Communication and professional relationships with children, young people and adults Effective communication is important. This means building and contributing to positive relationships. I need to demonstrate effective communication skills when dealing with everyone – children, colleagues and parents. I must consider how I deal with people and what response I will get from them. Positive relationships will aid communication. Parents and adults that come into school are more likely to respond positively and give support if communication is good. Pupils look to adults for how to communicate properly. We must model effective communication skills. If we ask pupils to behave in a certain way i.e. – remembering our manners – and we don’t then they will find it harder to understand the boundaries of what is acceptable. Positive and effective communication doesn’t happen by chance. It is important to think about how I relate to others and how I am viewed by others as a result.
Where communication breaks down there will be misunderstandings and as a result bad feelings. Positive relationships cannot be left to chance they must be developed and it is the role of the TA to help this happen within the class. Relationships within the school are developed on a daily basis. Most of the time I do this without even knowing I am doing it. There are six things to remember: Showing respect – be courteous, listen to different points of view. Acknowledge and respect differing opinions/ideas. Take time to remember names. Being considerate – Take time to consider others opinions/ideas. Try to understand why someone may have acted in a certain way – i.e. pressure/stress. Remembering issues which are personal to them – personal issues at home, a birthday etc. Taking time to listen – listen if someone is looking for advice or help. Always show that you are interested – respond appropriately. Being clear – particularly on the main points of a conversation, which can sometimes get lost in a lengthy discussion. Sense of humour – take time to see the funny side – when appropriate.
Can be a good icebreaker, helps to relieve stress. It is important to adapt communication to meet the situation. For example using formal language in a meeting. However there are other ways to communicate –through the way we respond to others. For example how quickly we respond to an e-mail or a telephone message, how attentive we are when speaking and even how we dress. Non spoken communication can be an issue as it is easily misread by others. Different cultures also have their own behaviour “codes” which will include gestures, body language and eye contact. When I first started at The Manor I often dealt with a pupil from Nigeria and I thought he was being rude as he never looked at me when I spoke to him but a colleague told me that in his culture it was rude to make eye-contact. It is important to build good relationships with the children and young people I come into contact with. To do this I will need to adapt my behaviour and communication to suit the child and situation. Every child needs to feel secure and valued and I need to ensure that I help this to happen.
From the beginning of any relationship with a child it is important to establish the ground rules and mutual respect. Talking to the child at the beginning about what they can expect from me and what I expect from them will help to establish a rapport. At the same time I need to be aware of the issues that are important to them and talk to them about them. Pupils need to feel a part of the school and talking to them positively and being involved with them will help this. However it is important that being attentive doesn’t mean giving pupils attention whenever they demand it. If I was to be given a new group of pupils to work with I would make sure that before starting any work I established a relationship with them. This could involve just spending a few moments with them asking their name and a bit about themselves and telling them something about myself.
Children develop at different rates and when dealing with children it is important to remember what stage they are at. It is important to remember that all children will have different needs and will need changing levels of attention and support. Their ability to concentrate will also affect how to communicate with them. If working with children with special needs I will need to seek advice from the teacher or the SENCO on how to behave/communicate with them. It may also be necessary to have additional equipment or training to help me communicate with a pupil with special needs. This could include training in sign language.
It is important to act sensitively when dealing with a child with communication difficulties. They must not feel pressured when they are speaking. They may feel nervous. It is important to adapt how I communicate with them to reflect this. A child with a speech disorder i.e. a stammer will need extra time when it comes to communicating. It is important not to fill in words or second guess what they are going to say – this will only cause them distress. At the same time however it is important to ensure that they are still given the opportunity to speak.
More self conscious, may become embarrassed when speaking to others. There may be instances when I have to communicate with a child whose first language is not English. It is important to remember this when helping them. It may be necessary to change how to communicate with them. I should seek support and guidance from the school as necessary. Since I began working with children one of the most frequent things I have had to deal with is disagreements between pupils and peers. Disagreements will often take place during break time but will also happen in the classroom too. It is important to establish the facts as quickly as possible, go back to the beginning of the incident. Let all sides speak and give their interpretation of the event. It is important that all pupils feel that they have been listened to.
