AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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Good Communication

To start your team off on the right foot, create an open relationship with the paraprofessional(s) assigned to work with your students. Get to know each other—share backgrounds, special interests, etc.—and set goals together for your class.

It's important to engage in active listening strategies:

Encourage:

"Can you tell me more?"

"Could you give me more detail about this problem?"

Clarify:

"When did this happen?""Can you tell me exactly what the student said to you?"

"How did you feel about the principal's comments in front of the class?"

Restate the facts: 

"So you'd like a larger role in planning small-group activities?"

"I guess you're saying you need more backup in dealing with the problem kids."

Reflect: 

"You seem very upset about what happened today."

"You sound angry about playground duty."

Summarize:  "I'm glad you're willing to offer me more input in what we do in the classroom. It will make me feel more excited and productive. We've agreed to coordinate our planning periods so that we can sit down together and exchange ideas." 
Validate: 

"I really appreciate your willingness to help solve this problem."

"I know it took courage for you to bring this up. I'm glad we talked about it."


And to avoid barriers to open communication:

Destructive criticism and name calling:

"How could you be so insensitive to that student?"

"You really went about that the wrong way."

"That's typical of your lousy attitude."

Diagnosing or mind-reading:

"I know you just did that to annoy me."

"It's obvious you have a self-confidence problem. That's why you can't deal with rowdy kids."

Ordering or threatening: "You'll do the copying and that's final!"

"I'm talking to the principal about your negative attitude."