Developing Professional Relationships
Effective communication is important in developing positive relationships with children young people and adults, by communicating effectively you are setting a foundation from which your relationship can build from. It gives each other a mutual understanding of each other, the type of person you each are, your personalities and perceptions. It develops a trust so the other person feels confident in what you tell them and that they feel comfortable talking and if necessary confiding in you.
They also need to feel confident that they can ask you to explain things again and in a different way, if they don’t fully comprehend, most importantly the individual needs to feel safe and secure. It helps you to understand the individuals learning patterns from which you can create programmes and activities to promote there learning style; to find their style you may use Kolb’s theory 1984.
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It is also important as it helps you to understand the individual’s needs, this could be a simple as not understanding what has been said to or asked of them, or it could be that the individual has a physical or learning disability by communicating effectively and developing a positive relationship you would be able to work together to create a positive and effective learning programme/activity and environment for them.
Being able to do all of this helps you assess the individual’s needs, from there you are able to create a personal programme for each individual that is adapted to all their educational needs so that they are able to get the best assistance in their education. For a child it is important to them to know you are there to listen, support and advise them and not to judge them, they are contending with learning a lot of new things and often in a new environment.
They may feel uneasy with communicating any problems they are having for the fear of what others may think or being ‘told off’, it is important that you as an adult in a supportive role give as much support as you can to make the child feel comfortable talking with you and sharing their problems and that they understand that you will do your upmost to help them. Young people also need this support but as they a child becomes a young person they are often faced with different problems from being a child.
Along with problems with general education and the increase of exams and homework, young people often have to deal with peer pressure and hormone changes and different types of relationships. It can be very difficult for them to balance their educational stress and personal stress, but by developing a positive relationship with them, may make them more likely to open up and discuss their problems or worries. Talking alone can often halve a problem and you can work together to discuss different scenarios and conclusions to solve any problems.
It is important that you can communicate effectively with adults to develop a positive relationship, as teaching assistant you would often be communicating with parents who want to know that not only can they come to you with any concerns about their child but that you will also come to them. An equal relationship is required that you respect each other’s roles, so that you can discuss a child’s needs and work together to resolve them. Question 2:
There are many principles of relationship building with children, young people and adults; maintain a positive attitude is essential, along with this it is important to show that you are actively listening and understanding what the individual is saying, emphasise and communicate respect, this will ensure that the individual knows you are listening and knows that you care and want to support them if the need you to. Asking questions will give you a better understanding of how to communicate, help and/or support the individual.
Focusing on what is being said and the key issues being raised to you will show the individual that you are not distracted but intent on being there for them. Communicating with them can help find a first step in the right direction so that you start making progress towards the long term aim relating to the individual. It also important not to criticise people who aren’t present. Only ever use creative criticism, to those present explaining how they can improve whilst maintaining respect. Never react hastily or promise what you can’t deliver and try not to go off subject.
When communicating with children they like to know that you are listening and can’t always tell if you are, it is important to give lots of feedback, ask questions and let them know you are interested in what they are saying. It is also important to make them think on expanding their vocabulary so rather than asking them a question which they could reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’, you could rephrase it so they would have to use more vocabulary to answer, however you don’t want to overpower the child with large words so it is key to still keep the words used to an age appropriate level. You could look at the 200 high frequency words used in the national curriculum). Young people also like to know you are listening but can usually tell a bit more whether you actually are or not. To communicate effectively the same principles apply young people still require feedback and understanding. At this stage they may ask for your opinion on things or ideas, however they are very impressionable so be careful what you say and try to manage the communication so that the come up with their own ideas and opinions.
Also this age group can sometimes start to become rebellious and disrespectful, it is important to communicate with them in the way you would want them to communicate with you and encourage them to maintain that mutual respect. When communicating with adults not as much verbal feedback is required often gestures and body language can be enough, although it is good to give some verbal input when necessary and again maintain respect, even if the adult your communicating doesn’t share the same view or opinion as you. Question 3:
There can be differences in peoples backgrounds that can affect relationships and the way people communicate. Social backgrounds can hold a variety of barriers, you may have to listen more carefully as certain people may speak with stronger accents, a person from a higher social class may be more articulate and have more vocabulary, than someone from a lower background. Those from a higher class may also be more confident in communicating; whereas those from a lower class may struggle to put their thoughts or opinions across in the appropriate manner using the correct language.
Also the person’s dialect depending on their area may change and one words meaning may change from town to town. Those with a more professional background will also usually be more articulate and have a wider range of vocabulary, they will be able to communicate well and express their thoughts and opinions in an educated format. They may be very good and communicating in writing and this may be there preference. They are also more likely to speak clearly and be easier to understand than an uneducated person.
