IEPs will probably dominate this blog for awhile because that is what is dominating my life. Sort of like what the GAA was doing a few months ago.
It occurred to me that I quite like doing this. No one likes IEP meetings, but in a twisted sort of way I sort of do.
Am I going nuts?!?!
I like seeing how different teachers do these things. I see a lot of mistakes and try to help correct them, but it’s also nice to see how a teacher deals with their students and the parents for good or ill. I also get a chance to see the students in a unique setting. Some are definitely in the hot seat, as they might be failing or have been goofing off. Sometimes it gets embarrassing when a parent blesses the kid out in front of the rest of the committee. Or when a student and a regular ed. teacher start battling back and forth at each other. I’m trying to think of a time when two teachers went at it…I don’t think I’ve seen that although I’ve probably had some get annoyed with me. In fact I know I did last year when I took the parent’s side at Bella’s IEP. And they get annoyed when I insist on doing things properly, thus dragging the meeting on longer. And other teachers HATE it when I start asking about data or get up into their objectives.
But generally I’ve been having a decent time meeting new students and new teachers. Our faculty is looking younger and younger to me! Or maybe it’s just the youngest ones that get the special ed kids. Or I’m just getting very old. In any case, I’m meeting teachers that I would not ever have any interaction with, otherwise. I’m feeling some sympathy for the young teachers who are teaching for the first time and having a rough go with students who are masters of manipulation. They care so much and are sooo deeply involved and committed! But someone also needs to tell these regular education teachers that they need to stop feeling sorry for the kids with disabilities. For others, they need to be mindful of how the disability effects their behavior and performance and make the necessary accommodations. In both cases, these young teachers get a bit emotionally enmeshed and get sucked into conflicts and confrontations and frustration follows. It’s really hard to do anything meaningful or well when a body is frustrated. A certain amount of compassionate aloofness can result in better judgment and better results.
Each student is like a new puzzle that needs figuring out. Each committee member has a different vantage point and sometimes when everyone is brought together, you can just feel the synergy. Things start fitting together and a more complete picture becomes visible.
I’ll be attending 2-3 meetings per day, every day for the next 4 weeks or so. This isn’t terribly beneficial for my own students but I feel pretty good about where my paras are. They are capable of managing and teaching at this point, and require a minimum of management themselves.
I’m able to impact a different population with all of these meetings. For many of these parents, this is their second go ‘round with me as LEA and they do remember me. In my aging feeble-mindedness, I don’t always recognize them tho. But once we get going, what we did last year usually starts coming back. Being a parent has helped me identify and relate better with most parents. I have only really made it an issue one time. Last year, an irate parent flew into me and said I had no idea what life was like for her raising a child with a disability. I said I couldn’t say what her position was exactly, but I did know something about raising a child with autism. And that totally changed her outlook and we were able to move on and be productive. She felt like she was being heard, which was sort of new experience for her at an IEP. I’m a bit of a collector of stories, so I do enjoy hearing about the experiences of parents. With my own child working his way up the system, I am particularly attentive to these parents of high schoolers. These are the trail blazers for me, and it makes me a much more attentive and invested audience. They are facing issues that I will eventually have to deal with.
Having said all of this, I will be exceedingly glad when IEP season is over with. I’m not even planning on attending my own sons’ IEPs as my presence isn’t always the most helpful of things. It seems like I escalate the tension in the room, and then everyone is nervous and then they get overly meticulous to the point of being ridiculous and the meeting drags on for hours! Jane is more than capable of handling things and she’s really the one they should be watching out for as far as being satisfied or not. When I go to a meeting to register some complaint or level of dissatisfaction I’m most often speaking on Jane’s behalf who tends to be a bit more shy than me. She’s the one who is more likely to get upset and angry with a sort of Mama Bear intensity. Everyone thinks I’m the one who they have to please and perform for, when I’m actually just a front man!