School staff, administration and parents are consistently sitting around the table making decisions for a child. Problems are bound to arise, but nobody seems to have the solutions. That’s when leadership is needed.
When I speak of leadership at an IEP table, I’m not talking about the person in charge of the meeting. I’m referring to the person who is able to keep the focus of the child, take in other points of view and lead the team to win-win solutions. Is that you?
No matter what your role on the team, parents and staff both can become leaders on the team. Here are three actions you can take:
1. Keep the focus on the child and worry about budgets, materials, and other constraints second. Limiting your creativity for solutions at the table is doing the child a disservice.
2. Listen and understand the other team member points of view. You should be able to take their ideas and your ideas to develop an even better idea.
3. Say “NO” to goals, objectives, services, supports, therapies, materials and anything else that is not important to the child’s long-term success. Just because we’ve been doing things the same way forever, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to be doing. Constant evaluation of the IEP is needed.
Remember, leaders are smart and strategic, not a bully with power and anger. Leaders keep the focus while acknowledging others and giving value to their ideas. With a focus of leadership for our children with special needs, the opportunities are endless.
Catherine Whitcher, M.Ed, Founder and President of Precision Education, a special education consulting firm is a certified teacher and consults throughout the United States with school districts and parents on maximizing special education. She has been featured on AutismOne radio, published in The Autism Perspective and is a highly sought speaker for special education conferences. Ms. Whitcher is a proud member of NASET, a Distinguished Mom’s Choice Award Judge, and has collaborated with various corporations to provide research proven trainings to special education teams.