Book Review: Interactions, Collaboration Skills for School Professionals

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Interactions by Marilyn Friend and Lynne Cook

As you will see from the accompanying photos, my own edition is a well used 5th edition. I do like to use images of my own editions, whenever possible (eBooks aside), when I do books reviews, as I hope to show that I actually own the book and have read it.

Due to the enduring popularity of this particular book, there are a range of printed and digital editions, now up to the 8th edition (!), as I write this review.

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So what’s this book all about?

In every school, one of the most important factors for Mission success and implementation, is the ability of staff to not only communicate, but to cooperate too.

The basis for progress in this area is the effective participation of teachers and teacher-aides/para-educators in professional interactions.

In other words, collaboration is the key driver for successful education in schools.

The complex nature of educational settings 

Nowadays, there are a range of general and specialist educators who belong to school sites. Classroom teachers, forming the key anchor for educational outcomes in individual students, are supported by a whole range of professionals in the fields of education, health and social-services.

Collaboration is absolutely vital for effective educational outcomes. This can only happen with competency in communication, consultation and teamwork.

Who is this book for?

This book would be for anyone who…

Needs to communicate with other professionals more effectively.

Needs to collaborate with other educators.

Wants to be part of more effective meetings.

Wants to learn about problem solving in professional relationships.

Has to work in teams.

Has to consult with other professionals.

Has to team-teach.

Works with para-educators like teacher-aides.

Has to develop plans and goals affecting other staff.

Has conflict issues with other colleagues.

Has to deal with resistance.

So that’s quite a list. However when perusing each point you will quickly appreciate that most if not all of them, are part of the everyday interactions that happen in schools.

Contents

These areas are dealt with in rich detail throughout the book. I list the contents to give you an idea of how the authors set out the material.

The Fundamentals of Collaboration.
Interpersonal Problem Solving
Teams
Consultation
C0-Teaching
Paraeducators
Practical Matters
Interpersonal Communication
Using Statements
Asking Questions
Difficult Interactions (Conflict and Resistance)
Perspectives and Issues

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The book layout

From the photos I have included you will see that the book is well set out with a detailed contents and index pages.

Furthermore each chapter is sub-divided into meaningful topics which allow quick reference and navigation across the text.

My own edition is well highlighted which allows me to quickly find areas that I have found to be particularly important.

My edition runs to around 400 pages, so you are getting a decent amount of helpful content in each chapter.

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Leadership whoever you are

One of the great benefits that professionals can draw out of this book, is in learning how to take back control of the variety of interactions we face in our jobs.

Of course not all interactions will be negative in nature, but professionals regularly report that they can be the most difficult to deal with, especially when emotions are at play.

Schools with outstanding leadership tend to effectively manage conflict resolution, professionally and justly. But not all schools have leaders of that calibre, and things can quite quickly spiral out of control unless situations are harmonised between educators.

In these situations, acting like a leader, whether or not you have a leadership position, can save you much stress and anxiety.

One of the strengths of this text is in its deliberation of what steps leaders take to clarify and then resolve conflict. Knowing these elements allows educators to actively set out and then resolve issues quickly and with as little interpersonal damage as possible.

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Communication

All of the above largely depends on how you communicate. Another strength of this book is its in depth enquiry on how to speak to other professionals with clarity.

Clarity in communication is a thing of beauty, insofar that it brings to the fore, in interactions, what really are the issues, without getting swamped in emotional or trivial side issues.

The authors spend three full chapters on effective communication, using statements and asking questions.

The last of these, ‘asking questions’, addresses why and how we question. It looks at the purposes of questions: questions that seek information, questions that provide information, questions that clarify or confirm information.

It also focuses on the format of questions in their accuracy and their concreteness.

It goes on to provide a range of suggestions for how to question including a whole section holding interviews.

And in addressing issues around conflict or resistance, you will quickly realise how important these skills are in timely and positive resolutions.

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Should you buy it?

For it’s ability to provide a toolkit to defuse tricky situations; absolutely!

But more than that, we all continually need to define and refine our relationships with other professionals, and this book can certainly help you do that.

Ultimately if you care about collaboration and effective work practices, then yes, this book or a book like it, is a must have on your professional library. Buy the latest edition here amazon.com button

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