ED620 Concordia University Portland Poor Communications Case Study Analysis CASE STUDY – POOR COMMUNICATIONS
Poor Communications Case Study, by Gary Haase
A former school administrator recalled an incident when well intentioned, poorly stated educator concerns caused a significant problem with a parent whose son was struggling in school.
A meeting was held with the parent, the classroom teacher, and the special education teacher. The school educators wanted to have this young boy tested for a possible learning disability. The intention of the meeting was to explain the classroom teacher’s concern and to get the parent’s consent to have the child tested to see if there was a need for special education services.
It became readily apparent that the meeting was going to end badly. From the beginning, the parent was very resistant to any notion that his son needed special education testing. This resistance was not typical of the parent’s previous interactions, and the classroom teacher and the special education teacher could not understand why. The parent was normally very accommodating and supportive of the school and teachers. However, this time he was stubborn in his opposition to testing of any kind. He stated he did not want his son to be branded as “mentally retarded.” And, it seemed he thought the testing was for mental retardation only. The meeting ended at an impasse. No agreement regarding intervention for the struggling student was reached.
The classroom teacher informed the principal, who then contacted the parent for further discussion. During this discussion the parent admitted that his older son had been tested for learning difficulties 10 years earlier. He was given special help because of this testing. However, in the process the older child had been labeled “mentally retarded.”
The parent said that he was very upset to hear a special education teacher say that his older son was mentally retarded when he knew that his son could learn. In fact, his son was now enrolled in a community college. He said that the school’s labeling had hurt his older son, and that he did not want his younger son to go through the same experience.
An incident 10 years earlier now influences an important decision about a different student. Use Figure 6.1 in the text (Gallagher, Bagin, & Moore, 2016) to sort and analyze your thoughts.
Write a 1- to 2-page paper that addresses the following:
Provide a strategy for the classroom teacher and special education teacher now that they understand the parent’s point of view.
Help both teachers anticipate the parent’s reaction. What resistance might the parent continue to have, and how should the teachers address that resistance?
Support your statements with evidence from the required studies and your research. Cite and reference your sources in APA style.
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The word communication has been in use since the 14th century and among its many definitions (to share, to impart) is one that is particularly compelling: “to make common” (Online Etymology Dictionary, n.d.).
There are important aspects to communicating with the school, community, and family. This week’s studies will explore some interesting perspectives.
(MindTools, n.d.) [Closed captioned]
Effective communication is all about conveying your messages to other people clearly and unambiguously. It’s also about receiving information that others are sending to you, with as little distortion as possible. Doing this involves effort from both the sender of the message and the receiver. And it is a process that can be fraught with error, with messages muddled by the sender, or misinterpreted by the recipient. (Manktelow, Carlson, & Mind Tools, 2011)
When communication errors are not detected, they can cause tremendous confusion, wasted effort, and missed opportunity. In fact, communication is only successful when both the sender and the receiver understand the same information as a result of the communication.
By successfully getting your message across, you convey your thoughts and ideas effectively. When not successful, the thoughts and ideas that you actually send do not necessarily reflect what you think, causing a communications breakdown and creating roadblocks that stand in the way of your goals—both personally and professionally.
In a recent survey of recruiters from companies with more than 50,000 employees, communication skills were cited as the most important decisive factor in choosing managers. The survey, conducted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Business School, points out that communication skills, including written and oral presentations, as well as an ability to work with others, are the main factors contributing to job success.
Despite the increasing importance placed on communication skills, many individuals continue to struggle, unable to communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively either orally or in writing. This inability creates many problems for them in a profession based on effective oral and written communication!
Being able to communicate effectively is essential for an administrator, a teacher, or anyone who leads a group of people. To do this, you must understand what your message is, be able to identify the audience for your message, and anticipate how it will be perceived. You must also weigh the circumstances surrounding your communications, such as situational and cultural contexts, and make instantaneous decisions (Manktelow, Carlson, & Mind Tools, 2011).
Simply stated, communication is the passing of ideas to other people. These ideas could be as simple as the physical description of a pedestrian or as difficult as relating an abstract concept to a second grader. Teachers find many ways to communicate ideas. That, in essence, is their job. They communicate ideas and concepts to children, parents, colleagues, and many others. It is important that each educator understand the need for clear, concise, and coherent communications. This is not easy. Educators must converse and correspond with many different publics in order to be successful.
