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Communication and Conflict Management in Special Education


Communication and Conflict Management in Special Education DoDEA Fort Campbell, KY March 9-10, 2010 Philip Moses, Assistant Director Anita Engiles, Dispute Resolution ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Communication and Conflict Management in Special Education

Communication and Conflict Management in
Special Education
  • DoDEA
  • Fort Campbell, KY
  • March 9-10, 2010
  • Philip Moses, Assistant Director
  • Anita Engiles, Dispute Resolution Specialist

  • Creative minds always have been known to
    survive any kind of bad training.
  • -- Anna Freud

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  • Promote problem solving and agreement reaching
  • Implement effective dispute resolution processes
  • Enhance state agency and parent center
  • Assist states to implement dispute resolution
    provisions of IDEA
  • Support improved state system performance
  • Compile information and data on state systems
  • Disseminate knowledge about dispute resolution

Major Activities
  • CADRE Website
  • Over 900 individual resources
  • CADRE Continuum of Process Practices
  • Over 70 individual state/local ADR examples
  • RAISE DataBase
  • Over 240 abstracted research/practice articles
  • Symposia Gallery All presentations materials
    from 2005 National Conference on IEP Facilitation
    2006 National Symposium on Dispute Resolution
    in Special Education
  • Español
  • 9 translated resources, primarily directed at
    family members
  • Rich Media
  • Flash videos on CADRE, Listening Skills,
    Understanding Interests

Major Activities (cont)
  • Developing Community, Creating Partnerships
    Leveraging Resources
    Partnerships/Project FORUMNICHCY National
    Dissemination CenterRRCs/Dispute Resolution
    WorkgroupCOP Listservs Mediation/ADR, State
    Written Complaints, Due Process Hearings
  • National Symposia
  • First National Symposium on Dispute Resolution
  • Beyond Mediation The Second National Symposium
    on Dispute Resolution (2002)
  • Moving Upstream The Third National Symposium on
    Dispute Resolution (2004)
  • National Symposium on IEP Facilitation (2005)
  • On the Road to Agreement IDEA 04 More The
    Fourth National Symposium on Dispute Resolution

Major Activities (cont)
  • Data
  • SPP/APR Analysis
  • "Longitudinal DR Database" - Table 4 and
    Table 7 summaries online (5 years of data online)
  • DAC
  • State-Specific Work
  • Dispute Resolution System Integration and
    Performance Enhancement (DR SIPE)
  • Looking To The Future
  • Exemplar Work

CADRE Activities Result in
  • Earlier dispute resolution
  • Vibrant communities of practice
  • State dispute resolution system improvement
  • Compilation of research and evaluative data
  • Information on national dispute resolution use
    and outcomes
  • Improved collaboration and dispute resolution
  • Reduced use of adversarial dispute resolution

Workshop Objectives
  • Participants will gain an awareness of the
    sources and dynamics of conflict, the influence
    of culture and the impact of power in addressing
  • Participants will gain awareness of different
    styles for approaching or managing conflict.
  • Participants will gain awareness of listening to
    understand as an essential relationship and
    communication skill.
  • Participants will gain awareness of the
    difference between positions and interests.

Workshop Objectives (cont)
  • Participants will become more familiar with the
    continuum of special education dispute resolution
    options, including innovative approaches to
    prevention and early resolution.
  • Participants will become more aware of skills
    required to promote positive parent-professional
    relationships and increase productive
    communication in IEP meetings
  • Participants will become more familiar with
    CADRE, The National Center on Dispute Resolution
    in Special Education.

  • Conflict is a healthy reflection of a diverse and
    changing society
  • Most parent/school relationships are or can be
    positive and mutually respectful
  • Skills can be acquired and strategies implemented
    that facilitate productive relationships
  • Different cultures have differing perspectives on
    conflict and how its most appropriately
  • Workshop participants are already skilled at
    communicating, negotiating and problem-solving

  • What does the word
  • conflict bring to mind?

