endure. For example, one of our students is ambulatory with a significant fall risk. One morning this past May, this student took a stumble that resulted in a trip to the ER room and stitches. While this student was ok, there were considerations to be made in regards to safety concerns within her IEP. Rita, the main classroom teacher, worked diligently on her IEP to ensure that it provided safety provisions for this student. One day, Rita discovered that someone has included false information in regards to this incident that depicted an inaccurate picture of the student. After a few days, Rita approached the individual who wrote this information. I was privileged to observe the conversation that allowed me to see how to effectively communicate.
During this conversation, Rita outlined her points, which were supported with factual information. For instance, Rita discussed with this individual that no one had interviewed her in regards to the student fall and therefore there was false information about this student. (For example, Rita had documentation showing that the student had stitches on her chin, while the information on the IEP depicted stitches on her head.) The individual commented that she was wrong with putting that information in there. Rita continued on, without any emotion, by describing how she felt when she read that information. After she finished, she allowed an opportunity for the other individual to share her perspective. As this individual shared, Rita remained attentive with direct eye contact. Once the other individual had finished sharing, Rita affirmed what she had heard and told the individual that she understood where the individual stood. Together, Rita worked with the other individual to correct the information on the IEP that incorporated both the other individual’s suggestions and Rita’s.
Witnessing this interaction showed me a lot about effective communication that I would like to model within my own communication. Some of the behaviors that made Rita an effective communicator were:
After looking at all of the behaviors that Rita utilized in this conversation, I have begun to implement them within my own communication with others. For example, I am paying more attention to how often I am using eye contact. Previously, I wouldn’t engage in as much direct eye contact. However, through observing Rita, I can see how important it is and have begun to engage in more direct eye contact. In addition, I realized how crucial it is to have factual information, rather than just data based on my own assumptions. Through having documentation and facts that were accurate, Rita was able to be more effective in communication, which revealed to me that I need to bring truthful, accurate information into any conversation for more effectiveness. Furthermore, I grasped the idea that I need to first listen to an individual, then reaffirm what they have said before imposing my own thoughts. Through doing this, the other person/people will feel that they were heard and are important. Finally, I learned through Rita that an effective communicator also includes collaborating with the other individual/people to create a conclusion of the conversation together. For example, Rita worked with the individual to create a safety plan together, which reflected both Rita and the individual’s contribution. When I communicate with families, I realized that an effective conversation will reveal everyone’s input, rather than just one person’s. Modeling after Rita’s behaviors has refined my communication ability and enabled me become an even better communicator.