Communicating with others electronically has become a big part of my professional and personal life so I spent some time searching the internet for articles on Netiquette or Internet etiquette and digital citizenship. It is clear that it is just as important to treat people with courtesy and respect on line as in real life. One reoccurring suggestion was to avoid commenting with all capital letters. It is similar to yelling…I wasn’t aware of this.
As the Coordinator of Gifted Education Services I work with six Young Scholars Specialists. There is a Young Scholars Specialist in every elementary building. Although the Young Scholars Specialists deliver a similar district program their part-time FTE’s differ. This makes it extremely difficult to find a common meeting time. Consequently, our team decided to begin communicating electronically. However, we found that emails were not only inefficient but also ineffective. We believe that the best use of our limited time is to communicate using Google Docs. This will allow us to share information and make decisions regarding the program.
My project includes guidelines for interacting with each other online. Since our discussions center on students from various socio-economic and cultural backgrounds these guidelines need to address cultural competency as well. This becomes more complex because cultural proficiency is a very difficult subject that often elicits extreme emotions in people. It is important that we create an environment where each person is comfortable sharing their thoughts by setting the expectations from each of the individuals. I spent time gathering information from team members about what kind of behaviors from others will make this the best possible learning environment.
We all agree that cultural proficiency is a highly complex and challenging area. There are no simple answers and becoming culturally proficient is a never-ending journey. We also agree that communicating online is a skill to be developed and takes constant practice.
Team Ground Rule:
- Take responsibility for your own participation in the group.
- Be aware of your own biases, beliefs, assumptions and stereotypes.
- Practice giving specific feedback to others.
- Speak your mind. Be candid. Don’t “save up” concerns or problems until the very end.
- Welcome and learn from your mistakes. Forgive others’ mistakes quickly and cleanly.
- Resolve conflicts when they arise, with whom they arise.
- Don’t complain about anyone. Don’t criticize anyone. Ask yourself: What can I learn from this? What is going on for me that I have a need to complain? How can I take more effective leadership?
- Support group decisions.
Note: It will be important to lead the group through controversial discussions, to summarize the thinking of the group and find consensus.
I appreciated the open ended nature of this assignment because it personalized my learning and enhanced communication with the Young Scholars Specialists.