If one or more of the children involved is one who is regularly involved in disagreements do not assume that it is them that has caused the problem. I will need to establish if anyone was in the wrong and decide whether further action is needed (i.e. referral to the head teacher) Also it is important for children to apologies when appropriate. Helping a child to understand how their actions might affect others is very important. Also they need to understand how their feelings affect their behaviour. For example I might need to tell a child “I know you are upset because R doesn’t want to play your game but that doesn’t mean that you can say horrible things to them and upset them”. It is important to encourage children to understand and respect the feelings of others. Circle time is one effective way of doing this.
If there has been a spate of “bad Play” at lunchtime the teacher or myself may get the children to sit in a circle and all talk about the difference between “good” and “bad” play and how it might affect others. This may not be practical with younger children as they are unable to sit still for long periods of time. When working in a school it is not just children that I will need to establish a relationship with there are also adults. It is important to remain professional but at the same time be practical and sensitive. I will have to establish a relationship with other members of the school team, parents and others who come into the school. As with children, when dealing with adults it is important to be aware of who you are speaking to and how they may be affected by what I am saying. Support that I give will be on several levels
Practical – Help visitors who are unfamiliar with school
Informative – Write reports on pupils. Give information about particular situations. Professional – Support others with planning. Discussing work with manager/class teacher. Emotional – Support others day-to-day.
Sense of humour.
Establishing and building positive relationships will help to ensure that people we come into contact with will feel able, and willing to communicate effectively. Disagreements are not conducive for a happy and effective learning environment. Positive relationships within the classroom are very important to learning and must not be left to chance. Children will look to adults as a role model. It is important to be as positive and effective a role model as possible. They will learn from observing my dealings with adults and pupils.
If I treat others and them with respect they will hopefully do the same. Relationships are built on a daily basis. Children and young people will respond to positive relationships with adults. If they feel supported by adults in the school and get along with their peers a child is more likely to want to come to school. One possible conflict is when the school and the parent do not agree on things. This matter should be dealt with as quickly as possible to ensure that it does not affect the child. Communication can be verbal and non-verbal, formal or informal. When dealing with adults or children the same principles apply:
Maintain eye contact and interest
Respond to what is being said
Treat them with courtesy and respect.
Whilst it is important to build a good rapport with the children I work with they must still respect me. They need to see that whilst I may get on with them I am still their TA and must be treated with respect. My relationship with them must remain formal whilst in school. It is important to be clear when speaking with children. It is important to use age appropriate language. Do not use long lists of instructions as it makes it more difficult to understand what is required. Get children to repeat back what has been said and what they are being asked to do. Children and young people will learn by example. By showing them how to communicate effectively and get along with one another. If we are respectful and show that we respect others they are more likely to do the same. Children will copy behaviour from an early age – this will include positive and negative behaviour. Respect is important to everyone – including children.
If a child expresses an opinion or answers a question they must not be dismissed or ridiculed. I will always acknowledged and thank them – even if I don’t agree with their ideas or opinions. If I was speaking to a parent or a child who had a hearing impediment I would make sure that I spoke clearly and I would also face them so that they could lip-read. Even with the best will in the world communication problems will still arise. There may be times when problems arise between pupils. These could be caused by a number of reasons. Poor communication – information not passed on or a misunderstanding. It is important to establish the cause and find a way forward. Opposing expectations – differing ideas about the purpose of an activity or meeting. Always clarify exactly what is expected. Cultural differences – Some cultures communicate differently – i.e. in some cultures eye contact is not encouraged. Values and ideas – School may request pupils do something in a particular way but parents may have different views. External factors – Home pressures may affect the way someone communicates.
Often when working closely with someone we can see that they are behaving out of character and ask them if there is a problem. Not always able to see when dealing with someone that we do not know or see on a regular basis. Special needs – Must show care and sensitivity to anyone who has communication difficulties. May need extra time when speaking or signing. May be anxious or nervous. May be necessary to adapt way in which I communicate with them. Lack of confidence – May result in a person acting aggressively. Will affect how they communicate with others. Important to be sensitive to this and offer support and encouragement. Disagreements often occur because of poor communication. It is important to deal with any conflicts carefully so that problems do not persist. Even as an adult I might misread information.
