Communication and professional relationships Essay
Communication and professional relationships
Assessment task – TDA
2.3 Communication and professional relationships with children, young people and adults. 1.1) Describe how to establish respectful, professional relationships with children and young people Establishing relationships with children and young people can be hard, especially within a school environment. Ground rules must be established, in order for there to be mutual respect. It is important that the child/young adult understands that you are there to support them, but not to be their friend. It is important to understand the age of the person you are communicating with – what issues and problems may be affecting them, at what is significant to their lives at that time. This understanding will enable you to support them effectively at any phase of their life. Simple things like maintaining eye contact when speaking, and listening and commenting appropriately, ensure that the other person knows you have heard and understood what they have said.
By setting a good example, you show children what is appropriate, and how to communicate correctly with each other. Something as simple as praising a child for correct behaviour is enough to inspire them to repeat it, and also inspires others to do the same. By using positive behaviours, you inspire a positive result. Five key things to remember when building and maintaining any relationship within the school are: Always remain professional: no bad language, inappropriate conduct, and don’t bring your home life to work with you. Treat others with respect. It is surprising how well they will respond! Notice the efforts and achievements of others, staff or students, however small. Give practical support when it is needed.
Always avoid gossip, and negativity, within the workplace.
1.2) Describe with examples how to behave appropriately for a child or young person’s stage of development. By the time the child/young person has reached the age range of key stages 3 – 4, they will most likely have a different style of communicating from stages 1-2. They may have a better attention span, be able to immerse themselves in tasks for longer periods of time, and communicate about their activities in a more adult manner. At key stage 1-2 you can expect children to lose focus easily, with play being more interesting than class work, and they will be far more excitable. It will be important to recognise, and adapt, to each age level, and encourage behaviour that is expected at that age, and discourage behaviour that is not. As children age, it is inevitable that language will become less formal, and they may well be less willing to contribute in a discussion, or speak out in class, due to heightened self-awareness, and less self-confidence.
They will also start using different methods of communicating – email, instant messaging, and social networking are becoming more and more common, with children as young as 5 having Facebook accounts and virtual profiles. An understanding of these technologies will be useful to support children to stay out of danger. As a teaching assistant, it is important to help those who are less outgoing, and support them to make themselves heard. You can do this by quietly encouraging them to put up their hand and answer a question, or even by setting them goals to speak up once a day. It is important to recognise each achievement of a child or young person, no matter how small it seems to you, as it is likely that it would be a big accomplishment for them. Changing the style of language that you use will help interaction with different age ranges, but children and young people are always conscious of how adults communicate with each other – and it is this observation that teaches them for the future.
1.3) Describe how to deal with disagreements between children and young people Disagreements between students (and staff) usually happen at either break, or lunch time. With any argument or disagreement, it is important to find out what happened. This includes each person’s opinion of what happened, from the beginning, in their own words, and how it made them feel. Each person must feel that they have been listened to and understood, and that they have had a fair chance to say their piece. It may be that you need support from other members at this stage, especially if the debate has become heated!
Once all sides have been heard, you can decide how to progress. An apology may be needed from one party, or if a misunderstanding has taken place, it may be appropriate to sit everyone down together to discuss the incident as a group. It is important with all students that they understand the link between emotions and behaviour, and how their own behaviour can affect the others around them. By talking in groups, everyone can appreciate how their own behaviours and emotions contribute to the well-being of the other students.
1.4) Describe how own behavior could…
Promote effective interactions with children and young people
Your own behaviour, as a teaching assistant, can have a very positive affect and influence on the children and young people you help and support. If they see that you are being respectful, courteous and tolerant, listening attentively, being kind and understanding with the children and adults surrounding you, and that you are recognising their achievements and ideas, then children will hopefully, in turn value and respect one another. Impact negatively on the interactions with children and young people If children or young people see that you are rude to someone, for example a member of staff; not saying please or thank you, interjecting in conversation, or not paying attention when someone is talking to you, they may well think that these are acceptable behaviours. Children and young adults may also may not find you approachable, and not be so keen to come to you with their problems, issues or concerns.
2.1)Describe how to establish respectful, professional relationships with adults Adults working within the education profession should expect an environment of mutual support, and openness. However, this is dependent on the attitude of each individual, and their commitment to maintaining positive relationships. Staff should work in a team – there should be no lone working in schools, and the team should communicate positively with each other, parents, and professionals from outside the school. You will need to remain professional even outside of the education setting. For example, you might be out at the Christmas party, with friends, colleagues, or even parents of the children you support. You need to be trustworthy – avoid talking about people in a negative way, this will only impact you negatively in return. Be respectful of others: you not always see eye to eye with a colleague, but listening to what they have to say, and valuing their ideas and opinions helps keep communication open.
