I will not say that the progress of my students or my son is a miracle, because a miracle implies that the impossible occurred. I’ve always believed that growth and skill development are possible and when we maintain this perspective, we contribute to a more effective IEP process.
The truth of the matter is, parents are well aware of their child’s challenges. Some parents may seem as if they are in denial about them or some may use them as an excuse. No matter how they cope, I guarantee you the challenges their child face are always at the forefront of their mind. For many years there wasn’t a social situation that occurred in my son’s life that I didn’t prep him for beforehand. I wanted so badly for people to see the sweet, creative funny boy I knew, instead of the rude child that just told a man he was too fat to sit in a chair.
The start of every school year began with me wishing, hoping, and praying for teachers that would see past my sons challenges. Longing for teachers that would make an effort to get to know him for the awesome kid that he was. Teachers that would hold him accountable, while also maintaining a sense of understanding about who he was at his core in order to continually nurture his strengths and be witness to his successes.
School interactions and communication can be grueling for parents if the focus is primarily on all the things their child is not doing or doing wrong. And quite honestly you are not telling them anything they don’t already know.
Do issues or concerns need to be addressed? Absolutely, but there is also always growth and as an educator I feel that is our responsibility to find those successes. When we start looking for the successes, we start believing they exist, and when we start believing they exist, we start to nurture them. Every single child matters and every single child deserves to have adults in their lives that believe in them. So educators I challenge you at the next IEP meeting or conference to focus and build on the skills already present in your students. I promise you, their parents won’t forget it.
Further information in our Advocacy resources.