Cultural backgrounds have a variety of differences that may affect relationships and the way they communicate, people of different religions may speak in different languages, English may be a second language and they may find it hard to think of the correct words and how to align them in a sentence. They may have limited vocabulary, understanding of words or lack of experience in life and communication as within some cultures some members of those cultures are expected to not talk to outsiders or to leave school at certain ages.
They may have been brought up with different morals and topics of conversation may need to be considered. Often different cultures may use body language and gestures to communicate which you will need to be able to understand along with understanding what is and isn’t an acceptable gesture so that you do not offend. Question 4: A variety of skills are required to communicate with children and young people.
Active listening is very important and this can be done by understanding what is said verbally; reading the persons tone of voice and body language, you will need to read between the lines, question what is said as that will give you more information if needed, respect what is being said to you, understand the effect that communication should have, give feedback, a response to what is said verbally and sometimes with gesture for example a nod of the head and maintain confidentiality if required.
Another skill is giving clear instruction/ message and communication that the instruction/ message have been understood. It is necessary to pitch your voice correctly for those you are talking so that you show that you a calm and do not come across bossy, angry or patronising. It is also important to maintain mutual respect so that the person speaking with you knows you are listening, understanding and wanting to be a part of the conversation but also so the feedback you give is respected and taken on board.
It is imperative that you use the correct age appropriate words, tones and gestures so that the child or young person has a clear understanding of what you are saying and that they know the meaning of the words you are using and your gestures emphasise the meaning, your tone remains calm but enforces any important words. And give examples if they require. When speaking with a child you may speak softly and reassuringly, you may use lots of body language to reinforce the meaning of the words you are speaking, you may use hand puppets to make the message more interesting and to get them to interact.
You will need to be able to read a childs body language as they might not be comfortable communicating a problem, they may require your approach. Young people start to become more confident with the older they get and the more knowledge they have, when communicating with a young person you may communicate with a lighter manner, you may choose to relate things to currents television shows to gain their interest. Young people often like to have a joke so you might use extravagant body language to gain their attention as they become easily distracted.
Young people also like to be challenged so it is good to use communication to get their brain ticking, word association games can be good for this. They are also dealing with a lot of change and need to know that you can me sensible and understanding if they came to you with a confidential issue. When communicating with adults you sometimes have to be more adaptive in your communication. By gaining an understanding of how that other adult communicates you can change your communication to suit. When speaking to a parent that may have and not had much of an education you would use body language and somewhat basic words.
When speaking with a colleague or manager you may use advanced vocabulary and some gestures. With both you would give feedback and use a neutral tone of voice, you would also speak clearly and collectively. Question 5: You may need to adapt communication with children and young people at times. To adapt communication you would need to consider the age of the child or young person and the vocabulary you use make sure the understand or challenge their development by introducing new words but follow them up with an explanation.
For a younger child you may choose to use simple words with minimal syllables, the older child is you may use alternative words with more syllables and encourage them to start using new words. The context of the communication must also not affect or offend the individual’s social, cultural or religious background. For example communicating with someone of a traveller background discussing the topic of male and female roles in a household or community would be have to be handled carefully with a lot of respect and cultural understanding.
Communication differences such as language may be adapted by using simple English words, giving examples and supporting gestures, speaking clearly and emphasising important words. You may also adapt your communication by using other teaching techniques such as books or sequencing cards. Question 6: There are several main differences between communicating with adults, young people and children. When speaking with children they will have less understanding and use of a more advanced vocabulary; whereas young people would have slightly more and adults the most in most circumstances.
Children may require you to give an example or explain the meaning of the message you are trying communicate, whereas young people may be able to give an example after having an explanation. Adults will usually understand what the message is without explanation and will be able look further into what you are communicating to them. When communicating with children you may communicate through puppets or use different tones of your voice to make it more interesting, with young people you might use multimedia or technology to keep their interest and make the communicated information more digestible.
The way, in which you react to a child when communicating may be more calming, soothing, reassuring, encouraging and understanding, it may at times be stern but at all times it would be necessary to remain positive and calm. Your reactions may change when communicating with young people as well as being calming, reassuring, encouraging and stern you may build on this by giving advice or creative criticism. It is important to see things from their point of view.
When communicating with adults you may react still calming and reassuringly but may not be too encouraging as you may come across as patronizing it is important to still be understanding and helpful. Your reaction to all you are communicating with needs to be positive, calm and understanding. Also when speaking with adults your tone and vocabulary may change to a more formal manner, with more comprehensive words being used, if the adult is from an academic background they may use a more advanced vocabulary and it is important that you understand what is being communicated to you.
A child requires communication to be kept simple, to help them understand but to challenge them to meet their targets. Words should be selected carefully and followed up with explanations or pictures if understanding is not met. Praise them when they learn or do something well. Interaction is key to grasp the child’s attention and imagination and develop their learning. When communicating with young people you can challenge them more, encourage the growth of their vocabulary if they don’t understand something encourage them to dissect it, to investigate it and find its meaning.