There are varied ways and means of supporting individuals, but the PIPE acronym is a good way to remember the basics:
Practical: This may be as simple as helping someone who is unfamiliar with the class room layout or school surroundings, or assisting a disabled student to navigate a corridor Information: You may be required to pass on material about a situation, or be asked to a write reports on the student you are supporting Professional: This could be by helping the teacher or session leader with their lesson plan, or you may be asked if you can assist and observe a new member of staff Emotional: This could be anything from supporting a student with an emotional situation, to talking to a colleague at lunch time about a stressful incident, or even just keeping a good sense of humour during a difficult time.
2.2) Describe the importance of the adult relationship as a role models for children and young people Children will be leading by example, and will want to come to school if the environment is positive, constructive, and supportive. Communication and support between team members should be practical, informative, professional, and emotional, and as a role model in the school environment, this should reflect in the relationships that that team has with students, and other adults. Whilst at work you must remember to leave your personal feelings, and home life, at home. However stressful life might be, the children and young people you support need your concentration and focus to enable them to achieve their goals. Negative behavior can impact those around you, and make for an uncomfortable working environment for all involved.
3.1)Describe how communication with children and young people differs across different age ranges and stages of development Communication techniques will differ depending on the ages of the person. Young children will need more reassurance than older children, to ensure they feel safe, and are doing the right activity in the right way. Young children will be anxious to see their parents during the first term, often asking how long it will be until they can go home. Supporting them at this time is crucial, as it can make school a rewarding, exciting place if they are encouraged and nurtured in the right way. Teenagers will likely need more guidance, and some help to talk about their issues, problems and thoughts. TAs will need to adapt their vocabulary when talking to different age ranges, so that they can be understood. Communication can be verbal, nonverbal, informal and formal, as they learn to communicate and adapt using these different types of communication as they mature.
3.2)Describe the main differences between communicating with adults and communicating with children and young people There are similarities between the age ranges, in terms of communication techniques, such as maintaining eye contact and interest, listening to what is being said and responding appropriately, and treating the student with the courtesy and respect that you would expect yourself. Always be clear with your dialogue: don’t use unnecessarily complicated language or sarcasm, make sure that what you have said has been understood, and keep your instructions clear and precise (no long lists), and always stay professional. However, there are differences between the communication techniques used for children and adults.
For example, the relationship that you have with a child in the school setting is that of a carer, and may appear patronising if used on others. An approach that was successful in the classroom when supporting a student to understand a maths problem, may not be an appropriate approach when speaking with a colleague or co-worker. Children copy adult behaviours, so keep this in mind when communicating with them! Show respect for your colleagues and children will pick up on this, and show respect for their peers.
Acknowledge the contributions of others, and say thank you, even if you don’t always agree. Remember that as an elder in the school environment, you will be looked to as a role model. 3.3)Identify examples of communication difficulties that may exist It is likely that communication difficulties will be encountered occasionally, within the school environment, but there are ways to avoid this happening. There are many, many examples of communication difficulties that could arise in the school environment, some examples of potential problems are: speech delay impairment
With any one of these examples, a care package/person centred support plan would accompany the student, and it is essential that all staff who work with them has read and understood every element of it. 3.4)Describe how to adapt communication to meet different communication needs To support your students, and team, effectively, you will need to be constantly adapting your communication style. This will depend on the needs of the individual, and you will need to be aware of their potential problems. As a good teaching assistant, you should be able to quickly observe as assess the situation, in order to cope effectively and ensure a positive result. You will need to detect any sensitivity in the student, and support them if they are nervous or shy about speaking. Some examples of good communication are: Speak slowly and clearly.
Do not interrupt. However tempting it may be, the person needs the opportunity to speak without interjection. Arrange a translator in advance if required. Whether it is for a foreign language or signing, it is crucial that this be prepared for, to spare the student and embarrassment or upset. Use different methods of communication – if a student is struggling with verbal instruction, get creative! Use flash cards, drawings or hand signals! Maintain eye contact, respond appropriately, and use positive body language. Be empathetic: a child hearing the words “I understand” can be comforting and reassuring. Have respect for the speaker, don’t allow yourself to be distracted by other conversations. These are the basics for communication with a child, young adult or colleague. In any situation communication can be adapted to be appropriate for the audience, such as: Think about the situation or occasion, and with whom you are speaking.
The context of your communication makes a difference both in the way you engage with others, and in the way they interpret your communication. To adapt effectively, you need to understand who you are talking with. See things from their view, and tailor your communication to them as much as possible, by using the points above. Acknowledge that there are differences in personality, whether you are speaking with children are adults. Some children might appreciate a light hearted approach, whereas the head teacher will expect professionalism at all times.
