Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Staff Planning Meetings That Build Relationships!

I was at a training a few months back in which Marceta Flemming Riley, the co-author of Coaching Conversations shared research that a student can make 2 years' progress in 1 year's time, when teams collaborate effectively!

This research got me thinking, as I step back into the classroom next fall, how do I nurture staff relationships, and build trust in such a way that we all work as a team to meet the goals of our students.  I think the first step to teaming, goes back to this quote by James Comer.

Before we develop significant relationships with our students, we must build significant relationships with our staff.  This can be a tough challenge to concur, in situations like mine, in which you are receiving staff from the previous teacher and you only get one staff work day before the kids roll in the next day!  

Yikes!  I get anxious just thinking about it.  But never fear, I have devised a plan!  When I went to observe my future classroom last spring, I gave each paraprofessional as well as the supporting staff (SLPs, OTs, PTs, and School Psychologists) one of these cards.  

On the card, I wrote my name and phone number so each person could text, or call me to set up a time for us to get to know each other and plan for next school year.  

Today is my first meet up with a paraprofessional, I am super excited to see how it goes!  In effort, to support the conversation and ensure that our meet up is beneficial, I have created a list of planning questions that will follow the general 'get to know each other conversation' that we will have at the beginning of our meet up.    

Planning Questions:

  1. What do you find most rewarding about the work that you do?
  2. What do you find most challenging about the work that you do?
  3. Tell me about your role in the classroom.  What talents and strengths do you bring to the classroom?
  4. What activities/subjects do you think you are most effective teaching and supporting (for example: social, leisure and technology or academic subjects such as reading, writing, math and science)?
  5. What grade/cognitive level do you feel most comfortable, capable and effective teaching and supporting (for example: specific grade levels,verbal or non-verbal, mobile or immobile, etc)?
  6. Tell me about three routines, strategies, and/or structures that worked really well in the classroom last year and one that you feel needs  to be restructured or revamped?
Notice, how I have three positives and one negative.  This helps open the conversation without dwelling on what is not working or what we don't have!  By focusing on what we like versus what we don't like, we stay in the positive and can make significant impact on the students we serve.  

As shared by Marceta Flemming Riley,  we all want what is best for kids.  If we keep this perspective in the for front as special education teachers, leaders and case managers, we are able to communicate effectively and work together as a team because we have a common goal in mind!   

In order to save some money on a my tight teacher budget, this year I decide to go with the coffee invites instead of the lunch invites.  Although the staff coffee meet ups are going to cost me one coffee per staff person, I think the benefit of each meet up well outweigh the cost of a cup of coffee!  Each meet up gives my staff and I an opportunity to get to know one another for who we are as individuals before we hit the ground running with students in the fall!  It also gives me an opportunity to learn about their strengths, desires and preferences.  By knowing these characteristics, I will be able to prepare more appropriately for the fall.  

Want to give this staff meet up idea a try for yourself?  Click here to get invites for coffee or lunch with paraprofessionals and other co-workers!

Until Next Time Best Wishes, 



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