Jennifer Bollero is Tandem Teaching’s new favorite find. In her own words, she is “an attorney, arbitrator, mediator and loving mother of an autistic daughter.” Her beautiful article, 8 steps to Better IEP Meetings: Play Hearts, Not Poker, has more tips and sound advice than you can find in many books heralded by leading educational experts.
Bollero basically breaks down how her family’s plan was one of the biggest factors in ensuring that their daughter get all of the services she needed to be successful.
She explains how to cut through some of the red tape that prevents teachers and administrators from providing all of the services your child needs.
Although she writes to the parent of a child about to have an IEP meeting, her tips would benefit every parent and teacher, from newbies to those with years of experience.
If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, at least start with the first step: Make Every Attempt to Sustain Relationships. The following is an excerpt from that step:
Since it is in the best interests of our children to have a cohesive team working towards a common goal, we as parents must take a leadership role in sustaining the team atmosphere.
We cannot lead a team we do not join.
It is not enough to come into a meeting, periodically and make demands; even legitimate, legal demands. We must model the behavior we want to draw out in our children’s IEP team.
She also lays out clear steps on how to approach the meeting:
- We must be understanding of them and the demands on their time.
- We must be patient with them as they learn our child’s method of learning.
- We must be prepared and secure helpful test results on our child’s development, articles or other related materials, and then share them; and
- We must be as or more educated about the objective realities of our child’s disability so we can talk to other team members as peers.
As someone who has worked on the other side, who has sat in on countless IEP meetings, I perked up after reading her first step. Doing these things shows everyone involved that you have “done your homework.” Your child’s needs will be their top priority.
If you approach your child’s school staff that way, you’ll find your problems will be few and far between, even with the least dedicated teacher.
If you’re looking for baby steps, start there. As an added plus, the lives of the teacher and your family will be much happier. And teachers, if you approach your students and families in this way, it will bring amazing results as well.
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Melissa Lubaszka is the founder of Tandem Teaching and teaches in the inner-city. She blogs weekly about tips parents can implement to enhance their connection with their children and ways to bring out their children’s inherent gifts. Contact her for a private consulting session.