Two Definitions of Conflict
  • Any situation in which people have apparently
    incompatible interests, goals, principles, or
    feelings . . .
  • Expressed or repressed struggle
  • Two or more people
  • Interdependent relationship
  • Strong emotion
  • Perceived blockage of needs and/or values

Costs of Conflict
  • Financial costs
  • Educational costs takes energy away from
    instruction, can interfere with needed
  • Human costs stress, burnout, marital discord
  • Relationships hurts relationships among people
    who have to work together
  • Societal costs parents, families, schools
    divided bad press for special education missed

Sources of Conflict
Types of Conflict
  • Relationship Conflicts
  • Occur because of repetitive negative
    interactions, misperceptions and stereotypes or
    poor communication
  • Often fuel disputes and lead to escalating spiral
    of conflict

Types of Conflict
  • Data Conflicts
  • Occur because of lack of information,
    misinformation, disagreement on which data is
    relevant and how to interpret competing
    assessment procedures
  • Some data conflicts are unnecessary - caused by
    poor communication others may be genuine
    incompatibilities associated with data
    collection, interpretation or communication

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Types of Conflict
  • Interest Conflicts
  • Occur when a person believes that in order to
    satisfy his or her needs, the needs and interests
    of another must be sacrificed
  • Interest-based conflicts may occur over
  • substantive issues (such as money, physical
    resources, time, etc.)
  • procedural issues (the way the dispute is to be
    resolved) and/or
  • psychological issues (perceptions of trust,
    fairness, desire for participation, respect, etc.)

Types of Conflict
  • Structural Conflicts
  • Caused by forces external to the people
  • Forces external to the people
  • limited physical resources
  • authority
  • geographic constraints
  • time
  • organizational changes, etc.

Types of Conflict
  • Value Conflicts
  • Value disputes arise when people attempt to force
    one set of values on others or lay claim to
    exclusive value systems that do not allow for
    different beliefs or the perception of same
  • Occur around incompatible belief systems
  • Often create the most intractable conflicts

Three Kinds of Interests
Power vs. Rights vs. Interests
Cultural Competence Diversity
  • Recognize that many people communicate and
    process information differently
  • Check-in with yourself, monitor behavior
  • Allow time for reflection, dont always fill
    silent spaces
  • Engage community leaders and cultural liaisons
  • Actions and words dont always have impact we

Cultural Awareness
Cultures have different ways of responding to
conflict. Culture shapes status, relationships
and social behaviors with regard to conflict
resolution. Recognize that many people
communicate and process information
Cultural Competence
  • Strategies to address cultural competency range
    from the policy to the program to the personal
  • Cultural competency is a process,
  • not an outcome.

Moving from Cultural Competence to Cultural
Do unto others as they would have you do unto
them. You can only practice cultural
reciprocity if you listen with the heartfor the
heartand share your heart.

Power Imbalances
  • Inherent in Conflict
  • Actual and perceived power may differ
  • Participants may not be equipped or supported to
    participate effectively
  • Cultural differences may contribute
  • Recognize there are formal and informal forms of

Addressing Power Imbalances
  • Advocacy
  • Cultural Competence
  • Student Involvement
  • Well-facilitated processes and trained
  • Well-built relationships
  • Skilled neutral third party helpers

The Five Conflict Handling Modes
Source Thomas- Killman Conflict Mode Instrument
  • What is it
  • Sidestep, postpone, or withdraw from the issue
    for the present
  • When to use it?
  • When potential harm outweighs benefits to resolve
  • When time is needed to collect information or
    cool down
  • What is it
  • Sidestep, postpone, or withdraw
  • from the issue for the present
  • When to use it?
  • When potential harm outweighs
  • benefits to resolve
  • When time is needed to collect
  • information or cool down

  • What is it?
  • Sacrifice your own personal goals to satisfy the
    concerns of the other(s)
  • Yield to another point of view
  • When to use it?
  • When relationships are most important
  • Reach a quick, temporary solution

  • What is it?
  • Pursue own ends without agreement of others
  • Achieving ones goals is paramount
  • When to use it?
  • When unpopular actions must be implemented
  • When dire consequences will be the result of

  • What is it?
  • Quick, mutually acceptable alternatives
  • Both parties give up something
  • When to use it?
  • When two parties of equal power are strongly
    committed to mutually exclusive goals
  • To achieve temporary solutions to complex issues

  • What is it?
  • Identifying concerns of each person and finding
    alternatives that meet both sets of needs
  • Finding a solution that fully satisfies needs and
    concerns of both people
  • When to use it?
  • When relationships issues are both important
  • To gain commitment and acceptance for a
    high-quality decision