Use encouraging tones, praise them but then get them to self-evaluate could they improve? When communicating with adults you would need to keep a high level of respect throughout the communication. Keep messages clear, be happy to answer questions and expand on what you have said if asked, but try not to become condescending. Use appropriate language considering age, educational and cultural background. Question 7: When speaking with adults you may need to adapt the way you communicate depending on the adult considering; age, social and cultural background, religion and educational background, possible learning disabilities.
When speaking with someone with a learning disability or not much of an academic background you may find you will need to communicate using simple words that you may use with children or young people whilst maintain a tone that reflects your respect so that you don’t come across as patronising. On the other end of the spectrum if you were speaking with a university educated person you would maintain a professional tone and use a more advanced vocabulary, you may also go in to a further discussion on the communicated subject.
If you were communication with someone who had an average academic background with no other needs you would still remain formal but perhaps use a more extensive vocabulary than that you would with children but not go as far as advanced vocabulary. Question 8: To manage a disagreement depends on who is having the disagreement. A disagreement with children requires you to be assertive and evaluate the disagreement. When evaluating the disagreement you will need to decide if the discussion is constructive, productive or destructive.
To help evaluate you would discuss with all those involved; what caused the disagreement, what is and isn’t acceptable and appropriate, how they each feel, rules. It may be necessary to find out if something was an accident or deliberate. You can then negotiate different ways the disagreement can be resolved and compromise on a final solution. Thorough out the handling it is important to remain calm, maintain mutual respect, work together and listen to all parties fairly.
Dealing with a disagreement with young people would be the same as with children however they may not want to talk openly they may want to talk in private in a one to one. They may also not want to discuss their own feeling so they could perhaps discuss how they think their actions would make someone feel and what impact it would have, you may also discuss consequences. When dealing with a disagreement with adults it is essential to follow the schools policies and procedures along with any legal requirements.
It is important to again stay calm and maintain respect, listen effectively and explain any misunderstandings. Often a disagreement can be resolved through an open honest discussion; you may also use a mediator to reach a mutual compromise. If a discussion does not work you should follow the schools grievance procedure. Concerns may need to put in writing and if the issue cannot be resolved at school level it may be escalated to the school governors or local education authority. Question 9:
Legislation and procedures are set out to cover confidentiality, data protection and disclosure of information. Under the Data protection Act 1998 all data must comply with the eight enforceable principles. Personal data must be; fairly and awfully processed, processed for limited purposes, adequate, relevant and not excessive, accurate, not kept for longer than necessary, processed in accordance with the data subject’s rights, secure and not transferred to countries without adequate protection.
The Data Protection Act also safeguards electronic data. To maintain confidentiality it is important to; know what information can and cannot be shared, ensure data is stored safely and securely and cannot be accessed by any unauthorised person(s). You should also follow the schools confidentiality policies and procedures and not share any confidential records or information with any other person or agencies unless a pupil is potentially at risk.
If you had been told confidential information on a ‘need to know basis’ to help you deal with a pupils needs and you think it would benefit another person helping this pupil, you would be required to discuss this with the source of the information before doing so. Disclosure of information depends on the information itself; there is lots of information that can be discussed openly such as school holidays, dates and hours, events, clubs, uniform, schools aims and missions.
It is essential to the role of a teaching assistant to be able to communicate information such as routine and emergency information, however information that is considered confidential or ‘need to know basis’ has to be handled more carefully you must consider and in ensure that the information is shared with the appropriate person, in an appropriate place at an appropriate time. Question 10: It is important to reassure children, young people and adults of the confidentiality of shared information and the limits of this, by doing so you are able to build a strong relationship of trust and a sense of security.
They will feel comfortable and confident in communicating with you, especially when it comes to communicating sensitive information. It is important that they understand that any information about an individual is kept confidential and only used when and where necessary and only ever for as long is required. Children and young people need to feel that they have an adult that they can confide in that will not spread their information as gossip but that they will listen and be responsible with what they are told.
Parents or Carers need to know that any information they give you again will not become gossip but also reassurance that the people caring for their child to have all the appropriate information they require to do a professional and sufficient job. If sensitive information about a child was breached it could result in that child being bullied or ridiculed. Question 11: You may come across times when confidentiality may need to be breached and you require passing the information on to another party.
The only times this would be acceptable would be in a medical emergency or if an individual was considered to be at risk. In such a situation you should first gain the permission from the source of the information. If you did not gain the permission required you are still under obligation to pass the information on to the relevant parties, if you consider the information to concern someone at risk. It is important you explain to the person that you have to report any information if they are at risk and explain to them that the information will remain only with those who need to know to ensure their safety.