A child or young person is much more likely to do so. If there are disagreements between children I will need to manage it carefully and seek advice/help if needed. If a pupil becomes argumentative I will calmly explain that I am not entering into an argument with them. I will explain what they need to do – e.g. calm down, stop shouting and listen. However there will be times when the best thing to do is to leave them be and to come back to them when things have calmed down. Whilst doing this it is important to ensure that the pupil is safe and cannot harm them self or anyone else. Disputes with adults must be dealt with sensitively and it is important to resolve the problem quickly. If it is not possible for me to do this myself I will seek help and guidance from my line-manager or a mediator. It is impossible to work effectively in a tense atmosphere and is unlikely to be resolved without some action. In general life and whilst at work I will come across many different people and I will have to adapt my method of communication in order to meet the needs of the individual.
This will depend on the age of the person I am speaking to, the background to the conversation, the communication needs of the person. Often we do this without even realising that we are doing it. It is impossible expect never to have a disagreement at work. Often these disagreements will be because of bad or lack of communication. It is important to deal with these problems when they arise to ensure they do not continue. Sometimes we can misread or perceive information incorrectly and may have the wrong idea on something. It is important to show sensitivity and try to resolve conflicts as soon as possible. The longer a problem goes on the harder it will be to sort out. Poor communication will often lead to problems. This could be because information has not been passed on to the appropriate person – i.e. parent or teacher. Establishing a cause for the bad communication and finding a way forward is important.
Problems must not just be ignored in the hope it will go away – it will more than likely get worse. It is important to clarify aims and expectations to ensure that there are no opposing expectations as to the purpose of an activity or discussion. Often parents and the school will have different ideas and methods on how to deal with situations. In this instance it will be important to work with others within the school (family Support) to help explain and clarify school policy. It is often important to remember that external factors will have an effect on how people communicate – stress, lack of time. As we work and come into contact with the same people it is possible to identify when they are acting out of character – it is then important to ask if there is anything wrong or if we can help. A lack of confidence often manifests itself in aggression.
It is important to be sensitive to this and offer encouragement and support. Schools gather information on pupils so that they can be cared for effectively. However it will only ask for information that is directly relevant e.g. health and medical, records from other schools. This is confidential information and must only be used for the purpose for which it was gathered. If the information is to be passed on to others then parental consent must be given.
The Data Protection Act 1998 requires an organisation that holds information on individuals to register with the Information Commissioners Office. Parents supply information so that we can care for their child. This can include health or medical information, records from previous schools and special need records, this is confidential information and must be used only for the purpose it is gathered. Parental consent will be needed if information is to be passed onto others. There are eight principles of practice which governs the use of personal information. Information must be:
* Processed fairly and lawfully
* Used only for the purpose for which it was gathered
* Adequate, relevant and not excessive
* Accurate and kept up to date where necessary
* Kept for no longer than necessary
* Processed in line with the individual’s rights
* Kept secure
* Not transferred outside the EU without adequate protection.
When sending information home it is important to be aware that the recipient may not be able to deal with it as you might expect. For example they may not have access to a computer or the internet or they may have reading difficulties. It is important to be sensitive to this when asking a parent or carer why they have not responded. In addition it may be that the person does not speak English as a first language. I will often be aware of information regarding the school and children I come into contact with. It is important to know when and how to share this information. If I am unsure as to what to do with any information I will seek guidance from my line-manager or SENCO (when appropriate).
There are times when I will know the children and their parents I deal with personally. It is very important that I do not reveal any information regarding pupils or the school. By passing on information to them I could be abusing my position of trust. When gathering information it may be necessary to reassure pupils or parents that the information will be treated confidentially. However at the same time it is important to explain my obligations. For example if a child or parent tells me something in confidence that I feel indicates that a child is at risk I will explain that I have to pass this information on.