The Five Conflict Handling Modes
Source Thomas-Killman Conflict Mode Instrument
  • Seek first to understand, then to be
  • Stephen Covey, Habit 5
  • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

High Risk Responses
  1. Ordering
  2. Threatening
  3. Moralizing
  4. Advice
  5. Logical Argument
  6. Questions
  1. Judging
  2. Praising
  3. Name-Calling
  4. Diagnosing
  5. Reassuring
  6. Diverting

Certain Responses
  • Derail the conversation
  • Take the focus off the other person
  • Block the other person from finding a solution
  • Distance you from the other person
  • Diminish the other persons motivation and sense
    of being valued

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CuriosityHubris HumilityPretense
PresenceDismiss Acknowledge
  • Two Types of Stances

Communication Loop
The Chinese characters that make up the verb to
listen tell us something about this skill.
Listening to Understand
  • Following the thoughts and feelings of others to
    understand what they are saying from their
    perspective, frame of reference, or point of view.

Dignity and Respect
Attending Following Skills
  • Environment
  • Posture
  • Contact (distance, eyes, touch)
  • Acknowledgment Responses
  • Gestures
  • Door Opening Questions
  • Open-Ended Questions
  • Interested Silence

Responding Skills
  • Reflecting Feeling
  • Reflecting Content
  • Reflecting Meaning (linking feelings and content)
  • Validating
  • Empathizing
  • Clarifying
  • Summarizing

Listening Video
  • http//

Listening to Understand
  • Instruction
  • Identify a situation/issue that you have/had
    strong thoughts and feelings about and are
    comfortable sharing here today (pick manageable

Listening is a disciplined skill
  • You cant do two things at once if one
  • of them is listening well.
  • You cant listen if you are trying to
  • figure out what to say.
  • You cant listen if you are assuming.

Listening for the heart with the heart
  • The most cost-effective component of a dispute
    resolution system is listening.
  • Mary Rowe
  • MIT Ombuds Scholar

Positions Interests
  • http//

Positions Interests
  • Position
  • Specific solution proposed to resolve problem -
    the WHAT
  • Interest
  • Underlying real need or desire that gives a
    position its life (i.e., beliefs, expectations,
    values, fears, priorities, hopes, concerns)
  • - the WHY

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Finding the Interests
Position One persons solution to the problem or situation. Often a self-serving solution
Issue Elements or subject matter of the problem. Elements at issue between the people that must be negotiated in order to reach agreement.
Interest Factors that motivate or drive people to reach agreement and take positions Interests underlie positions in that a persons positions are intended to meet and address their interests (hopes, wants, needs, fears, concerns)
Adapted from Highnam, K. (2001). Interest-based
negotiation, .
Finding the Interests
  • What need is the person taking this position
    attempting to satisfy?
  • What is motivating the person?
  • What is the person trying to accomplish?
  • What is the person afraid will happen if a demand
    is not fulfilled?

Eliciting Interest Questions
  • What would having that do for you?
  • What would that mean to you?
  • What would be different if you had that?
  • "Why is that solution so important for you?
  • Why are you suggesting?
  • "What if that did/didn't happen?
  • How will you be affected by?

What are the Possible Underlying Interests?
  • We dont provide 30 minutes of speech therapy 5
    days a week.
  • We want an American Sign Language interpreter in
    that English Lit class.
  • I demand an apology now!

Interest-based Negotiation
  • Aims not to change the other person, but to
    change negotiation behavior.
  • Shifts from your position versus mine to you
    and I versus the problem.
  • Involves a mutual exploration of interests to
    yield more creative options.
  • Uses objective criteria.
  • Adapted from Highnam, K. (2001). Interest-bassed
  • CCSEA 2001 Fall Conference and AGM. Surry B.C.,
    Canada. CCSEA
  • Fisher and Ury, Getting to Yes

Structure of Problem Solving
  • Sharing Information
  • Identifying Interests
  • Generating Options
  • Evaluating Potential Solutions
  • Reaching Agreement

Responding to High Energy People
  • Response strategies  
  •    Notice and acknowledge background noise and
  •    Allow self disclosure
  •    Limit personal attacks
  •    Listening (matching/mirroring energy, giving
  • Understanding before moving forward
  • Valuing parents as participants
  • Authenticity
  •    Asking Questions (shifting from emotions to
  •    Other strategies?