Be intentional with the language you use. Words can help you quickly connect with someone, but they may also offend them. A joke that was funny in the staff room may be wildly inappropriate in the classroom! Avoid using sarcasm with children. It is generally considered as a negative form of humour, and may easily be misunderstood. Choose words based on the age, education, and literacy level of the person you are talking to. By assuming that someone understands the level at which you are speaking, you could easily offend them. 3.5)Describe how to deal with disagreements between…
The practitioner and children and young people
Dealing with disagreements can be difficult. You cannot always say exactly what you are thinking, and in order to remain professional, you must always be polite, fair, and respectful. Disagreements and misunderstandings should be dealt with as soon as possible, preferably with another adult as a mediator. When dealing with a disagreement or argument between children, for example in the playground, you should not allow yourself to be drawn into any bickering. If the pupil does not calm down, or is particularly defiant, it may be wise to take a ‘time out’ from a difficult situation, in order to have the time and space to think about what has been said, and to calm down. You can then approach the situation logically and rationally, giving each side of the argument a chance to speak. It is important at this time that you remain supportive to each child, be polite, and sympathetic. The practitioner and other adults
In a disagreement between colleagues, this kind of situation is unlikely to resolve itself if left, and it is uncomfortable to work in an atmosphere of tension. Bear in mind that this will soon be picked up by other staff and students. Avoid being drawn into disagreements, if they do not concern you, as this rarely has a good outcome and can often turn into negativity and gossip. Asking the advice of an impartial adult can also help to get an unbiased review of the situation, and how to progress from it.
4.1)Identify relevant legal requirements and procedures covering confidentiality, data protection and the disclosure of information Whilst communication is the key to good relationships with students and colleagues, there are times when information shouldn’t be shared with others, and it is crucial to know who, and when, to pass it on to. The key people working with children in the school setting should have a good understanding of the current laws and legislations that protect the children they support.
These people are: teachers, teaching assistants, healthcare staff (nurses) and any principals/head teachers. There are laws protecting children, and staff, with regards to safeguarding information. The main legislation that governs the safeguarding of materials is The Data Protection Act 1998. This ensures that relevant information is not passed on without consent, and outlines what must be shared, in the interests of child safety. There are eight principles, regarding the principles of practice or information, and these state that information should be… “used fairly and lawfully;
All data about an individual must be obtained fairly, and lawfully. The individual must be informed of the purposes that the information is being collected, and who is going to process it. The new Data Protection Act covers personal data in both manual and electronic form, meaning that emails are just as safe as paper files, and must be treated the same way. With information kept in electronic form, appropriate measures must be taken to keep it safe. While a padlock may be sufficient for a filing cabinet, data encryption and regular back-ups may be required for information stored on a computer. Under the Data Protection Act, all organisations that hold confidential information about individuals must be registered with the Information Commissioners Office. This helps to protect the information that is held, and ensure it is not shared unnecessarily. Training on safeguarding children is mandatory in the education setting, and this will provide all the information about the specific policies and procedures that apply to each school, and who to contact about concerns, or questions.
Usually, the first point of contact for a concern or question would be the line manager, such as head of safeguarding or principal, or the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO). The individual who provided the information is also entitled to certain rights, under the Data Protection Act 1998. Any individual can make an access request to view the information that is stored, and also to change, block or erase it. The information is also subject to protocols to ensure it is not used to cause damage or distress, or to make significant decisions, by means of an automated system. These guidelines, regulations and policies not only protect children within the education environment, but also staff. For example, at an interview or hearing, everything that is said can be written down, and safely stored for reference, only being shared on a need to know basis. 4.2)Describe the importance of reassuring children, young people and adults of the confidentiality of shared information and the limits of this It is important to reassure children that they will stay safe, and that you will only repeat what they have told you to those who need to know.
Parental consent is usually required before information can be shared; however, if the pupil is at risk of harm to themselves or others, confidentiality can be breached. In all situations, it is necessary to tell the pupil that you will not be able to maintain confidentiality, and that you will have to tell someone else. It is crucial to be educated in the policies and procedures of the individual school setting, and to know who to turn to, should the situation ever arise. 4.3)Identify the kinds of situations when confidentiality protocols must be breached There may be times when it is crucial for staff to know sensitive information about a student, for example, if they are suffering a health condition that could affect them in the classroom, such as asthma or epilepsy. In these circumstances, an agreed protocol would be set up within the school, and all staff would be trained on how to manage such circumstances.
The parents of the child must give permission for the information to be shared, and the staff must do everything in their power to protect the privacy of every child, and adult. It is also required for the school to have designated first aiders, and for the children/young adults to know who these people are, in case of an emergency. There are certain circumstances in which a practitioner can pass on the information to the relevant authority without permission. If you become aware of information which led you to a genuine suspicion that a child is being abused at home, then it would it be right for the responsible adult to pass on the information. The general rule is that if you believe a child to be at a significant risk of harm then you should pass on personal information to those who would be able to prevent harm. Every school will have policies and procedures that must be followed in these circumstances.