This past week was very busy with Remote Learning/IEP Meetings. I must admit I am not a big fan of these. Connections are in and out. People are not always visible on the screen, so it is difficult to gage reactions to what is being said. I am never sure if everyone is still in the room, listening. Often in a face to face meetings people are multi-tasking. I assume it is happening at these meetings, too.
Because I am attending as the advocate for my families I do not know the staff by sight. I am unable to recognize anyone by voice. I find myself constantly saying this is Kathi when Iparticipate in the conversation. As an advocate I do that a lot.
I am sure I am not the only person who finds these meetings even more difficult to navigate than the traditional in school meeting. The important thing to remember is that these meetings are intended to be inclusive of you, the parent.
You are not invited to hear what the school wants to tell you as an audience member. You are a vital participant in the process. You have an obligation to ask questions, share information and suggestions as to what your child needs to be successful. What I have become so aware of is that thru virtual learning you have new information that needs to be shared.
In preparing for these meetings I spend several hours going over documents and speaking with the parents. It is what I normally do when I am working with a client. Virtual learning has significantly enhanced these conversations. The willingness my clients have to share their observations with me is the same willingness they, and you, must have at the meetings themselves.
Parents, I mean you, have become more aware of how your child learns and behaves in the ‘classroom setting’. ‘He does better when he is standing’, ‘he likes to be facing away from the other kids’, ‘she puts her head down but is actively listening’, ‘he knows the answers, it is really the writing part that is hard’. These behaviors are not barriers to learning. They are part of how your child learns.
These behaviors need to be shared and developed into accommodations that are workable in the classroom. As your children return to brick and mortar learning you must take what you see working in the virtual setting and advocate for its appropriate use in the face to face model.
At one of my meetings this week. The willingness to take parent observations and put appropriate, out of the box, accommodations into the IEP almost brought me to tears. Not only were the teachers and specialists willing to listen to the parents, they presented suggestions as to how they would support the accommodations across all settings. This is key to the effective implementation of accommodations that are creative and child centered.
Teachers must be supported in how to implement the non-standard accommodation so that they feel comfortable in doing something different. They must be reminded that what a good accommodation accomplishes is the facilitation of learning and the demonstration of that learning by the child.
Before your next meeting think about what you know your child can do and how they like to do it. Brainstorm ways this can look.
At the meeting state what you see working at home and ask how that could be accomplished in the classroom setting?
Would your child benefit from an island marked out on the floor in which they can move during Instruction?
Would they benefit from a study corral to block out distractions?
Is sitting on the floor their preferred place to read?
Be open and invite help from the staff to support your child’s growth. Be a part of the conversation. You are not there to listen and agree. You are there to craft a learning plan for your child and their needs.
Have a question? Reach out today.