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IDEA Dispute Resolution Processes Comparison
Mediation Due Process Complaint Resolution Process State Complaint
Who can initiate the process? Parent or LEA/Public Agency, but must be voluntary for both Parent or LEA/Public Agency LEA schedules the resolution meeting upon receipt of a due process complaint unless the parties agree to waive or use mediation Any individual or organization, including those from out of state
What is the time limit for filing? None specified 2 years of when the party knew or should have known of the problem (or a State law specified timeline) with limited exceptions Triggered by a parents due process complaint 1 year from the date of the alleged violation
What issues can be resolved? Any matter under part 300, including matters arising prior to the filing of a due process complaint (there are exceptions) Any matter relating to the identification, evaluation or educational placement or provision of a free appropriate public education (there are exceptions) Same as the issues raised in the parents due process complaint Alleged violations of Part B of IDEA of Part 300
IDEA Dispute Resolution Processes Comparison
Mediation Due Process Complaint Resolution Process State Complaint
What is the timeline for resolving the issues? None specified 45 days from the end of the resolution period unless specific extensions to the timeline are granted. LEA must convene a resolution meeting within 15 days of receipt of the parents due process complaint, unless the parties agree in writing to waive the meeting or agree to use mediation. Resolution period is 30 days from receipt of the parents due process complaint unless the parties agree otherwise or the parent or LEA fails to participate in the resolution meeting or the LEA fails to convene the resolution meeting within 15 days of receipt of the parents due process complaint 60 days from receipt of the complaint unless an extension is permitted.
IDEA Dispute Resolution Processes Comparison
Mediation Due Process Complaint Resolution Process State Complaint
Who resolves the issue? Parent and LEA/Public Agency with a mediator The process is voluntary and both parties must agree to any resolution Hearing Officer Parent and LEA/Public Agency Both parties must agree to any resolution SEA
Purpose ofFacilitated IEP Meetings
  • To improve the process of the IEP meeting in
    order to achieve an IEP that is in the best
    interest of the student.

What Is a Facilitated Meeting?
  • A facilitated IEP meeting uses a trained, neutral
    third party to guide the meeting. This person is
    responsible for the process of the meeting not
    the outcome. The facilitator encourages full
    participation, promotes mutual understanding and
    cultivates shared responsibility.
  • Facilitators Guide to Participatory
    Decision-Making by Sam Kaner, page 32

Role of Facilitator
  • Guides the group through the process
  • Encourages participation by everyone in the group
  • Keeps the group focused on the issues - not on
  • Seeks clarity on issues
  • Avoids expressing views or solutions
  • Facilitates problem solving and completion of the

You Should Have A Facilitator When
  • There is a history of difficult meetings, bad
    relationships, or unresolved differences.
  • You know the group will face difficult decisions.
  • One team member is requesting outside assistance.
  • There will be a great amount of new information
    presented or it is an initial IEP meeting.

You Should Not Be the Facilitator When
  • You have to play a dual role Facilitator/Leader
    or Facilitator/Expert.
  • You have a close, personal relationship or a
    negative personal history with a key participant.
  • You know you are biased.
  • You are uncomfortable dealing with emotions and
    you suspect the meeting will be emotional.

Internal vs. External Facilitators
  • Advantages
  • Disadvantages

Other Roles
Timekeeper Communicates time frames Recorder
Documents discussions decisions (minutes)
collects additional handouts for the file
submits minutes to appropriate source IEP
Writer Focuses on capturing the groups
decisions recording it on the IEP form
IEP Meeting Preparation
  • Purpose
  • Plan
  • Participation
  • Process
  • Parking Lot

Parent Contact Checklist
  • What to anticipate during the IEP meeting.
  • Do you have issues outside the scope of the IEP
    that you would like to include in the agenda?
  • Do you have any information (evaluations, etc.)
    you would like the other members of the team to
    review before the meeting?
  • What is your time allotment for the meeting?
  • Explain role of facilitator.
  • Is there anyone you would like to bring with you
    to the meeting?
  • Will the student participate? (as appropriate)
  • Do you need special accommodations?

Teacher Contact Checklist
  • What to anticipate during the IEP meeting.
  • Explain role of facilitator.
  • What is your time allotment for the meeting?
  • Are there areas you want to emphasize within the
  • Are there issues that may be new information or
    hot topics to the parent?
  • Do you have any personal concerns regarding the
    child, parent, or meeting?

