Emails Like This are Why I Never Give Up! (Ep 146)

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I will never ever give up on bringing more collaborative strategies to Special Education. I will never stop bringing parents, teachers, admin, and therapists to train together, to learn together, to understand each other better and work together at a different level. 

There's a lot of people having great experiences in Special Education and I'm excited for that! If things are going good for you, let's work toward Great! I'm working all the time with Master IEP Coaches inside the Mentorship on new collaborative strategies. We say, you could be an idea bringer, solution finder, and team builder at the IEP table — it's very sunshine and rainbows. But there's a reason for that: Possibilities! 

Recently, I got an email that reminded me exactly why I'll never give up the preachy, sunshine attitude about what's possible at the IEP table and why we need to work together. I've seen this side of Special Education as a teacher. I've seen parents experience this side of Special Education and that's why I don't like different sides at the IEP table — I want us to really work together. Here's a sneak peak at the email's contents... 

(Background: I sent out an email letting everyone know that there's a bonus T-shirt available for our new Master IEP Coaches. If you've been following me, you know, I LOVE to send out swag and have our Coaches celebrate their accomplishments with our community, because everyone in it is so supportive and genuinely happy to see others take this step toward confidence at the IEP table! It's a magical thing. Okay, now that's I've set the stage, here's how someone responded to that email... )

"As a mother who found out everything on my own before she went our IEP and 504 meetings, I don't need to join you just for you to tell me that I already know what I'm talking about. The fact that numerous principals and assistant principals quit because of me and a Special Education teacher retired early because I was questioning why he wasn't following the IEP, I think I could teach you a thing or two." 

 I won't respond. In fact, I sat on it for a day or two before I recorded this episode because I get emails like that, not very often, but often enough that it's disappointing. Disappointing to know that something happened in this school system that put this mom on a path of celebrating a situation because staff quit their job. NONE of that is a win. Something happened where she got on fire and needed some extreme change in her child's education experience and she feels like the win is that the staff left. It's not okay that any of that happened. And it's definitely not okay that she feels the need to tell me she could teach me a thing of two about changing IEPs, because I never wan tot change IEPs like that. 

I don't know what happened, but I can have empathy for her experience and for the school staff. I want you to know: If you're that parent that's been on fire like this, you're not alone and it's possible to turn things around without these extreme measures. Come on over, let me help! Teachers who have experienced this kind of situation, we can help you before it gets to this level again! 

If you're a parent or a teacher who has never experienced this, it's important for you to understand this extreme. Here's an example: Years ago, I was sitting at an IEP table with a client who I'd built a relationship with over years (that's what we do as Master IEP Coaches, we work with families over time, not just one-off meeting help). In the meeting was a Special Education Director who was new to the team. We were asking for a creative solution regarding something related to extended school year and inclusion during the school year, and I was met with, "No, we don't do that here." 

Now, anyone who has been through the Mentorship knows that's a huge red flag. I asked for a break in the meeting because I had a gut feeling that something was going on. So, I pulled the Director to the side and had a private conversation, starting with, "I'm going to guess that you've been burned before. The things that we're requesting, you're hesitant to do them because you've been burned before. I can see that you want to say yes, but you're saying no because you're unsure." And her attitude completely changed. That gave her the opportunity to work out the issues behind the scenes and to lay out another option/process to reach the solution together. 

We built trust on the team because we took into consideration the barriers that we might not consider other are facing throughout the IEP process. This Special Education Director wanted to help us, but had to handle the paperwork, the school bureaucracy and hierarchy that we don't always see. She wanted to help, but her hands were tied until she could be confident in that opportunity's feasibility. 

When I think about this mom that emailed me, who doesn't want to learn how to do things collaboratively, that's okay. I'm not going to try to convince her, but I want you to understand that it's possible to work with the teachers and admin at the table without it exploding into a negative situation. Before you start to address that next conflict, if you're getting a "No" at the IEP table, I can help. 

I hope that you're ready to collaborate and build a foundation of trust with your IEP team. I hope you're ready to write better IEPs that work in the real world. I hope that you're ready to adapt and adjust your leadership skills at the IEP table. When you're ready, you can find all your options for joining us in the Master IEP Coach Mentorship here. 

 I love working with parents and professionals who want to dig into IEPs at a whole new level! If you're a parent, a school, or an organization that needs an IEP workshop, send me an email at [email protected].

 

Here's a glance at the episode... 

[2:05] "I'm working all the time with Master IEP Coaches inside the Mentorship on new collaborative strategies. We say, you could be an idea bringer, solution finder, and team builder at the IEP table — it's very sunshine and rainbows. But there's a reason for that: Possibilities!" 

[5:25] "Something happened where she got on fire and needed some extreme change in her child's education experience and she feels like the win is that the staff left. It's not okay that any of that happened."

[8:24] "I'm going to guess that you've been burned before."

 

Click here to listen! 

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