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Teaching Effective Collaboration Skills Success Beyond the Sandbox Laurie Dinnebeil Laurie.dinnebeil@utoledo.edu A presentation at the 2005 Inclusion Institute, Chapel Hill, NC The Purpose of this Session is to: Describe major types of collaborative relationships: Coaching Consultation

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teaching effective collaboration skills

Teaching Effective Collaboration Skills

Success Beyond the Sandbox

Laurie Dinnebeil


A presentation at the 2005 Inclusion Institute, Chapel Hill, NC

the purpose of this session is to
The Purpose of this Session is to:
  • Describe major types of collaborative relationships:
    • Coaching
    • Consultation
    • Supervision/Mentorship
    • Teaming
  • Discuss ways to prepare individuals to be effective partners
teaching skills for effective collaboration
Teaching Skills for Effective Collaboration

Dinnebeil, L.A., Buysse, V., Rush, D., & Eggbeer, L. (in press). Teaching Skills for Effective Collaboration. In P. Winton, J. McCollum, and C. Catlett (Eds.) Preparing effective professionals: Evidence and applications in early childhood and early intervention. Washington, DC: ZERO TO THREE Publishers.

what s so important about collaboration
What’s So Important About Collaboration?
  • The success of early education and intervention is dependent on the quality of relationships that adults have with children and each other
  • Given that services to young children involve more than just one adult, the quality of the interactions between and among adults will have a direct impact on the quality of services.
collaboration defined
Collaboration Defined
  • Each person both teaches and learns.
  • Mutual respect for the role of each individual is implied and demonstrated.
  • A strong degree of reciprocity underlies each of these relationships.
  • A joint goal helps to serve as a roadmap to collaborative work.
major types of collaborative relationships
Major Types of Collaborative Relationships
  • Coaching
  • Consultation
  • Supervision/Mentorship
  • Teaming

Key Components of a Coaching Model

  • Iterative and Interactive
  • Reflection and Feedback
  • Refine existing practices
  • Develop new skills
  • Promote continuous self-assessment and learning
process of coaching
Process of Coaching
  • Agree to participate in coaching relationship
  • Identify goals, expected outcomes and criteria for measuring learner’s mastery
  • Observe one another, reflect on current and/or new skills,
  • Learn and practice new skills, provide feedback
  • Evaluate success of coaching plan
  • An indirect, triadic service delivery model in which a consultant and a consultee work together to address an area of concern or common goal for change.
process of consultation
Process of Consultation
  • Gaining entry—clarify need for consultation and process, identify expected outcomes, delineate roles
  • Gather additional information
  • Use results of assessment to formulate observable and measurable outcomes
  • Identify possible strategies; select one or more
  • Consultee implements selected strategies
  • Evaluate success of plan
supervision mentorship
  • Professional relationships designed to support knowledge and skill development, often in younger or less seasoned practitioner.
  • Effective supervision or mentoring relationships are characterized by reflection, collaboration, and regularity.
process of supervision mentorship
Process of Supervision/Mentorship
  • Preparing for discussion
  • Greeting and reconnecting
  • Opening the dialogue and finding the agenda
  • Information gathering and focusing on details
  • Formulating hypotheses about the meaning of the issue being discussed
  • Considering next steps—discuss options and make decision about issue.
  • Closing— acknowledge end of session, briefly recap, consider what lies ahead
descriptors of an effective team friend cook 2000
Descriptors of an Effective Team(Friend & Cook, 2000)
  • articulated goal understood by all team members,
  • a climate in which all team members feel respected and valued,
  • recognition that individual team members are accountable to the group,
  • effective group process and “ground rules” that lay the foundation for the team’s work,
  • appropriate leadership skills of all team members.
process of teaming
Process of Teaming
  • Coming together—acknowledge role of team, clarify goals and objectives
  • Identify problem and gather information about it
  • Generate possible solutions; plan for solution
  • Plan for and implement solution
  • Evaluate success of solution
common features of all models
Common Features of All Models
  • Stages reflect a problem-solving approach to triadic intervention
  • Stages are fluid, rather than fixed.
requisite knowledge skills and dispositions
Requisite Knowledge, Skills and Dispositions

Knowledge of

  • One’s discipline
  • Typical/atypical child development
  • Setting and child’s environment
  • The collaborative process
interpersonal style
Interpersonal Style