IEP Meeting Set-Up
  • Appropriate school records
  • Paperwork IEP, blank copies, minutes
  • Name cards
  • Food, water, cups, tissues
  • Extra paper and pens
  • Someone to greet participants
  • Flip chart, markers, tape

Qualities of an Effective Facilitator
  • Big Ears
  • To listen to what is being said and what is
    between the words, to hear the foundation of
    consensus being built even before the group can
    hear it
  • Clear eyes
  • To read body language and other visual cues the
    group is offering
  • Small mouth
  • To keep your opinions about the content to
    yourself (if that is your only role)
  • Strong Heart
  • To have concern that each person be treated
    with respect, and to have compassion for the
    challenge of people working together

Building an Agenda
  • The agenda specifies the action items the team
    must address.
  • The parent and school jointly develop the agenda
    or facilitator proposes.
  • Agenda is reviewed at the start of the meeting.
  • Each participant is invited to add to the agenda.
  • Discuss and agree upon priorities, time limits.
  • Elicit group expectations.

Managing the Meeting
  • Set and stick with beginning and ending times
  • Work through the agenda priorities
  • Evaluations, Eligibility, IEP, Placement
  • Table issues that cannot be resolved
  • Refocus, restate, reflect, redirect
  • Return to unresolved issues
  • Agree to disagree

Decision Making
  • Groups need decision making processes to
  • achieve results and create action plans
  • Voting
  • Straw Polls
  • Consensus

  • Define Consensus. What is it? How do you get
  • All people who have a stake in an issue work
    together toward common understanding agreement
    that satisfies all their interests.
  • Consensus is not compromise.
  • Consensus - a decision making process to develop
    unanimous acceptance of a proposal
  • Acceptance can range from minimal tolerance to
    enthusiastic support
  • No member finds the decision egregious or

Consensus Building Method
  • Clearly state a proposal
  • Verify that everyone understands proposal
  • Determine support for proposal
  • Round robin - solicit opinions from members
  • Thumbs up, down, or sideways
  • Five fingers - 1 finger unacceptable, 5 fingers
    highly support, fist veto
  • Modify proposal until consensus is reached or
    consensus to table and move on

Consensus Building Exercise
  • Each table is a family
  • Select appropriate roles parents, teens,
    children, infants, grandparents, etc.
  • As a family, you need to decide where youll
    spend your vacation.
  • You have 7 days for vacation
  • The family must travel together and participate
    in all activities
  • You have a budget of 5,000

Difficult Dynamics Found Within Groups
  • Domination by a highly verbal member
  • Low participation by the entire group
  • Two people locking horns
  • Someone becomes repetitive
  • Failure to start and end on time
  • Distractions and interruptions
  • The group gets stuck

Positive Parent-Professional Relationships
  • What educators can do
  • Keep promises and ensure confidentiality
  • Be hopeful and honest
  • Help parents identify strengths and choices
  • Model problem-solving skills
  • View parents as equal partners
  • Support parents as childs best advocates
  • Value point of view and preferences of family

Positive Parent-Professional Relationships
  • What parents can do
  • Reinforce at home what your child is learning at
    school follow through on your commitments
  • Be honest about what you dont understand and
    what you need to know
  • Recognize professionals commitment and expertise
    and thank them when they are helpful
  • Recognize that they are often limited by the
    systems in which they work
  • Commit to working to find solutions to

Educating Our Children Together A Sourcebook
for Effective Family-School-Community
Strategy 1 Creating a family -friendly school
environment Strategy 2. Building a support
infrastructure Strategy 3. Encouraging family
involvement Strategy 4. Developing
family-friendly communication Strategy 5.
Supporting family involvement on the home
front Strategy 6. Supporting education
opportunities for families Strategy 7. Creating
family-school-community partnerships Strategy 8.
Preparing educators to work with families
What did I hear? What does it mean to me?
  • Things I want to remember
  • Questions I have
  • What does this mean to students?

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Some material from this PowerPoint
presentation was developed by CADRE
Partners, including Greg Abell Tim
Hedeen Michael Opuda IDEA Partnership DR
Workgroup DR Institute at Univ. of
Delaware ALLIANCE of Parent Centers WI Special Ed
Mediation System
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