1. Make every attempt to sustain relationships.
Like the many hands in a hearts game, IEP negotiations play out over time. A game of cards is always more enjoyable when played in a group that likes and respects each other. Try to get to know and personally connect to the other team members.
2. Keep the focus on the child's needs, not the district's resources or the parents' expectations.
- Get Independent Evaluations
- Design Specific, Measurable, Realistic IEP Goals
- Parental Expectations v. District Resources
3. Always provide "face saving" ways out of a dilemma. Have a back-up plan.
Encourage brainstorming among all informed people at team meetings, especially before an IEP. When the collective resources of a group focus on a problem, the solutions that present themselves are amazing.
4. Build your record.
Parents must be willing to face the reality of their child's abilities!
5. Walk a mile in the other side's moccasins.
Spend sustained time at the school. Volunteer in your child's classroom and other classrooms. Watch the kids on the playground and in the lunchroom. What really goes on inside school? How tired are you at the end of a school day? How tired must the teachers, the aid, the principal, and your child be?
6. Listen actively, especially to the things you do not want to hear.
If you find your temperature rising, disengage your ego from what is happening. Breathe deep. Calmly restate what you heard like this: "I want to understand your position, Ms. Jones. Are you saying _____________?" Then restate what you thought she said, not what you thought she meant.
7. Encourage everyone to love your child, then let them!
If a knowledgeable educator has a different approach or opinion from ours, this does not make her the enemy. Do not gate-keep around those people - they are invaluable, untapped resources.
8. Have a little faith.
Generally, give your child's team some credit for acting in good faith. If they need education, supply it. If you disagree, try to work it out without getting personal. Do not demonize well-intentioned people. Utilize them. Even if they have priorities that you cannot share, they can turn out to be of great help to your child.
Read the complete text of the article: Play Hearts, Not Poker by Jennifer Bollero.