Often in our world stepping out of comfort is our only comfort. Especially when you’re new to the game, it seems as if things are changing all the time.
So often I go to training workshops and meetings to pick up information that either I don’t know or to refresh on information that I am already aware of.
The most recent workshop that I attended was through the Michigan Alliance for Families and it was Conflict Resolution in Special Education. Now, I think for the most part that I have effective communication and conflict resolution skills when working with my children’s IEP team but, I am always willing to learn more.
This workshop went over the different types of conflict and showed that not all conflict is bad. It often times allows the team to truly come together for the benefit of the individual receiving services.
The types of conflicts that where discussed where:
- Relationship~negative emotions, mis-perceptions/stereotypes poor communication or repetitive negative behavior
- Data~Misinformation, disagreement on which data is relevant or competing assessment procedures
- Structural~ conflicts caused by external forces such as limited resources, geographic constraints, time
- Value~ incompatible belief system, differing values
- Interest ~conflicts occur when one or more of the parties believe that in order to satisfy his or her own needs, the needs and interests of an opponent must be scarified
This workshop stressed that good communication skills were vital to working through any conflicts during an IEP/IFSP or 504 team meeting.
You can’t speak with your child’s teachers only during IEP time. The IEP/504 process is not supposed to take hours and hours, there should be a constant flow of communication going.
So step outside of your comfort zone and volunteer in your child’s classroom both general education and special education ask the teacher if they could use any help making copies or anything of that nature. Become an active part of the PTO (or PTA) just because your child is special needs and might spend some or all of their day in a categorical classroom does not mean that they or you are not a part of the school or educational process.
Become involved in ways you never dreamed of, it’s harder for them to lie in your face and mistreat your child if you’re there. Now, I’m not saying you have to be at the school everyday but at least be some sort of presence for your child as often you are their only voice. Work hand in hand with all teachers whether they like it or not, invade their space, don’t undermine them but support them so that they can support your child. Do not allow IEP time or Parent Teacher Conference time be the only times you interact with your children’s teacher, principles, therapist, school board or parent groups. Don’t just call on those sources when something goes wrong. Learn how to make them an integral part of your existence and they will serve you well.
So step outside of your comfort zone. Do more, be more and see more.
Love and Blessings
*I plan on posting workshop notes by the beginning of the year.*