Successful collaborators are…

  • Flexible, adaptable approach to interaction
  • Able to consider others’ perspectives and are able to set aside their own beliefs or expectations if they interfere with a productive working relationship
  • Are objective and make sound decisions based on the reality of a situation.
interpersonal skills
Interpersonal Skills
  • Successful collaborators…
    • put others at ease and are viewed as genuine and respectful
    • are reflective and can engage in active listening
    • ask good questions and provide/accept appropriate feedback from others.
    • are aware of the nonverbal behaviors that support or undermine interpersonal relationships.
    • understand and can apply principles of group processing and problem-solving to their work with others.
  • Successful collaborators know how to “win friends and influence others.”
attitudes values and dispositions
Attitudes, Values, and Dispositions

Successful collaborators…

  • Are ethical practitioners
  • Are highly cognizant of their own values and biases
  • Possess equal amounts of self-confidence and humility
  • Appreciate that both partners possess unique knowledge and skills
  • Are curious and eager learners
  • Appreciate that they are guiding another person; they are not in control
  • Understand that being a knowledgeable resource is not the same as being a “know it all”.
preparing individuals for collaborative work
Preparing Individuals for Collaborative Work
  • Preparing individuals for work with other adults is complex and requires experiences along many different levels
  • The kinds of learning experiences needed to support knowledge, skill, or attitude/value acquisition differs in complexity.

Examples of Training Approaches and Learning Activities for Building Knowledge and Skill Related to the Collaborative Process (Adapted from Harris, 1980 and McCollum & Catlett, 1997)

Engaging in a collaborative relationship under the supervision of a professional; reflecting on the experience

Attitudes, Values

Observing other professionals engaged in collaborative relationships and analyzing their behavior


Desired Impact

(Learning outcomes from low to high)

  • Completing case studies
  • In-class/In-session simulations


  • Reading
  • Lectures
  • Guided notes




Complexity of synthesis and application required

instructional strategies to promote skill building and collaborative dispositions
Instructional Strategies to Promote Skill Building and Collaborative Dispositions

Learners need genuine experiences to learn and apply critical skills. They should participate in group projects that require them to learn skills related to teamwork and collaboration.

for example
For example…

Students in a ECSE Methods Class are required to work together to develop an IEP for a fictitious child with a disability.

Students are made aware that the goals of the project include enhancing their ability to work effectively with each other.

Students set ground rules for group work and provide written (anonymous) feedback to each other at the conclusion of the project.

another example
Another Example
  • Students work in teams to design and implement parent-child playgroups under the supervision of qualified personnel.
  • In addition to gaining experience in conducting playgroups, students are aware that an explicit goal of the assignment is to learn to work together as a team.
another example27
Another Example

As part of a general “methods” course, preservice ECE teachers are required to videotape themselves teaching.

  • Students partner with each other, viewing each other’s videotapes, provide written and verbal feedback
  • Students are also required to provide a written reflection of the feedback process as well as a critique of their partner’s ability to provide feedback.
  • The ability to provide and receive appropriate feedback is evaluated as part of the student’s course grade.
another example28
Another Example

As part of a mini-practicum, practicing ECSE professionals were required to design, implement, and evaluate a coaching or consultation plan. As part of this assignment, they identified an ECE professional who worked with a child with special needs.

See Dinnebeil & McInerney, 2001

components of the plan
Components of the Plan

Practicum Requirements were based on work by Wesley (1994) and were undertaken jointly between the student and her learning partner:

  • Identified child-focused goals and objectives,
  • Evaluated the child’s learning environment with the ECERS or ITERS
  • Identified components of the environment that could be enhanced to support the child’s learning,
  • Developed a plan to modify or enhance the environment,
  • Outlined child-focused intervention strategies to achieve the child’s learning goals,
  • Engaged in coaching or consultation strategies that helped their partner learn how to use the strategy,
  • Gave feedback to the learning partner, and
  • Monitored the child’s progress through easily implemented data collection strategies.
another example from dr mcwilliam
Another Example from Dr. McWilliam…
  • Students are required to develop an intervention checklist designed to help a learning partner use a specific strategy
  • The checklist must outline operational steps to follow to correctly implement an intervention strategy.
  • Students use the checklist to teach a learning partner to implement the strategy
  • Both students and learning partners use the checklist to guide observations of each other and provide feedback about implementation
a final example
A Final Example
  • In order to give students authentic opportunities for giving and receiving specific and appropriate feedback, an instructor holds a knitting session in class.
  • Those who know how to knit are required to teach a classmate, in class how to knit.
  • After the activity, discussion focuses on giving appropriate feedback and instruction to an adult learner.
challenges to effective preparation
Lack of exemplary practice settings

Lack of practiced professionals

Attitudes and values of the learners themselves (e.g., apprehension about being an “expert”, resistance to the model)

Difficulty in supervising learners engaged in collaborative relationships

Other challenges?

Challenges to Effective Preparation