Special Education Doesn't Need to Be So Cold (Ep 126)Apr 13, 2022
"Show me the data. What's this child's eligibility category? What does the latest behavior data look like? Tell me what the medical diagnosis is for this child."
All these things are so clinical, but special education doesn't have to feel so cold. Today, we're going to talk about how to bring some warmth and truth to balance out the numbers at an IEP meeting.
Don't be mistaken: the numbers, the data, the clinical side of special education is SO IMPORTANT, but it doesn't have to lack feeling and understanding. We need the data reports to see progress. We need the medical updates and eligibility criteria for ensuring proper placement, services, and needs. But it's time for us to look beyond.
Again, balance is important. I've been in so many IEP meetings that waste 30 minutes praising the child without digging into the data to see where are the child's strengths and opportunities for improvement. Let's jump into 3 ways we can bring the warmth into our IEP meetings...
Parallel IEP Goals with Needs at Home
So often, we are comparing the student to what is expected of their age peers. Here's what other second graders are doing, therefore we need to work towards _____. Other times, we're looking at what is functional inside a school setting, but not considering the needs to function successfully at home. Moms, what is that thing you wish your child could do at home that could make everyone's life run smoother? We need to be incorporating these skills into our IEP goals and reinforcing the learning in the school setting so we're building independence. Teachers, ask your child's parents how you can help support home life. That's how we bring a more caring perspective into our IEP meetings.
Discuss Relationships with Other Family Members
We talk all the time about how a child behaves at home and how they get along with their siblings, but let's go next level and consider the child's relationships outside of the immediate family. When need to make sure that our goals and learning are supporting the child's ability to recognize and understand their relationships at home. We can help them understand not only their own feelings, but those of others. Sometimes, we all have to be patient and wait to use the bathroom at home. Sometimes, we have to see that our words hurt and we need to apologize. Sometimes, we don't always get control of the TV during family time. These are simple ways we could incorporate the family dynamic into IEP goals.
We need to make sure we're writing IEP goals that are taking into consideration what does joy look like for this family out in the community. It's going to be different for every family! My girls and I loved to go to the Farmer's Market! Find out what this family enjoys doing together, or WANTS to do together but something is holding them back. How can we help support that community connection need through our IEP goals? Doing so can add that warmth and care for the family as well as the student in their IEP.
Let's make sure that we're not just looking at our students as clinical subjects, studying their actions, and analyzing their progress. We also need to think about the Why? Why are we doing this? What impact on we having on the family at home? How can we maximize that impact through the IEP goals?
Here's a glance at the episode...
[2:49] "A mom is frustrated because she can't make something as simple as mac and cheese for dinner because the child needs a lot of assistance in staying busy. There's not independent time at home that lets the parent or caregiver get a break."
[5:54] "We're making it through a non-preferred activity without anger not because we don't like math but because we have to watch movies with our family that sometimes we don't like."
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