As a special educator, one of the most important parts of my job is to create a positive relationship with my students’ parents. Although achieving this goal can be difficult at the beginning of the year with a million other things to do, creating this relationship can make or break your year.
Parents of students with special needs are used to been told year after year what is wrong with their child, what their child cannot do, etc.
Sometimes, it is very rare that they hear anything positive about their child.
In college, when I “learned” about IEP’s, I remember all of my professors stating over and over again that you should always try to state a strength before a weakness, but sometimes that can be hard to do on a high-needs student.
Why wait until the IEP meeting to praise a student?
Send a good note home.
Send an e-mail about something the child did that day that impressed you.
Write it in the student’s planner or communication notebook.
These small steps that only take a minute of your day, go miles in a parent’s heart.
Also, I like Sarah’s post on how to prepare parents for IEP meetings. My district does not require pre-meetings with parents, but I think it is a great idea!
Sometimes in these meetings, we as special educators fail to express how special the student really is or highlight a few “good things” because we are so concerned with the data, goals, minutes, etc. Obviously the student has weaknesses, or they wouldn’t have an IEP. Although the data is VERY important, because we are working to help the student make progress, don’t forget in that meeting that you are talking about someone’s son or daughter in front of a bunch of strangers.
I encourage you to take the time to encourage your parents.
Being an optimistic person will go a long way. ☺
P.S. Here is a little freebie I use to stay organized pre/during/post IEP meetings. You may have to make a few tweaks to fit your county. It is editable!