Examine figure 6.1 in your text (Gallagher, Bagin, & Moore, 2016) labeled, “A Common Communication Model with Examples of Components.” This common communication model is quite important. See if you can find yourself in this model. What mistakes do you make in communicating to others either by the written or spoken word? Here are a few of the most common mistakes made by teachers:
Teachers forget the problem is not the whole story. Every situation has a context. The whole story, from the beginning, needs to be communicated to others if the problem is to be solved.
Educators like to use esoteric language, which is full of acronyms and initials; it is like the alphabet soup of education. Esoteric language is a shorthand language that makes our professional conversations fairly easy and convenient. However, very few non-educators know terms like IEP, IDEA, ESSA, or LEA. Thoroughly explain terms that have become educational jargon.
Teachers have demanding jobs and their days are so rushed that visitors can feel like they are a nuisance or are unwelcome. Be sure to make an appointment with a visitor (parent, guardian, community member, etc.) so that there is time to converse in a manner that is intentionally inviting and sets the groundwork for a positive meeting. Do not write notes, emails, or letters in a hurry. Be sure to take the time to have your written correspondence be as intentionally inviting and as professionally concise as your face-to-face meetings. Both types of communication take planning and well-executed delivery.
Persuasion—Yes We Do, In A Sense, Market!
Whether you write a letter, give a report, make a speech, or simply have a professional conversation with a parent, you must be aware of the taxonomy of persuasion (Gallagher, Bagin, & Moore, 2016, p. 77). This taxonomy will help you identify the purpose of your communication.
The public is thinking about an issue from their own perspective. Be sure to start the discussion with salient points and basic premises of school operations before you present your persuasive argument. Make people aware of the general information behind your argument.
Create interest in the problem. Do not assume your public is as interested as you are.
Allow your audience time to weigh the merits of what you are saying. Some people need time to think. Others think out loud. Allow them to openly debate the topic with you. Not only will they evaluate as they converse, but they also will be more open to your rationale.
Marketing, the study of how to influence the connection between a consumer need and a specific product or service, is part of the public relations effort of every school. It is not enough to be correct. Public opinion must agree with you and adopt your actions as the actions which best meet their needs. Some people feel that such adoption can be fostered strictly through media. Board members will generally see this as a marketing effort similar to the advertising of a local business. Although many of the same techniques can be used, there are more techniques that include the public in the planning and inform them as well. Brochures, ads, and good news reports are valuable, but there are many other ways to persuade the public.
Include People from the Beginning
One of the most effective methods to persuade various publics or persons that do not work for the school district is to include them in the initial planning. Not only does this help with what is commonly known as “developing ownership,” but it also allows for two-way communication. Remember, it is not enough just to have a marketing program. It is your responsibility to meet the needs of society.
Communication. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=communica…
Manktelow, J., Carlson, A., & MindTools. (2011). Understanding communication skills. Retrieved from http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/CommunicationInt…
MindTools (n.d.). Understanding communication skills [Video file]. Retrieved from
Moore, E. H, Bagin, D., & Gallagher, D. R. (2016). The school and community relations (11th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson Education.
Through participation in the following activities, the candidate will:
Develop awareness of formal and informal mechanisms for involving all stakeholders in school governance and development. (1c, 9o)
Recognize the role of media at the state and local levels in relationship to education. (4j, 4n, 5m, 10n)
Develop skills in planning and implementing a school public relations plan. (10n)
Compile specific strategies for building a positive, supportive relationship between school and its external and internal publics. (10m)
Case Study – Poor Communications
Understand the liabilities involved in school/community relationships. (9o)
Case Study – Poor Communications
By Week 3, you will need to locate two documents your school and/or district should already have. They may be difficult to locate, so begin looking now. You will not submit them to your instructor this week. Simply locate copies now to be prepared for future assignments.
Go to your district or school and find a Vision Statement. There may be one that is at least a page long. You may find it on the school or district’s homepage. Some districts and schools have only a mission statement. If this is all you can find, please inform your instructor.
Locate a copy of a Crisis Management Plan for your school or district. Most schools have copies available to staff.
The following materials are required studies for this week. Complete these studies at the beginning of the week, and save these materials for future use.
The School and Community Relations (Gallagher, Bagin, & Moore, 2016)
Chapter 4: Policies, Goals, and Strategies
Chapter 5: Administering the Program
Chapter 6: The Communication Process
Chapter 7: Communicating with Internal Publics
Chapter 8: Communicating with External Publics
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